While playful cats seem great at entertaining themselves, the truth is that cats can and do get bored. A bored cat is often a destructive cat. You could spend hundreds of dollars on cat toy ideas and habitats, but you don’t have to.

Here you’ll find 10 DIY cat toys and cat toy apps that are inexpensive or free to make. For these homemade cat toys, everything you need is probably already in your home. We ranked them by how easy the item is to make compared with the longevity of the item.

The 10 Best DIY Projects and Cat Toy Apps to Consider

1. Cat Fishing 2 by Purina

Even your cat can get in on the smartphone trend with a virtual cat toy. If you already own an iPad, then it doesn’t get any easier than this. Available for both Android and IOS devices, this cat toy app triggers the cat’s natural instinct to pounce. Animated fish swim around on the screen.

When your cat “catches” one, that fish disappears. The more fish they catch, the harder the game gets. If the cat ignores the mobile device for more than 30 seconds, this app will “meow” to get their attention.

2. Cat Game by Michael McMahon

If your cat already likes to attack a laser toy, this is the perfect cat toy game for them. The game simulates a small, red laser dot flitting about the screen. While this game is only available for IOS, a similar laser game, Laser Dot Game: Toys for Cats from Nameless Lab, is available on Google Play.

3. Cat Fishing Pole

a black and white cat with a cat toy

What cats want most is to play with you. Fishing poles and wands are perhaps the best interactive cat toys available. With a little effort, you can make your own. For a simple fishing pole, start with a stick. It could be a wooden dowel or a stick from your yard. Tie a string, shoelace, or cording to the stick, and on the other end tie some kind of cat toy. It could even be a crumpled piece of paper. For an upscale version, try making the Magic Cat Wand.

4. Kitty Gym

Cats love batting hanging things, buy you’re not always available to entertain them with a fishing pole. This idea converts an activity gym that babies lie under into a mecca of hanging cat toys. If you don’t have an old activity gym already, you can easily find them at thrift stores, baby consignment stores, and garage sales.

You can keep what toys are on them or tie on feathers or pompoms. Just make sure the strings are short of eliminating the risk of you cat getting caught in the string.

5. Pill Bottle Rattle Toy

a small white kitten playing with a toy

Want a way to re-use those old pill bottles? They make a great cat toy! Start with a rinsed and dried old pill bottle. Fill it with noisy items such as dry beans or rice and replace the cap. Then watch your kitty have a great time swatting it around. You can also do this with a fillable plastic Easter egg.

6. Cardboard Cat Playhouse

What’s the first thing cats and kids usually do when they get a new, large toy? Play with the box. Empty boxes act like cat magnets, but they don’t make the best home décor. You could spend hundreds of dollars on a cat playhouse, but you can also make one yourself for almost nothing. Simply take a large box and cut out a door and windows. To make an upscale cat house, try making Martha Stewart’s Cardboard Cat Playhouse.

7. Toilet Paper Tube Toy

At the most basic, just toss the empty tube on the floor for your cat to play with. You can up the interest-factor with a simple modification. Use scissors to cut the ends to make tabs. Fold the tabs back, and you have made a super-easy cat toy.

8. Baby Sock Catnip Toy

a large cat sleeping and holding a toy

Even big cats like lions and tigers can respond to catnip. Sensitivity to catnip is inherited, and about 30 percent of house cats don’t respond to it. The scent creates a feeling of euphoria in felines that are sensitive to it.

Eating catnip creates a calming effect, while the scent gives cats a sense of euphoria. Catnip is easy to grow, and just rubbing a toy on catnip is enough to stimulate the cat. Dried catnip is easily added to all kinds of toys. Martha Stewart has a great idea for making a catnip Sock Fish Toy.

9. Video for Cats to Watch: Squirrels and Birds

You can find a number of videos on Amazon designed to keep your furry friend company. While maybe not technically a cat toy, it can easily entertain you cat. The video for Cats to Watch: Squirrels and Birds is a great choice, and if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can stream it for free.

10. Household Items

Variety is the spice of life. For cats, this rule applies also. When it comes to cat toys DIY, a variety of common household items do double duty. Things like empty thread spools and paper bags are ready-made for kitty play time. If your cat won’t leave you alone when you’re working or paying bills, simply crumple up a piece of paper and toss it on the floor for your cat’s pleasure.

Bottom Line

Enriching your cat’s environment is important to keep you cat happy and healthy. When your cat is bored, you can end up with shredded curtains or furniture. They may even leave a little surprise on your bed or in your shoe. There’s no need to rush out to the nearest pet supply store.

Your home is filled with potential cat toys. Give some of these a try or come up with your own. We’d love to see what you create for your cat, so be sure to write and tell us how it went.

Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4