Pet stores are full of fantastic cat toys – i.e. laser light, plastic ball, crinkle sacks (has anyone’s cat ever used one??) 400 versions of a mouse – squishy, squeaky, cat nip filled, fabric covered, fur covered, flannel covered, flat, fat, fluffy, fuzzy, stripes, polka dotted, pink, yellow, green, brown, black, white, makes crinkle noise, runs on wheels, battery operated, remote controlled, blinking lights in their butt, and the list goes on and on.
The smaller toys are only $4 – $5 dollars. Easily justifiable, right? We run into the store to buy food and litter, see all the toys and say, “It’s only a few dollars. Sure, I’ll grab it.” But do that enough times and the money we set aside for the down-payment on a new car is gone! (what? You don’t spend that much?)
And we all have to hang our heads in shame and say, “Hi, My name is (your name here), and I have a Toy Graveyard in my family room.” You know the one. The pretty little basket full to the brim with all those “it’s only a few dollars” toys that we liked more than our cats did. The skunks, chipmunks and mice, sparkle ball, plastic ball, rubber ball, tennis ball, etc.
The most frustrating part about driving to the pet store in a 1983 white Ford Escort with one red door, and picking up those toys that end up in the Toy Graveyard is that our cats all end up playing with basic items found around our house and are NOT cat toys. So c’mon, let’s stop wasting our time and money on store-bought one-use only toys and start looking around the house for the next cat toy!
I have compiled a list of common items that seem to amuse my cats for some odd reason. I’m sure you have many more that you could easily add to this list!
Many of these items can be found in your house or at a craft store:
1. Empty cardboard box – ask your friends to mail you something, anything. Just to get that fresh and crispy white, blue and red cardboard box. A cat toy hand-delivered by the USPS!
2. Plastic ring found on gallon jugs of milk – as soon as that ring hits the ground, it will be batted around the kitchen like a hockey puck, or carried around the house like today’s kill. (please be careful with this one, they are easy to chew through).
3. Road map spread out on the floor – (Yes, people still paper road maps) Taking a trip? Get that map and spread it out on the floor. And then get a second map for yourself.
4. Empty box – Perfect excuse to go shopping! Head out to the mall and buy a large item that comes in a box. Doesn’t matter what. New dishes, sewing machine, stand mixer, salad spinner. Just so long as it is large enough for the cat to dart into – and fall asleep.
5. Bring nature into your home – let a fly into the house (if you don’t mind all your lamps knocked over)
6. Bring nature into your home – let a squirrel into the house (if you don’t mind all your lamps knocked over)
7. Take up knitting and leave the ball of yarn next to you on the couch. Just make sure you do not care how your knitted project turns out.
8. Take up needlepoint – your cat will watch with rapt attention as the thread appears and disappears on the underside of the woven canvas.
9. Roll a marble across a floor (hard surfaces, of course) – your cat will watch with fascination as you roll the marble to the other side of the room, go get it and roll it again, go get it, and roll it again, go get it….
10. Used shoelace – well, it doesn’t have to be used, I’ve been known to buy a fresh one. Not only will they drag it around the house like Linus’s blanket, but they will have hours of fun watching you throw one end of the string to them and then slowly pull it toward yourself, and then throw one end to them, and slowly pull it toward yourself and throw one end to them…
11. When you are finished making a casserole, peel off the aluminum foil and crumple it into a tight ball. Toss it across the kitchen or down a hallway and watch the cat run! And no need to explain to guests why you have 14 balls of foil in the living room, bedrooms, bathrooms, hallway…
13. Laying paper bags on the floor – Next time the grocery store asks, “Paper or Plastic?” shout proudly, “Paper!” You may get weird looks from the employees, but they don’t know about the afternoon’s entertainment you have lined up.
14. Leave your shoes out in the open – forget to clean up after yourself, and your shoes can become the next best cat toy!
Different uses for products: Not all toys have to be common household items. I found two fantastic items at the craft store that make better cat toys than what they were originally intended:
15. Pom Poms sparkle balls – These are found in the kids craft aisle. I guess they are supposed to be glued onto projects like making a clown’s hat or something. We tossed one to our cat and he carries it around all the time.
16. The Original Squirmles, The Magical Pet – This is also found at the craft store. Supposed to be used by kids to do illusion-type tricks. But wow, cats go crazy for it! Even the ones the that don’t normally play – or move. Trust me on this one. Trust me. And hey, do me a favor – trust me on this one!
So next time your cat has a gall to tell you s/he is bored, pull out this list and let the games begin!