Entertain your cat on the cheap

Oklahoman Published: March 12, 2011
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Pet stores stock a huge variety of cat toys. Some are pretty cheap, but others are so shamefully overpriced you just know someone somewhere is laughing his or her way to the bank. If you get shiny-object syndrome, it's easy to get sucked into buying several toys. Before overspending, consider homemade toys your cat can enjoy just as much. Of course, you want to keep your pet safe, so don't offer any homemade toys that have pieces that might cause an obstruction. What toys have you made for your cat?
Here are a few ideas.
KITTEN MITTEN: Make catnip cat toys. Use baby mittens, booties and baby socks that can be found at thrift stores and garage sales. Add catnip to them and sew the opening closed. You can add yarn to drag or dangle the toy, or add a jingle bell inside, too. Easy to make; easy to sell. Catnip is a perennial herb. You can grow it indoors or outdoors for added savings.
TRASH TO TREASURE: Your cat will love a paper bag or cardboard box to play in. Cut holes in both for them to jump in and out. One reader, Dana from Virginia, shares: "My cats love cardboard boxes, I've even wrapped colored paper around one and it sits in the living room. Cats like hiding under newspapers, milk jug rings, and absolutely love pipe cleaners. I fold the ends over and wrap them around themselves so the ends won't poke them." Cats will bat a wad of paper or aluminum foil. You can wrap the foil around a piece of yarn and hang it from a doorknob or dangle it above your cat. But please monitor your cat if you're using foil or plastic rings. The tops from 2-liter bottles are fun for them, too.
CHASER TOY: Use a stick or dowel, string and something fun such as a feather, spool or leftover Happy Meal toy tied to the end. Dangle or drag the toy. Use a flashlight or laser pointer for fun, too.
ROLLING TOYS: Table tennis balls are light, and cats love them. Or fill a small plastic container such as an old prescription bottle or leftover plastic Easter egg with a dried bean or bell. Cats can have fun playing with walnuts or peanuts in the shell, too. Another reader, C.H. from South Carolina, adds: "Stick something that rattles, like beans, in a dried-out soda bottle or water bottle and screw the top back on. Roll it in front of them."
CARDBOARD TUBES: A simple cat toy can be made by cutting a paper-towel tube in half. Then cut 1-inch slits around the edges on the tube ends. Bend the tabs out and set on the floor for your cat to bat around. Use the other half of the tube, too. Cut thin rings from it. Cats enjoy playing with the rings anywhere, but a linoleum or hardwood floor lets the rings glide when they're batted or tossed and will provide more fun. Or fill a tube with a jingle bell and duct tape the ends.

Sara Noel is the owner of Frugal Village (www.frugalvillage.com), a Web site that offers practical, money-saving strategies for everyday living. To send tips, comments or questions, write to Sara Noel, c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., 4th Floor, New York, NY 10016, or e-mail sara@frugalvillage.com.

Copyright 2011, Sara Noel
Distributed by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.