How to Make Cat Toys

Eight Methods:Pretend preyString, lace, and ribbon toysLight toysHousehold and outdoor items as toysFishing toyActivitiesBaby toysFeather frenzy

Cats love to play and cat lovers can spend many hours lost in the pursuit of keeping kitty amused. Like most good things in life, you don't need to spend a fortune to ensure your cat's happiness and entertainment. Not only is a cat not judging you by how much you've managed to spend – or not spend – but your cat will be easily pleased by a range of homemade toys, plus your presence and involvement in the play. Making cat toys is child's play, so involve the kids, find the resources about the house, and don't waste any more time worrying about entertaining your cat, as he or she is sure to enjoy these homemade toys! Just see Step 1 below to get started.

Method 1
Pretend prey

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    Make pretend prey. Quite a few things can appear like prey to your playful cat, from pieces of paper, to dangling strings to even you.
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    Scrunch up a piece of paper. Attach a piece of string to the scrunched up paper. Dangle it over kitty to make the "prey" come to life.
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    Use a flashlight or laser lights to act as fast-moving prey. Cats can chase the beam for ages and they may even stalk it. It can be easy for kitty to run into things when using a flashlight for prey, so be sure to play where it's safe.
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    Make prey from old socks with holes in them. Simply tie an old sock onto a string and wiggle it around the ground. It's a good idea to wash the socks first.
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    Use a stick from your yard and tie a string to either end as tightly as you can. Then, add a toy or paper ball to the end. Cats love this. Try tying a toy to the end of a child-sized fishing rod for extra fun.
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    Make a bird. What cat isn't tempted to chase a bird? Create a base for the bird by using a tennis ball and a golf ball. Glue the golf ball onto the tennis ball in a position that resembles a head on a bird's body. If you have fabric, glue this around the tennis and golf balls with non-toxic glue. For a tail, use pieces of ribbon or string and attach them to the other side of the tennis ball. Add pompom balls for eyes or draw your own with a nontoxic marker. Attach fishing wire to the top of the tennis ball and tie the other end to a stick.
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    Make a mouse. The most typical prey of all, you must have a mouse toy for your cat! Take two large pompom balls (these sure are handy!) and glue them together. Then take a large square of grey felt and fold it in half. Cut a teardrop shape that is large enough to cover the pompoms. Once you finish cutting, you should have two teardrop shapes that are attached on one side. Place the pompom balls inside, as if you were creating a taco. Secure the open side with non-toxic glue or sew the opening closed. Draw (with non-toxic markers, of course!) two eyes and add a string or ribbon tail.
    • Another mouse possibility: Cut out two round pieces of cloth or scrap fabric. Make each the same size. Draw a face on the first piece of cloth to look like a mouse. Stuff some catnip in with the stuffing. Sew half of the mouse, then put the catnip and stuffing inside. Finish sewing up the mouse. If you want it to have a tail, break a hair tie in half and cut a little hole in the cloth. Tie the hair tie around it and sew the rest together. If you think your cat would like it better if it was attached to a string, go ahead.
    • Another mouse: Stuff an old sock with crunched paper. Sew a black button onto the end of the sock. Sew two other yellow buttons for the eyes. Find a thick piece of string for the tail. Get a flashlight and put the pretend mouse under the light. Move the light at the same time move the mouse. The kitten will try to catch it.
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    Make a snake. Given the chance, some farm and outdoor cats do kill snakes, so it's an innate instinct to chase after a snake. To make a snake for kitty, take at least three toilet paper rolls (or if you want a bigger snake, paper towel rolls). Find a piece of string that is long enough to be fed through all the rolls and glue it inside each of the paper towel rolls to connect them. This allows the snake to bend flexibly. Cover the entire snake with green cloth and decorate as wished. Leave an opening and one end so you can place treats inside for your kitty to discover.

