We are experiencing a golden age for cats, a time when their needs and behaviors are better understood than ever before. Slowly, people are beginning to recognize that cats are not just another version of a dog. They are amazing, beautiful, intelligent, deep-thinking, sweet beings filled with love and affection. They just do things their own way.

Cats are also natural born killers. In order to keep indoor cats physically and mentally engaged, we must provide stimulation through play. Learning what motivates your cat to chase and pounce is key when choosing appropriate toys.

From time to time I am asked to review toys. My cats Obi, Emma and Peekaboo are all too happy to assist.

When I received the Roaming Runner by PetLinks, I wasn't sure how they would react. The catepillar-shaped, battery operated (included inside the toy PLUS it comes with replaceable batteries) toy didn't look much different than toys we've tried in the past that have ended up in the kitty toy graveyard.

But I was wrong. The Roaming Runner doesn't just move in a straight line. It makes turns, does u-turns and changes direction on its own. The sensors help it avoid getting stuck when it hits a wall or furniture.

The True Test

At first, my cats were a bit turned off by the sound of the motor (I do hope as cat toys get more sophisticated, quieter or silent motors become standard). But then the toy started moving around and the cats were fascinated.

Emma was the bravest. She followed it for a while and then began batting it around. Peekaboo's approach was to try to trap it in a corner. He also enjoyed stalking and pouncing. Obi simply sat in one place and when the Roaming Runner got close, he hit the &#*% out of it.

This is not a toy I leave out all the time. I take it out a couple of times a week and each time it immediately gets everyone's attention.

Since a second model was also provided to me (the ladybug), I decided to give it to a client with two kittens to try out. She reported back that from day one, the cats have been chasing and pouncing and loving the toy. Success!!

Smart Design Features

The Roaming Runner is covered in a soft fabric instead of a hard plastic shell. It also has vibrating bristles instead of wheels and axels, so it doesn't get jammed with hair and dirt, which have been known to break other toys. It does pick up some debris from the floor, however it is easy to remove with one's fingers.

The toy comes in four models, including one with a feather, which may entice cats even more.

At a suggested retail price of around $14, the Roaming Runner is a great deal. It is also widely available. Look for it at PetCo, Pet Supplies Plus and PetSmart. It is also available at many online stores, including Amazon.

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