By Louis DeNicola, Cheapism.com
With September winding down, the CATalyst Council, a coalition of animal health and welfare organizations, wants to know what you've done for your cat this month. The group has dubbed this Happy Cat Month and lists providing toys as the No. 1 thing cat owners can do for their feline friends. If you don't have a lot of money left over this month for a pet-store shopping spree, there are a variety of homemade cat toys you can create on a slow afternoon with supplies you likely have around the house.A homemade cat toy is a wonderful way to show your love.
Let's start with instructions for a couple of homemade cat toys that are simple to make:
- Split a walnut in half and clean it out. Put a bell inside and glue the walnut back together with non-toxic glue to turn it into a ball.
- Find a small child's sock that no longer fits or is missing its twin. Put a bell or some catnip into the sock and tie it up for your cat to chase.
If you're feeling more ambitious, here's a classic homemade cat toy: a stuffed mouse. An Etsy seller who charges $8 for handmade mice shared her method with ReadyMade, so you can make your own for free. Don't know much about basting or whipstitches? Below are some simpler instructions adapted primarily from The Practical Herbalist. You'll need a scrap of relatively durable fabric about 6 inches square, sewing scissors, yarn or ribbon for the tail, cotton batting, and a needle and thread.
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- Fold the fabric in half and cut it into a half-heart shape.
- Unfold the fabric to reveal a heart shape and place it on a table with the outside or right side of the fabric facing up. (In the end, the point at the bottom of the heart will be the mouse's nose.)
- Cut a piece of ribbon or yarn at least double the length of the middle of the heart and place it along the line of your fold, with a small bit sticking up at the top.
- Now, fold the fabric in half again. You will be turning the mouse inside out later, so the outside should be hidden at this point.
- Starting at the top, where the bit of ribbon or yarn is sticking out, begin sewing the two sides of the heart together, making sure to secure the string. The tighter you can stitch, the longer the mouse will last. If you need to, you can use pins to hold the fabric in place. Stop when you get about halfway around the curve of the heart.
- Move the longer piece of yarn or ribbon (the tail) to the point where you stopped stitching and being sewing from the other end. Be sure to leave a hole about two fingers wide where the tail is sticking out (at the top of the mouse's back).
- Carefully turn the mouse right side out and stuff some cotton in through the hole. If you want to add something special to this homemade cat toy -- and you feel confident in your construction -- you can hide a bit of catnip inside as well. Then sew up the hole.
- If you like, you can hide the seam with a pair of ears made from leftover fabric. Simply cut small circles and fold over the fabric a bit at the bottom to create an ear shape before sewing them securely into place.
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For a twist on this homemade cat toy, attach the tail to the end of a stick or attach a bell to the end of the tail.
No time to put together a homemade cat toy for the furry boss of the house? Next time you receive a package, leave the cardboard box out for a few days and let your pet investigate it. Empty paper bags seem to provide similar enjoyment. The only downside here is you essentially have trash lying around the house.
Cats will bite and claw at any homemade cat toy, so be cautious about the materials you use. Small pieces such as buttons or plastic eyes can be ripped off and swallowed, posing a potential hazard. Even foam and stuffing can lead to choking, so keep an eye on the toys and replace or repair them when necessary.
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