Homemade Cat Toys

Homemade cat toys are free and as effective as purchased cat toys therefore they are better 😉 – Cats like kids can tire of toys so it makes sense to avoid splashing out on them because they’ll end up under the bed or sideboard and ultimately in the bin (trash can). Here are some examples of homemade toys for cats.

Homemade cat toys

Homemade cat toys

Cat Toy Paper Ball

Well, one of the simplest toys I can ever remember playing with my cats when I was a little child was just a plain old crumpled up piece of paper that was rolled up into a ball. It provided hours of enjoyment for not only the cat but for me as well!

There is something to be said about the simplicity of this toy. So many cat lovers think they have to provide their feline friends with expensive cat toys in order to amuse them. This is certainly not the case. The paper ball cat toy has withstood the test of time!

All you have to do to make this cat toy is to take a plain sheet of standard 8 ½” x 11’’ paper and crumple it into a nice compact ball. You may have to squash the ball down quite a bit so that the ball has some density to it, and this will also make it roll better. The cat ball toy should be approximately 1 ½ inches in diameter. Make sure it is large enough so that your cat will not be able to swallow it.


I have to put in this well known video because it is such a perfect toy. The cat makes the raw material for it.

Ping pong cat toy

Another one of the great homemade toys that is very inexpensive and is found at almost any store is the ping pong ball. You may even happen to have a few of these just lying around the house. This toy does not give the same effect as the paper ball does, but the ping pong ball is much smoother so it will tend to roll much faster and a lot farther. Also, there are not places for your cat to grab onto this ball so it will move uncontrollably while your feline is going crazy trying to catch it!

String Cat Toy

Another one of the classic cat toys is a string. It can usually be made out of anything but the best thing to use is string or yarn. Cut off just enough string to make a toy for your kitty. This should be approximately more than three feet since you do not want to get scratched. Twitch or dangle it in front of your kitty. It can literally drive your cat insane if he is not allowed at some point to grab it. You want to reward him after several tries but letting him grab it so that he will not become frustrated.

You might want to tie the yarn or string to something like a wand or a ruler so that you will be able to hold something while you are twirling the yarn in front of your cat. You will quickly notice that your cat will strike at the very tip of the string or yarn. If you want to give him something to aim for then it would be a good idea to tie either a double or a triple knot at the end of the string or yarn. When your cat finally gets the idea that this thing is a toy, then you can try running around the house with the toy dragging behind you. This will tire you both out but it is a good way for you and your kitty to get some exercise.

Make sure that you use something that will not be detrimental to your cat. Fishing line is not a good choice and ribbon will shred too easily. Choose a thicker string so that your cat will not ingest it. String should not be left lying around as it can be dangerous to a cat. String needs to be managed.

Cylinder Cat Toy

These types of cat toys involve can-shaped things that roll. There are many ways that you can go about making a cylinder cat toy. Two will be explained here, but they are by no means the only way to go about constructing these toys.

If you want to make a noisy cylinder cat toy, then take some dry rice or even dry beans. Put them in a cylinder like a roll that film comes in or a tiny plastic container and tightly close them up. When you roll the cylinder cat toy, it will make a clattering sound that will surely delight your cat. Cautious or smaller cats may not be attracted to this toy because of its noise. For them, you will have to try to make another cylinder cat toy. All you need is a used up toilet paper tube. Just put it on the ground and let you cat go to it! He will likely try to bat at it and then the tube will scamper out of place with your cat hot on its trail!

You want to make sure that if you are making a filled cylinder cat toy that you cat will not be able to swallow any of the pieces just in case they would escape. It would likely make your cat quite unhappy and very sick.

Empty Boxes

Some cats adore empty boxes. They are potentially great toys. I am thinking of the now famous Maru. I think he is a Japanese cat. And I think he is a he! This cat is a slightly overweight classic tabby and white moggie. And he loves playing with boxes. Either diving into small open ended ones or large ones standing on end.

Catnip and Matatabi

Are these cat toys? Probably yes. I discuss them here: The Cat Drugs of Catnip and Matatabi

You can grow your own catnip so that qualifies catnip as a homemade cat toy!

Just grow it in the garden and you have a cat toy of sorts:

catnip growing
photo copyright ChageAUS (Flickr)

Cat Tease

A cat tease is really easy to make. They have to be because they are really cheap to buy at a cat show for example (about a dollar). The best cat teases are very simple. Just a piece of thin wood or bamboo that you can buy at any Do It Yourself store and a feather. You can find these on the ground often. If you can’t find a feather something that flops and glistens will do; perhaps something for Christmas decorations.

Ken Flick the cat wrangler to the great American cat photographer, Helmi Flick uses these teases to great effect. You can see one in action in this video:


In this video you’ll see a plain bit of cylindrical wood for “beading” and a feather taped to the end. Ken made this up in seconds. The cat is a Bengal show cat of great presense and he is definitely interested in the homemade cat toy.


Here are two contributions on homemade cat toys from Finn (Denmark) and Valley Girl (Atlanta, USA) who have good ideas…..they are both in their own words…

Update 19-11-09 from Finn Frode:

A couple more ideas for Homemade Cat Toys:

A variation on the paper ball theme is making the ball from standard household aluminum foil. If squashed well, the aluminum ball will roll real fast and make a good rattling noise – especially on non-carpeted floors. The balls usually end up under the furniture only to be found again much later…

Another almost free toy is the flash light. Not all cats understands this game, but those who do, will chase a patch of light across the floor, jump at it and maybe even follow their own tail to get it.


Update 20-11-09 from Valley Girl:

Tootsie [Valley Girl’s beautiful polydactyl Maine Coon cat] is doing great. She is becoming more cat-like and more demanding. It’s really fun. I don’t know if you remember my post about her “inventing” the twist tie toy. A while back I bought a roll of wire covered in green plastic from the hardware store- meant for plant ties. I was, of course, worried that the ordinary twist ties – short and paper covered – would be dangerous for her. I cut off lengths of ~8 inches – way too long for her swallow accidentally – and coil them up, and toss them to her. She goes nuts stalking and attacking them. Leaping cat, jumping cat, twirling cat. She gets all fluffed up, and goes into quivering attack mode. Hilarious.

It is now my duty to toss twist ties to her. She makes that plain- if I haven’t done sufficient duty for the day, and am, say sitting at my computer downstairs, she appears from upstairs, her usual hangout, and meows in the most plaintive fashion until I follow her upstairs and “obey” the “toss me twist ties” command.

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