Engaging with your cat doesn’t have to be an expensive task. Most of the time, cats even prefer less expensive toys over more expensive toys. There are a lot of things that you probably have in your home already that could put your cat on cloud 9.  Try out a few of these ideas:

A Milk Ring

Cat Toy - Milk RingThe plastic ring that comes attached to the lid of your milk jug can provide hours of entertainment for your cat.  There is no extra cost for this toy! These are especially fun on uncarpeted flooring where they can easily slide around. Toss it or roll it to the kitty and let the fun begin.  These can be used independently by the cat or as toys for interactive play.

Disposable Plastic Straw

Cat Toy - StrawEvery time you purchase a fountain drink from a local fast food restaurant or party store you receive these. They can also be purchased inexpensively at most grocery stores. If it came with your favorite drink, simply give it a good wash and it’s ready to become a cat toy!  Straws are best used as interactive toys. Wriggle the straw around in front of your cat as if it were a mouse’s tail.  Move it around underneath a bed sheet or poke it out from under a pillow or couch cushion. Cats love to capture straws!

Ribbon

Cat Toy - RibbonIf you are a crafter, you probably have a few spools of ribbon sitting around. If you aren’t too picky about the color or brand, it is pretty easy to find cheap spools of ribbon at craft stores and in garage sales. I like to cut a piece of ribbon that is long enough to drag a few feet behind me if I hold it in my hand while I am walking.  Just hold one end of the ribbon and walk slowly, letting the ribbon drag past your cat. It makes a great chase toy! You could also sit in one spot, have the ribbon stretched out across the floor in front of you, and pull the ribbon toward yourself in an uneven rhythm.

As a bonus, you can place a disposal plastic straw over one end of the ribbon and tie a knot in the ribbon so the straw doesn’t come off. Cats have an easier time grabbing and manipulating the straw than just the ribbon itself. Ribbons are an interactive toy only – don’t leave this out where your cat can get to it unsupervised. 

Ball of Paper

Cat Toy - Paper BallWad up any piece of paper and let ‘er rip! Junk mail works great! Just make sure that the ball is small enough and balled tightly enough for your cat to bat around easily. Cinco and Manna also like balls of aluminum foil. If you are lucky, you may even get a good game of fetch going with one of these awesome toys. You can lace them with catnip too if you don’t mind a little nip on your floor. If you have a paper licker/eater, you may want to stay away from using paper that has ink on it. Otherwise, balls of paper are good for independent or interactive play.

Empty Boxes

Cat Toy - BoxesThis doesn’t really need an explanation with all of the photos out there. Cats love to play with boxes. It doesn’t really matter how large or how small the box is. You can even put them together and cut holes between them to make “tunnels.” Boxes tend to be an independent toy, but there are ways to use them for interaction.To make this toy interactive, try using a disposable plastic straw to peek up over the edge of the box while the cat is inside.

Paper Bags

Cat Toy - Paper BagAny paper bag will do; the ones that you carry groceries home in, the one from your favorite department store, the ones you use when you take a lunch to work, etc.  Cats love the crinkle of paper bags. These can work in the same way boxes do, but they can allow for a little more interaction because you can actually poke the cat through the bag. As I’ve mentioned before, it is fun to put a cellphone on vibrate inside a paper bag and call it from another phone. Cats love to try and figure out what is inside the bag.  Paper bags can be used for both independent or interactive play. Plastic bags are not recommended because of the potential for suffocation.

The Red Dot

Cat Toy - Laser PointerOkay, you may not have this at home already. However, if you don’t need anything fancy, you can find simple laser pointers for under $10. Here’s one at Walmart for $6.56 : Ethical Pet Single Dot Laser. Let that little Red Dot race around the room and your cat will follow. These simple lasers are interactive only by nature of the product. There are more expensive versions available that will turn on and play with the cat for you.

Feathers

Feathers can be found inexpensively in craft stores and free in the homes of bird owners. I am not suggesting that you pluck someone’s bird, just that you ask them to save any long feathers that the bird plucks out on its own. Birds make feathery messes every day. I’m not suggesting the feathers of wild birds either because you don’t know what germs, diseases, or parasites might be on them. Feathers are used much in the same way that disposable plastic straws are used. Touching the feather to the cat’s nose or paws can be fun too.  Feathers are much more fun as an interactive toy than a independent toy.

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