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Since keeping ferrets, I have discovered that they are a lot more hard work than I imagined. Mainly because they are just so playful and want to come out for a run every minute of the day. I feel guilty because they always have so much energy so I decided to stock up on some toys for them to play with.
About Wild Tail
The Wild Tail is a small ball with a feather attached. I think that the ball is quite big for a cat toy and this means it is suitable for cats, small dogs and ferrets.
The ball itself is about the size of a tennis ball and the feather is about 6 inches long and attached to the ball with a special 'pet safe' adhesive.
This toy is actually made in America and I bought it from Amazon for under £10 including postage which I did think was a little on the expensive side but I have since found that they also sell this on eBay where it is cheaper.
How Does It Work?
This toy is slightly different from other pet toys available as you actually need battery for it to operate properly, although having said that, my ferrets still happily play with it without the battery in. The toy takes one standard AA battery and once inserted, it makes the ball bounce around at all sorts of odd angles.
The Wild Tail
The ball itself is made from hard plastic and the feather is a real feather and attached very well to the ball. Half of the ball is blue and the other half is beige. I was worried that my ferrets would be able to pull the feather away from the ball as they are quite boisterous when they are playing so I gave it a good tug before giving it to them and was satisfied that it would not come away.
Inserting the battery is very easy, you simply twist the top of the ball anti-clockwise and it pops off. Inside there is a section where you place the battery and then you just screw the top of the ball back on and you ready to go!
What Did My Ferrets Think?
They absolutely loved it! They pounced on it almost immediately and were mesmerized by the fact that it jumped around randomly! It changes direction when you least expect it and they had such fun chasing it around and trying to make it stop. I let me two ferrets play with the ball for a good half hour when I first introduced them to it and they certainly didn't get bored with it. Diego picked it up by the feather and attempted to drag it in the opposite direction but of course the ball had other ideas and started randomly moving around which he seemed to love! I swear playing with this ball actually made them more hyperactive!
I do like this toy and I love watching my ferrets have a play with it as they really seem to enjoy themselves chasing it around and trying to drag it off. However, it does also have its downsides. The motor in the ball seems to get tired quite quickly and can jam up (poking the ball seems to kick it back into action though)
I like the fact that this toy is quite different from other toys on the market as it literally comes alive when you insert the battery and my animals (dog's included) are fascinated by the fact that it moves by itself!
I would recommend this toy to other people but only if you are prepared to spend a little over the top for a pet toy that may not last that long. I have only had this toy two weeks and my ferrets play with it once every other day and already the motor is having problems keeping up. You would like to think that the toy would have been designed to cope with use everyday but sadly this is not the case as I wouldn't expect to already be having problems with it after only two weeks.
Having said that, I think this downside is overridden by the fact that my ferrets have such fun with the ball and it certainly tires them out while they are having 'playtime' without too much effort from me. I can just sit back, relax and have a giggle at their response to the ball.
I do not like that fact that this ball is also for small dogs as I feel that feather would soon be ripped off by a dog. I know my dogs are interested in the ball but they are both medium sized dogs so I don't allow them to play with it but if they did, I am almost sure they would pull the feather off and try to eat it which obviously can't be very god for them!
I very rarely buy toys for my cats, but about a week ago I indulged them with the Wild Tail, having seen it in the window of a card shop for some time. The window has been dedicated to exhibiting the toy for several months, and is completely unadorned apart from the Tail, which is set to run continuously throughout the day. I have noticed many people clustered around to watch the Tail in action, and it is true that as a novelty toy it is different to many other products on the market.
The Wild Tail was not new to me when I first spied it in the window of the shop. About ten years ago I remember I went to my friend's house for tea: after we had finished eating her step mother began telling me about a stray cat that had begun visiting them and often settled itself in the garden. She asked if I would like to see it, and, being an lover of all things animal-related, I immediately said yes. She exited the room and I heard the door opening. After something of a kerfuffle she re-entered the room and seemed to fall onto the floor with what looked like an excitable cat in a brown paper bag, and its tail sticking out of it. The 'cat' veered all around the room, and I was transfixed by the clearly distressed creature trying to work itself out of its paper prison. After about five minutes my friend's step mother took pity on me and revealed that the spectacle did not contain a live creature after all, but a toy that was very similar in design to the Wild Tail. Following that incident I have been fascinated by just such toys, and I purchased the product as much for my own amusement as my cats'.
The Wild Tail is very effective in just such a capacity outlined above, and the moment set the toy off my cats were on it immediately. This is very unusual in my experience, as they are generally impressed by little and take a lot of prompting to engage in any activity with a toy. The erratic movement of the Wild Tail however, coupled with its fairly realistic-looking tail, drove my cats wild to begin with. The movement of the ball causes the bushy tail to flit about in a very lifelike way, and you can just set the ball to run and watch your cats chase after it with glee.
