The Best Indoor Cat Tunnels

Cat tunnels can add enrichment and fun to your cat’s life. Interactive cat toys are one way to catify your home.

Your cat or cats may like to sleep, hide, rest, run through the cat tunnel, chase other cats, or play with toys while in it.

This article is for indoor cat tunnels which we’ve had for our indoor cats for many years. I have no experience with outdoor cat tunnels.

Also, the Amazon and Chewy links below are affiliate links. This means I will receive a small commission if you click the link and make a purchase.

Choosing the best cat tunnel for your cat and home

There are many choices of cat tunnels available on sites like Amazon and Chewy.

To help you decide, we will review common cat tunnel features. Then I will provide my list of recommendations.

Most cat tunnels are fabric (of various types) supported by a wire or plastic frame. Most models are collapsible.

There are many color choices or patterns available if you want to choose solely based on how the tunnel will match other items in the room.

Size

The sales page of the cat tunnels should list the diameter of the tunnel. You’ll want to make sure the openings are large enough for your cat to fit through the tunnel comfortably. Larger breed cats (or chunkier cats) will need a larger opening.

The length of the tunnels will vary as well. Long tunnels may have a peephole to allow your cat to look out or escape mid tunnel.

You’ll want to make sure there is enough space around the tunnel exits for your cat to enter and exit the tunnel safely.

Some tunnels are straight with an opening on each end. There are also tunnels with multiple chutes. And tunnels that have that contain large square boxes. Usually, a tunnel with a square element will be less likely to roll around.

Fabric Type

We have a SmartyKat Crackle Chute Collapsible Cat Toy. It lives up to its name, as it is noisy! I don’t enjoy the crackling noise when the cats are in this tube. Therefore, this tunnel spends most of its time in the closet. Choose a tunnel that doesn’t have crackle or crinkle in the name or description for a quieter tunnel.

Generally, the tunnel will be made out of nylon, polyester, or some kind of soft fabric. Your cat may prefer laying in a softer tunnel as it’s likely going to be warmer.

However, when your cat vomits on softer fleece fabric, it’s going to be harder to clean up. Vomit is much easier to wipe up on the polyester fabric.

There are also tunnels made of mesh material, which is more likely to snag your cats’ claws.

Tripping Hazard

We’ve had our small three-way cat tunnel for many years, and it’s a bit bent. Ted and I have tripped over it a few times (or more), causing damage to the frame.

If you are at risk for falls, you may not want a cat tunnel, or be sure to place it well away from usual walking paths in your house.

Most tunnels are round and can roll around a bit as well. Some cat tunnels have a square section in the center or end which should reduce the amount of movement.

How does the cat tunnel collapse?

Most cat tunnels are collapsible. And some come with bags to store the collapsible tunnel. Usually, the wire support system can be folded or pushed together and then secured.

There are different ways to keep the tunnel in a collapsible state. For example, some brands have long pieces at the ends of the tunnels which can be tied together.

Other brands will have a loop attached, and then a plastic tab goes through the loop. The loops and tabs can also be used to attach several tunnels or play cubes together.

And there is a chance that the tunnel will need to be crammed into a bag to keep it folded.

collapsible cat tunnels showing the ties used to secure them and the yellow tab used with a loop.

Will your cat like the cat tunnel?

There is no guarantee that your cat will like and play with a cat tunnel.

Our cat Taco loves them and will go out of his way to go in the tunnel.

When we had Rocko, he had crazy fun with the tunnels. He would dart through them as fast as he good. We lined up several in a row for him.

I have never seen a few of my cats go into the tunnel. Instead, they jump over it or walk around it.

You can try putting cat treats or catnip in the tunnel to encourage your cat to explore it.

Buster loves to be in the cat tunnel while I dangle a wand toy for him.

Potential Cat Tunnel Issues

Ambushing

Your cat may hide in the tunnel as a way to ambush another cat that passes by. While some cats like this type of playing, others may not enjoy being ambushed.

