Cat Toys: All There is to Know About Them and Some DIY Cat Toy Tips
Cats are natural predators. While your house cat may not be in the best environment for hunting, it’s a good idea to simulate this environment to allow them to tap into their predatory instinct if you want to keep them entertained and mentally stimulated.
If you tap into your cat’s primal instinct to hunt, climb, and scratch, you can make their environment as fun as possible. This will keep them engaged, and will also help you avert their destructive tendencies by channeling them into something fun and playful. This is where cat toys come in handy.
Types of Cat Toys
Play for a cat is not optional, but a necessary part of their lifestyle. They also get to exercise and stay fit through play, and if you get them some of those interactive toys, play can also be a great way for you to interact and bond with your cat.
If you just got yourself a feline friend and you are thinking of getting them some toys, here are some of the categories of cat toys to think about.
I love my cat, but one thing I don’t like is when they go on a destructive rampage around the house, scratching and leaving marks all over my furniture. This, I’m sure, no cat lover loves.
Cats, however, don’t scratch to just wreak havoc. Scratching is a cat’s primal instinct, and it’s something they need to do.
They scratch for two reasons:
To sharpen their claws – Cats need to remove dead tissues from their paws to keep them sharp.
To mark their territory – Cats are territorial animals, and just like the big cats in the jungle, they need to demarcate their territory. One of the ways they do so is by scratching as they have scent glands on their paws. They also mark their territories by rubbing themselves on surfaces as well as peeing.
If you want to eliminate the destructive catch scratching, you have to get your cat some scratcher toys for them to scratch instead. There are different types of cat scratcher toys, depending on your cat’s scratching habits. Some cats love scratching a vertical surface. For such cats, a vertical scratching pole would work. Others prefer to scratch on something horizontal. For those types of cats, you will need a horizontal scratcher toy.
Predatory Cat Toys
Cats are also natural predators. If you have a house cat you feed, they don’t have to hunt for food, but they still need to exercise their hunting skills. This does not mean that you have to go for outdoor wild hunts with your feline companion. Your cat can exercise their hunting skills with predatory toys.
Cat mice toys and balls help stimulate cats’ hunting instincts as they catch the pretend prey and play with it. Doing this also helps cats exercise and relieve stress.
Catnip or catmint is a plant in the mint family that usually has some ‘weedy’ effect on animals of the cat family. When a cat sniffs catnip, they will usually get into some sort of drunken bliss for about 15 minutes.
Not all cats respond the same to catnip. About 1 in every two cats responds to catnip. If your cat is still a kitten, though, they may not experience the catnip effects. Usually, catnip will affect felines from the age of 4 months and above.
Usually, you can buy dry catnip, toys stuffed with it, or you can plant the plant in a pot or somewhere in your garden where your kitty likes to explore. In case you worry about the health of your kitty in regards to catnip, rest assured that catmint is not addictive, and neither does it have any negative health implications on your feline friend.
Cat Feeding Toys
In the wild, cats usually hunt for their food. Cat feeding toys take advantage of the cat’s hunting instincts by making the cat work for the food. Some of these toys will release food as the cat plays with them while others make food go through some kind of a maze before the cat gets it.
One of the arguments for food toys is that they make the cat work for the food. This way, your cat gets to exercise in the process. These same toys may end up overfeeding your feline, which beats the fitness logic..
If you want to bond with your feline companion, interactive cat toys can be one of the ways to play and have fun with them. They involve you on one side and your cat on the other end. These toys could be some flying feathers that look like a bird to your cat or a fish, or just about anything that gets your cat excited.
When your cat pounces for these kills, it’s a perfect way to mentally stimulate them as well as give them the physical exercise they need. If you have an overweight cat, playing with them for about 10 minutes in a day will go a long way.
Climbing and Perching Toys
Cat trees are another cat essential you should have in your home. Apart from exercising when they climb these trees, cat trees also come with perching points for your feline to perch onto when they just want to relax.
These can be their little territories in the house, and they can also perch high up the tree when scared or spooked by something.
How to Keep Cats Entertained When They’re Home Alone
I don’t know about you, but when I have to go to work in the morning and leave my kitty all alone in the house, there is this guilty feeling that gets ahold of me, knowing that they will have no one around until I get back.
