Cat toys that work for hours?
November 12, 2012 9:40 PM   Subscribe

What is a cat toy / thing i can make that will keep my cat exercising all day at home?

My cat has a weight problem and expresses lest interest in playing than most and is in need of some serious weight loss. He's pretty darn picky about toys but seems to love ear buds and a shiny jingly ball that rolls around. I would just get more balls but sadly they're small and always get lost under things in my large home. I've tried the larger battery balls that roll around but I find animals dont care about things to chase if they're bigger than they're own head. He also has no interest in the laser toys that run on their own. What has worked for you?
posted by JJkiss to Pets & Animals (31 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
What about a Roomba? I know a few fat cats that think those are great.

Mind you, at least one of them has figured out he can sit on it and it'll carry him around but still! Movement! Yay!
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 9:42 PM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Bottle caps, from 20 ounce soda bottles, especially when left on the ledge of a seat, shelf or table, seems completely irresistible. I'm not the only cat owner to have discovered this.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:43 PM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

I second the bottle caps, but if you are at all inclined toward craftiness, you can cover them in scraps of yarn or fabric. I crochet a cover for them or wind them in yarn and leave/add long tails. Totally mindless, 5 minute thing that you can do while watching TV. Provides an endless stream of fun! exciting! new! toys.
posted by peacrow at 9:52 PM on November 12, 2012

You can make balls from tin foil. Not jingly but all kinds of shiny and cheap, so just make a bunch! My cat loves them.

He also generally loves everything not marketed as a cat toy. So right now his favorite thing is a coffee scoop I dropped on the floor. Also beloved are twist ties (the large ones for like produce so as not to lead to PROBLEMS), and bottle caps.
posted by grapesaresour at 10:13 PM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Right time of year to look for this - big jingle bell ornaments that hang on xmas tree. My mom has three that she specifically puts on the bottom of her tree that her cats friggin' love. Those things end up all over her house. I'm pretty sure I saw some of these at Target in the last week. They are big enough they won't roll under the fridge or stove. I'm guessing they're about two to three inches.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 10:17 PM on November 12, 2012

Cats do love plastic bottle caps. They also love the spacers you use when you put down tile. They also sell compressed catnip balls. Does your cat like to chase stuff at all? Maybe get one of those dangly feather toys and hang it from a door knob.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 10:21 PM on November 12, 2012

The little curl of plastic you get when you unseal the cap on a gallon jug is popular enough with cats, that I've actually seen cat toy manufacturers try to sell imitations of it. You can't call them cheap knock-offs, because at a buck for a little baggie of what you're normally tossing in the trash for free, the knock-off is actually more expensive than the original. That, along with the aforementioned bottlecap and foil ball, are like the holy trinity of cat toy findings.

(One time I gave my little grey shorthaired princesskitten the cap-curl from a 5 gallon water cooler bottle, and she just stared at it in wide-eyed awe for a few minutes before she could bring herself to play with it. You could see the little gears turning as she pondered what kind of jug that it had to have come from.)
posted by radwolf76 at 10:51 PM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Seconding milk jug plastic rings. Our cat doesn't like many "typical" cat toys, but loved that and a toy called a "Cat Dancer."
posted by evolvinglines at 11:13 PM on November 12, 2012

The rolled up ball of aluminum foil is always a hit with my fuzzballs. One even played fetch with it. Well, more that she would chase it and bat it around after I tossed it, and then once satisfied she had killed it dead would bring the defeated foil ball over to me and drop it in my lap to order another go round.
posted by demons in the base at 11:24 PM on November 12, 2012

My cat loves rubber bands, paper bags, and cardboard boxes.
posted by SisterHavana at 11:55 PM on November 12, 2012

My cat loves rubber bands

So does mine, but I don't let her have them.
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:58 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

My cat loved this toy called the Cat Dancer that comes in a version that sticks to the wall. I had the version that you twirled yourself and it was a big hit.
posted by dottiechang at 12:16 AM on November 13, 2012

I got some pen caps and put bought some feathers off eBay. I put suguru in the pen cap then pushed the feathers in. My cats will throw them around the room and chase after them. They do chew through the feathers pretty quickly. I got the idea from the da bird toy which they love.

I have also had a cat that played fetch with the milk bottle rings mentioned above.
posted by poxandplague at 1:04 AM on November 13, 2012

My cat goes wild over brown paper bags and cardboard boxes! He loves sticking his paw in them and moving it around and seeing the paper shake, or pushing the box to make it move, and then pouncing on it. He also loves running into either a box or a paper bag, and then peaking out, etc.

If you left a couple of brown paper bags (maybe on their sides? and possibly with a head-sized hole cut though them), and a couple of cardboard boxes (same), he might well love it. Plus, it's free!
posted by UniversityNomad at 1:05 AM on November 13, 2012

Lucy (also a bit of a lardo) likes things that are made of fur, such as those little toy mice that look real. But as others have said, the smaller toys easily get lost under things and once she's chased something under the sofa she instantly loses interest in it.