Method 2
String, lace, and ribbon toys

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    Make a string toy. A three-or-more-feet-long piece of that fabric twisted-cord from the fabric department, with a knot tied tightly at each end, allows you to interactively play "string" with your feline. Or, two or more cats can use it to play together pulling and running with it. The thicker the string is, the safer the cats are with it. Slowly pulling it across the floor or bed, then pausing, then "twitching" it now and then will entertain most cats for ages––even the older ones who have less rip-and-tear in them often get involved!
    • For teething kittens, all you need is the tie from a bathrobe. Some bathrobes have strips of material that tie around the waist. Pull this across the floor, so it gets kitty's attention. These are perfect because your kitten can bite into it with ease and without the risk of injury.
    • Always pick up string after the cats have finished playing with it under your supervision and put it away. Cats, little people and other pets can become entangled in it if left alone with string.
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    Try wiggling and tossing about shoe laces. Cats just love them. If your shoelace is untied, and kittens especially, should chase it around.

Method 3
Light toys

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    Use light to amuse your cat. Flashlights and laser pointers are great ways to amuse your cat (and you). Turn the lights off and turn the flashlight or laser on. Cats will chase the lit-up dots or streams of light for a long time if they're in the mood.
    • Given that cats may run into other things when chasing, exercise caution when moving the flashlight to ensure you will not harm your cat in her attempts to pounce on the light.
    • When using a laser pointer, be careful not to aim the pointer in your cat's eyes.

Method 4
Household and outdoor items as toys

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    Get creative with household items. A paper bag from the grocery store, empty sewing-thread spools, empty containers (washed thoroughly beforehand) crumpled pieces of paper, and so forth can all be put to good use as a cat toy. Empty toilet paper rolls make great toys on their own, or with items stuffed inside them.
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    Make a self-serve treat toy. Put some dry cat food or cat treats inside an uncapped beverage plastic bottle. Your pet will hit and roll the bottle around getting his food out bit by bit. Use a bottle that has a wide cap.
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    Throw a ping-pong ball for your cat to chase and bat around. Just be aware that this can be rather loud on tile or hardwood flooring, so if anyone's napping, try it later.
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    Use small boxes as toy hides. Cut out doors and windows that the cat can reach. Hang toys from the top of the boxes and throw in some loosely. You cat will reach in to bat the toys inside. If you use even bigger boxes, your cat can dive in them to play and hide inside. Cats love to hide and believe they are invisible, then spring out at unsuspecting prey, so watch out!
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    Use plastic rings. Cats love the little plastic circle rings that are part of the plastic cap on a 1 gallon (3.8 L) milk jug. They are just right to pounce on and biting the little rough ridges on the inside won't hurt kitty at all. However, always supervise this play, as accidental swallowing of such an item can be extremely harmful!
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    Gather objects from outdoors. Items that are clean, not sharp and that roll or move easily will amuse your cat for free. In particular, cats like pine cones and these are often easy to find in local parks. If you like, attach a piece of ribbon to the pine cone for double the fun!
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    Transform an ordinary plastic milk bottle into a treat toy.
    • Cut a plastic milk bottle in half. Keep the bottom part and the lid.
    • Punch 2 small holes through the bottom.
    • Put some thin string through both holes and both ends, leaving it to stick out inside the bottle.
    • Attach the bottle top to the end of the string, making sure the lid and string can make its way out the end of the half bottle while still being attached.
    • Put some treats inside.
    • Watch your cat having fun trying to get the treats out.
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    Scrunch up a ball from foil. Smooth it out and toss it to the cat. Easy, sparkly and fun.
    • Place some catnip in the center before rolling if your cat likes this herb.
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    Use a napkin as a toy.
    • Take a regular paper napkin (clean) and fold it in half lengthwise. You should get a long, narrow rectangle.
    • Roll up the rectangle width-wise, so you have a short tube.
    • Twist that tube by taking both ends and turning them in opposite directions. Be sure to twist it hard enough to stay.
    • For extra fun, try rubbing catnip on the napkin before rolling it up. However, don't put catnip in the napkin as it can come out during play and make a mess.