The cat may also dart out at human feet within the cat tunnel, which you may not enjoy.

If you already have negative cat ambush situations in your house, you may not want to add any tunnels which could increase the ambushes.

Hiding from Medicine

Your cat may use the cat tunnel as a hiding spot when it’s time to give them medicine.

My cat, Kilala, took a thyroid pill twice a day for almost three years. Then, when she needed the medication, she used the tunnel as a hiding place, making it difficult to reach her.

If your cat likes to hide from medicine, the cat tunnel could become a hiding spot. Or you could put the tunnel in a closet at medicine time.

Toy danger

If a toy hangs from the tunnel, you may want to remove it. Your cat can become entangled in the string the cat toy is hanging from. The longer the string, the greater the risk of entanglement.

Now, I can’t say how often this happens to a cat. It is probably rare, but I saw someone mention it in a cat Facebook group once that the string got wrapped around her cat’s leg.

It reminded me of when my cat Lina got tangled up in the miniblind cords. We no longer have any miniblinds with cords in our home.

Why isn’t my cat using the cat tunnel?

If your cat has used the tunnel before, your cat may be feeling bored.

You can try moving the tunnel to a new location for your cat to play in. A new spot may help it feel “new” again.

Another idea is to the tunnel away for a while and rotate it with other toys or tunnels. Or get a new tunnel that doesn’t already smell like your home or your cat. Cats seem to like to investigate new smells.

Was your cat ambushed in the tunnel by another cat? If so, your cat may avoid the tunnel due to the unpleasant experience.

Cat Tunnel Recommendations

The best cat tunnel is subjective.

With so many choices for cat tunnels, I haven’t had my cats try all available models. We’ve had about ten different tunnels for the indoor cats.

If you want a crinkle or crackle cat tunnel, I recommend the SmartyKat brand. You can check the price on Chewy here or use the Amazon link below.

I would not choose a mesh cat tunnel again as I don’t like how the cat’s claws get stuck in the material sometimes.

All of the nylon cat tunnels look about the same to me. My cats have loved the orange tunnel (used in the video and images) but I don’t know where we got it from.

So I will list some others here. We have the cactus-themed tunnel that is listed first (you can cut the toy off if you don’t want a dangling toy in the tunnel – see the safety section above).

You can also browse Amazon or Chewy for other options.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

The Best Cat Tunnel Summary

Determining the best cat tunnel can be a challenge with the vast number of cat tunnels on the market. A cat tunnel can be a way to add fun to your cat’s life.

I recommend reviewing features such as color, size, and fabric type. Most models are collapsible for easy storage. The main differences between the models will be the length, fabric type, and the number of openings (straight vs. 3 ways vs. 5 ways).

You can also choose or avoid tunnels based on their noise level (depending on you and your cat’s preferences). Crinkle or crackle tunnels will be nosier.

The best cat tunnel will be the tunnel that both you and your cat like!

Browse cat tunnels on Amazon or Chewy. Cat tunnels may also be available at local pet stores and other online sites.

You may also like my review of a quiet cat water fountain.

About The Author
Heidi has been living with cats since 2003 and sends exclusive count in the weekly Caturday Newsletter. You can sign up for it here. It's free!

1 thought on “The Best Indoor Cat Tunnels”

  1. We have an old two-part tunnel that’s been in the family for yonks, through three locations. It’s gone through extreme temperatures, sand, and snow. It’s red and blue, which means it isn’t exactly the most attractive compliment to the home, but it’s for them, not for me. It’s lined with fake sheepskin, which makes it soft and comfortable, and there are several pompon toys affixed to it on the inside. There are no peepholes — it’s entirely covered. Suha and Elvis love it! It’s their go-to place to hide when The Big Turquoise Monster invades their bedroom, as it’s in the office and they feel safer. Elvis also uses it when the vacuum is not at large. It’s a great tunnel!

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