How to Make Your Own Homemade Cat Toys From Household Items
DIY Cat Toys Are Cheap and Easy to Make
Ever bought an expensive toy for your cat only to have them ignore it and play with the box it came in instead? Next time, save yourself the frustration and try making a toy instead. Simple DIY cat toys are super easy and fun to make!
In this article, 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 cautious when making toys for your feline friend. Easily swallowed buttons, sponges, and other ingestibles can come off and become major choking hazards. Even string—seemingly the #1 cat toy—can be incredibly dangerous if swallowed and should only be used during supervised play. Use common sense, and remember—if your cat can get himself in trouble, he will.
Household Items That Make Great Cat Toys
The first few items on our list need next to no altering. It simply doesn't get any easier (or cheaper!) than this.
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.
My cats seem to like things that have fallen off the counter. Celery pieces, leafy lettuce, kale, and carrot circles are all favorites.
At 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.
Empty Pizza Box
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.
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.
Noise-Making Easter-Egg 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.
Keep Your Cats' Toys in a Treasure Chest
To keep your cats' toys fresh and interesting, keep all but a couple in a toy chest. Every week or so, switch your cats' toys out with something else. They will be excited to have "new" toys and will go crazy all over again.
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.
Pens and Pencils
Most cats 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 not to give them pencils with erasers. Some cats will chew on these and swallow pieces. It's better if you pull or cut off the eraser before giving it to your cat.
The shape and size of pens and pencils are eternally interesting to most cats for some reason, and they'll most likely play with them for hours.
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.
More No-Crafting-Needed Cat Toys
These household pieces are perfect cat toys just the way they are:
- Empty thread spools
- Paper bags
- Toilet paper rolls
- Paper towel rolls
- Plastic milk-jug rings
Easy DIY Cat Toys
The next few items on our list require a little more effort to create, but not much. It's quite easy to make a toy completely from scratch! These ideas are easy to follow and require simple materials that most of us already have at home.
Drip-Tubing Tease Toy
This homemade cat toy uses some of the tubing used for drip irrigation. About a 2-foot-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. Since it moves oddly, your cats will love it.
Make Your Own 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 newborns lay under and can look up at and play with—and hang some cat toys from it.
You can easily pick up 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.
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, poke a hole through the soda-bottle cap. (Or you can do it carefully with a sharp nail and a hammer.)
- Use thick string or a shoelace to 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 not to 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.
- 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.
Note: Make sure the 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.
Fishing Cat Toy
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—a feather, a ball with a bell in it, ribbon pieces, or even a crumpled piece of paper works.
- Tie the string at one end of the stick.
- Tie the toy on the other end of the string.
Wave this around making the toy seem to move like a mouse or bird, and your kitty will love you forever.
How to Make Felted Cat Toys
Cat Toys Involving Food
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 it 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 moves nicely.
Crawfish Trap for Cats
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.
- Cut the entire top off the plastic soda bottle, about 4 inches from the top (2 inches if you use a 1-liter bottle). 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 it 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.
Note: 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, that you may just want to make two to see which your cat likes better.
Get Festive and Carve a Pumpkin for Your Cat
Hollowed-out pumpkins make fun and different playthings for the kitties. My kitties definitely enjoy them. One of them even liked 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.
- 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. 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?
Cat Toys Made of Household Items
- Make a Free Toilet Paper Tube Cat Toy
It only takes a few moments to make a super simple and free cat toy that your cats will love to whap around, using just a toilet paper tube and a pair of scissors.
- Make Another Cat Toy Out of a Toilet Paper Tube
This is another idea for a cat toy made out of a toilet paper tube, again only needing scissors and an empty toilet paper tube to make it. All of my cats go nuts for these, but three are absolutely obsessive about them.
- Make a Cardboard Mouse
Make a mouse using cardboard and a template.
- DIY Eco-Friendly Cardboard Ball for Cat
This is a simple project. It only needs a few pieces of cardboard and glue. Your cat will love this cardboard toy.
- Coffee Cup Cat Treat Toy: 8 Steps
I have 2 cats, and I like to think of ways to keep them (and me) entertained. I am also a coffee drinker (more fun kitty playtime) and like to enter contests (also fun!). So here is my Coffee Cup Cat Treat Toy Instructable.
Make Rope, Paper, and More Into Toys!
- String and Sponge Cat Toy
This cat toy is made from a piece of sponge, masking tape, felt, and string, and is pretty darn easy to make.
- Crinkly Cat Toy from Umbrella Cover
An unused umbrella cover makes a great cat when combined with just a few other items you probably have in your trash.
- Knotty Mouse for Good Cats: 10 Steps (with Pictures)
This Knotty Mouse is so much fun for cats to play with. Having trouble tying the knot? See my video on basic crown knots.
- Treat-dispensing Origami Cat Toy: 5 Steps
Treat-dispensing Origami Cat Toy: This easy-to-make toy is based on the same principle as many other treat-dispensing toys. The large outer ball houses a smaller ball that holds the treat. With enough interaction, the treat will fall out, or your cat
- Small Flog Cat Toy
I know, odd title...but it's true. I'm a big fan of knots, so when we recently got a new kitten in the house, I couldn't help but make her some rope toys.
Sewing, Knitting, and Crocheting for Your Cat
- Knit a Mouse Cat Toy
If you know how to knit, make a cute little mouse from your leftover yarn.
- Hedgehog Cat Toy
A toy hedgehog stuffed with catnip and plastic strips to entertain your cat. It can be modified to be simply a plushie.
- Crochet a Doorknob Hanging Cat Toy
This is a simple cat toy that uses leftover pieces of yarn to create a dangling toy to hang from a doorknob.
- Sew a Menswear Mouse for Your Kitty
This craft uses old men's clothing to craft a cute little mouse cat toy.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2009 Alisha Vargas