Homemade Cat Toys

Pet moms and dads all figure it out sooner than later.  Without fail, cats always choose a crumpled paper ball over the fancy toy you bought for $29.95 at PetCo.  Environmental stimulation vital for happy cats- it encourages activity for indoor cats and inhibits boredom, which is often a cause for behavioral problems.  But you don’t have to spend money trying, hit or miss, to find something they’ll enjoy.

Congratulations, you have a normal cat

Congratulations, you have a normal cat!

Instead, check out this list of creative ‘do-it-yourself’ cat toys that don’t require much, if any, crafting skills or experience (I have a creative side, but a crafter I am not!  If you are crafty, try making this adorable bird toy instead).

The benefits?  You save money and help the earth by reusing materials you already have, and you won’t care if these toys get lost under the fridge or torn to shreds.  Plus, if your cat scoffs you for it even thinking she’d enjoy it, at least you won’t feel silly about breaking the bank!

Bat-Around Toys

You can never have enough of these, right?  Especially when the mice you bought are stuck under the oven in a matter of days, and removing them means you have to face (and clean out) everything else that’s under the oven- yikes.   Make a bunch of these and you’ll never run out, though you should probably clean out the oven anyway.

  • Cut toilet paper rolls into a few thinner rings and toss.
  • Securely string together a few  layers of felt or other fabric, using scraps and mottled pieces to vary the texture and shape.
  • Check your hobbies/workplace for spare things like:   tag printer rolls or empty tape dispenser parts, wine bottle corks, thread spools, etc.

Food Challenger

Giving cats food-related challenges is exciting and rouses their instinct to hunt and work for prey.  As a bonus, this is a simple way to pace over-eaters.  Simply add a few ping-pong or similar balls to their food dish, so they have to move them around to reach the kibble.  This makes them ingest slower, and often less.

I dubbed mine the ‘galaxy box’ because of the stickers I decorated it with. Kiki just enjoys getting her treats out!

Cardboard Discovery Box

This is a fun, puzzle-like game that is great for bored cats who need something to do when you’re away.  It works best with a shallow box no more than 6 inches in depth.  Fold the box so it is completely closed, then cut out (stencil them on first if you want it to look nice) shapes of  varying sizes around the entire surface, except for the bottom.  The key is for the cat to see, smell, and touch the toys or treats inside, without making it too easy for them to be retrieved.   I put a rolling bell toy inside that cannot be removed, along with catnip and treats that can.  That way, she gets enough treats to stay satisfied, but still has something of interest to motivate her to keep trying.

Classic Box

Of course, there is also the ‘Classic Box’ which is simply a box set randomly on the floor in a room your cat frequents.  I’ve had one in my living room for almost a month now because it has become Misu’s ‘hiding spot,’ because of course, no body can see her when she’s in there.  By the way, did you know big cats like cardboard boxes too?

Regifting: Make old toys new again

If your pet has toys he or she hasn’t played with in a while, try removing them for a few weeks and keeping them somewhere they cannot see or smell.  Then, reintroduced the toys.  Often, pets will react as if the toy is new , or was a beloved long-lost toy newly found.   If your cat reacts to catnip (not all cats respond to the plant; it depends on genetics), be sure to freshen or add the aroma to everything.  For small batting-around toys, I bury them in my giant container of Kong catnip and let them ‘saute and simmer’ for a few days.  It always does the trick!

Have any other simple & safe toy ideas?  Share them in the comments- I’d love to see how creative and crafty everyone else can be 🙂


About Marissa Weber

I graduated with a BA in Communications from Monmouth University, and am thrilled to combine my passions with writing. I have been vegan for over a decade and am a board member of a pet rescue/adoption agency, so my day is filled with animal activism from sunrise to sundown! I wouldn't have it any other way. I also enjoy working on my yoga practice, world travel, and getting tattoos.

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