Make Your Own Homemade Cat Toys

Updated on February 18, 2016
Making a toy for your cat can be as simple as coiling a piece of rubber-coated wire into a spring shape. Make sure there are no sharp ends!
Making a toy for your cat can be as simple as coiling a piece of rubber-coated wire into a spring shape. Make sure there are no sharp ends!

Cat toys are super easy to make. I've put together instructions for making toys out of things you probably already have around the house, plus others to knit, crochet, or build. Spend a little time (and very little money!) making these toys and your kitty will have tons of fun!

Always Be Careful!

Toys should only be used under appropriate supervision.

Always be cautious. Strings can get tangled around kitty, buttons can come off, they can easily swallow them, and choke. Use common sense, and remember, if your cat can get himself in trouble, he will.

Crumpled Paper Toy

This may be the easiest and cheapest cat toy you can make. Just take a piece of paper and crumple it into a ball. Cats love to bat this around. Some even carry it in their mouths. My cats like to rip the toy to shreds. It makes a bit of a mess, but it's worth it to see them have so much fun.

Carrots

My cats seem to like things that have fallen off the counter. Celery pieces, leafy lettuce, kale, and carrot circles are all favorites.

The top of the list though is baby carrots. With their bright color and great shape, these little things are great for slapping around on the kitchen floor and they slide really well. Occasionally, one of the cats will carry the baby carrot around in his mouth, like some sort of conquering champion.

Give your cat a baby carrot to play with and see what they think.

Pizza Box Kitties

Cat Playing with Pizza Box
Cat Playing with Pizza Box | Source

My kitties recently made another household item into a toy for themselves. We bought one of those premade pizzas that come in a regular pizza box. Well this pizza box has a nice hole in the top so people can see the pizza before they buy it. When the pizza box is closed, that hole is perfectly cat-sized! My cats figured out that the pizza box is a super comfortable place for lounging. Small toys chucked into the open hole are great fun to fish out from inside the box.

Kitten Playing With a Wire

The above video shows a kitten playing with a piece of wire. This makes a great homemade cat toy, but if you do give your kitties a piece of wire to play with, use a pair of needle-nose pliers to bend the ends in so there are no sharp points.

No Crafting Needed

These household pieces are cat toys just the way they are:

  • Empty thread spools
  • Paper bags
  • Toilet paper rolls
  • Plastic milk jug rings
  • Pinecones
  • Bubbles

Altering Household Items to Make Cat Toys

Pill Bottle Cat Toy

Many cats love to bat around a medicine bottle, but there's always the chance they could somehow get the child-proof cap off (seems like everyone but us can get those lids off) and the result could be death for your kitty.

So the best way to turn a medicine bottle into a toy is to remove all the pills and scrub the container really well. Take a couple of dry beans or a small amount of dry rice and put them in the container, then put the lid back on.

Cats love swatting this around the floor, and if they somehow get the lid off they won't get hurt.

Easter Egg Cat Toy

Take a plastic Easter egg, put a couple of beans inside, then close it up. Your cat will love batting this around the house.

Pens and Pencils

Most cat's love to play with pens and pencils. I know mine swipe them all the time. To make the pens safe for kitty, remove the ink cartridge and make sure the pen is clean before letting them have it. This is great to do with pens that are already out of ink instead of just throwing them away.

For pencils, make sure there is no sharp tip, completely unsharpened pencils are best. Also, be careful giving them pencils with erasers. Some cats will chew on these and swallow pieces. It's better if you pull off or cut off the eraser before giving it to your cat.

And of course, you can always just find a nice, clean little twig that's of similar size and shape to a pencil and give it to your cat to play with. The bonus with a twig is that it's often curved a bit and the not-perfectly straight shape can add more fun to your kitty's play.

The shape and size of pens and pencils is eternally interesting to most cats for some reason, and they'll most likely play with them for hours.

