Critter Culture
Zero-Effort Homemade Toys Your Cats Will Love

Zero-Effort Homemade Toys Your Cats Will Love

Critter Culture Staff



Living with cats is great until they get bored and start looking for something to scratch up. You can fix that and help keep your feline buddies happy with some simple toys you make yourself for the whole furry clowder. Using some scraps of cloth, a few sewing supplies, and maybe an afternoon's worth of time, you can build up a whole cat assembly.

The next time you and the cats who keep you around are bored and need something to do, try out a few of these toys and see what they like. All of the toys are made from straightforward stuff you probably already have, and none of them should take more than an hour or so to bang out.


Catnip yarn balls

Kitten holding ball of wool Lorraine Barnard / Getty Images

Catnip only works on about half of cats, and nobody really knows why. Eating catnip will seem to relax Nibbles, but sniffing it will get your kitty hilariously worked up. To have a bit of fun, use hot glue to stick some dried catnip to the surface of an old Styrofoam ball. Wrap it up in yarn, using a dab of glue to fasten the end. Roll it by your cat and watch the fun start.


A barely modified TP roll

cat playing with tissue paper roll LukyToky / Getty Images

Cardboard TP rolls can be cut into exciting shapes to drive the cat toy industry underwater. Cut one into strips and wrap them together into a lightweight ball for batting. Take another roll and cut vertically into the ends to create a crown on both ends. Cats love shoving their noses into these and clawing at the fringes. You can even toss an unmodified roll, and kitty will still pounce all over it.


Feather on a string

cat playing with feathers Cindy Malnasi / EyeEm / Getty Images

Everybody who lives with a cat knows how much they love floppy things on strings, and there's no beating feathers for a cat-friendly flop. To make the Holy Grail of cat toys pull some feathers off a new duster - old ones tend to have too much dust on them - and pinch them together at their bases. Wrap the bundle up with string, sealing it with glue if it helps, and casually drag it past the cat.


Pipe cleaner

Pipe cleaners can be hours of fun for cats, but you have to avoid leaving exposed metal tips. Lay two pipe cleaners down in an X pattern and twist them together in the middle. Bend the tips over into two interlocking loops and twist the ends together. Make sure the tips are folded into the end knots. You should have a lightweight double-loop ball kitty will bat around all afternoon.


Cardboard mouse

It's no secret cats love cardboard, and they seem to have a thing for mice. You can make a cardboard mouse with a section cut out of an old box. Cut one piece into a rough tadpole shape with a slot cut in the nose. Cut a second piece to fit into the slot. Stick them together to make a 3-D cardboard mouse that's light enough for young kitties to lift with their claws.


Cloth mice

cat playing with toy Emils Vanags / Getty Images

Cloth mice solve two problems: They keep your feline friends happy and use up some old clothes at the same time. To make these, cut a few semicircles out of an old wool jacket or some cotton socks. Fold the ends together to create a fajita-style pocket you can stuff with whatever fluff you have on hand. Stitch the seams closed and roll up a bit of cloth for the tail.


Sock toys

Everybody has some old socks they don't know what to do with, but you have an automatic solution if you live with a cat. Stitch up any holes they have and stuff them with some crumpled packing paper until they're loosely filled in a cylinder shape. Twist the end and tie it off with either string or a couple of stitches. Dress it up with some fishy fins or other decorations your cat won't swallow.



A little kitten plays with an interactive handmade toy.

Do you want to see a happy cat? Give them a toy with unpredictable fluffy things they can hunt. You can make a whack-a-mole out of an empty 12-pack box. Cut four holes in one side and glue lengths of paper towel roll into the inside for structural reinforcement. Get your kitty's attention with a feather toy and stick it up through a hole. When they pounce, move to another hole. Repeat until dinnertime.


Felt emojis

kitten sleeping on a yellow blushing emoji face pillow.

Honestly, these are more for you than your cat. Make emoji snuggies by cutting circles of yellow felt with some scraps in other colors. Layer some felt circles and stitch the edges closed, then stitch on some scraps for eyes, smiley mouths, and other stuff. Your kitty buddy will love snuggling with these during their 9-hour naps, and you can also toss a few extras on your own bed.


Their majesty's cardboard palace

cat cardboard fort

Nothing beats a cardboard castle cats can lurk in with their toys. Set aside a corner of the cats' favorite room and set up some boxes with sections cut out of their sides. Link them together with tunnels made from old shirts the cats can slink through between boxes. Ideally, you can mount a few boxes over elevated platforms since most cats love getting the high ground and sneaking in a nap before dinner.



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