Method 5
Fishing toy

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    Encourage your cat's fishing instincts by making a cat fishing rod. Attach a string and pompom or small toy onto a garden cane. A simple feather tied with a 3-foot (91cm) length of mint dental floss to the end of a 3-foot (91cm) long piece of wooden dowel rod makes a great toy. This provides hours of kitty motocross across the sofa, on to the bed over the stuffed chairs. Its great exercise for you and your tiger. For that matter, a long feather can make a fun, inexpensive toy on its own.
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    Or, try this method. Sew some scrap materials together and thread some fishing wire through. Attach to a wooden pole or rod. Your cat may be scared of this object the first time. If so, turn him over on his back and let him attempt to bite your hand. Once this is done, just place the scrap material line above him instead of your hand. Hours and hours of endless fun for free.

Method 6

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    Blow bubbles for your cat. Basically, cats like anything that moves, so bubbles are a great way to have fun with your cat. Children love bubbles too, so this can be great entertainment for both cats and children at once.
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    Play "mouse under the blanket". Put your hand under a blanket and move it randomly. Your cat will attack your hand! This can also work for putting your legs under a blanket at night when cozying up on the couch, so be careful!
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    Place your cat in front of a full size mirror. This provides hours of free entertainment because cats love to interact with themselves in a mirror. Kitty might become interested or frightened with her reflection. Not all cats will react to a mirror but if your cat does, watch the fun unfold!

Method 7
Baby toys

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    Give baby toys a new lease of life. Some baby toys make great cat toys. Usually, toys that are safe enough for infants are safe enough for cats because there are no small parts that can come off easily. Examples of suitable baby toys include: clear plastic balls with spinners inside that twirl when the ball stops rolling, or small stuffed animals that rattle. You could also use old, light, stuffed animals or finger puppets as toys for your cats.

Method 8
Feather frenzy

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    Cut a length of string or fishing line. Make it a decent length, at least from your outstretched hand to the floor when standing.
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    Collect or buy feathers. Attach these at different intervals along the length of string or fishing line. Use non-toxic glue; staples risk getting caught in your cat's mouth.
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    Attach the length of feathers to a stick or a piece of wood. The length of this will depend on how long the feather length is.
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    Play. Dangle it in front of your cat; the cat can jump at it or chase it in circles.


  • Remember, kittens are more playful than older cats. However, older cats still appreciate your company.
  • Turn on a ceiling fan and throw crumpled paper up into it. The fan will throw the paper ball somewhere in the room and your cat will have to watch closely to see where it goes!
  • Try to play interactively often when your cat is in paper bags and boxes––let him learn to "follow" with his ears the scratching sound you make with your fingernail on the outside. This sharpens his prey following abilities and allows you to help him to focus enough that when you point to and tap something, he'll have a better chance of understanding that your finger is tapping something he needs to investigate. Cats can't see things really close to their nose, so they benefit from this when you are, say, pointing a bit of spilled food out to them.
  • Experiment with different household items. Boring, everyday items to us, can be quite interesting to a cat.
  • Hide the toy behind something when you're playing with your cat, but letting him know his "prey" is still there. Cats love hide 'n seek.
  • Some older cats are not as playful as kittens. Try putting catnip and cat mint in toys.
  • To encourage your cat to play with the toy, move it around near the cat's paws and face.
  • With older cats, make sure you don't overtax them. Keep the toy within reach; don't try to make them run all over like younger cats.
  • Using a high light beam L.E.D flashlight with some red plastic on top is great for laser pointing with your cat.
  • Reward your cat with his favorite snack after he catches the toy. However, don't reward him too often, or your cat risks becoming overweight.
  • Anything with man made artificial brighteners like paper literally glows to a cat so instead of throwing away pieces of paper scrunch them up into a ball and let your cat chase it.
  • Another toy cats love can be made with extremely common, everyday items. Get an empty tissue box and cut out the whole top. Then take toilet paper tubes and stand them up inside the box. As many as it can fit! Then stuff treats inside and kitty will have to work for their food.
  • Be sure that everything you use for making the toys is safe for your cat or kitten.
  • Not all kitties will want to play with you. Don't take it personally; it's just the kitty's personality on that day. Who knows, kitty might have been awake chasing moths all night while you were asleep and he's simply bone tired. Some cats just like to sit and snooze or watch you watch TV. Even if your kitty doesn't seem to want to play, your kitty still loves you a lot and needs the same care as a more playful kitty.
  • Buy sparkly pompoms. You can buy them for a low price at craft stores.
  • Don't play with your cat too often! Let your cat relax sometimes, you don't want to overwork him/her.
  • Some cats prefer homemade toys over store bought toys while some do not. Be sure you know what your cat will be willing to play with before you spend time making toys.
  • Cats enjoy chasing toilet paper!
  • Make it nice and strong with no long ribbons, or else your cat or kitten may choke!
  • Play for cats helps them keep fit, happy and connected with its rescuers. .. however it also builds confidence. A cat that feels confident feels safe.... less marking( urinating ) and easier to socialize with others ( pets and people ). Its recommended to have 15-30 minutes of individual play time ( per cat )... and you can split the time up... so 5-10 minutes 3 times a day or during commercial breaks ( 2+ minutes at a time ) during a night watching TV.
  • Be careful when using bubbles as a cat toy. The soap in bubbles can be toxic and harmful to cats.
  • If you choose feathers from outside remember to clean them.


