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5 Simple and Easy Cat Toys to Make at Home : Make Your Cat Chase String for Hours!

Updated on June 24, 2011

It seems that cats know what things are bought for them, and the things that are bought for us. They tend to prefer our things over their own. If we bring them home a cat bed... they sleep in our bed. And if we bring them a post to scratch on... they choose the arm of the couch...

A similar story goes for cat toys and your kitty’s interest in those toys. We go to the store and pick up a packet of rattling toy mice to entertain the kitty, yet he bats at them for a few minutes then walks away disinterested. Though some cats are truly fascinated by store bought toys, many seem to prefer the simpler things (like drinking out of our water glass). So instead of buying something for your kitty, here are some simple toys that you can make or find around your house that your cat is guaranteed to love.

Kitty's Favorite Toys

What is your cat's favorite toy?

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#1 : The Stick

As basic as they come... a stick or twig from the tree outside. Find a nice switch that is long enough for you to drag around without you having to bend awkwardly. It should also be slender and bendable so that the kitty can claw, bite and bat at it without it splintering. This delightful toy is best used outdoors, so you can run around with your cat playfully chasing you.

The joy of this toy is that it is hard to lose, you can always find another stick to use for kitty entertainment. Cats love this toy because when it drags across any surface it makes an irresistible scratching sound that can get any cats attention. Also, they can kick, bite and scratch the item to their hearts content ... without leaving any unwanted “kitty love marks” on yourself.

#2 : Hair Bands

The medium size rubber hair band is a personal favorite of my cat. He commonly steals them when I leave them on the sink edge while I am doing my hair in the morning. He likes to carry it around in is mouth and hoard them under the couch. He pulls them out randomly and bats them around the floor.

For the extra mile, tie on some ribbon or yarn to the hair band and swing it about. That way your can get the kitty moving and chasing and (if your lucky) some fantastic arial acrobatics.

Jumping kitty's burn 3x the calories than that of an un-active cat.  I just made that statistic up, but my cat isn't fat, and he jumps a lot :)
Jumping kitty's burn 3x the calories than that of an un-active cat. I just made that statistic up, but my cat isn't fat, and he jumps a lot :)

#3 : Crumpled Paper or Aluminum Foil

Find a sheet of newspaper or a sheet of aluminum foil and crumple it into a tight ball. Then toss it across the room and watch the kitty chase the delightful item. The crumpled paper or foil makes a noise that many cats cannot resist. This toy is best received upon tiled, laminated or wood floors because it give optimum rustling noise (and it is fun to watch the cat slip and skitter on the floor after the paper/ aluminum ball). Just be careful of losing a few of these under the fridge or stove ...

#4 : Bottle Cap or Wine Cork

After opening a bottle, whether of beer or wine, toss the cap on the floor near your kitty. The noise can get their attention and cause them to investigate. Then push it around the floor so that it makes noise and moves, further peaking the cat’s interest. The cat will then chase it around (much like the crumpled paper or aluminum foil). This toy is also best on uncarpeted surfaces since it allows easier movement of the cap or cork as your kitty bats it about. 

When all else fails, buy your cat  a handheld game system and turn the screen saver on.  Or buy a laser pointer - every cat's arch nemesis.
When all else fails, buy your cat a handheld game system and turn the screen saver on. Or buy a laser pointer - every cat's arch nemesis.

#5 : String (All time favorite)

The classic cat toy, yet it works so well. Find a piece of yarn or ribbon and get the kitty chasing it by pulling an end of the string within their range. This toy is best when you can drag the string around for the cat’s enjoyment, though some cats can be entertained even if it is just tied to a doorknob or chair (whatever tickles the kitty’s fancy).

The only issue with the string is that some cats like to eat strings, so make sure that a kitty is supervised when playing with a string, you don’t want your pet to swallow a length of string and have to go to the veterinarian to get it removed. So just monitor them when they are chewing on string.

