GADGETS & ACCESSORIES

DIY Cat Toys: 8 Ways to Engage Your Cat in a Fun Fest

A cat playing with a DIY cat toy
Stella Noble
Written by Stella Noble

More and more pet owners are recognizing the fact that their pets deserve some quality entertainment, and that they too can appreciate the occasional new toy at home. However, pet toys are not cheap. If you’ve been a cat owner for some time, you probably know the pain of investing in an expensive cat toy only to have your cat get bored of it after a few days. So, why bother emptying your wallet on ridiculously expensive cat toys, when you can entertain your four-legged pal with some unique, innovative, and practically free homemade DIY cat toys?

Unlike kids, pets definitely don’t care about the brand of this toy or the price of that toy. A cat will happily play with anything that looks like it can be played with, regardless of what it actually is. Everyone knows of the meme of cats that play with the boxes of their toys instead of the actual toys themselves. Cat owners know that this isn’t just a meme—it’s the reality of feline preferences. Your cat also won’t quickly get bored of the toy because they know you made it for them with love. The only possible reason against DIY cat toys is a momentary lack of ideas, but that’s where we come in.

Picture of a cat taken through a cat toy

Below we’ve compiled a cool list of ideas for DIY toys! With any of these ideas, you are guaranteed to significantly spice up your cat’s life and bring her a lot of new positive experiences. We’ll go over toys with catnip, toys without catnip, small, short-term toys that your cat will happily destroy in a matter of days, as well as toys that will last her for months or years. All of these are easy to make and involve materials that can be found in most homes, or at the very least, are exceptionally easy to acquire from a neighbor, a friend, or a relative.

Ideas for DIY Cat Toys

DIY cat toys really don’t have anything specific to them. If your cat likes to play with it, then it is officially a “cat toy.” Most cats don’t even need anything special to be created for them. Just drop a crumpled piece of paper on the floor, and in their mischievous little mind, it already is a cat toy.

Cat playing with a cat toy

That, of course, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t put a little more effort into it. The right cat toy can give your cat entertainment not just for one afternoon but months on end. Finding (and crafting) that perfect toy can take some knowledge of your cat’s preferences, however.

Some cats enjoy chasing balls, while others are too lazy for that. Some love to tackle big, noisy toys with lights in them; others find those too scary and off-putting. Some enjoy food puzzles, while others demand their food to be served in a bowl. Understanding your cat’s preferences is the key first step to making the perfect DIY cat toy. Once you’ve figured that out, here we’ve got some ideas you can start with:

Cat Toy #1: Plastic Bottle + Fluffy Sock Toy

A lot of cat owners don’t realize the great potential of plastic bottles. That’s because, in their standard form, they don’t really attract cats’ attention. However, they are actually quite versatile—they are hollow, they are of the right size, they have a great shape, and they are lightweight.

You can make a simple toy with a plastic bottle by putting some small objects in it. It can be plastic or metal pieces, or it can even be cat kibble. Close the bottle nicely and find a fluffy old sock that you’re not going to use anymore. After that, just put the bottle in the sock and tie the sock up. Congratulations! You have just made yourself an amazing cat toy!

Plastic Bottle toy for cat on the floor

You can put two bottles in a big sock and tie the sock in between them too. Or, you can put some catnip in the bottle and pinch some holes in it so that the smell gets through. You can even entertain yourself by sewing two eyes and a nose onto the sock to make it look like an animal. Whichever way you do it, your cat will almost surely love it.

Cat Toy #2: Tennis Balls in a Sock

Plastic bottles are not the only thing you can put on a sock. Tennis balls tend to be a bit too heavy for some cats, but if your cat is big enough, chances are she will love this toy. Just put two or three tennis balls in the sock and watch your feline friend enjoy herself. You can even put some catnip inside too!

Cat Toy #3: Used Toilet Paper Roll

We usually throw away toilet paper rolls after we’ve used up all the paper, but you can actually make a cat toy out of them. It is both fun and environmentally friendly.

A cat playing with a Used Toilet Paper Roll

Toilet paper rolls are light and cylindrical—two things that already make them great cat toys. You can do much more with them by:

  • Putting some dry cat kibble in them and closing the two ends. Your cat will love playing with it and will be even happier when she eventually opens it up and sees what’s inside!

  • Pinching them with some drinking straws. After that, simply watch your cat battle this fake “hedgehog.”

  • You can cut them up into rings and tie the rings together in a ball. It’s exceptionally easy and can be done with all manners of toilet roll. It’s not a toy that lasts forever, of course, but it is a very easy and very fun toy that’s made out of something you usually throw away.

Cat Toy #4: Thing on a String

Cats love to chase balls, toys, and other objects that are dangling on the end of a string. Instead of buying such a toy from the store, you can very easily make something like that at home.

