The Hervey Foundation for Cats

DIY Cat Toys to Keep Your Kitty Engaged

DIY cat toys graphic

Do you feel like your cat is bored? Are they not getting enough stimulation through the day? There are plenty of ways to provide them with engaging and fun toys made right at home. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to keep your cat interested. 

Cat Puzzle

A cat puzzle is only as limited as your imagination. Keeping in mind the sorts of things cats enjoy – fishing their paws into holes to grab things, feathers, places to rub their cheeks, little objects that make noise when they move (to name a few) – head to the recycling bin and grab some materials.

A hot glue gun goes a long way on this project as you are essentially setting up a workstation for your cat. Things like Amazon or other shipping boxes make a great base. If you can, try to use a shallow box. If you don’t have one on-hand, trim the height of the box you are using to the height of about two pizza boxes.

With your box at the right size, start setting up the activities. Some samples of activities:

  • Glue toilet paper rolls upright and fill them with treats
  • Trim toilet paper or paper towel rolls into small rings and scatter them about
  • Place some tissue paper (the crinkly stuff used for gift bags) in a section large enough for them to sit or lay down
  • Glue some string or yarn across two paper towel rolls
  • Tie a piece of string to a small catnip pillow (you can make your own by cutting up old t-shirts and tying them into knots with catnip in the centre), then fix the other end of the string to the cat puzzle.
  • Rinse out a milk carton and cut around the top to remove it entirely – leaving a long shaft. Cut a small hole in the centre of the bottom and then push the top section (the one you just removed) onto the bottom of the carton. Pour a few treats into the bottom of the carton after mounting it to the cat puzzle, just high enough that the spout (which is now glued to the bottom of the carton) is just above the bottom of the base of the puzzle. Your cat can now fish their arm into the tall open-topped carton to push treats into the hole at the bottom, and then they’ll drop out the spout and into the bottom of the puzzle.

In truth, you can add anything to a cat puzzle. It really is up to you and what you think your cat would be interested in.

Feather Toys

Feather toys are fun for cats, though they can ‘shed’ quite easily. By their very nature, feathers are easy for cats to grab a hold of and rip off of a toy or any other place they may find them. Feather toys can be made by collecting enough cat-safe feathers from a hobby store and tying their stems with multiple layers of string or yarn. You can swish them around or let your cats roll on the floor with them.

Cardboard Tree Stump

This one is interesting, and examples can be found online. A carboard cat tree stump is essentially the recreation of a tree stump using old carboard box panels. First step is to cut up a box into panels of varying lengths, but all the same height. Using duct or packing tape, start creating a circle shape, working your way outwards layer-by-layer. Once you feel your stump is at the right size, you can wrap it with a few extra tape layers, or, using a hot glue gun, glue a layer of cork around the sides. What you are left with is a large, round, stump-shaped object, that even looks like it has rings – much like a real tree! Your cat will love to sit on it or scratch to its heart’s content.

Tupperware Treat Puzzle

You probably shouldn’t use real Tupperware, as it is expensive and cheaper alternatives can be found at your nearest dollar store. Once you have your chosen container in-hand, carefully using a blade or hobby knife, cut openings into the container large enough for a cat to stick their arm in. Make sure the cuts are smooth and won’t hurt your cat. Afterward, put some treats into the container and watch your cat try to get them. If they get the treats right away, pull the lid off and, using a hot glue gun, add strips of cardboard to create a bit of a maze. Once finished the gluing, add treats and throw the lid back on.

Cat-Fishing Rod

All you need is a stick, string, and something to tie to the end as ‘bait’ (a catnip knot works perfectly here). Tie the string to one end of your stick or rod, then the other end to the item that will be your bait. Catnip or not, your cat will love trying to attack the item on the end of your line. It’s like fishing for a cat!

Wine Cork Toy

A wine cork toy can be a really fun way to get your cat racing into their predator instincts. Take a cork and cut a small hole all the way through it. The hole should be large enough for yarn or string to fit. Fish the string or yarn through the hole using a BBQ skewer or something thin but strong enough to push them through. Once through, tie some knots so the string can’t pass back through and go to town! Your cat will love playing with the string and the heavier cork can emulate small prey!

Catnip Yarn Ball

A marriage of two classic cat items, the catnip yarn ball is simple and hits the spot with your kitty. Put catnip in some paper towel or a napkin, and then start wrapping it in yarn until you have a large yarn ball. Once finished, tie off the yarn so it doesn’t unravel immediately, then toss it over to your cat and watch them enjoy!

Cat Castle

Lastly, the cat castle. If you haven’t seen our article detailing how to build an exciting cat castle, click here. We get into details such as structural supports and how to style them!