Sunday, February 22, 2009

Cat toy creativity

I have purchased many toys for my cats over the years: roly-poly balls with bells inside, fur-covered mice, catnip-stuffed items, faux-fur snakes, fish with ribbon tail fins and a tennis ball. However, the many years with my cats have yield some consistent favorites: a well-mangled fabric mouse stuffed with catnip, a partially mangled burlap mouse stuffed with fiber-fill and catnip, and for my older cat, her Pound Puppy. How do I know these are their favorites? I have a basket in which I place all the cat toys and the favorites are the ones consistently retrieved and used. (The Pound Puppy migrates from room-to-room in the house.)

Since I needed to pick up some Hairball Remedy for the cats at the pet store, I was exposed to all the potential cat toys an owner can purchase for her cats. I stared at the variety of items and knew my cats really liked catnip toys. I almost bought another one since that mangled mouse was several years old and looking to be perforated in the near future. Then I recalled I am trying to be more self-sufficient. I have catnip at home and lots of fabric scraps. I could sew my cats a new catnip-filled toy.

So rather than buying new, I patched the burlap mouse that had fiberfill exposed (not great for cat digestive systems) with some leftover denim. I had some worry the cats would now ignore the toy, but was happily proven wrong. Then I found a nearly full bag of catnip that had not been touched for some years, explored my stash of fabric and used my sewing machine to create a 2 inch by 2 inch square bag in which to dump the found catnip. One more row of stitching to keep the catnip from flying around and I tossed the new toy on the floor. Within seconds, my cats were licking and drooling all over the newest catnip toy. Success!

These two toys, repaired and new, cost me some time, fabric and thread. I kept what my cats had in good shape, added to their (addictive) entertainment and kept $5.59 plus tax in my pocket. With this achievement behind me, I plan on considering other ways to add to the cat's collection by using what I have on hand and some creativity rather than buying new. I could even grow my own catnip!


  1. I'm trying my hand at sewing for the first time ever and I tried to make one of those fabric birds that are so wildly popular. It didn't come out very well but my kittens adore it. The also love leftover wrapping paper and toilet paper rolls (the cardboard part)

  2. This post had me laughing because I used to buy every toy out there for my dogs. But over the last few years, I've bought nothing, all they have left are 2 plush puppies - that was all they ever played with anyway. I think the other toys were for my benefit!

  3. @badhuman,
    Most of the toys are really designed for human aesthetics not cat entertainment. So your creation sewn with love was appreciated by your cats.

    When my cats were younger, they really played with the plastic rings from around milk jugs. Not so much any more, but a nice "free" toy.

    I always thought it was ironic my older cat has a stuffed puppy as her toy. I am still trying to figure out what to do with the items my cats do not want. Do people even take used cat toys?