Ah, cats, our beloved feline friends! As mysterious as they are, if there’s one thing we know about them — it’s that they love to play! You’ve found them in every cardboard box that you’ve ever brought into the house, and brown paper bags for that matter. They’ve made a game out of empty loo rolls (and sometimes the paper too), and you can often hear them scurrying around and leaping about wildly without having any idea what they’re actually chasing!
So why not give them something decent to play with? While you’re busy playing slots online or enjoying a good bingo game, you can avoid your kitty taking over your keyboard by giving them a toy, scratch post, or high platform to perch on while they overlook their domain like the royal little furballs they are.
We explore seven easy, creative DIY toys that you can make for your furry friends without it breaking the bank. In fact, you shouldn’t even have to step out of your front door to produce these!
1. Hanging scratching pad
A hanging scratching pad is the equivalent of a scratching post, except you can hang it up anywhere, so it not only takes up less space but can easily be relocated from room to room.
To make this, you’ll need a 15cm x 65cm plank of finely sanded wood (or any size you’d like the scratchpad to be), 5mm sisal rope, a glue gun (make sure it’s cat-friendly glue, people!), plus a drill. Drill two small holes near the top of the board (make sure this is the shorter side of the wood so that the plank will hang vertically), at least 2cm away from all sides, for the hanging cord. Leave about 4cm on the top and bottom of the board.
Then run a thin line of glue along the 4cm line near the top, and paste one end of the sisal rope to the board to fix it in place. Starting here, wrap the rope tightly around the board all the way down, adding a line of glue for each new “row”; then keep pasting the rope to the board each time and pressing it in before you continue to wrap. This will create one continuous “pad” of rope when you’re finished. Once you’ve wrapped around the whole board and have only 4cm left on the bottom end, cut the rope accordingly and make sure the loose end is fully stuck down.
Now all you need to do to be able to hang it is tie a thinner rope or piece of leather around the holes you drilled, choose where it’s going to go – and let Mr (or Miss) Cuddles scratch away to their heart’s content!
Wands are versatile and easy-to-make cat toys – and you can use things you have lying around at home to make them! Also, don’t forget: cats LOVE wands. All you’ll need is a thin wooden rod (or something similar) around 30cm long, a glue gun or strong tape, and something to put on the end of it that you’ll dangle in front of your cat to drive them wild. Here are some fun things you may consider adding to your wands:
Feathers: Cats adore feathers! And personally, we prefer feather toys to the little uh, gifts, they hunt for us (we’re never grateful, kitties!). Feathers may, however, be short-lived if your cat really gets into this game, so we suggest adding one of the materials below to your craft feathers to make your wand a little hardier.
Ribbon: Have you ever dangled a ribbon in front of a cat? It’s a laugh! Just tie one or a few ribbons on to the end of your rod, and with a few waves of your wand you’ll have a very excited cat.
Fabric strips: Don’t throw that old t-shirt away… Instead, cut it into strands and tie it to the rod, as you would ribbons. With a few flicks, you’ll have your kitties in a complete frenzy!
3. Cat olympics
This is our favourite game. It isn’t a toy as such, but something you’ll need to be actively involved in creating. Also, we recommend having a video camera on hand: you’ll thank us later!
To host your cat olympics, you’ll need a passageway, about 100 to 200 paper cups, and most importantly, the participants — your cats! While the cats are safely elsewhere in a room (they’ll be up against each other), stand the cups in rows across the entire width of the passageway covering a length of about 1 to 3 metres to make an obstacle course. We recommend creating some higher and lower levels to test their skills! When you’re ready to begin (it’s meow or never), let each cat out of the room one by one, and take the score as they make their way through the paper-cup maze, noting how many cups they knocked over (and the time taken, in case of tiebreaks!).
To keep the game going, restack the cups between participants. The winner is the cat that knocked the least number of cups down. (Of course, if you only have one cat, then it’s going to have to chase down its PB instead!)
4. Treat-filled mouse
This is an easy little toy that you can make in a minute or two. All you’ll need is an empty loo roll and a few pellet-sized cat treats.
Fold the cardboard roll in on the one end to seal it, then tip some treats into the cylinder (and maybe some catnip too), and fold the roll in on the other end. That’s it! All you have to do is give it to your feline, sit back – and watch it put its thinking cat on! If you’d like to make the toy last a bit longer and give your pet more of a challenge, you can cover the cardboard tube with a sheet of craft paper and glue it fast with a glue gun. Just make sure it’s not secured too tightly, as this will eventually get frustrating for your kitty!
5. Cat house
As we all know, cats like to get themselves in strange places. They are not unfamiliar with wardrobes (both inside and on top), basins, boxes, and pretty much any new, unfamiliar place they can hide and be enclosed in.
So why not give your cat a special place just for them? From cardboard-box castles to hammocks and baskets, your cat will love a small space to call their own – fur real! One of our favourites is the cat tipi. While those who are advanced in DIY may choose to design their own tipi, for the sake of simplicity we suggest using an old wooden TV (or lap) tray stand for this (or you can always adapt a similar piece of furniture with the same result)!
Just turn the table upside down – the legs will make an X – cut off the top bits, just above the screw where the legs cross, leaving the base of the table as the floor, and the four legs in a triangle formation. Sew some fabric to the back and sides, leaving one side open as the entrance. Make it nice and homely by putting a felt cushion or blanket inside on the floor to make a cosy nestling spot. You kitty’s bound to love exploring their new space!
6. Rattle toy
Making a rattle for your cat can be as simple as placing some pellets\/pebbles inside an empty 500ml water bottle. Or you can spruce it up… with an unwanted sock! Simply pull the sock around the bottle, tie the open end and… hey presto: you’ve got one infuriatingly awkward toy for your best feline to play with!
7. Pom-pom rug
Why give your cat a pom-pom when you can give your cat an entire rug of pom-poms? For the more eccentric among us, those not afraid to add some colour and texture to their decor, introducing a pom-pom rug is guaranteed to have your cat in a world of sensorial delight! The softness against their fur, the textures, the fact that they won’t get chased away every time they’re just about to really lose themselves in kneading — all these factors will take your cat straight from your living room and right into puss heaven like only a magic pom-pom rug could.
You’ll need a spare piece of rug or carpet underlay, lots of yarn or wool – and patience! To make the pom-poms, wrap the yarn around one hand about 40 times, then slide it off your hand and wrap it around the centre of the yarn ball twice to tie it all together, pulling the end piece and tying a double knot. Cut the top and bottom of the ball where the string loops, and trim all the free ends to get your desired shape. Leave a long loose end which you’ll use to tie the pom-pom to the rug pad with another double knot. For a 50cm x 60cm rug, you’ll need to make about 110 pom-poms, so it’s a bit of a mission (but it’ll be well worth the effort). Good luck!
While the cat’s away the mice will play at Kitty Bingo
Now that your favourite furry friends are as happy as cats can be with their toys, hideaways, and things for scratching – it’s time for you to sit back and enjoy some quality entertainment.
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