Having a feline companion can be one of the best parts of life, but cats can also be wild—it’s one of the reasons we love them! They love to jump, pounce, spring on newspapers, and scratch expensive things like furniture. Some cats get into even more trouble when they get bored.
Cats, like humans, need sufficient mental and physical stimulation to be happy and healthy, and that’s where cat enrichment comes in. Below you’ll find 10 amazing DIY cat enrichment plans you can create at home: toys, houses, scratchers, and puzzles that’ll keep your favorite feline fit and engaged!
The 10 DIY Cat Enrichment Ideas
1. DIY Cat House by Easy diy
|Materials:||Cardboard Box, Paint|
|Tools:||Ruler, Pencil, Utility Knife, Glue Gun, Elmer’s Glue|
Cats love to hide, and they love cardboard boxes. This fun cardboard box cat house project combines two of most felines’ favorite things. Put an old scrap of carpet on the bottom of the house once you’re done to take your cat house to the next level. Your furry companion can hide, snuggle in a cardboard box, and sleep on a cozy carpet in one cat-appropriate place.
The project doesn’t require much in terms of materials, although you might need to head to the hardware store for a glue gun and paint. The plan requires extensive use of a utility knife and is not a kid-friendly option.
2. DIY Scratching Post with Activities by A Little Craft In Your Day
|Materials:||1 ½ inch dowel, Pom Poms, Wooden Plaque, Sisal Rope, Wood Glue, Cat Toys|
|Tools:||Saw, Paint, Paint Brush|
Cats love to stretch, scratch and bat at things, and this amazing project gives them the perfect toy to do all three! It’s essentially a souped-up T-shaped scratching post with cat toys dangling from the horizontal part at the top of the contraption. The instructions provide excellent guidance, but you can always add your own touches. Consider painting the base plaque in colors that let it blend in with your furnishings. Or, you can add carpet so your pet has another type of surface to scratch. You’ll need the saw to cut the dowel that you use to form the base you’ll wind the rope around. If you don’t have a saw on hand, you can always get the dowel cut at the hardware store.
3. Recycled Stool Cat Tree with Toys by Diana Rambles
|Materials:||Stool, Padding, Jute, Fabric, Hair Brushes, Cat Toys|
|Tools:||Glue Gun, Scissors, Saw, Staple Gun, Measuring Tape|
This adorable cat enrichment option provides several activities to keep your feline both mentally and physically stimulated. Since it’s constructed using a bar stool, it’s a great choice if you live in an apartment or are looking for something just right for a small space.
When completed, the cat tree provides a scratching post , brushes for kitties to groom themselves against, and plenty of cat toys and streamers hanging down for them to bat at. Best of all, there’s even a little kitty hammock where your pet can enjoy a cat nap or sit and watch the world go by.
4. Interactive Cardboard Play Box by Jonasek The Cat
|Materials:||Cardboard Box, PVC Piping, Balls, Mice|
|Tools:||Glue, Utility Knife, Colored Pen, Adhesive Tape|
Your cat will go crazy for this creative interactive playbox! It’s a box with an internal maze you set up with other pieces of cardboard and PVC pipes for support. Once you’re done, throw in a ball or two, and watch your feline become entranced.
The box features holes in the top and sides and your cat can stick their paw through to bat at the ball. A fun step-by-step instructional video will show you exactly how to complete the project. This project requires a bit of patience and is probably best left to experienced crafters.
5. Quick Cat Puzzle by Cat Lessons by BeChewy
|Materials:||Cardboard Box with An Injection Mold, Balls|
|Tools:||Utility Knife, Pencil, Ruler, Balls|
This cat puzzle enrichment toy can be built around any medium-sized box you have at home with a fitted cardboard mold that was used to keep the original product you purchased secure during shipping. You essentially just turn the mold over, cut some holes in it, reshape the box and put in a few balls for your cat to play with.
The mold creates the maze, and your cat can poke their paw through the holes you cut. You won’t need a ton of time to complete the project, but you will need to use a utility knife.
