DIYdiy projects

DIY Project: Pretty Cat Toys

by Kate Pruitt

Every winter, my cat, JFK, who is usually an outdoor cat, gets a little bit crankier . . . well, a lot crankier. When he’s not sleeping directly in front of the heater or scarfing food, he’s begging me for attention. On my last trip to New York, I learned a lot of great tips from Grace and Amy, both experts at owning indoor cats, for keeping your cat happy. It essentially boils down to the following: keep them warm and cozy, give them plenty of affection and make sure they receive a sufficient amount of entertainment and exercise daily.

After scouring my local pet shops, I realized that nothing was quite up to snuff for me visually. JFK loves wand toys and scratch pads, so I decided to make my own versions of these toys. They were easy and cheap to assemble, and unlike most plastic toys, I could actually see myself displaying these proudly. Yes, I’m a cat lady, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be a stylish cat lady. If you have a free afternoon and some basic woodworking skills, you can easily craft these gifts for your feline companions in time for the holidays. Happy crafting, and here’s to all cats, however ornery they may be. :) — Kate

Read the full how-to after the jump . . .


  • two 1″ x 3″ x 24″ pieces of wood
  • mitre box and saw
  • 1/4″ sisal rope
  • hot glue gun
  • neon pink string
  • scissors
  • leather cord
  • drill with 3/8″ bit
  • wood glue
  • yarn and embroidery thread in a variety of colors
  • wood beads
  • wood dowel



For the cat scratch door hanger:

1. Measure the boards and make a mark at 22″. Cut the boards at a 30-degree angle and sand all sides with sandpaper to remove any splinters.

2. Spread a line of wood glue onto the shorter edge of one board.

3. Clamp the two pieces together with the edges flush. Use a damp cloth to clean off any excess glue before it dries.

4. Measure a 12″ length on the back of the wood piece and draw a straight line to indicate where the rope will start and stop.

5. Run a thin line of glue along the drawn line and attached one end of rope to the back of the board.

6. Continue wrapping the rope tightly around the board, running a line of glue along the front underneath each previous line of rope and pressing the rope into it to adhere.

7. Once the rope is wrapped entirely around the board and glued into place, tie several strands of pink string around the board at different intervals.

8. Drill two small holes near the top of the board (at least 1″ in from all sides) for the leather hanging cord.

9. Cut a 10″ or longer strand of leather cord (depending on where you plan to hang the cat scratcher) and tie a knot at one end. Thread the cord through the right hole from front to back, then back through the left hole to the front. Tie a knot at the other end of the cord to secure.

For the magic cat wand:

1. Grab several colors of yarn and thread, and begin wrapping them around your fingers to start a pom-pom (some people like to use forks, which is genius, but I also like to use my hands — either way is fine).

2. Once you have all of your yarn wrapped around in loops, remove the whole bunch from your hands a tie a very tight knot (tight as you can get it) around the center of the bunch. I prefer to use the neon string for this task because it is stronger than the soft yarn and won’t break when I pull it really tight.

3. Snip all the loops in half, and you will start to see the pom-pom take shape. It will be messy, though, so to go back in and clean it up (and add fluff), you will need to trim all of the ends. You are sort of pruning the pom-pom like a hedge until you feel it has reached a full, fluffy and clean shape.

4. Cut a 24″ length of leather cord. Thread a sewing needle with any color thread, and sew the pom-pom to the end of the leather cord.

5. Cut an 8″ piece of leather cord and sew a few feathers onto the end of it. Slip on a small lightweight bead (air-dried soft clay would be best because it’s squishy, but a very lightweight wood or plastic bead will work, too).

6. Tie the cord with the feathers to the longer leather cord with the p0m-pom, about 6″ up from the end, so that the two cords end almost but not exactly at the same length.

7. Cut four 1″ pieces of leather cord for the handle and plug in your glue gun.

8. Put a very small dab of glue on the end of the dowel and lay two of the small pieces of leather over it. Also, put dabs of glue on the sides and adhere the ends of both cords down to the dowel. Repeat with the other two pieces attached perpendicular to the first. This covers the base of the dowel.

9. Place a very tiny dab of glue on one corner of the dowel right at the bottom edge. Take a long strand of leather cord and begin wrapping it tightly around the dowel, covering the ends of the smaller leather pieces that you just glued down, and continuing to wrap beyond those pieces about 4″. When you have covered about 6″ of the end of the dowel, cut off the excess cord and glue down the end to secure.

10. Drill a small hole in the top of the dowel, and thread through the cord with the pom-pom and feather. Tie a knot on the other side to secure.

11. Add small knots of leather along the cord for kitty paws to grab at, including one at the top to keep the cord in place.

You’re done!

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  • Oh my, I made something the other day that looks very similar (but this is far superior). My kitty loves it, thank goodness, because she’s wrecking my hands and arms with her loving playfulness.

  • Ahhh! I need that throw blanket! I second Erin K — need to know where it’s from!

  • Wow! Thank you for sharing this! I love the look of the natural fibers and bright pink. These are the best looking cat toys I’ve ever seen!

  • These projects are totally rad. I am also a cat lady, but must agree – most cat products out there are woefully unstylish!

  • Ornery cats are the best – i love my grouchy boy Tdubz for many reasons but his very clear “do not like” expressions come up trumps.

  • INSANELY BRILLIANT! My 4 cats, Minky the Turkish Angora; Duke the Butterscotch swirl colored Manx, Babble the 20 pound , sleek, muscular doll baby DSH; and Daizzee, the Tortoiseshell Adoptive Mommy THANK YOU so very much!
    They will each have their own set of these under the tree!!

  • If you use a lightweight loooong ribbon (without any toys attached) in the wand it flows nicely and my cats LOVE it. Think fly fishing :-) or rythmic gymnastics.

  • I love these. I am definitely going to make the door hanger scratch pad. Perhaps it will convince my little fellow to stop sharpening his claws on my bed.

  • once i saw the feather toy i made it took only few min , i used an old blind tilt wand and connected it with an elastic cord and some feather , omg i couldn’t believe how much my pregnant cat enjoyed it . thank you to make my cat happier !

  • hola! que maravilla !! Gracias por compartilo!!! que buen gusto!!! mi gato amara esto!! Hi!! so wonderful!! Thank u so much for sharing!!! what a good taste!! my kitty gonna love it!!

  • I’ve been thinking of making something for my indoor cats for awhile, this has given me some incentive to start working on some things for them, Thanks for the great ideas & instructions!

  • These cat toys are great and look not so hard to make. I want to try them for the bazaar at church – people love stuff for their pets and I also have two cats. Thanks for the instructions for making these!

  • Was your sale on these adorable toys for cats a success? Can I ask how much you would charge for them? My daughter was thinking of making some for a fundraiser. Thanks!

  • Lovely toys! I was reading the other comments & noticing compliments & inquiries on the throw. Now, you know better than to include pics of ANYTHING other than the topic of the article (incl.the CAT) without also incl.info or instructions on how/where to get these items! lol Sorry, it tickles me to read all of the different comments. I do really love these toy ideas & plan to get my husband started on them straight away. Cheers!