Homemade cat toys are super easy to make and way more fun for your cats than expensive store-bought toys. On this page you can learn how to make all sorts of homemade cat toys.
On this page you'll find ideas for homemade cat toys made out of things you'd normally throw away. There are homemade cat toys made out random stuff. There are homemade cat toys to knit and crochet and build. Spend a little time making these cat toys and your kitty will have tons of fun!
Picture by me, AlishaV
Always Be Careful
Toys should only be used under appropriate supervision.
Always be cautious. Strings can get tangled around kitty, buttons can come off, they can easily swallow and choke on millions of things.
Always use common sense, and remember, if your cat can get himself in trouble, he will.
Making Cat Toys Out of Everyday Objects
The Carrot Killer
My cats really seem to like things that have fallen off the counter. Celery pieces, leafy lettuce or kale, and carrot circles are all favorites. The top of the list though, belongs to baby carrots. Brightly colored and a great shape, those little things are great for slapping around on the kitchen floor and 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 boxes make great cat toys. Cats will usually claim a box as soon as it enters your home, and a few of mine try to jump inside them while I'm carrying them in. My bunch's favorite is probably soda boxes, they're a nice size and have a built in viewing port that doubles as an attack spot, lol. Any old box will do though, and adding holes to it makes it even more enticing.
Picture by me, AlishaV
Pill Bottle 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.
Altering Household Items to Make Cat Toys
Pens and Pencils
Most cat's 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 giving them pencils with erasers. Some cats will chew on these and swallow pieces. It's better if you pull off or cut off the eraser before giving it to your cat.
And 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.
The shape and size of pens and pencils is eternally interesting to most cats for some reason, and they'll most likely play with them for hours.
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 little babies lay under and can look up at and play with, and hang some cat toys from it. You can easily pick up the 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.
Another Free Cat Toy
Find a plastic soda bottle cap, I like the big mouth 1 liter caps, but use whatever you have laying around. Using a drill on slow speed, or you can do it carefully with a sharp nail and a hammer, poke a hole through the soda bottle cap. Use thick string or a shoelace, and 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 to not 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 there, and then tie a knot in the middle of the fabric holding the catnip permanently in place and forming a nice little knot for your kitties to easily grab hold of. Though it's super simple, cats love to bat these around the floor and sink their teeth into them. Just make sure they 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.
This is a bit of an odd toy for a cat. It is actually a crawfish or crayfish trap made out of a plastic 2 liter soda bottle, and I made it for an article I wrote. But while making the trap for the pictures in the article, my cats decided to give me some assistance. They kept sticking their paws inside and rolling it across the floor and taking off with it. When I finished the project the cats claimed it as their own. Since they liked it anyways, I sprinkled a bit of dry cat food inside, so it makes an interesting noise and has a bit of movement and they swat it all over the house. They really want to try and stick their heads inside, which don't fit, and it makes them even more excited since they don't understand why they can't get at the food, and they can see it right in front of them since the plastic is clear. Occasionally, a piece of dry kitty kibble will fall out and that makes them like it even more. Follow the link to see plans on building the crawfish trap: How to Make a Crawfish Trap out of a Plastic Bottle
If purposefully making this for a cat just follow the directions, it works just fine, though you may want to consider making it using a 1 liter bottle instead of the normal 2 liter soda bottle. One of my cats seemed a little intimidated by the size. They're so cheap and easy though, you may want to just make two to see which your cat likes better.
Vote for your cats' favorites and move the greatest toys up the list!
General Ideas for Making Cat Toys
To keep the cat's toys fresh and interesting, keep all but a couple put away in a toy chest. Every week or so switch the cats toys out with something else. The cats will be excited to have "new" toys and will go crazy over them again.
Making Cat Trees and Scratching Posts
A Simple Cat Tree
If you have a wildland area around you or a place that sells firewood, consider checking around and looking for a tree trunk to use for a cat tree. A good, solid piece of wood is a wonderful treat for your kitties. They love the smell of the outdoors and the feel of real wood to claw on, though be prepared, they can make quite a bit of a mess. Placing the tree piece inside a clear or black plastic trash bag and leaving it on your lawn in the sun for a few hours will kill anything living on it so you don't bring them inside your home.
Playing Games with Your Cat
Kitties Playing with Pumpkins
One Halloween, after I carved the pumpkins, I realized here was yet another kitty toy. Hollowed out pumpkins make fun and different playthings for the kitties and my kitties definitely enjoyed a chance to play with them and one of them even enjoyed 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 because the pumpkin will seep a little after getting cut up. The next day, use a paper towel to dry out the inside thoroughly, and 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, and 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, but it can be a fun way to reuse your jack-o'-lanterns or those pumpkins on sale right after the holiday. Do not use the styrofoam pumpkins, the cats could accidentally ingest some and styrofoam is extremely bad for them.
Try adding the cat's own scent to their new toy. Rub it under their neck on their scent glands and usually the cat will like it better. Or take the toy with you to work one day. It will get all sorts of new and interesting smells that will really intrigue kitty.
Do Other Stuff for Your Cat