Drip Tubing Tease Toy

This homemade cat toy uses some of the tubing used for drip irrigation. About a 2' long piece of the 1/4" sized tubing is just right.

  • Use a hot glue gun to stick the end of a feather into one of the ends of irrigation tubing.
  • When it's cool you can wave the tubing around and since it moves oddly, your cats will love it.

Kitty Gym

Sometimes there's no good place to hang stuff for your cats to play with. A good idea is to take an old baby play gym, the ones that little babies lay under and can look up at and play with, and hang some cat toys from it.

You can easily pick up the baby gyms at yard sales and thrift stores, or maybe you have one laying around from when your kids were little. You could even make one out of some pvc pipe.

Some of the items already hanging can make good cat toys as well, but if they aren't interesting to your cat just take them off and add some feathers on strings and bottle caps hanging from cords. Use fairly short lengths, so there's no chance your cat can get tangled and I bet your kitty will have fun.

Crafting a Cat Toy

Make a toy completely from scratch! These ideas are easy to follow and require simple materials that most of us have at home already.

How to Make Felted Toys

Donate to Shelters!

Make a few extras and donate toys to your local animal shelter. This makes a great Girl Scout or volunteer project for kids.

Doorknob Batting Toy

Find a plastic soda bottle cap. I like the big mouthed, one-liter caps, but use whatever you have laying around.

  • Using a drill on slow speed, or you can do it carefully with a sharp nail and a hammer, poke a hole through the soda bottle cap.
  • Use thick string or a shoelace and thread through the hole in the cap. Tie a knot on the other side that is big enough that the string won't get pulled back through.
  • Hang the cap and string someplace where your cat can bat it around, just be careful that the string is short enough to not strangle the kitties. Your cats will have a lot of fun swatting the cap around on the string. They would probably be great to hang from a baby gym as suggested above.

Kitty Rag Dolls

  • Take a scrap of fabric and put a pinch of catnip in the middle.
  • Carefully fold the fabric over the catnip so it will stay in place and then tie a knot in the middle of the fabric. This holds the catnip permanently in place and forms a nice little knot for your kitties to easily grab hold of.
  • Just make sure they rag toys aren't too large. Most cats like them to be on the smaller side. You can always trim some of the excess fabric away after you've tied the toy if needed.

Making a Cat Fishing Toy

Fishing for Cats

Fishing for cats doesn't just happen in the Mississippi! Make a few of these fishing pole toys and you'll be reeling in the big ones. All you need is some sort of stick, some string, and a fun toy of some sort: a feather, a ball with a bell in it, ribbon pieces, or even a crumpled piece of paper works.

  • At one end of the stick, tie the string.
  • On the other end of the string, tie the toy.

Now wave this around making the toy seem to move like a mouse or bird, and your kitty will love you forever.

Cleo and Mendi Are Tired After Playing

Cleopatra and Mendi asleep after a long day.
Cleopatra and Mendi asleep after a long day. | Source

Cat Toys Involving Food

Treats

Cats love food and some of the best toys involve a reward once they've worked a little!

Cat Foraging Toy

  • Take an empty container with a lid, something like a small water bottle or empty butter tub. Make sure it is clean.
  • Cut a small hole on one side. It should be about the size of a quarter.
  • Put some kibble in the container, then put the lid on and toss to your cats.

As the cats push the container around, kibble will spill and they'll have lots of fun gobbling it up. Try different containers and try to find one that move nicely.

Crawfish Trap

Cats playing with a crawfish trap.
Cats playing with a crawfish trap. | Source

This is actually a crawfish or crayfish trap that I made out of a plastic 2-liter soda bottle. While making the trap, my cats decided to give me some "assistance." They kept sticking their paws inside, rolling it across the floor, and taking off with it. When I finished the project the cats claimed it as their own.

