5 DIY Cat Toys When Playing on a Budget

Are you tired of buying new cat toys every week? Don’t worry – here are some DIY ways to make some cat toys of your own!

Feb 9, 2024byRyan Brennan
diy cat toys when playing on a budget

As much as my cat loves to sit around and clean himself all day, it’s important that I keep him active as much as possible – not just for his health, but for his happiness.

Toys are a great way to entertain any cat, but I keep running into the same problem. No matter how many toys I buy, they only capture my cat’s attention for a few days before he wants something new.

Instead of purchasing new toys all the time, I started making my own – and they work just as well, if not better!

Household Items That Make Great Cat Toys

black cat toys floor

Take one look around your house – there are potential cat toys everywhere.

Your cat knows them when they see them. Your shoelaces when you tie your shoes before leaving for work, the ice cube that accidentally fell on the floor, the glare off your phone as it hits the ceiling or wall – these things will drive your cat bananas!

Some of my favorite household items that make interactive cat toys include paper balls, cardboard boxes, empty toilet paper or paper towel rolls, blankets, ping pong balls, and reusable shopping bags – though the list goes on. As long as it isn’t small enough for my cat to swallow, I’m usually okay with it.

Sometimes, those paper balls and empty boxes aren’t doing the trick, and my cat forces me to get creative. When a piece of paper rolled into a ball isn’t enough, here are five DIY cat toys I often make at home – especially when looking for a mini-project!

5. Self-Petting Arch Station

gray cat rub face wood

I don’t know about you, but I get sad knowing my cat is home alone sometimes with no one to pet him. If you’re in the same boat, try building your cat their very own self-petting arch station!

You’ll need two unused toilet brushes, a 12×12 piece of wood, a tiny block of wood, a 15×15 piece of old carpet, the toughest glue you can find, and a drill.

Start by removing the toilet brushes from the handles and drilling a hole through the tiny wood block – use this as a separator to glue the two ends of the brushes together. Now you have one long brush.

Glue or staple the carpet to the 12×12 wood block, drill two holes into it, and glue the two ends of the brush through each hole – creating an arch.

Just like that, your cat now has scratches whenever they need them!

4. Homemade Cat-Scratching Post

orange cat scratching post

My cat loves to scratch things. The problem is he often goes for the things I don’t want him to scratch – such as the sofa, the wall, and the carpet. Good scratching posts are expensive, and cheap ones don’t last very long – so why not make your own?

You’ll need two 12×12 plywood panels, a small wooden post (can be made out of 2x4s), sisal rope, scrap pieces of carpet, and glue.

First, cover the plywood panels with the scrap carpet and attach them to both ends of the post to make it sturdy – and give your cat a platform to sit on.

Next, glue one end of the sisal rope to the bottom of the post. Once dry, nail that end down and wrap the rope tightly around the post – so no wood is showing. Glue and nail the rope to the top of the post, and let your cat scratch away!

3. T-Shirt Tug-a-Knot Toy

striped cat cuddling toy

Some of us had a favorite ‘blankie’ or stuffed animal growing up – now it’s time to give your cat a unique, homemade one! Don’t worry – this one is much easier and quicker than the previous two!

You’ll need a couple of old shirts (cool colors, if you have them), a pair of scissors, a ruler, and two hands. Start by cutting the shirts into small rectangles and placing them into piles of six – and feel free to mix the colors for a fun effect.

One by one, stretch each pile and tie them into a knot. You can make different sizes depending on the size of the rectangles you cut.

Spraying a catnip mist on the fabric will certainly get your cat’s senses tingling, so this is a must! Don’t worry – you can throw these toys for cats into the washer and dryer if they get too dirty!

2. Homemade Feather Wand

gray white cat feather wand

Anyone who owns a cat knows that a feather wand is a favorite cat toy for many felines out there. The problem is they often don’t last long enough to justify buying a new one. Don’t worry – I’ve got you and your furry friend covered!

You’ll need felt squares (have fun with the colors), small bells, a wooden dowel rod, feathers, and twine (string works too).

Start by cutting the pieces of felt into the shape of a feather – you can use an iron to gently press them in half (for a folded effect). Set them to the side with the real feathers.

Tie a few bells near the end of the twine and knot it around the feathers – this is the piece your cat will chase around. Just tie the other end of the twine to a dowel rod, and you’re good to go!

1. Cardboard Box Playhouse

white brown cat cardboard box

Cats love boxes – this is no secret! – but we can do better than an empty box, right? Don’t worry, we’re about to give that box an old-fashioned makeover!

You’ll need a box at least two feet high, string, those t-shirt tug-a-knot toys we made earlier, and homemade feather wands (without the wand).

Stand the box up and cut a window into all four side faces of the box (not the top or bottom) – leave a four-inch margin around each window. Your cat should be able to walk through each window and lie down inside (if it wants to).

Poke holes through the box above each window and dangle pieces of string from each hole. You can keep the string as-is, or tie tug-a-knot toys or feather bells to the end to keep your cat busy.

Just like that, you now know how to make cat toys from the comfort of your own home – from items most people already have in the house!

Ryan Brennan
byRyan Brennan

Ryan is a content writer with 10+ years of experience in the field. He is the proud owner of a white domestic short-haired cat with black spots named Jaxx - he looks like a cow, but acts and sounds like a cat. They enjoy doing laps around the house with a laser pointer and snuggling when it’s time for bed. Ryan hopes to give Jaxx a puppy friend someday.