Cat ancestors had to hunt insects, birds, mice and other small animals to survive. Since they had to catch 10 or 20 of these morsels every day, they had to be ready to pounce at a moments notice. Indoor cats don't have to hunt anymore, but they still like to pounce.
Having things to stalk and pounce on also makes them happy, and helps keep them healthy and active.There are many different kinds of toys; you could buy your cat some of these, or make some yourself. Because of cat's heritage, they like toys that do something. Toys that squeak, chirp, jitter, swing or vibrate remind them of moving meals, enticing him to interact with it.
The first toy you might try is a furry mouse that makes noise and moves. Some even have catnip in them! You can just roll it past him on the floor to catch his attention; Your cat will let you know if it looks like lunch. Some cats like some toys better than others, just offer him a few and he will show you what he likes!
Cats also like toys such as a wand or stick with a toy dangling from the end of a string. They make them feel like they are using their natural quickness and agility to catch something, and they let them interact with you. Just let the toy dangle in front him, then slowly drag it away. Sometimes your cat can get carried away attacking it, so please be sure he can't bite or chew off a piece he could choke on.
Balls are another great item to use, because they let them "chase and capture". Cats are very good at swatting balls. Things that move on their own also fascinate them, so balls (like ping pong balls) and furry little mice toys that move are great.
Cats also like toys they can catch, pick up, and toss in the air so they can catch them again. These are excellent to pass the time while you are away. You can fill balls with food or treats to encourage him to play — Cats feel like they are having a hunting and stalking session, and catching their own meal.
There isn't a set number of toys they need, but I need variety to keep from getting bored with the toys. Cats are like one of the kids; they like to have a batch of toys that can be rotated a few at a time to keep them interested. You can rotate them in different sequences to make the old toys seem new and exciting. Without this, cats just get bored, sleep twenty-three hours a day, and maybe get fat. Sometimes cats might love a toy so much that they may start sleeping next to it. When your cat do this he is telling you he would like to keep it, and please don't include it in the rotation.
Cats also enjoy playing with simple things like crumpled up paper balls, the plastic rings off of milk jugs, the center rolls from toilet paper, cotton-tipped swabs, paper towels, lots of things. You can even stuff old cotton socks with cotton balls and a little catnip, then tie a knot in the end. Cats need an assortment of toys they can roll, pounce on, capture and sink their teeth into, carry and chase. As long as it is safe for them, please let them play with it.
Also because of their hunting heritage, cats like visual stimulation. If your cats don't have (or can't get to) a window to look out of, you could buy or make him a videotape from a nature show that has live action. Cats especially like to watch birds, fish, rodents and insects. These videos are great once in awhile when you can't be around to play with him.