Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Same Playability, No Increased Benefit To The Glow-In-The-Dark Atomic Balls For Cats

The Good: Bouncy, Easy to find, Easy to clean, Inexpensive, Cats actually play with!
The Bad: Glow-in-the-dark function does not last especially long.
The Basics: A cool little two-pack of rubber balls, the Atomic Balls glow in the dark, giving cats low light or lights-out playtime fun!

There have been very few toys for cats which have surprised me the way the Crazy Cluster balls did. While the many poor, imprisoned cats at the pet store I briefly worked at enjoyed playing with them, I never expected my two cats to love them as much. My obese Siamese, Brillo, went after the Crazy Cluster balls and even played with Gollum, out other cat, when the Crazy Cluster balls were out. The surprise has since worn off for me and I’ve been pleased that both Gollum and Brillo have continued to show interest in the weird little rubber ball toys. So, when I saw the Atomic Ball from Spotnips, I decided I’d try to give my boys a little variety. This turned out to be a much better deal than the Lipiderm liquid catnip (click here for that review!).

Unlike the Crazy Cluster balls, the Atomic Balls come in a two-pack with the same color, a sickly off-white recognizable to anyone who loves toys as “glow-in-the-dark.” The principle is simple: leave these balls out in the sun, they will “charge” and when the lights go out or they are put in a darker place, they will light up. This seemed like a good idea to me, but the execution was less impressive than the idea and this came with two drawbacks.

The Atomic Balls come from Spot’s Spotnips line. This is a ridiculously simple toy and they come in a two-pack, so when I picked them up for Brillo and Gollum, one pack satisfied the needs of both my cats. The Atomic Ball is a little hard rubber ball, like the rubber bouncy balls one gets at an arcade or as part of a child’s toy assortment. The difference between these balls and standard rubber bouncy balls is that the ball is not a sphere. Instead, the ball has twelve smaller spheres embedded in the core, so the ball is covered with smaller balls which are about ¾ spheres. As such, each ball is like a 1” in diameter demented raspberry.

The Atomic Balls become fun for cats because the spheres on the ball’s surface cause them to bounce at irregular intervals and in irregular directions. The result is that when one throws the ball and it begins to bounce, it bounces in different directions, which hones the cat’s sense of reflex and keeps them moving in different directions. This keeps them spry, alert and their mind growing as they react to unpredictable stimuli. This makes it an ideal toy for kittens and young cats.

Brillo, having slimmed down from the use of the cat laser and the Crazy Cluster balls, continues his current trend toward activity with the Atomic Balls. I’ll toss it or roll it and he’ll pounce and when he starts to bat it around, he reacts to the changing directions and he has become more active since this little 1” ball has entered his life.

Atomic Balls come in two-packs with two glow-in-the-dark balls. The drawbacks to this are two-fold. First, the balls only retain their luminescence in darkness for about ten minutes. After that, it’s hard for a human to play in the dark with their cat and the Atomic Balls. The other problematic aspect, I’ve discovered, is that the cats do not need this charged to play with it at night. As a result, if one leaves the Atomic Ball out, the cat might decide at, say, three in the morning that they are ready to play and this is a noisy little rubber ball.

These Atomic Balls are rubber and are quite durable. In addition to the cats playing with them, they hold up well under industrial cleaning settings. At the pet shop, all of our cat toys were cleaned daily with water and bleach and that did not denature the rubber in the Atomic Balls, though they did seem to denature the glow-in-the-dark nature of the materials. Still, after months of use, your cats (like mine) are likely to enjoy the spontaneity and durability of these inexpensive toys.

These are a good toy, but for the extra money, I would have hoped the glow-in-the-dark nature these trade on would hold up better.


For other cat toys, please check out my index page!

© 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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