Play is not just fun for your kitty, but it’s also important to their development and health! Toys allow your cat to engage their brain, reflexes, and natural senses – mimicking many of the things their big cat cousins do in the wild. Toys that offer enrichment are great for reducing boredom, exercising the brain, and can even help reduce stress.    

Just like humans, pets can get bored with their toys after playing with the same things for a while. The good news is, you don’t have to spend a fortune getting new toys for your cat regularly. There are many ways to craft an easy cat toy with things you can find around your house! Try these 6 DIY cat toys to give your kitty a new and exciting way to play.    

1. Cat Wand

Any flashy gizmo on the end of a stick will provide hours of entertainment for most kitties. Wand toys stimulate your cat’s natural hunting instincts, and they get to engage their sense of sight and their reflexes to attempt to nab their "prey"! Here’s how to make your own wand toy.    

What you'll need:    

  • Wooden Dowel 
  • Fabric Glue 
  • Twine 
  • Jingle Bells 
  • Fabric Scraps 

What to do:     

Step 1: Wrap your wooden dowel with twine, leaving 10-12 inches at the end of the rod to dangle    

Step 2: Secure the twine with fabric glue at the base and the end    

Step 3: Place all your jingle bells on the piece of twine left at the end of the wooden dowel    

Step 4: Tie the fabric scraps to the end of the twine    

2. Cardboard "Treat Hunt" Puzzle Toy

What cat doesn't love an excuse to play with cardboard? Alleviate boredom and exercise your kitty’s mind with a fun "treat hunt." This type of enrichment helps to keep your cat’s brain sharp, by engaging their sense of smell and their natural desire to search for food. You can purchase enrichment puzzles or make your own at home - like this one!   

What you’ll need:    

  • Empty tissue box
  • Empty toilet paper rolls
  • Cat treats

What to do:    

Step 1: Hide treats inside the empty toilet paper rolls (to make it more of a challenge, you can scrunch the ends of the toilet paper rolls to "shut" them)   

Step 2: Fill the empty tissue box with the toilet paper rolls    

Step 3: Let your cat go at it!    

3. "Treats in a Bottle" Puzzle Toy

This is another take on an enrichment puzzle, where your kitty will need to use their mind to determine how to get yummy treats out of a plastic bottle (or similar container). Let your cat take their time figuring out how to move the bottle around to release the treats. This is also a great way to feed kitties their dry kibble meals, for cats who are prone to "speed eating," because the toy forces them to slow down and pace themselves while also engaging their brain!    

What you’ll need:    

  • Empty plastic bottle or empty plastic food container
  • Small cat treats
  • Scissors

What to do:    

Step 1: Cut holes in the plastic just large enough for a single cat treat to come through    

Step 2: Fill the container with cat treats    

Step 3: Place the lid on it, so the cat treats can only fall out through the holes    

4. Kitty Ball Pit

Remember all the fun of the ball pit when you were a kid? Now you can share the fun with your fur-baby by creating a cat-sized ball pit. All you need is a container and a pack of ping pong balls. Watch your kitty dive in and let the fun begin!    

What you’ll need:    

  • An empty bathtub or kiddie pool
  • Ping pong balls
  • Cat treats

What to do:    

Step 1: Fill an empty tub or kiddie pool with ping pong balls    

Step 2: Toss cat treats in, around, and under the balls    

Step 3: Let your kitty sift around in the pool for snacks!    

5. Sock Fish

Is your cat obsessed with the laundry basket? Give her a special piece of clothing she’s allowed to play with, by turning an old sock into an adorable fish! This is an easy and fun way to up-cycle old socks – plus, when the toy gets worn out you can simply toss it and make the next one.    

What you’ll need:    

  • Old sock (that you don’t mind giving up to your cat!)
  • Paper filler (paper from shipping packages and shoe boxes works well - anything that makes a good “crinkle” sound when you scrunch it up)
  • Sharpie marker (optional)

What to do:    

Step 1: Fill the sock with paper, leaving a little room at the opening (to tie a knot and have a bit of tail left)    

Step 2: Tie off the opening of the sock in a knot, creating a tail for your fish    

Step 3: (Optional) Draw an eye and mouth on your little fish toy!    

Idea credit:     

6. Knotted Ball

What to do with that old t-shirt that you aren’t ready to throw out? Turn it into a toy for your best FUR-iend. With a few cuts into the fabric, you can tie an old shirt in knots to create a soft ball that your kitty can bat around the house to her heart’s content.    

What you’ll need:    

  • An old t-shirt
  • Scissors

What to do:    

Step 1: Lay the shirt flat onto a workspace, and cut it along the side seams and around the sleeves to open it up as one piece of fabric.    

Step 2: Open up the shirt and cut one of the flat panels of fabric into strips by cutting in a curved snake-like pattern, back and forth, along the short side of the fabric. Be sure to leave approximately 1 inch from the uncut edge as you cut. Gently pull the strips, allowing the shirt material to curl inwards into tubular strands.    

Step 3: Tie the strands into a knot, then wrap around it to form a ball; continue wrapping strands until you've made a ball of desired size.    

Step 4: To bind off, knot the working strand at the top of the ball to form (this will also prevent the yarn ball from unraveling). Cut the ends, leaving a tail so that you may hang the toy from a door handle or use it to play with your cat.