If you're a pet parent who's also a human parent, you already know that your fur baby loves your kid's toys. But did you know that once your child outgrows his or her playthings, you can easily repurpose them into fun, fabulous homemade cat toys?
Your home is a gold mine of potential DIY cat toys! Begin by surveying your toy collection with a fresh eye. What can you safely turn into a new toy for your kitty? Stuffed animals are a good start, and your feline friend already has a keen interest in them. Cut off any long whiskers, plastic eyes, and other hazardous materials, and you're good to go!
As Vetstreet points out, it's important to keep safety concerns in mind when transforming kids' toys into pet toys. "With plush toys," it warns, "avoid fillings such as polystyrene beads, nutshells, or beans." You also need to be mindful of batteries (always remove them) and materials such as ribbons, strings, yarn, or feathers, because they can harm your cat if ingested.
Also, avoid giving your cat wooden toys, especially ones that are painted. Cats are chewers and could ingest wood splinters or paint, neither of which is good for her health.
Cats also love anything round, so let her have full access to any old sports balls lying around the home. But, be sure that none of them are small enough to be ingested. Indoor play tents are another good idea and make great sleeping nooks or hiding places for a sneaky cat.
Other DIY repurposed toy ideas include the following:
Cat Scratching Post Add-On
Bring new life to your cat's worn-out scratching post using interactive highchair toys, which are designed to keep a little one's interest and help develop his motor skills. These toys function the same way for kitties. Attach the toy so that its base is flush with the side of the post, then tightly secure with strong twine, trimming any excess string so your cat can't nibble on it.
Fast Food Toy Cat Teaser
More than likely, you have in your home a stash of small, plush animals from various fast food restaurants. Instead of donating or selling them at a garage sale, pass them on to your furry friend. With strong twine, wrap the animal securely around the end of a wooden dowel, and you'll have hours of fun with your kitty! The animals also work well as replacements for store-bought cat teasers. Because this toy contains a string, supervise your cat while she plays with the teaser, and keep it out of her reach when you're done.
Cat Puzzle Box
Homemade cat toys such as puzzle boxes are a great way to repurpose lots of different"pull-right" kids' toys. This idea calls for large-sized plastic building blocks (do not use any blocks small enough to fit in a cat's mouth) that hide in even the most remote corners of your living space. In addition to the blocks, you'll need a sturdy cardboard shoebox and a box cutter. Cut holes on the top and sides of the box, large enough so that your cat can see the colorful blocks inside and fit her paw through to grab at them. Leave the box top unsecured so that you can easily change out the toys (again, all toys should be larger than the cat's mouth and shouldn't contain any materials hazardous to your fur baby) and, for extra fun, sprinkle in some catnip.
Repurposing kids' toys into DIY cat toys is a great way to reduce clutter and waste and give playthings nine more lives.
Image source: Christine O'Brien
Christine O'Brien is a writer, mom, former English professor, and long-time pet parent whose two Russian Blue cats rule the house. Her work also appears in What to Expect Word of Mom, Fit Pregnancy, and Care.com, where she writes about pets and family life. Find and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @brovelliobrien