Making sure that your cat is stimulated and able to exert their energy in a healthy way when they’re home alone is the difference between a happy cat and a destroyed seat cushion. In this section of the article, we’ll be looking at how to entertain cats when you are away.
Leave Their Toys Around the House for Them to Play With
When you walk out for work or to run errands, leave the cat toys out for your cat to play with. This allows them to run around the house and get the exercise they need at the same time. You can also leave some toys in hidden or higher, but safe, places where your cat has to reach out for them.
This will keep them mentally stimulated when you are not around. It’s not advisable, however, to leave toys with strings out like interactive ones you use to play with your cat as they can get themselves entangled with the string part of the toy. Balls and mice kinds of toys are ideal in this case.
Cardboard Boxes Work, too
For some reason, cats can’t get enough of cardboard boxes. I don’t know what it is about the cardboard boxes that intrigue them so much, but they are always intrigued by them.
The best thing about cardboard boxes is that they are free. Leave a couple out in the house, and your cat will sleep in them, and play in them. If your feline friend is happy in your absence, it should make you happy, too.
Make Sure They Have a View of the Outside
If you cannot let your cat out when you go to work or when you are running errands, don’t just draw all the blinds on all your windows and shut the door. Cats love viewing the outside world, even if it has to be through a window.
Leave them a view through which they can view the outside world from a safe place without the risk of getting lost, or being attacked by predators. Cats also prefer watching the outside world from a height. Whatever window they can view from should be a bit elevated and easy for them to climb on to.
Set up a Scratching Post or Two Around the House
If you want your furniture and window sills to be intact in your house, you’ve got to get your cat a scratcher. As I mentioned earlier, scratching is an instinctive thing that your feline friend has to do. It allows them to release stress as well as groom their craws.
You can have two scratch posts in the house, and you can train your kitty to use them by encouraging them to use them and discouraging them from scratch furniture. You can use catnip to train them to use the scratching post. This might draw them to the post if they like it.
You can also use anything strongly menthol scented by placing it on the places you want to discourage scratching. Cats don’t like the menthol scent.
Leave the TV on Occasionally
Consider leaving the TV on with some nature content showing birds flying around. Cats love watching TV, and this is sure to keep them occupied for a while. Be sure that the TV isn’t too loud, as this can startle the cat.
Consider Getting Them a Feline Companion
It can get lonely for your kitty when you have to leave for work every day and have to leave them alone for hours at a time. If there is another cat in the house, then the two can play together when you are not around.
Create a Safe Garden Section for Your Cat
Cats love being outdoors in nature. If you have a garden, don’t deny them this luxury just because it can be unsafe for them to be outside. Create a safe section of the garden, in which your kitty can access even when you are out. You can leave them outdoors in the garden once in a while to break the house monotony.
Cat enclosures are an excellent alternative to an open garden.
How to Make DIY Cat Toys
If you have a cat, cat toys are a must-have. You might, however, not always have the money to get your cat the toys they need. If you have more than one cat, it is a good idea to make your toys and save a few bucks.
Before picking the material to make your cat toys, take into consideration what your cat likes. Some cats like toys that fly through the air, while others like things that lie on the ground in intriguing shapes. A wide range of materials are available for making cat toys. Some materials can even be recycled to make toys.
In the next few sections, I’m going to take you through how to make cat toys from some of the most common materials.
How to Make Cat Toys Out of Yarn
Did you know you can make cat toys from yarn? No glue or stitching is required. Pompom cat toys are, without a doubt, the easiest DIY cat toy to make. To make one, all you need is some yarn in different colors and a pair of scissors.
To begin, wrap yarn around three of your fingers. You will wrap it around your fingers about 150 times to get a fairly large-sized ball. Do not wrap it around too tight because you need to pull your fingers out. After pulling out the wrapped yarn, cut up a single thread and lay it across the wrapped yarn and make a tight knot.
Next, cut up the loops using your pair of scissors. To make pompoms with different colors, wrap different colors of yarn around your fingers. Feel free to experiment and be creative. Trim the ball to make it look more like a ball, and you have yourself a toy your cat could die for.
