We are going to start this week off with a MEOW! I do not know many cats personally, other than the two ferral cats that hang around our house, so I thought it would be helpful to have an expert give us some cat toy design advice... Meet Kate Benjamin the founder and editor of the popular cat style blog Moderncat.net. She is a great designer and advocate for our feline friends. I have asked her to provide some tips for designing your own cat toys, so listen closely, she knows what she is talking about!
Moderncat’s Tips for Designing Great Cat ToysA lot of people think cats are boring and just sleep all day. Well that’s not true at all! Cats have all kinds of natural instincts that they need to satisfy and well-designed cats toys are exactly what they need. I run a blog called Moderncat.net where I find interesting products for cats and cat lovers. I write about everything from cat beds, to litter boxes, to scratching posts and, of course, toys! I’ve learned quite a bit about what’s out there, what’s good, and what’s not so good. I have eight of my own furry product testers at home and one thing I’ve learned is that different cats like different things, so there are lots of options for designing cat toys. Safety First! First and foremost, you need to consider the safety of the toy. You have to watch out for choking hazards, so don’t use any small parts that might come off and be swallowed. Also, If you’re making a stuffed cat toy, make sure it‘s durable and well sewn so it can withstand lots of kicking and biting and be sure to use a stuffing that is safe and non-toxic. Avoid using things like styrene beads just in case kitty does tear it open. It’s very important to be careful about using any type of long, thin string like yarn, thin ribbon, or thread because kitty may eat the string which can cause serious internal problems. Some toys can incorporate a string, but they should only be used with supervision. How Cats Play There are several different categories of play that cat’s are hardwired for. Most of these activities mimic what a cat would do outside when stalking and catching prey, like mice and birds. Toys that move across the floor will get kitty to chase them, like a mouse running away. Cats also like to catch toys, as though they are capturing a bird in mid-air. Pouncing is another favorite activity as well as wrestling. Once kitty catches her toy, she may grab it in her front paws and kick it with her back feet. This is called “bunnykicking” and it’s one of the most entertaining forms of cat play to watch! Interactive Cat Toys Some toys are great for kitty to play with when she’s home alone or at night when everyone else is sleeping, but kitty also likes to play with her people so interactive cat toys are a great thing to consider. Interactive toys fulfill kitty’s need to stalk, just like she would do if she were sneaking up on a mouse hiding in the grass. Think about things that you can wiggle, toss, jingle, or pull across the floor. Also toys that whiz through the air will mimic a flying bird. Kitty will go nuts and she’ll get to spend some quality time with the people she loves. Catnip Catnip is an herb that is related to mint. When cats smell catnip, most of them go into a crazy state, rolling around and rubbing on the catnip. As you can imagine, a toy filled with catnip will definitely be a favorite! You can purchase dried catnip leaves and flowers to use in cat toys, sometimes with a little polyfill stuffing or fill the toy completely with catnip for extra kick. Not all cats respond to catnip, only about 70% like it while the other 30% don’t seem to notice it at all. Be Eco-friendly Since most cat toys will eventually end up in the trash after taking a beating, think about the materials you are using and try to choose things that will biodegrade. Usually natural, eco-friendly materials will also make the toy safer and healthier for kitty.
Examples of Great Cat ToysThere are lots of great cat toys out there that can provide you with inspiration for your own designs. Some are quite simple and others are more complex, but all have one thing in common—cats love them! Here are some of my favorite cat toys:
Cat Dancer This simple little toy absolutely drives my cats crazy. The tiny piece of cardboard on the end of a thin wire acts just like a bug floating through the air. (This toy is for interactive play only and shouldn’t be left out for kitty to play with unsupervised.)
Amazing Treat Machine Rollers These toys use cardboard— a simple, eco-friendly material—in a totally creative way. The toys come flat and you punch out the pieces to make cardboard rollers. There’s even a little catnip pouch that goes inside, plus you fill the toy with treats that roll out when kitty plays. Great use of materials!
Cat Toys from Recycled Socks and Sweaters Marvelous Melissa is really thinking green! She makes adorable cat toys using old socks and felted wool sweaters. These materials make great cat toys and she’s saving the items from going to the landfill.
Funny Interaction with DIY Whack a Mouse This hilarious video shows how much fun you can have creating an interactive cat toy with an old box and a stuffed mouse. I think there is some great inspiration here for other interesting cat toys.
Kitty Pong Here’s a great idea, decorate some ping pong balls and throw then in the bathtub and let kitty go crazy. What other simple things could you come up with around the house?
Crazy Cat Action with the Fling-ama-String This cat toy is a bit more complex to make, but I love the concept. The Fling-ama-String has a colorful string attached to an elastic band. A motor rotates the band and the string flips around, driving kitty mad trying to catch it. The Fling-ama-string hangs on a doorknob so kitty can enjoy hours of entertainment (at least until the batteries run out.)