The ball is comprised of a rubbery material, and thus it can work well on a hard, untextured surface as well as a carpeted one. I prefer to set the tail off on a carpeted floor however, as the Tail seems to work slightly better and flit off at wilder angles on a surface with better grip. My cats frequently sink their claws into the ball during play, and consequently it has sustained a few tears and general wear during use. However, for £3.20 this is a fantastically novel product and I always enjoy watching my cats and observing their fascinated faces as I set the Wild Tail to work in front of them. This is a great toy amongst the many generic animal toys available at the moment, and I would even consider replacing the Wild Tail if it became too mutilated by my cats, which is not something I would say about most other toys.
Yes, I do know that I have three of the most pampered cats around and that I am a sucker for anything new. Put the two together and when one of my American friends told me all about the new cat toy she had seen a show in the US I just had to do some searching for it just to be sure that my three weren't being deprived!
What exactly is Wild Tail?
It is an action-packed toy combining a 3" diameter motorised ball with a soft, 6" artificial tail which is said to be ideal for cats, ferrets and small dogs. When you insert a single AA battery inside the ball the motor within there switches on and causes the ball to roll around and twitch on the floor at random. Basically as the motor rotates it is off centre which causes the unpredictable movements. If you are old enough you can probably remember something similar being around several years ago which had a long tail and looked like a mad ferret when you put it on the ground? This is much the same only with a shorter tail.
Looking around I found the manufacturers web site on the internet and read all about it. It looked very much as if it was only available in the US until I did a search on eBay. I found a British supplier selling them on eBay for £9.99 so I placed my order and waited for it to arrive. Sure enough the following day it came and I opened it to see what it looked like.
Wild Tail unpacked
The Wild Tail comes in a blister pack and quite simply it looks just like the picture above. The plastic ball is made of hard plastic and the tail is firmly affixed to it. To open it you just twist the top of the ball anti-clockwise. While holding the motor securely with your thumb, you open the battery tube and insert one AA battery. Then close swivel top on the battery tube and the motor begins to spin. Put the top of the ball back on to the base and put the Wild Tail on the floor for your cat. To stop the motor you have to split the ball again and slide the swivel top to the off position.
The manufacturers do suggest that before activating the toy you play with your pet by gently rolling Wild Tail on the floor so your pet becomes accustomed to it without the motor running.
What did my three furry reviewers think?
Well firstly they were not interested at all in it whilst it didn't have the batteries in. The ball is about 3" diameter (75mm) which is quite big for a cat toy. Once I switched it on their vew of it changed completely. They were mesmerised by this thing that was rolling all over the floor. Like a pride of lions they formed a circle around it, shuffling out of the way if it came too close.
It was hilarious - they have never had a toy that was so adept at moving around and it wasn't long before it rolled through the lounge door and down the hall. I am not sure why it changed direction when it got to the kitchen door but it did, then it proceeded to roll around by their food dishes which just added to their fascination! Quite often I will find a toy mouse or a toffee paper in their food bowls where they look like they have been carefully placed - they had never had a toy that made its own way there!
Fairly quickly it seemed to get bored with the food bowls and headed towards the kitchen unit and in doing do managed to trap Oscar in a corner by the sink. Lara and Max went to his rescue and batted it out of the way so it went back out of the kitchen door and back down the hall. This is certainly and interactive toy - it appeared like one with a mind of its own!
I am not sure what to make of their reaction - they certainly weren't frightened of it, more curious than anything. This isn't going to be a toy that lasts I am sure as already the motor has a habit of seizing so I have to grab it by the tail and give it a little shake if it stops. It is too big really for the cats to carry it far so they will soon get fed up of it. However for the sheer entertainment value of watching them with it I guess it was worth it - I have paid that for videos in the past which weren't nearly so entertaining.
So far my three haven't really played with it as such - they are fascinated to watch it and follow it and rather curiously if it gets stuck somewhere they will 'help' it out of a corner or out from under a chair. If it heads in their direction they will move out of the way and watch it as it passes by. Really funny to watch. I imagine more agressive cats might try to attack it - mine just see it as an addition to the family I am sure.
I am sure most kittens and young cats would love it for a while. My three are four and five years old now and their idea of a game is chasing each other for a mad half hour and then batting around a toffee paper (which is cheaper and still retains the enjoyment factor) - either that or playing in a large cardboard box and leaping out at your brother/sister as they pass by. This doesn't come close as far as they are concerned but they do humour me when I come home with these things.
This may be a toy that is better suited to a household with just one cat? In this house they haven't found any toy to be more fun that jumping on a sibling when they least expect it, except perhaps swearing at next door's cat when he decides to take a shortcut across the top of 'their' fence. Lone cats might be more stimulated by this kind of interactive toy and it could be a good way to persuade an overweight cat to get up off their bed.
Would I recommend it?
Overall I think No. Chiefly because it won't have lasting appeal I am sure, however it was fun for a while and I will get it out from time to time to give them a bit of variety.
According to the manufacturers you can also use this as a toy for ferrets or small dogs (presumably not at the same time?) but it is not intended as a chew toy so they suggest you put it away when it is not playtime. I didn't think they really needed to say "Not intended for large or extremely aggressive dogs". One enthusiastic bite and this would be in pieces!
I have previously published this review on Ciao
Action-packed toy combining a 3 diameter motorized ball with a soft 6 artificial tail / made of high-quality materials / ideal for cats / ferrets / small dogs