When it comes to gear for your cat, there are countless options available on the market. But here’s an opportunity to see the world through your cat’s eyes and get creative in the process.
Inspired by the Maker Movement and to get us ready for Maker Faire in New York City September 21-22, 2013, we’ve been thinking about things you can make with your family to enrich the feeding experience for your cat. Or ways to make little touches to your home environment to dial up its “catness.”
While you may have already seen our article on Puzzle Feeders, here’s a look at the basic principles for designing an interchangeable system of wand toys that are easy to swap in and out.
How can these toys enrich your cat’s day? Use them to key into her natural energy cycle of Play Eat Rest. You’ll want put toys into motion and let your cat stalk and pounce, then feed after the play session to reward the hunt.
But before you get started, here are a couple of things to consider:
Avoid little bits that could be choking hazards. And put the wand and toys away when not in use. This is for safety reasons, and it will help avoid burnout.
What You Need:
From an arts and craft store:
A sturdy wood dowel – 3-feet in length and ½” diameter
Tan and/or black suede laces
Small colored pompoms
Jingle bells (with eyelet)
Necessities from a tackle shop or sporting goods store:
Fishing line (try 15-20 lb. test)
Barrel swivels (both with and without a clip end)
X-ACTO or utility knife (please use under adult supervision.)
A sewing needle and thread
Drill with a small bit
How to Make A:
The central piece in this flexible system.
1. Depending on your height, you’ll want 2-3 feet of dowel. (Start long and wait to cut it down to size once you’ve had a chance to play).
2. Drill a small hole through the dowel about an inch from one end.
3. Tie a barrel swivel (with clip) to one end of a length of fishing line. Then, thread the other end of the fishing line through the hole and tie it off. You’ll want to leave about 6-12 inches of line between the tip of the wand and the barrel swivel. This will keep the clip a safe distance from the toy and out of reach of claws and mouths. Trim away any excess line.
A couple of feathers and a jingle bell can make your cat leap with delight.
1. Cut about 3-feet of line from the spool of fishing line. Tie a number of knots at one end to make a stopper for the feathers. Trim any excess.
2. Take a feather. Since the quill is hollow, use a needle or safety pin to punch a hole in the quill about where the quill starts to narrow and the barbs begin.
3. Thread the fishing line through the hole you punched and down the length of the quill and out the end. Pull the line through until it hits the knot.
4. Repeat this with another larger feather.
5. Thread the fishing line through a small jingle bell, working from bottom to top.
6. Next, wrap the line twice around the eyelet at the top of the jingle bell. This will help hold the bell in place directly on top of the feathers.
7. About 18” from the top of the bell, tie another barrel swivel (without clip). Trim away excess line.
8. Clip the Bird toy to the line attached to the wand and help it take flight.
A little felt, some tan suede laces and some simple stitching make for a critter to chase.
1. Trim the silhouette of a mouse or small rodent from a piece of felt.
2. Repeat with another shade. We’ve used two tones of gray.
3. To make the tail and legs, cut 3 strands from the tan suede laces. Tie a knot in one end to make the tail. Tie knots in the middle of the other two pieces to make the legs.
4. Place one piece of felt on the table. Next, position the legs and tail where you want them. Align the knots down the midline of the body – this will help give dimension to the body. And place a barrel swivel (without clip) near the head of your rodent so one eyelet is inside the toy; the other sticking out.
5. Place the second piece of felt over the top of the other to cover the suede laces. Align the edges.
6. Double thread your sewing needle, and stitch around the perimeter of the rodent. Stitch directly through the suede laces to help keep them in place. And make a couple of extra stiches through the eyelet of the barrel swivel to fortify it as it will be the point of attachment.
7. Cut a 24-inch strand of fishing line. Tie a second barrel swivel (without clip) to one end. Tie the other to the eyelet on the barrel swivel sticking out of your rodent toy. Trim away any excess line.
8. Clip your Rodent toy to the wand, drag it along the floor in front of your cat and watch her pounce.
Small pompons mimic the body segments of an insect, while strands of suede laces make for legs. Together, they’re irresistibly fun.
1. Cut four short strands (about 3-inches long) of black suede laces. Tie a knot in each so the knot is centered in the strand.
2. Take a little over 24-inches of fishing line. Tie a few knots on top of each other to create a stop. Trim away any excess line. Thread the opposite end of the fishing line through a sewing needle.
3. Use the needle and fishing line to begin stringing through the center of the pompoms.
4. Alternate pompoms with the short strands of suede laces. String the fishing line through the middle of the knot.
5. When you’re bug is as long as you want it, tie a knot or two as close to the top of your bug’s head to help keep everything in place. And trim the laces to the desired length.
6. At the far end, tie a barrel swivel (without clip) about 18-24 inches from the top of the bug’s head. Trim away any excess line.
7. To make your own spin on this design, consider using ribbon instead of the suede laces. Or use a jingle bell at the front to give it some weight, and help it make noise.
8. Clip this toy to your wand and bring it to life around your environment.
Have you put your spin on a wand toy for your cat? Share it with our True Nature community on Facebook.
Or gather more inspiration for DIY projects for your cat on our Pinterest board.
For other ideas for bringing enrichment to your cat’s day, check out the Playing Together Activity in the True Nature Journal.