20 fun and easy DIY cat toys that kitties can’t resist

Oct. 27, 2020

You have to respect an animal that can make a toy out of an empty cardboard box. Or a bag. Or a simple ball of yarn.

Whether they know it or not, cat people constantly try to prove to their felines that they, too, can make something out of nothing. For those creative moments, we’ve gathered 20 easy-to-DIY cat toys that will definitely entertain — not to mention save you a little money and perhaps reuse something you may have otherwise thrown away.

Give kitty one of these homemade cat toys, and we promise they’ll be wondering what other extraordinary things two-legged creatures like you are capable of!

1. Toilet Paper Roll Toys

They’re totally toys as is, but what cat owner wants their cat thinking they’re that lazy? Jazz up those toilet rolls you’d typically toss by stuffing some treats inside and folding the sides, as suggested by StayingCloseToHome.com. The Samantha Show spruces things up by adding colored feathers to the side of a paper towel roll and dangling it from a doorknob. Genius — that’s what they’ll be thinking.

2. Ultimate Kitty Puzzle

It’s simple, really: Take two things cats love — toilet paper rolls and boxes — and fashion them into a toy. But this is not just any cat toy. Add pipe-cleaners, a cardboard egg carton, and a few balls and you have what looks like a kitty pinball machine. @arnie_theboss, whose parents came up with the idea, is quite the pinball wizard — with whiskers.

3. Cat Scratch Door Hanger

OK, if the words “meter box and saw” mean absolutely nothing to you, skip immediately to #4. If you’re all about a small amount of Chip Gaines handiwork, this is the purr-fect project for you. Cut your wood as the Design Sponge directions suggest and glue them together with wood glue. Hot glue some sisal rope around it — note: few cats can resist sisal rope — and detail it with your favorite color string. Use a drill to make some holes where you’ll tie a leather cord and hang.

4. Tree Stump Scratch Pad

Bring the outdoors in with this scratching post that would make Paul Bunyan proud. As this YouTube video shows, use clear tape to secure your rolled cardboard (3 and a half inches thick) into a circle-like stump. Glue cork on the outside to look like bark or, as Instagram’s @sussie_and_kich did, use real bark, wood glue and tie around rope. The result is a rustic-looking stump that kitty will totally cop a squat on — especially if you add catnip.

5. Cardboard Catscraper

Styled like a skyscraper made for kitties by MAISON KUOTIDIEN, this “catscraper” is fashioned from stacked cardboard that your cat will definitely want to sharpen those claws on. The key to keeping it vertical is constructing a super sturdy base with an equally sturdy dowel positioned in the center. Stack the carefully cut cardboard pieces (one on top of the other) until get the skyscraper shape you desire. The modus operandi here: The taller the better!

6. Feather Fascinator

You’ll need loose craft feathers, mesh braids, string and needle, elastic and a small plastic ring to make this feathery toy from Dream a Little Bigger, which, like its name implies, will fully fascinate your feline friend until he or she just isn’t anymore (because: cats). First, sew the braids together into a bunch, then sew feathers to the ends of each of the braids. Bind all your mesh tubes together with some elastic, leaving a long piece for it to hang from. Tie a ring at the end.

7. Cat Dancer Toy

One reason you won’t be making this toy from Joy the Baker while your kitty is around: catnip. When kitty is napping, cut colorful felt into fun shapes, stuff each with catnip and sew both sides of the shapes together. Attach pieces of string to a rod and tie the shapes you made to the end of each. For added fun, put pom-poms and feathers on each catnip shape with hot glue.

8. Wiggle Wand Toy

Take it from Pudge, the Insta-famous cat in this how-to video, this is the toy your feline wants right meow. To make it you’ll need leather and cord thread, a wire cutter, pliers, a dowel, superglue, a bell, and felt (for the faux feathers). Pudge may or may not have fallen asleep while making this toy, but that is in no way a reflection of how fun it is to play with.

9. Cat Puzzle Toy

Cut holes in the top of a disposable food container with a utility knife (The Glam Cat burnt the edges of the holes with a lighter to make it softer on kitty’s paws). Fill the container with items your cat will totally flip over, such as catnip toys, balls, and treats. Close the container and let kitty’s noggin do the rest.

10. DIY Cat Tent

Dig through your closet for a medium-sized T-shirt which is the key ingredient for this adorable little kitty abode, courtesy of Friskies. A piece of cardboard, two wire hangers, and tape help you achieve a cool tent frame. Safety pins help you secure the shirt to the frame. Put a cozy blanket inside and your cat is ready for some shut-eye.

11. Cardboard Cat House

Take that box your kitty won’t let you throw away and turn it into something that needs its own zip code. Fancy Seeing You Here took a regular box, spray painted the inside hot pink, and used the flaps to make a roof. Cut up some construction paper for the shingles and use extra cardboard for the chimney. Time for an open house!   

12. Junk Food Cat Toys

Give your Garfield all the junk food he dreams about! Cut some colored felt into donut, burger and hot dog shapes, stuff with catnip and then sew with colored embroidery thread. All the details are over at A Beautiful Mess.

13. No Sew Pom Poms

If we had you at “no sew,” we appreciate your desire to keep things easy. These toys from Sensibly Sara are made with scraps of fleece (at least 2 inches wide), inexpensive cotton string and a pair of scissors. Catnip optional.

14. Cattail Catnip Toy

Sew4Home has a downloadable pattern for this one-seam catnip toy. You just need home decor weight fabric, matching all purpose thread, yarn, catnip, and a chopstick to achieve the right shape. Another very important tool that’s needed: a funnel, to help you get the catnip inside!

15. Traffic Cone Scratching Post

You get brownie points if you’ve ever thought about how to turn a traffic cone into a cat toy while sitting in traffic. So Fancy starts by spray painting their cone white so that none of the orange peeks through with the finished product. Hot glue rope from the bottom to the top of the cone. For extra cuteness follow their instructions for the colorful pom poms that hang on top.

16. Cat Fishing Pole

This toy is a must for any cat that’s licked its lips while gazing at the fish bowl. Making the fish might be the most complicated part of this wand-like toy by Lia Griffith, but the adorable result is well worth the effort glueing on gils. Cotton clothesline attaches the fish to the dowel which they recommend painting blue for an aquatic aesthetic.

17. T-Shirt Cat Toys

If you can tie your shoes, you can’t make this toy! Cut up your old T-shirts, says Muslin and Merlot, into 3 inch by 10 inch rectangles (the more colorful the better). Simply tie them into knots — like we said: easy, peasy!

18. DIY Fork Pom Poms

These DIY pom poms from Ventuno Art are perfect for knitters with kitties (who constantly interrupt their knitting). Wrap yarn around a fork (like spaghetti) approximately 60 times, then tie some yarn down the middle. Carefully slip it off and trim the edges on both sides. Voila, ready for a game of catch.

19. Wine Cork Cat Toy

Drinking and crafting aren’t generally recommended, but using wine corks to make cat toys totally is! Per The Link Site instructions, make a whole in the cork with a nail and use a pair of pliers to pull it out again. Use a darning needle to pull yarn through the hole. Tie tassels at the bottom and make sure the yarn is at least 30 centimeters long so you have ample dangling distance (because: claws!)

20. Cactus Scratching Post

Desert dwelling toys like this one require lots of hot glue, according to Kaylee Eylander, who dreamed this up. It may not be as easy as a yarn pom pom but the end result is definitely worth it. Cover standard ABS pipe (attached to a wood base with flushing) with sisal rope and place foam balls on top of each cactus arm. Add paint and flowers, because your cat is fancy like that.

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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