Wrapping yarn around a regular household item like a toilet paper roll also makes for a great cat toy. This is a perfect way to recycle toilet paper rolls. To make the toy even more interesting, you can try cutting the edges of the roll, so it looks like it has tentacles. Hanging this toy would be a great way to get your cat to exercise when chasing it around as it swings and rotates
How to Crochet Cat Toys
For crochet lovers, you can always crochet a nice pattern for your feline friend. I love crocheting as a pastime. I came up with a few ideas on patterns that my cat loves to play with. Crocheting a ball shape and filling it up with catnip was my first trial, and my cat loved it.
Some other patterns you could try include a spider pattern, a cylinder pattern with a bell tied to one end, bouncing fish patterns, and mice crochet patterns. Attaching one end of the toy to a spring and hanging it somewhere the cat can access it, like a door handle, is a good way to keep your cat occupied when you’re not around to play.
How to Make Wooly Cat Toys
Here’s how you can make a wooly mouse for your cat. For this project, you will need some wool of any color, but bright colors work best, needle felting needle, foam block, and some catnip.
To begin, you will need to layer three layers of your wool, stacking them on top of each other.
Note that the bigger the pieces of wool you pluck, the bigger the cat toy will be. The shape of the mouse will gradually emerge as you keep on needle felt. Form the wool into the shape of a drop of water and begin needle felting. The small barbs on the ends of the needles cause the wool fiber to interlock and become sturdier.
Next, you will need to form a pocket, leaving it open at one end, where you will later place some catnip. Proceed to make a pair of ears for the toy. Once the ears are felted, proceed to place them on either side of the mouse on the foam, and felt them into place.
Remove the mouse from the foam, and the cat toy is ready. The cat will love the toy mostly because of the catnip filling.
How to Clean Cat Toys
No cat lover would entertain the idea of their precious pets playing around with dirty toys. A dirty toy can get your cat sick or stink up your house. How you clean your cat toys largely depends on how the toy is made, and the material it’s made of. Soap and detergent are the only chemicals you will need to get your cat toys clean.
Cleaning Fabric Toys
You might think that these are the hardest to clean, but in reality, they’re pretty simple to clean up. All you have to do is collect them in a garment bag so they don’t mix up with regular laundry. Then load them onto the machine washer.
Do not forget to remove catnip from fabric and fur toys before washing them. You might observe that some cat toys are too delicate to wash in the machine. This kind you want to hand wash gently with soap and water to make sure you do not ruin them.
Cleaning Plastic Toys
Hot water and detergent are sure to kill close to 100% of the germs hanging around plastic toys. To get to those problem areas, try using a gentle cloth or sponge. It might be tempting to scratch at any stuck on grime but do not scratch the toys. This is because you will be creating small tiny cracks that will eventually get germ-infested and get your cat sick, which nobody wants.
What Cats Like to Play With
Most cats will have the most fun playing with regular household items. When cats are playing, they put their preferred hunting styles to use. This is a perfect opportunity to discover the type of toys your cat would find fascinating. Cat toys can vary depending on the material they are made of, the shape they come in, and how they work.
Balls are particularly interesting to most cats because they get to bat the ball around. Anything in the shape of a ball is likely to be a good cat toy. Balls can be made of yarn, fleece, and even ping pong balls filled with rice to make a rattling sound when thrown around.
Toys that swing through the air mimicking the movements of a bird are also a sure bet. Cats hunt birds in the wild and would find this toy stimulating. To make the most of these toys, you need to hold it and swing it around for your cat to try to catch. This toy makes for a great way to bond with your cat.
Toys that mimic the shapes of mice, snakes, and other animals that lay or move on the ground are recommended. Most cats find these toys irresistible. The cats will practice pouncing on the toys and biting into them. This kind of behavior is what you would see in wild cats out hunting. These toys are also safer as compared to other stringy toys that can harm your kitty, should they entangle themselves.
A playful kitty is a happy kitty. Taking care of your cat is a rewarding journey. Cats need toys to help adjust their behaviors as well as sharpen their nails and their hunting skills. Playing exercises cats and keeps their hunting skills on point.
Cat toys keep your cat happy and entertained even when you have to leave home for a few hours. Cat toys can be made of various different materials. The most common toys are made of wool and yarn.