  • I used a 2-liter soda bottle, but if you're making it for cats you might want to use a 1-liter bottle instead. One of my cats seemed a little intimidated by the size. They're so cheap and easy though, you may want to just make two to see which your cat likes better.
  • Stand up the soda bottle. Cut the entire top off, about 4 inches from the top. Be careful, it can be hard to cut.
  • Take the lid off that piece and then cut the tip off, so you have a funnel shape with one end about 2" across and the other the width of the bottle.
  • Turn the funnel shape upside down and place into the other half of the bottle, so the narrow end is inside the bottle. Poke holes along the sides where the two pieces meet, then lace them together so they'll stay nested inside each other.
  • Sprinkle some cat kibble inside and roll the toy around until your cats see how much fun it is.

Toy Chest

To keep the cat's toys fresh and interesting, keep all but a couple in a toy chest. Every week or so switch the cats toys out with something else. The cats will be excited to have "new" toys and will go crazy all over again.

Kittehs Playing in Pumpkin

Kittehs Playing with Pumpkin
Kittehs Playing with Pumpkin

Hollowed-out pumpkins make fun and different playthings for the kitties. My kitties definitely enjoy a chance to play with them. One of them even enjoyed nibbling on them.

  • To turn the pumpkin into a fun toy for your cats, simply cut off the top and empty out the insides, just as you would do when carving for a jack-o'-lantern. Then cut out various-sized holes from the pumpkin. If your pumpkin is very large you can probably cut a big hole in one side for the cats to get in and out through.
  • Next, let it sit overnight so it can dry out a little.
  • The next day, use a paper towel to dry out the inside thoroughly and set it on the floor with the lid off so the kitties can play with it. You may need to tip it over sideways so they feel more comfortable playing in it and tossing noisy toys inside may get their attention and coax them inside.

Once they realize how much fun the pumpkin is they'll have a ball swatting at each other through the holes and climbing in and out of the pumpkin. You can also place a toy inside the pumpkin and place the lid back on so your cat gets to try to capture the toy through the holes in the pumpkin.

This is a very short-lived toy, remember to toss it out before it starts going bad.

What is your cat's favorite type of cat toy?

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    • profile image

      carebear 6 months ago

      my cat loves to play with the lens I also think that it is a cool idea you can basically turn anything into a cat toy

    • profile image

      euna 2 years ago

      im a cat lover and thanks for alot for info

    • VladimirCat profile image

      Vladimir 3 years ago from Australia

      A box! Give me a box!

    • EveStanley LM profile image

      EveStanley LM 3 years ago

      Thanks for the infortmative lens. I'm a proud owner of my first little kitten and I'll definitely try these.

    • teelover profile image

      teelover 3 years ago

      Great lens!

    • Jamesykai profile image

      Jamesykai 3 years ago

      Great lense!

    • joanzueway profile image

      joanzueway 3 years ago

      Thank you for this wonderful lens

    • profile image

      Vantis 3 years ago

      I think I can give my turbo cat a little occupation :)

    • sunriseblue lm profile image

      sunriseblue lm 3 years ago

      Wow this is a brilliant lens! Will definitely try to make some of these for my cat!

    • profile image

      jack101010 3 years ago

      some great ideas thank you!

    • profile image

      shjn3006 4 years ago

      I will initroduce for my friend and my family

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I don't have cats but I can share this with friends who have. Great ideas.

    • LisaMarieGabriel profile image

      Lisa Marie Gabriel 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Revisiting this great lens to say well done for being featured! This alaways was one of my favourite cat lenses!

    • steadytracker lm profile image

      steadytracker lm 4 years ago

      Kids can turn just about anything into a great toy, but cats, they can do so much more that its amazing. I remember our cats growing up and they could amuse themselves for hours with some of the simplest things around the house. Thank you for sharing this great lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I love cats, How many cats do you have?

    • myowncupoftea profile image

      myowncupoftea 4 years ago

      The boxes are a winner. When my cats get exhausted, the boxes double as beds!

