Stop me if you’ve heard this one. Wait, no, all cat lovers have heard this one! But I’m going to tell you anyway, so everyone nod along:
You buy your cat an awesome toy or bed or cat tree. While you’re excitedly putting it together or setting it up, your cat finds the box it came in... Soon, you proudly present the new, awesome cat toy to your kitty - except they’ve scampered off, batting scrap bits of packing about.
That’s what my cat, Tiger Jack, does. Give him a cool new cat tree? No, thanks, he says. He’ll just take the box. (Unless it comes with treats or feathers attached.)
Fortunately, there’s a silver lining to our cats being so attracted to junk! When our cats prefer to play with discarded shipping boxes, we have the chance to shrink our cats’ carbon paw print by recycling and reusing things we consider trash. There are tons of DIY and sustainable cat toy projects out there, so we’ve picked out a few to share with you.
RECYCLE PLASTIC BOTTLES INTO PUZZLE FEEDERS
If you have any plastic bottles sitting around that you’ve been meaning to get rid of - don’t! Instead, turn them into puzzle treat feeders for your cats. All you need to do is make sure the bottle is clean, then cut out a couple of holes in the sides of the bottle - a precision blade like an X-ACTO would probably work best. Then put some kibble or treats in the bottle, screw on the top, and give it to your cat!
If they can’t get any treats out at first, they may lose interest. Try showing them how it’s done, or add holes to make it easier at first. As they get better at it, you can make another with fewer or smaller holes to keep it challenging. Engage their hunting instincts, and give old plastic new purpose!
RECYCLE OLD T-SHIRTS INTO COZY CAT BEDS
This project is a little more involved than the plastic bottle treat feeders, but it’s not difficult at all! You’ll need a piece of cardboard - all the better if it’s scrounged from a discarded box. You’ll need some old wire coat hangers, tape, safety pins, and pliers. Oh, and a shirt you don’t plan on wearing anymore.
Following the directions from Instructables, you’re just shaping the coat hangers into a frame using the cardboard as a base, and then pulling the shirt over the entire thing. The shirt’s neck hole becomes a cat door, and you can put something soft inside for your kitty to snuggle on once you’re done. (Don’t miss the genius tip of leaving the shirt intact and just folding and safety pinning it to the frame - makes it easy to remove the shirt and throw it in the washing machine occasionally!)
RECYCLE PAPER TUBES INTO TONS OF FUN
The number of cute and clever cat toys you can make with toilet paper or paper towel tubes seem endless - which is great, because we always end up with tons of tubes around the house! Why throw them all away? A few minutes with scissors can create a great play session with your cat and their new favorite recycled toy.
I found one of my favorite starter collections of DIY toilet paper roll cat toys over at Catster with Angie Bailey’s “Catster DIY: 5 Cat Toys I Made from Empty Toilet Paper Rolls.”
I made the single rings, the ring ball, the sunshine toy, and the treat rattle. The first step, as you can see, is to gather your materials - this includes a cat, because honestly: what do you even do at home that’s not supposed to involve them? (That’s what your cats think, anyway!)
I used my finger to mark out about 5 rings on a single toilet paper roll, marking each finger width with a marker. Then I simply cut them out - I flattened the tubes a bit and used scissors, then just squeezed the rings back into shape when I finished.
I didn’t put any treats in this ring ball, but Dany loved it anyway - she batted it across the title until it came apart, then carried one of the rings off a few feet as prey.
Tiger Jack didn’t come off the sidelines until the treats came out. I saved the best for last, shaping a toilet paper treat puzzle with a few clever folds. Then I drew in an excited cat face with the words “I SMELL TREATS!” because Tiger Jack was giving me crazy eyes.
All of these toys were super easy to make and only took me a few minutes tops. Besides getting to feel greener for recycling, I also got to be crafty and spent some focused time just playing with my cats. That’s what I call a win-win-win.
Have you made any of these before, or have any other favorites? Share them in the comments - and if you make any of these, in particular, we’d love to see pictures!
Written by Deborah Brannon