Cat tunnels are great playthings, particularly for the indoors cat. They give your cat places to hide, hide and sneak, pounce, or just sleep; some cats love to chase each other through or play with their humans chasing cat toys through the tunnel. Your cat is getting a bit of exercise and you can hope that this will also distract her from clawing your curtains or your sofa.
But as with all cat products, cats will ignore some and find others completely irresistible, so you need to make sure you buy wisely. For instance, most of the cat tunnels we looked at have crunchy paper or textile that makes a rustling noise. That amuses most cats, but some cats can't bear it. If you have a very timid cat you might need to bear that in mind.
Our Top Recommendation
You also need to consider such issues as whether a cat tunnel fits your décor - and whether it can fold up easily if you want to put it away. And you will want it to last - so we ruled out tunnels that don't receive good user feedback for durability.
Although the prices for most cat tunnels (with one exception) run around $10-25, all cat tunnels are not made alike. So which are the best cat tunnels currently available to buy online? We took a look at several of the best cat tunnels on the market and have in turn compiled this comparison to help you pick one.
Here are our top five picks for the best cat tunnels that you can buy:
The Prosper Pet Cat Tunnel is a collapsible fabric tunnel with a difference - it's a three-way tunnel that gives a cat even more ways to play. It features a peephole in the centre, as well as a swinging bell toy, and has one tube lined with special crinkle-making paper to annoy and infuriate your cat in the best possible way. But the other two tunnels aren't lined with crinkly material, so if you have a cat who doesn't like the noise, this tunnel might work for him.
It comes in a large number of different patterns and colours, so you can match your décor. And because it's slightly larger than many tunnels on the market, it's good for the larger cat. It sells around $20 - a bit more than most other tunnels, but then, it is considerably bigger.
This is a really well designed product; for instance, the manufacturer has attached protective ends to the wire to make sure it doesn't poke through the fabric. It's made of tear-proof 190T polyester, which is easy to wipe down and doesn't attract cat fur or lint. The seller also backs it with a 100% money back guarantee.
The downsides? The material is pretty slick, so if you have wooden or tiled floors, the tunnel may slide around. However, for some cats, that's part of the fun!
Perhaps less amusing, the material can get electrically charged so you may get a bit of a surprise when you pet your cat companion.
This collapsible tunnel from Pet Magasin is made in bright colored fabric and features two tunnels in one package. There's a big tunnel and a small one (35 inches and 18 inches long, respectively), each featuring a hanging cat toy, and the large tunnel also has a peephole. The fabric has a crinkly layer that will make scrunchy noises - some cats love this, others, apparently, are quite fearful.
A spring steel frame holds the tunnel upright when in use; because it's spring-loaded, it will pop open as soon as you release it - there's no tricky assembly to do. Since the tunnels are round, a cat can get inside and make them roll across the floor, affording a whole load of extra fun.
The tunnel retains its shape well, and it's backed by a 2 year warranty and money back guarantee. Some cat shelters report these tunnels are the single most played-with toy they possess - and of course the advantage of a collapsible tunnel is that if your cat gets bored with it, it's easily stowed away for a while. Leave it a few weeks and by the time you bring it out again, the cat will have forgotten about it and can start discovering it all over again!
It's good value, at a bit over $10. The main downside is that it might be a little small for several species of larger cat. The tunnel also comes only in one colorway, a rather garish orange-dominated stripy pattern that has definite echoes of the circus. Also - something that's common to almost all the cat tunnels we looked at - a cat that likes chewing things can easily chew the cat toys off their strings, and they could present a choking hazard.
The PetJollies Interactive Tunnel is collapsible, which is great for anyone living in a relatively small space, or who is planning to take their cat on holiday with them and needs to pack efficiently for the trip.
This tunnel is made of washable kraft paper. It doesn't sound very robust, but owners have reported that even cats who like to play rough haven't managed to destroy it. It features a snazzy green and white triangle pattern which would look great in any modern home. But in fact, the pattern isn't meant to appeal to you so much as to the cat; cats' eyes see blue and green better than the red end of the spectrum.
The tunnel also makes a crinkly noise that can drive cats really crazy with playfulness. It features a hole in the side where they can lie in wait for you, another cat, or those imaginary aliens they like to chase just when you're trying to get to sleep.
At just over $10, this cat tunnel won't break the bank. The downside? It only comes in the one colorway, so if you don't like green Christmas trees, you're out of luck.
The Prosper tunnel gives cats extra fun by giving them three different tunnels to play in; the Abo Gear Fun Tunnel provides that extra element by just giving them a longer run. This is a massive tunnel, at more than four feet long, although it's fully collapsible so storage is no problem.
It's not just lined with rustling material to make cats go wild, it's also been lined with a darker coloured fabric giving the effect of a cat cave. The fabric is a heavy duty plush material which won't snag cats' claws. Two separate peepholes will be appreciated by the multi-cat household as delivering plenty of ambush potential.
This tunnel is delivered with an attached cat toy - as with other tunnels, some cats will see it as something that needs to be chewed off. Others will happily bat it around all day.
At around $20 this tunnel is good value. The only major downside is that… well, that faux leopard print fur is not exactly tasteful.
New Cat Condos' Premier Triple Tunnel is one of the most expensive tunnels we looked at, but cat owners who have bought it give it good reviews. The upright structure contains three tunnels running in different directions, and has a cat perch on top that at 20 inches square should suit even the largest domestic cats. It is lined with plush carpet, and the corner supports are made of solid wood, so it's really robust. There's also a choice of five colours - beige, brown, blue, grey, and green.
Best news of all, it comes assembled, so there's no fiddly process of screwing bits together or trying to match the pieces.
This is quite a tall piece of furniture and it can be a little wobbly, though even the most rambunctious felines haven't managed to tip it over according to reviewers. Cats can use the tunnels as perches, or they can jump and run through them; the Triple Tunnel reviews show it's a popular item with cats as well as with their owners. There's no crinkly material on this tunnel, so this is a great purchase if your cat is one of the minority who hate or fear the noisier cat tunnel types.
The downsides? One possible issue is that the vertical supports could also be used as scratchers by some cats, and since they're covered in plush rather than hardwearing sisal, that could be an issue. The price is also quite high at around $100. That said, this is a quality product and should give your cats years of enjoyment.
And the winner is .... the Prosper 3 Way Cat Tunnel. It's well priced and cats seem to love it - so we do too. It's comes in every color imaginable and even features a money back guarantee.
Of course, you cat may prefer just to play with the cardboard box that your cat tunnel came in. But that's cats for you - perverse, choosy, and contrary creatures, which is probably exactly why we love them so much!