    • JillMckenzie profile image

      JillMckenzie 4 years ago

      Wow. I've learn a lot.. My cat really loves boxes. Thanks for the tutorials!

    • profile image

      mathew31 4 years ago

      Great ideas, my cat would love these!

    • SusanAston profile image

      SusanAston 4 years ago

      Love this lens. I have run out of "Likes" today - so will come back.

    • profile image

      chat2vishakha 4 years ago

      Very nice post.Thanks for sharing this awesome tutorial.

    • socialcx1 profile image

      socialcx1 4 years ago

      So many clever ideas and great fun for the kids to make. Loved this lens. Thanks

    • profile image

      YehSha 4 years ago

      Those are really good. I'll definitely make one of those for my kittens.

    • profile image

      PaulRyan 4 years ago

      Cats and cardboard boxes are always my fav. :P :D

    • profile image

      BarbsSpot 4 years ago

      Lensmaster...Cats, just like kids, enjoy the simplest toy, a cardboard box! Entertaining Lens! Congrats on a Purple Star!

    • Ted Bergman profile image

      Ted Bergman 4 years ago

      As the owner of an indoor Abby cat who is smart and energetic, I found your lens a treasure trove of information. I have also found, over the years, that writing humor about the games I have played with my cats, has been great fun. Again, thanks for your time and expertise. - Ted

    • profile image

      Research_Analyst 4 years ago

      I like these tips on how to Make Our Own Homemade Cat Toys

    • agagata lm profile image

      agagata lm 4 years ago

      Brilliant lens! It's nice to have it all under one roof :)

    • pacrapacma lm profile image

      pacrapacma lm 4 years ago

      I'm adding this lens to Pinterest. I'm thrilled to have found all this info in one place. Thanks for collecting all this information. My kids, cat, and I are going to be busy.

    • profile image

      chickie99 4 years ago

      really clever lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      My cats love bags! Any kind of bag. Boxes come in second so all the bought toys lay around and are basically an expensive mess. Thanx for the great homemade ideas. Gonna hook me kitties up with a tree stump I think.

    • hntrssthmpsn profile image

      hntrssthmpsn 4 years ago

      Cat toys can be pretty pricey. Making your own seems like a great way to provide your cat with a large assortment of play options without breakin' the bank!

    • tolleart lm profile image

      tolleart lm 4 years ago

      Great ideas, my cat is forever grateful!

    • profile image

      TrezNafien 4 years ago

      I find this intriguing, and my cats will too when I make them some of these nifty toys. Mine tend to destroy the store bought ones in just a few hours so I have to keep finding new and better ones, this should help me a lot, thank you!

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image

      WindyWintersHubs 4 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      Awesome ideas for cat toys. Blessed!

    • BizLang profile image

      BizLang 4 years ago

      Such fantastic ideas and I am going to try some of them out :)

    • profile image

      Peregrina-JK 4 years ago

      Brilliant lens and great ideas here :)

    • profile image

      gradientcat 4 years ago

      I recently made a bag toss game for my daughter's birthday and one of the cats crawled through the hole to play in the box!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      You have some really great ideas here. Blessed!

    • LisaNowatzki profile image

      LisaNowatzki 4 years ago

      What a fun lens. Thank you for all your hard work!

    • profile image

      SharingGreatStuff 4 years ago

      You have some great ideas here for homemade cat toys. I will definitely try some out for my kitties. It's always such fun to see them play.For me, it's a great way to relax just watching them play.

    • TriciaLymeMom profile image

      TriciaLymeMom 4 years ago

      so many great ideas...thanks!

    • profile image

      lionmom100 4 years ago

      It's amazing that some of the best cat toys are the free ones.

    • GeekGirl1 profile image

      GeekGirl1 5 years ago

      i love what you have done here. good lens.