She also likes toys that are hanging so she can bat them about. If they're slightly out of reach, so much the better as she has to jump and stretch more to get them. Her favourite at the moment is a flying squirrel (courtesy of Specklet, IIRC). But sometimes the squirrel gets Lucy ...
posted by essexjan at 3:24 AM on November 13, 2012

seconding the Cat Dancer and the pulltabs-from-plastic-jugs.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:54 AM on November 13, 2012

A kitten!
posted by something something at 5:00 AM on November 13, 2012 [9 favorites]

Not answering your ultimate question, but are you feeding your cat too much? You might want to speak to your vet about that if you haven't already.
posted by Seboshin at 5:04 AM on November 13, 2012

Our cat Sid seconds the bottle-cap retention rings - I found 26 under the stove! - and the kibble ball, but what really gets him going are the white plastic tripods that pizza places put in the middle of the delivery box to hold the lid up off the pizza.
posted by nicwolff at 5:04 AM on November 13, 2012

Wine corks! My cat seems to like to bat it around and then strut around with it in her mouth, since she can dig her teeth into the cork.
posted by thirdletter at 6:09 AM on November 13, 2012

One of our cats is obsessed with my daughters plain ponytail bands, and will play with them all the time.
posted by maxg94 at 6:24 AM on November 13, 2012

I used to have a small scatter rug and every once in a while, I hid a square of bubble wrap or wrapping paper under the rug and left it in the hall. I would always come home to find the the rug/paper beaten into submission and left somewhere else in the house.

I also used to pick up 2nd hand baby socks at yard sales and sew in catnip, crinkly paper, foil, buttons, a ping pong ball (anything that would make noise when the sock was moved). Really cheap and no big deal if they got lost.

You can also buy a second small water dish and move it around the house at random. Always leave some water at the usual spot until you notice that the cat is drinking from the new bowl.

If you have multiple rooms and lots of doors, close off different rooms at random (making sure not to close in the cat!). We had handle latch doors (not knobs) and by closing different rooms, the cat learned how to jump up and open the latches but it did keep him exercised.

If I ever get another cat, I am going to try leaving an old iPod somewhere in the house connected to my WiFi. My mom's cat loves the chirpy tone I use for new mail and will go into my purse to dig out my iPod if I leave it unzipped.
posted by jaimystery at 6:28 AM on November 13, 2012

One of our cats is obsessed with my daughters plain ponytail bands, and will play with them all the time.

Don't mean to be a worrywart, but I met someone who had to take her cat in for surgery because she (the cat) kept eating them.
posted by sebastienbailard at 6:40 AM on November 13, 2012

My kitties always loved pipecleaners that were coiled into a spiral. Not big floofy arts-and-crafts pipecleaners but regular Dill's pipecleaners (choose the soft ones, not the bristle ones.) They are cheap, available at the supermarket, painless to step on and not a swallowing hazard for the kitty.
posted by workerant at 7:31 AM on November 13, 2012

A flexible rod, like a clothes hanger, straightened out and bent/hooked over the top of a closed door with an object dangling from string at just about the cat's jumping height limit. It's gettable but sproings away when released.
posted by No Shmoobles at 7:42 AM on November 13, 2012

The only toy my cat will play with for hours is an empty plastic easter egg (the kind you're supposed to fill with candy). We separate the two halves and he goes nuts, he can carry it around and drop it when he feels like playing. This may be very cat specific (he found one outside and brought it home before we made him an indoor cat, so maybe he views them as real life prey?) but our new kitten is starting to love this toy, too.
posted by thesocietyfor at 8:57 AM on November 13, 2012

The toy that my cat plays with the most on her own is this turbo scratcher thing. She completely ignores the scratching part of it, but she loves attacking the ball and watching it spin around. She also likes having something to hide behind or in next to the ball so that she can have the element of surprise. YMMV though because she is a pretty hyper-active cat in general.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:39 AM on November 13, 2012

put a spring tension curtain rod in a doorway and hang things from it on elastic, so they bounce and move away when he bats at them.
posted by lemniskate at 9:51 AM on November 13, 2012

My cats are nuts for emery boards, both regular sand papery ones and those spongy buffers. Every single one of mine has cat tooth impressions.

We have more cat toys that any store and they're all well played with. Every so often we move larger items aside and dig out all the toys. Then it's like new all over again.

For interactive play they love the feather on a stick. Also the laser pointer.

The cats have taken to hanging out on the treadmill recently. I wonder if they'd walk on it...
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:33 AM on November 13, 2012

My older cat's favorite toy for months was a plastic spork.
posted by telophase at 1:15 PM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Pingpong ball(s) in the bathtub. My kitty will chase one around in there for hours, and it doesn't roll away under the furniture like they do outside of the tub.
posted by lollusc at 5:22 AM on November 17, 2012

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