There are lots of things that cats can get into at the house. Try to find things that they like and have them available so that they don’t go looking for trouble (aka flowers in a vase to chew on or your socks). The best enrichment and play time for a kitty is through you playing with them. The interaction between you and your pet is likely to increase a cats playfulness and interest in activity, leading to a healthier and happier pet. So instead of buying toys, just drag around a stick or string and have fun with your pet.

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    • profile image

      reddawn5297 6 years ago from NY

      All my cats will play with pretty much anything except my cat Daisy. All she'll play with is a flash light or a laser light. She's pretty weird. She'll stop playing when her siblings come along. She has my personality, she likes to be alone. Is that even possible for a pet to have their owner personality!

    • profile image

      amaya 6 years ago

      My Kitty loved to play with my face! Almost every mornig I would wake up with a new scratch on my ear (he also loved to chew on my hair! )

    • profile image

      Fred 6 years ago

      Hacky Sacks My kitten loves this one i tied some string around it and hang it from my bed, he bats it and it comes back to him.

    • profile image

      Em 6 years ago

      I got my kitten, Fern, from RSPCA only yesterday. Yet I can tell her favourite toys are bits of string and the small flying bugs behind the laundry door.

    • profile image

      purnacat 6 years ago

      Your right about crumpled up paper. I love those!

    • profile image

      Marlia 6 years ago

      when I try to give my kitten aluminum foil, when I throw it, my kitten just waits there, where it landed and waits for it to move again! kitty's and cat's are really playful! Especially, always! Lol....

    • profile image

      India Taylor 6 years ago

      My bagpuss loves to chase skipping ropes but his fave thing ever in the world is when i get an old flat shoe and put a fave cat treat, some cheese or a piece of meat in the tip of the shoe he goes mad getting it out and spins around with his head in the shoe - its so funny hahaha xxx

    • ii3rittles profile image

      ii3rittles 6 years ago

      I actually made my cat, Twiggy over 50 toys. I went to the craft store and spent $20. I could have made another 100 but he don't need that many, he don't even need 50! I used pom pom balls, pipe cleaners, jiggly eyes, feathers and string. He loved them so much! Yet... He still prefers to chew on my darn cell phone chargers wire!

    • Fortadam profile image

      Fortadam 7 years ago from Portland Oregon

      I am so glad to hear that. :) I am stoked that people are finding this hub useful!! Good luck, Billrrrr, on your next cat-sitting gig and I hope that the kitties that you watch enjoy one of the toy ideas. :)

    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 7 years ago from Cape Cod

      Thanks for this good hub. I don't have my own cat right now, but I often cat-sit for a friend. She sometimes forgets to bring toys...this HUB will help both me and the cat to have some fun.

    • Fortadam profile image

      Fortadam 7 years ago from Portland Oregon

      I agree! It is so much fun to play with my kitty, and he now refuses to play unless I am involved. Cat nip is great... but it makes my kitty a bit nuts as it wears off... so we have to limit his intake of the fun stuff.

    • MAGICFIVE profile image

      MAGICFIVE 7 years ago from New York

      You are so right about the toys. They are only fun if a person MAKES them fun! The thing that interests cats the most,is movement. So no matter what you are presenting to your kitty, YOU have to make it COME TO LIFE! That's okay,though, because dragging around a string is good exercise for both me AND my cat! (Although half hiding a stationary toy under a blanket or box can make it more interesting - along with infusing it with catnip)!

    • Fortadam profile image

      Fortadam 7 years ago from Portland Oregon

      Boxes are another great form of kitty entertainment! :) Thank you both for reminding me! I have never had a cat play with an umbrella before, though I can imagine that they could destroy one quite easily. I would love any more suggestions on good/simple cat toys around the house. My kitty would be very happy to have some new things to play with. :)

    • MissFoster profile image

      MissFoster 7 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      My cat loves to jump in and out of shoe boxes and she loves to play with the umbrella when we have it out to dry after the rain. And another weird one is playing with my dogs tail. haha

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 7 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      BOXES are also a good toy as they can have hours of fun hiding in them!