    • chas65 profile image

      chas65 5 years ago

      Watching cats, especially kittens at play can be so much fun. We had a couple of kittens in our 1o,000 square foot antique store and they could play with just a simple ball for log periods of time just hitting and chasing that little ball. Some great ideas on making some toys for them.

    • profile image

      xtianfriborg13 5 years ago

      Great ideas!!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      To make this better, having links that have pictures of the kitty toys would be great. Because I don't if I want to make things until I can see what they look like :(

    • profile image

      mistaben 5 years ago

      Fantastic ideas =)

    • profile image

      nifwlseirff 5 years ago

      My cats love laser pointers the best, but ribbons (and houseplants) are favorites. We haven't had many boxes, but I'm sure they'd be a hit too.

    • softclaws profile image

      softclaws 5 years ago

      This is brilliant! :) great ideas here!

    • profile image

      JaneWatson 5 years ago

      LOVE IT! fun and frugal!

    • profile image

      AnimalHouse 5 years ago

      Nice lens! Thanks for sharing those home-made cat toy ideas!

    • lolicious profile image

      lolicious 5 years ago

      If only I was allowed to have cats in the house :(. Very good lens, keep up the good work.

    • webhostingrevie profile image

      webhostingrevie 5 years ago

      Great ideas.

    • maryseena profile image

      maryseena 5 years ago

      My kitty loved to play with brooms. When I hang it up, she would jump up to reach it. so I made a small broom (grass broom) for her. She spent hours with it till it was reduced to nothing!

    • whats4dinner profile image

      whats4dinner 5 years ago

      my cats want to tug all the cords in our house. very stressful but he looks cute while playing with the cord

    • ismeedee profile image

      ismeedee 5 years ago

      Wow, so many great ideas here! I think our new kitten will have lots of fun without the need to spend loads of money!

    • profile image

      BradKamer 5 years ago

      I was drawn to this lens as the photo in your intro looks just like our tabby, Coby. Nothing beats the vacant cardboard box! Great ideas here. Thanks for sharing.

    • JuliaAnnPayne profile image

      JuliaAnnPayne 5 years ago

      I love kitties

    • libely profile image

      libely 5 years ago

      Great ideas! My kitty cat will love these :)

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Excellent lens - love the approach. Pinned to my "thrifty living" and "cats" boards and blessed.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      This lens is great! I built a kitty condo for my cat and she loves it. This lens really has a lot of useful info.

    • themanlycat profile image

      themanlycat 5 years ago

      My cats so smart he homemakes his own homemade toys. . . Naw he just attacks the toilet paper and spreads it all over the bathroom. sigh.

    • M4creations profile image

      M4creations 5 years ago

      So true, so true. The amount of money I've shelled out on toys and Loki Kitty's favorite toy is a potholder with a robe sash attached to it...

    • rooshoo profile image

      rooshoo 5 years ago

      My cats go crazy over boxes. Put a box anywhere in the house and they will be inside it in minutes.

    • profile image

      JennyBentle 5 years ago

      Some nice ideas here!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Brilliant ideas for cat toys!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Nice lens topic!

    • Evelyn88 profile image

      Evelyn88 5 years ago

      ..feet under a blunket :D

      I think my cats will love your lens :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      nice toys i hpoe my cat likes them thanks for sharing

    • profile image

      tudzuniverse 5 years ago

      Lot's of information Thank you!

    • bossypants profile image

      bossypants 5 years ago from America's Dairyland

      You are the cat toy expert, Alisha!

    • air ambulance s profile image

      air ambulance s 5 years ago

      The kitten in the first video is so cuuute! You have such a great idea. Nice job. Thanks for sharing. Great lens.

    • profile image

      viva10 5 years ago

      I'm a cat lover and this is a great page..thanks for the info :)

    • AlishaV profile image
      Author

      Alisha Vargas 5 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      @Redneck Lady Luck: Thanks for letting me know. I haven't had internet in months and sadly my lenses are suffering.