String cat toy

All you need is a straight stick that is long enough to allow you to play with your cat from a safe distance and thick enough to withstand your cat’s weight. You will also need some string that’s about a meter long, and literally any small, colorful object that would attract your cat’s attention. All you need to do is tie the stick to one end of the string and tie the “thing” to the other, and voila! You have a cat playing pole!

Ideas for Fun DIY Cat Furniture

Cat beds, swings, and other constructions may not seem like “toys” to the uninitiated, but if you’ve ever had a cat before, you know that they tend to play with such things as much as they sleep in them.

A hanging bed or a wall-mounted climbing post can provide hours of fun and entertainment for both you and your pet every day. And by making them yourself, you can make sure that they are exactly what your cat wants. Is your cat a climber? Or does she enjoy having easy access to a comfy swing by the window? If you know your cat’s preferences, you will easily choose which of the following ideas is perfect for her:

Cat Furniture #1: A Hanging Multi-Level Cat Bed

A hanging bed may sound like something that’s overly complicated, but it is in fact exceptionally simple. All you need is:

  • Two or more round and flat pillows

  • A long rope, a scarf, or other stripes of strong fabric

What you want to do is drill a hole somewhere in your ceiling. If you don’t have a drill or you don’t feel comfortable using one, you can always ask a friend or a relative to do it; it’s just one hole.

Two cats sitting in a  Hanging Multi-Level Cat Bed

After that, you need to put a big pin in the hole and pass the fabric through it twice. By doing that and by sewing the two ends of the fabric together, you will essentially get two long hoops of fabric—hanging from your ceiling.

Then, you can take two or three pillows and stitch them into the fabric horizontally. If the fabric is sufficiently strong and you’ve stitched the pillows well enough, they will easily hold any cat or cats. Your feline friends will have a great time jumping on the hanging beds, climbing from one end to the other, jumping off of them, swinging on them, as well as sleeping in them.

Cat Furniture #2: DIY Cat Condo Out of Wine Crates

Wine crates—or any other type of crates—are items that we often neglect and throw away as soon as we are done with the contents. This is an enormous waste for any cat owner, however, as crates make for an amazing material for cat-friendly constructions.

Image of a Old Wooden Crates

They are of the right size and shape for a cat’s bed, they are made out of a sturdy and natural material, and they can be combined with each other in a myriad of different ways. With two, three, or more wine crates, some pillows, and some blankets, you can make complex cat condos that will make your cat feel (even more so) like royalty.

You can knock off some of their walls to make for easier entrances; you can put some up horizontally and others vertically. You can nail them together—side by side or on top of each other—and compliment them with some blanket and pillows. Your cat will fall in love with them immediately.

Cat Furniture #3: Cardboard Box Cat Den

Probably the simplest and most effective contraption here, the cardboard box cat den needs only two things: a cardboard box and an old T-shirt.

All you need to do is:

  • Remove one of the sides of the cardboard box and put the T-shirt over it—with the neck of the T-shirt going over the open side of the cardboard box.

  • After that, you will want to tie together the lower sides of the T-shirt—effectively “trapping” the cardboard box in it. The sleeves of the T-shirt can simply be tucked in.

Once this is done, you’ll have an ingeniously simple den for your cat! You can put a blanket or a pillow inside it to increase your cat’s comfort. You can pin badges and toys to the front of the den (near the neck of the T-shirt) for your cat to play with from the inside. The possibilities are endless.

Cat Furniture #4: PVC Cat Bed / Hammock

Do you have some PVC pipes lying around? Are you about to throw them out? Don’t! PVC pipes are very sturdy—which makes them great for cat-friendly constructions.

Two PVC Cat Beds

Simply take what you have and arrange them in any possible shape—a square or a rectangle, a circle, a cube—and use some sheets of fabric to form cat beds and hammocks between the PVC pipes. Your cat will love sleeping in them, climbing from one hammock to the other, and so on. The more complex you can make the construction, the better.

Wrap Up

As you can see, cat toys can be made out of virtually anything—wood, cardboard boxes, PVC pipes, old crates, clothes, sheets, blankets, and even toilet paper and drinking straws. Cats really don’t care about the source of the materials; they only care about whether or not it’s fun to play with, climb on, jump off of, or sleep in.

Most DIY cat toys are very easy and cheap to make, and the ones that require some time and energy are almost always worth it. Catnip is another key component that some might view as a cheat, but it nevertheless can give your cat a lot of very fun experiences.

DIY traffic cone cat scratcher

All in all, for us, DIY is definitely the way to go when it comes to cat toys. Give it a try, and after a couple of toys or constructions, you’ll likely start to enjoy making them almost as much as your cat enjoys playing with them—which is a lot!

Do you enjoy undertaking DIY projects? Have you made many fun things for your cat before? If you have any simple and quick DIY construction tips, please share them with us in the comments section below. If you’ve made one of the toys above yet you don’t know how to get your cat to play with them, consider checking this article out.

About the author
Stella Noble
Stella Noble

Stella Noble lives in Warren, Michigan with her family and three cats. She is a Certified Cat Trainer and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.

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