Homemade, DIY, Easy to Intermediate, Cat Toy Crafts?
December 1, 2017 3:21 PM   Subscribe

For the holidays I want to invite my fellow cat lady friends over to make homemade cat toys. Do you have any ideas for crafts we can make? Easy/beginner level would be ideal because though I am a pretty advanced crafter, some of my friends are not, and some also have disabilities which may limit their movement so I am looking for accessible activities as well. Bonus if the craft is from recycled/upcycled materials. I checked the search bar but came up short, but please link me if I missed any previous relevant Asks. = )
posted by shalom to Grab Bag (13 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Two ideas immediately come to mind:

Kitty Christmas Crackers - toilet paper tube, stuffed with small packets of catnip inside tissue envelopes and some premade toys like mice or jingle balls. Wrap with tissue paper and twist closed using dabs of flour paste for glue if needed (no string for cats to swallow). Decorate with markers. For authenticity also include a bad cat pun joke and tissue paper crown to bother cat with.

Surprise Balls - get crepe paper in lots of pretty colors and an array of tiny fun cat toy things. Small envelopes of catnip, craft pompoms, plastic rings from milk jugs, dry treats, and maybe a mouse toy or ball for the center. Start with the biggest toy and wrap in crepe paper. Add toys from largest to flattest/smallest as you wrap, pretty much covering the previous thing before you add the next. Change colors of crepe when you like and try to make a ball shape as you go. Crepe paper is really stretchy so you should be able to get better shaping than you might expect. I feel like this would be a good craft for two people to do if one is dealing with precision mobility issues - they can hold the items onto the ball and direct while another wraps, or take turns. When you've got everything in there do another layer of crepe to make it pretty (sprinkle some catnip in there to entice destruction), use a bit of tape to secure the end and add some construction paper decorations. Some ideas are paper snowflakes, cat ears eyes and a nose to make it look like the recipient, a paper bow (again, no string or ribbon), or a scene of the cat's favorite prey in its natural habitat (fish in the sea, birds in a tree, etc) drawn on with markers.

In both cases, give to the cat while being observed and encourage them to rip it open and find the goodies inside. Maybe put the surprise balls in a large box to attempt to corral the mess?

Another more advanced crafter idea is miniature tshirt quilts made of the cat ladies' old shirts that their cats love to lay on. You could make cute patches on any holes or stains after cutting out the designs and do a flat fleece backing, maybe do mostly iron-on quilting stuff? I'm not a quilter myself but I could hack it if I came to someone's house who had the right supplies and space for it.

This sounds awesome, are you near Seattle by any chance? Can I invite myself over?
posted by Mizu at 3:50 PM on December 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

My cats are fans of little pockets of fabric filed with a jingle bell and some catnip, maybe with a ribbon or two sewn to the outside, for a pseudo mouse tail.

They also like to play soccer with pompoms, like what you can buy at a craft store like Michael's or equivalent.
posted by fancyoats at 3:51 PM on December 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

There are several good ideas at our the shelter we’ve adopted from’s website.

I have had success using old spools from sewing thread and hot gluing feathers (bought in bags from craft stores) into the ends. If you’re not comfortable with feathers I’ve also done twine with a bell on the end. Also wool felt works nicely for stuffed toys, it doesn’t fray.
posted by librarianamy at 4:26 PM on December 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

The crafty volunteers at our shelter make kicker toys that don't look too hard. They're a big hit.
posted by theweasel at 4:27 PM on December 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

I received a felted wool ball with catnip in it last year and my cat still loves it. It's something like this except mine is about the size of a tennis ball. Obligatory cat pic.
posted by carolr at 4:57 PM on December 1, 2017

I've had this DIY kitty self-petting station on my to-do list for a while.
posted by ghostbikes at 5:06 PM on December 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

My friend made a great cat toy from a rectangular ziploc container. She cut a couple holes in the top and put some cat toys inside that could fit through the holes. The cats have a great time trying to paw the toys out of the holes.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 5:26 PM on December 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Stuff old baby socks with catnip. Glue or tie shut.
posted by luckynerd at 5:31 PM on December 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

My friend made a great cat toy from a rectangular ziploc container. She cut a couple holes in the top and put some cat toys inside that could fit through the holes. The cats have a great time trying to paw the toys out of the holes.

As an alternative to the plastic container, you can do something similar using a cardboard box and cutting holes into that. A shoe box or standard sized amazon type box would work. I've done this myself and it was quite successful. It won't last forever, but my kitty enjoyed it.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:56 PM on December 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wow, too many good ideas here! I have to mull it over. Thanks all. I will post results after the event. = ) Feel free to post more if you have any more ideas.
posted by shalom at 12:39 AM on December 2, 2017

Google cat activity board and then make them out of cardboard and hot glue.
posted by Iteki at 12:39 AM on December 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

You could resurrect the old Hartz Batta Bag. It's essentially a sock (or sock-shaped stretchy material) with batting and maybe some catnip in it. Tie or sew off the open end. Add a bell or decorative ribbon if desired. My late, lamented Bo joyfully rabbit-kicked his way through I don't know how many of those.
posted by bryon at 2:27 AM on December 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

Get ping pong balls. Decorate with things that won't hurt the cat.
posted by theora55 at 9:00 AM on December 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

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