A young Asian girl nuzzles noses with a tabby kittenA young Asian girl nuzzles noses with a tabby kittenA young Asian girl nuzzles noses with a tabby kitten
Barks & Mewsings

The Trupanion blog

Four DIY Cat Toys You Can Make at Home

By: Brianna Gunter

Soft cat holds a homemade toy between its paws

‘Tis the season for giving! Naturally, that means finding a special holiday present for your feline family member. While cats do love treats, giving your kitty an engaging toy is a great way to promote healthy enrichment and exercise during this busy time of year.

Ready to be the ultimate Santa Paws? Crafting your own unique DIY cat gift can save a trip to the store and show Mittens how much you care.

Four DIY cat toys you can make in time for the holidays

Whether you’re a cat parent or a doting aunt or uncle to a playful kitty, these homemade cat toys are sure to add some fun and cheer to your four-legged friend’s holidays.

Feather string toy

Whether you have a kitten or adult cat, string toys are a fun way to interact with your best friend. Adding eye-catching, enticing items like feathers or small bells gives kitty more enriching playtime. These different textures and sounds provide mental and emotional stimulation, and the toy itself can be tied in various places or used freely for a plethora of unique experiences.

Feather string toys are fairly easy to make, involving just a thick, sturdy string or ribbon and some tied-on feathers (Martha Stewart even made a cat feather toy out of wool felt). Use at least double knots to make it secure, and if you do use glue, make sure it’s non-toxic. You can get even more creative with the accessories and add whatever you see fit — providing it’s safe for your cat and securely fastened to the string.


  • At least two feet of thick, sturdy string (felt, thin rope, and certain ribbons work well)
  • Non-toxic glue
  • Feathers, pom-poms, bells — enchanting items to draw kitty’s eye

Craft instructions

  1. Tie one end of the string around the base of your feathers. Use double knots or more to ensure it’s secure. You can also add a couple dabs of glue in between the feathers and string knot for added security.
  2. Glue or tie-in other items (like bells) as desired.
  3. Tie another knot about halfway up the rest of the string, then another close to the opposite end. These will help with movement as well as give you better grip when playing with your cat.

Treat puzzle toys

If you have a curious kitten in your home, a good treat puzzle toy allows them to learn, explore, and work for their special treat. This is an easy DIY pet gift to make too, as you can pretty much craft it with any small box or cardboard tube. Just cut some holes — big enough for a kitty paw if you want them to fish it out, smaller if you want them to figure out how to make the treat fall out — and you’re good to go!


  • One shoebox, small box, or cardboard tube
  • Small treats, balls, or pom-poms
  • Box cutter
  • Hot glue gun

Craft instructions

  1. Use a box cutter to cut small holes of varying sizes in your box or tube. The exact amount and size will be up to you, but it’s a good idea to have at least two that are large enough for your cat to stick their paw through.
  2. Aside from the holes you just cut, make sure the box is securely closed shut by adding some hot glue under the lid or flaps. Gently press down while it dries. If using a cardboard tube, add a couple dabs of glue just inside each tube opening and pinch together to glue shut.
  3. Pop the treats or small toys inside the box or tube once dry. Time to give the “puzzle” to your cat and watch them figure it out!

Scratching post

A rope cat scratching post with a mouse toy attached

In case you haven’t noticed, cats love to stretch and scratch! Felines scratch for a variety of reasons — from playing to sharpening their claws. But scratching posts get worn out frequently with use, which means the holidays are the perfect time for a replacement.

To make your own cat scratch post, simply wrap a coarse string or rope around a sturdy piece of tubing or wood. Social media’s full of ideas, like this pirate ship cat scratching post. Done right, a homemade cat toy like a scratching post can help curb poor cat behavior and be a great outlet for unwanted stress.


  • One sturdy piece of tubing (like a PVC pipe) or wood post
  • Enough rope to wrap around the post tightly from end to end, with about a foot left over
  • Small furry cat toy
  • Hot glue gun

Craft instructions

  1. Starting on one end of the post or pipe, start wrapping the rope around tightly, gluing down as you go. Make sure there are no spaces in between wrappings.
  2. Keep going until the entire post/pipe is fully wrapped in rope, to the point that you can’t see what’s underneath unless you look at the ends. Leave the extra string hanging loose.
  3. Tie or glue down the furry toy to the end of the loose rope section. To attach more securely, you may want to cut a small hole in the toy and glue the rope inside.
  4. Go along the rope / post and pick off an pieces of excess dried glue you see. Run your hands along it to make sure the rope is completely secure and won’t be able to be moved by your cat.
  5. Prop up or lay the toy somewhere your cat can get to it. Now they have a new cat scratcher with a toy!

Cardboard boxes and bags

Ever found your cat snoozing in a random box? Have you brought home new toys for your furry family member, but all they wanted to do was play with the bag? If you’re extra busy during the holiday season and need a quick DIY gift, the good news is that many cats like nothing more than spending time with a cardboard box or paper bag!

While it may sound too simple, consider gifting your feline a plain cardboard box and/or a paper bag for the holidays. Hey, they won’t know (or care) that you got it for free. If you do feel the need to add some pizazz though, tie on some string or pop a toy inside. You could even chuck in a couple toilet paper rolls if kitty’s been extra good this year.


  • Cardboard box or paper bag
  • Toy or string (or both!)

Craft instructions

  1. Tie on string or add toys as desired to the box or bag.
  2. Give the box or bag to cat.

The benefits of homemade cat toys

Whether you design your own DIY cat toys from scratch or use one of our ideas here, you have the opportunity to make a creative, personalized present for your best friend. And in the midst of the busy holiday season, the gift of a homemade cat toy allows kitty some paws-itive enrichment and interaction.

You also can be sure your pet’s toy is made with clean, non-toxic materials. Even so, always be mindful of your pet’s playtime behavior. If you suspect your cat has ingested a piece of their toy, seek medical attention from your veterinarian right away.

Want to make sure your furry friend stays healthy and happy all season long? Check out our cat care guide.

A dog and cat snuggle

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We’re the official blog of Trupanion—chosen by veterinarians as the #1 pet insurance in America. Here you’ll find useful dog and cat care tips, interesting veterinary insights, and fun pet topics galore.

While you’re browsing our pet blog, please note that the views expressed here are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Trupanion. Our articles are reviewed by veterinarians for accuracy, but they are not a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. Always consult with your own pet’s veterinarian for advice.

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