Issue 11: August 09

Dear Fancy,

My cat and I enjoy interactive play with wand toys, catnip mice, and so forth, but – to stay within my budget – are there any cat toys I can make with household objects that kitty will like?

Frugal Feline Fan

Dear Frugal,

It's amazing what my fellow cats and I will use as playthings. Let me tell you about one of my favorites – your cat may go wild over it, too. You know those semi-rigid plastic wrappers that are around the lids of jars of salad dressing, salsa, mayonnaise, and other products, to show that the product is tightly sealed and has not been opened? Don't automatically throw those away! They make wonderful cat toys.

Crunch the plastic into a small ball. Then get your cat's attention by moving the makeshift toy in an alluring way. Once kitty's eyes are locked on the target, throw the scrunched-up plastic along the ground or in the air, so that kitty has to chase it. Now here's the best part: Once the plastic lands, it slowly unfurls and makes crinkly sounds. It's like it's alive! Most cats can't resist this. Expect spirited play, fast-paced chases, determined pounces – and lots of fun.

After kitty thoroughly overpowers the "prey" and is feeling victorious, be sure to issue the standard (and expected) praise, perhaps followed by an actual treat.

Tip: For possibly even more excitement, leave a little bit plastic of the plastic un-scrunched, so it's like a tail.

Most people who live with cats know about the feline fascination with paper bags. But here's an even better idea: two paper bags! There are lots of possibilities with this combo. You can cut out the bottoms of the bags and stuff one partly inside other to make a tunnel. You can arrange the two bags so they're facing each other and kitty can run from one to the other, or between the two. You can cut holes in the sides of each of the bags and put them next to each other, so that kitty has a portal leading from one bag to the next.

To get the most use out of paper bags, use them as props for play. For example, slowly glide a toy along the outside of a bag when kitty's inside. When you least expect it, a lightning-fast paw will try to grab the toy, or will send it flying with a swift jab. Another option is to roll a toy just outside the opening of the bag while kitty's hiding in it. What fun!

Always chaperon your cat during play sessions with homemade toys. When kitty's done playing, put the toy away, in a cat-proof place – just to be safe. And remember to snip the handles of bags, so kitty can't get caught up in them.




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