    • profile image

      MarlinEleko 5 years ago

      I like putting catnip in the cat toys... drives my cats wild! :)

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      Alysha many of your photos from Flickr are not coming through so you may want to fix that issue.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      great lens idea and content. Nice job, thanks

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Some really great ideas in this lens! My cats died many years ago but I'm thinking about getting a new one from the animal shelter. And I don't like the industrial waste products that flooded the market. I don't think most of the regular toys you can buy in stores are very healthy for cats...

      Thanks for the inspiration.

    • profile image

      ShilohWhenkey 5 years ago

      My cat's gonna thank you for this lens ;)

    • BillyPilgrim LM profile image

      BillyPilgrim LM 5 years ago

      Some great info - thanks, my cat will love it!x

    • profile image

      LoveToClean 5 years ago

      I've definitely purchased my fair share of cat toys that DON'T get played with... so sad :( But you've provided a HUGE list of some great ideas to try, thank you!! :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      very interesting lens, my cat used to pay with a ball made out of crushed paper for days.

    • profile image

      TheBeautifulLife 5 years ago

      'am really big cat lover...and i really love your lens...Big like my friend:)

    • profile image

      Aleayah 5 years ago

      Gonna bookmark this lens!

    • TwistedWiseman profile image

      TwistedWiseman 5 years ago

      My Mimi likes to play with rubber bands as we hurl it towards her, she then brings it back to us :)

    • profile image

      pcgirlsurfinnet 5 years ago

      awesome lens i am going to try some of these toy ideas for my cat thanks for the great share

    • pettitjack profile image

      pettitjack 5 years ago

      I also lOve cats please can you check out my lens and tell other people to as well

    • montanatravel52 profile image

      montanatravel52 5 years ago

      Fun and simple ideas for having fun with your cat, thanks! I just wrote a lens on one of our crazy family cats, Checkers, and he has fun with every toy, but always ends up needing the real thing, arrrrghhh, gonna try some of your ideas!

    • lauranlauran profile image

      lauranlauran 5 years ago

      Cool

    • profile image

      CristianStan 5 years ago

      Awesome ideas. I'm so excited to try out some of these toys! Great lens and ideas!

    • profile image

      Sfthomas 5 years ago

      Quite the handy lens.

    • LadyJasmine LM profile image

      LadyJasmine LM 5 years ago

      Fantastic Page :-) I'm sure it's not the first time it's been blessed, but I'll add some angel dust here.

    • LouJon profile image

      LouJon 5 years ago

      Great lens. We have a cat and she does like most of her toys we buy her but her favourite toy ever has to be a simple rolled up crisp packet lol. You know when you finish a packet of crisps, some people roll the empty packets up into a ball (well i do lol). Our cat discovered one and she started pawing it round the whole house. She loves them so much, we can't eat crisps in peace now and we are constantly finding old crisp packets lurking around under furniture which she has lost while whacking them round the house :) so cute though because she just loves them

    • profile image

      GeniePark 5 years ago

      I think you made a great lens. My cat favorite is small plush elephant.

    • JenwithMisty profile image

      Jen withFlash 5 years ago

      I think my cats will love this lens as soon as I share it with them. LOL.. thanks for all the great ideas!!

    • ahlaj77 profile image

      ahlaj77 5 years ago

      Great lens! I know at times I had to get creative to make a fun cat toy for my cat. He loves string and things that move using a string! Great information btw!

    • profile image

      nicole-young 5 years ago

      My cats love floss. Sometimes the best toys are just lying around the house. Great Lens : )

    • profile image

      Travel_Tips 5 years ago

      the best toy is candy wrapper paper :)

    • JonTempleton profile image

      JonTempleton 5 years ago

      makeup brushes. My cats go bonkers for them!

    • profile image

      bluelobsterclasp 5 years ago

      So many great ideas! Bookmarked the page so I can work my way down the list! Thanks for a great lens :)