  • Pick up all toys of a potentially harmful nature (string, rubbery items, etc.) before ceasing supervision. Toys that can be left around include things like toilet rolls, scratching posts, boxes and well stitched soft toys, etc.
  • Make sure that your cat cannot eat the pieces of the toy that he pulls off. For instance, rubber bands are easily eaten and can kill your pet by causing an intestinal blockage.
  • Don't use plastic bags as toys. Cats can get caught in the handles, suffocate if they put their head inside the bag, or choke on small pieces of plastic they bite or scratch off of the bag. Cats that get caught up in the handles of a bag (plastic or otherwise) can end up dragging the item around, lose balance and tumble over, maybe down stairs or off a high ledge.
  • String or thread can be swallowed, so never leave it about and never allow play with such items without supervision. If string reaches the intestinal tract, it can function as a knife on the intestinal walls and create a life-threatening situation. Cats have required surgery or have died from swallowing string and thread. (Keep your sewing and craft items away from cats because they can eat it and get killed by doing so.)
  • Avoid using items that bleed dye easily. The cat's saliva when chewing and biting will cause the dye to leach into their mouth and all over your carpet and furnishings.
  • Cat play should always be supervised when offering them small objects, string, or other items that can be potentially swallowed, bitten to pieces or that can cause tangling. Do not give your cat toys that he will chew on unless he is supervised.
  • Watch for claws! Even the most gentle and loving cat can get carried away when excited, so don't get your hands too close during playtime. If you do, wash with an antiseptic rinse immediately and bandage. If you feel sick or feverish, see your doctor.
  • Because using a light as prey doesn't give kitty a solid object to catch, he/she may feel frustrated. It is a good idea to use a combination of light and a solid cat toy when involving light in your cat's playtime.
  • Don't use anything with chocolate, soda, coffee or tea on it. The caffeine and the chocolate is toxic to cats.
  • Do not let a cat play unsupervised with a toy dangling from a string that has been tied to something. There is a risk of the object becoming wrapped around the cat's neck and strangling her.

Things You'll Need

  • Feathers
  • Paper
  • Small stuffed animals
  • Pompoms
  • Wool
  • Rings from milk jugs
  • Cap covers from pill bottles (thoroughly washed)
  • Rags, pieces of cloth, ribbon (not too little or thin), fabric rope tied on the ends
  • Bells (large enough not to be a choking hazard or tied to something larger!)
  • Aluminum foil
  • Flashlight
  • Boxes with doors cut out. They can reach into to bat other toys inside - and even bigger ones they can hide in and dive into to play.
  • Socks - Stuffing an old sock with pillow stuffing and catnip is great, they hug it and kick it with their hind legs.
  • Balls of string
  • Paper napkin

Article Info

Categories: Cat Toys