6. Super Simple Food Puzzle by BeChewy
|Materials:||Cardboard, Cat Food, Muffin Baking Tin|
If your kitty tends to eat its food too quickly, this simple food puzzle provides a fantastic (and easy) way to get your feline baby to slow down. Because your cat will have to “hunt” for their dinner, it’ll also increase their curiosity and provide mental stimulation. You can use either wet or dry food.
Cut enough cardboard squares to cover each of the spaces where each muffin would go in the baking form. Fill the muffin tin spaces randomly with food and place the cardboard squares over each slot. Because your cat won’t be able to see where their food is, they’ll have to get active and “hunt” for their dinner.
7. Plastic Bottle Food Puzzle by Purina
|Materials:||Plastic Bottle, Cat Food|
Cats do well with interactive puzzles that make them work for their kibble! These toys stimulate your feline friend’s prey instinct and make them use their creativity to solve problems. Gaining access to food is an issue that most kitties are more than happy to solve. This simple bottle puzzle is one of the easiest plans on our list.
Take the knife and cut a few holes in the bottle, but make sure they’re large enough for the dry food to fall through slowly, with a bit of shaking. Unscrew the bottle top, add some kibble, put the cap back on, and give your cat their new toy.
8. DIY CAT Vending Machine by Cutely Canadian
|Materials:||Shoe Box, Toilet Roll Cores, Cat Treats|
This creative cat vending machine will give your four-footed friend tons of enjoyable mental stimulation. All you need to complete the project are a few cardboard cores from several toilet paper rolls, a shoe box with its lid, and a glue gun. Glue the box upright into cover so the box is standing upright. The lid will provide stability, but you might need to put weight on the lid behind the upright box.
Glue the toilet paper rolls into the box so you have a bunch of tubes facing outward, and put treats into some of the tubes. Let your cat figure out where the treats are located and use their paw to “fish” them out.
9. Cat Grass Pond with Robotic Fish by Chirpy Cats
|Materials:||Water Beads, Cat Grass Seeds, Fish Bowl, Large Glass Mixing Bowl, Robot Fish, Crystals, River Stones, Shelf/Stand|
If your cat loves to play with water, this is the project for you and your feline buddy! There are two parts to this super fun cat grass pond. First, there’s a fishbowl with cat grass planted in water beads. The fish bowl is then placed in a larger glass or plastic bowl with water and robotic fish for your cat to bat at and pester after taking a few nibbles on their hydroponic cat grass. The only real requirements, besides the bowls, are grass, water beads, and robotic fish. Also, you can add crystals and river rocks to give the project a decorative touch.
10. Huge DIY Scratching Post by Pets on Mom
|Materials:||Sisal Rope, Plywood, Fence Post/Lumber, Carpet|
|Tools:||Saw, Drill, Screws, Carpet Knife, Staple Gun|
If your pet loves to scratch, this huge scratching post will send them into kitty heaven. It’ll take a bit of work to put together, but when you’re done, your cat will have just the place to scratch and stretch. After you’ve put the structure together, you can always freshen things up with new rope and carpet. While the project doesn’t require Ph.D.-level crafting skills, it’s probably best left to DIYers who are comfortable using tools. Use heavy wood to ensure your cat can go to town without knocking over the structure.
As another option, if you're looking to give your cat something exciting, we know of an awesome scratcher that both encourages play and doubles as a stylish modern furniture piece. The Hepper Hi-Lo Cat Scratcher is designed with a curved shape for dynamic movement, is built to last with safe and sturdy birch plywood and thick cardboard, and offers three height options to ensure your cat enjoys the exercise, elevation, and excitement they crave ... and, it's affordable!
At Pet Keen, we've admired Hepper for many years, and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!
While it’s always possible to head to the store and buy cat toys, puzzles, and plush toys to entertain your buddy, making a few at home has its place too. Many owners find that cats prefer homemade options as kitties love to engage with things already in their environment.
You can use materials you already have on hand for many of these projects, making them great for recycling items that would otherwise end up in the trash. So pick a project, gather your materials and get crafting; your cat will thank you!
Featured Image Credit: Anatoly Cherkas, Shutterstock