If you have a cat, you’ve certainly experienced a common cat owner’s dilemma; after buying a dozen wonderful toys for your cat, you realize that he’d still rather play with a leaf that was accidentally tracked inside.
Now, you may save yourself the frustration (and the money) by giving your cat toys you can find around the house. Thankfully, there are plenty of options available. Whether you rummage through your junk drawer or make a treasure out of trash, you can create many creative toys for your cat.
Whenever you make a toy for your cat, be aware that easily swallowed parts can present a health hazard to your feline friend. The toys in this list are intended to offer safe play for your cat, but you should still aim to supervise your cat’s playtime to ensure he doesn’t get into trouble.
The 12 Household Items That Can Be Used as Cat Toys
1. Crumpled Paper Ball
A crumpled paper ball may be the cheapest toy you can craft for your cat. Next time you have a piece of paper that needs to be thrown out, crunch it into a ball and toss it to your cat. Just make sure you make it large enough that your cat cannot swallow it whole.
Many cats love to play with crumpled paper balls. Paper is a fun, crinkly toy with a unique texture and sound. It is also lightweight, making it easy for your cat to bat around and chase or to carry from place to place in his mouth. And if your cat rips this toy to shreds, there’s no harm—it will take less than 5 seconds to recreate.
2. Cardboard Boxes
Cardboard boxes are a tried and true classic for entertaining cats. Cats can find many ways to have fun with a simple cardboard box, as boxes are great sites to hide, play, and even nap.
Another bonus to giving your cat a cardboard box is that they reduce your cat’s stress. According to a recent study, your cat experiences less stress when he has regular access to cardboard boxes.
A variation of the classic cardboard box is to offer your cat a pizza box. Pizza boxes with a hole cut in the top can be great places for your cat to relax, but they can also be fun places to play if you throw toys through the hole.
3. Paper Bags
Paper bags are another common household item and classic cat toy. Much like the cardboard box, they offer your cat a place to rest, hide, and play to his heart’s content.
For safety reasons, you must remove the handles on the bag before you let him play with them. These handles can be easily chewed off or wrapped around your cat’s neck if not removed.
If you notice your cat chewing on the bag or tearing off small pieces, it is time to replace the bag. Although paper is usually soft enough not to cause digestive issues, it is better to be safe than sorry.
4. Paper Towel Rolls or Toilet Paper Rolls
Another easy and safe toy you can give your cat is the cardboard roll found inside paper towels or toilet paper. These toys can be fun objects your cat bats around or interactive puzzle toys. By placing a treat inside the roll, you can give your cat an interactive activity to entertain him. Like with paper bags, you will want to replace the roll if your cat begins to tear chunks off.
5. Bottle Caps
Next time you buy a gallon of milk, keep the bottle cap. Large plastic bottle caps are a fun and safe toy for your cat to bat around the house. Metal caps should be avoided, as should small caps. If a cap is small enough to get lodged in your cat’s mouth or throat, don’t give it to your cat.
Before giving your cat a plastic cap, ensure that the edges are not sharp and that there are no dangling or broken bits. If you notice that your cat has cracked the cap, replace it.
If you’ve lost one sock in a pair, consider giving the lone sock to your cat. You can ball the socks up and let your cat bat them around or fill them up with catnip and close the top. Sock toys should be kept away from your cat when you cannot supervise play because a torn sock can cause issues. The loose threads can be swallowed, leading to digestive difficulties and other health problems.
7. Ice Cubes
While ice cubes are not a permanent toy for your cat to play with, they can still be fun while they last. Plus, they are cheap and easy to make. They are slippery enough for your cat to play with and bat around.
As the ice cubes melt, they can make messes. You will want to carefully clean up any water trail your cat makes so that no one in the home slips and falls. For safer, more contained play, you can place an ice cube in your cat’s water bowl for him to play with.
8. Couch Cushions and Blankets
Everyone knows how fun a blanket fort can be—even cats! Like a cardboard box, couch cushions or blankets offer an excellent spot for your cat to hide, nap, and play. This can be extra helpful for cats prone to anxiety or stress. On the downside, cushion and blanket forts can be disruptive to the everyday function of your home, so they may not be the most convenient form of entertainment for your cat.
9. Ping-Pong Balls
Although these may not be in every house in the world, they are easy enough to find and can be used in other ways besides entertaining your cat. Ping-pong balls make great toys for cats, as they bounce and make interesting sounds when batted around. Plus, they are relatively lightweight, making them easy for your cat to carry around.
Since these toys roll around so much, they can be easy to lose. However, they’re worth the hassle since they engage your cat’s hunting instincts and keep him mentally sharp.
10. Plastic Bottles
If you’re already using plastic caps as toys for your cat, think twice before tossing out the bottle. Plastic bottles can also be put to good use to entertain your cat.
Plastic bottles can be filled with treats and left on the ground for your cat to bat around and get food out. This can offer a challenging, mentally stimulating activity that keeps your cat moving. If you give a plastic bottle to your cat, remove any labels and replace them when they become damaged.
11. Pens and Pencils
If you’ve noticed that your pens and pencils go missing around the house, there’s a chance that your cat has already been playing with them.
To make sure that the pens and pencils you give your cat are safe for playtime, remove the ink cartridge from your pens and only give your cat unsharpened pencils without erasers or the metallic base that they sit in. To remove the piece, you can cut it off entirely.
Twigs are practically free and easy to find outside. If they are similar in size and shape to a pen or pencil, they are safe for your cat to play with. Twigs can have an advantage over pens and pencils, as their unique shape may make them bounce across the floor in a more entertaining way. If the twig becomes damaged or broken, replace it.
The 5 Household Items That Should NOT Be Used as Toys for Cats
Although plenty of household items can be ideal toys for cats, there are some that you should not give to your pet. These items may be choking hazards or put your cat at risk of suffering from an intestinal blockage.
1. Hair Ties
Although your cat has likely already played with a hair tie or two, keeping them away from him is best. Since they are small and flexible, they are easy for your cat to swallow. They cannot be easily digested, and if your cat eats multiple hair ties, he may require surgery to unblock his intestines.
2. String and Yarn
String and yarn are often considered classic cat toys, but they can be dangerous. If left unattended, these can quickly become choking hazards that can cause intestinal blockage.
Cats can be enticed by shiny, dangly jewelry, but it can also be dangerous for them. Jewelry is a choking hazard and cannot be digested. Plus, the hard stones in jewelry can cause severe damage to your cat’s internal organs. Not to mention, you probably don’t want your cat munching on your expensive jewelry!
4. Aluminum Foil Balls
Although aluminum foil can be as easily balled up as a piece of paper, it is not a safe toy for your cat. If swallowed, the sharp edges can harm their throat and intestines and cause a blockage.
5. Plastic Bags
Plastic bags are not as safe as paper bags. They can trap your cat and suffocate him, or bits of them can be swallowed and cause a blockage.
If you’re fed up with your cat not playing with his expensive new toys, why bother buying them? Try giving him one of these everyday household items instead! Not only are these options cheap, but they are also convenient and safe. Avoid giving your cat dangerous household items, such as hair ties or plastic bags, and always supervise your cat’s playtime.
Featured Image Credit: Strong Pictures, Shutterstock