How to make catnip toys

Creating fun toys for your cat to play with is a very simple and rewarding activity. There are many types of toys to choose from, some very simple and some more complicated. If you have a good supply of catnip from the garden, you will be able to keep your cat happily supplied with toys for months.

WOOL POM-POMS

The simplest sort of toy to make is a soft pom-pom. If you have absolutely no talent with needle and thread, you can still make these. Most craft stores sell ready-made pom-poms in small packages. The larger ones are nicer for your cat and won’t fit under the stove and fridge. Remove the poms from the package and put them into a plastic bag with dried catnip. Leave them for a week to absorb the catnip aroma, and give one to your cat. Keep rotating these toys so they will always be full of fresh catnip scent.

Poms can also be made from yarn and a piece of cardboard. Cut a piece of cardboard about three inches by four inches, and wrap it with about 20-30 wraps of yarn. Tie the yarn securely in the middle and cut the ends to make a ball. Use left-over yarn from other projects for these. You can also attach a string for a more interactive toy.

FELT TOYS

Craft felt can be purchased at fabric and craft stores. This material is non-woven, will not fray at the edges and comes in many different colors. Red and Pink are particular favorites of most cats. Either draw a mouse shape on the felt and cut out or make a cardboard pattern and trace onto the felt. Make two sides, either the same or different colors. If done in the same color, you can save sewing one edge by folding over. Sew the edges with a close overhand stitch or sew on a machine. Leave an opening for stuffing and fill with dried catnip. Hand-sew the opening closed. Add a piece of yarn or string for a tail. If a mouse is beyond your artistic ability, make small pillow shapes. Kitty won’t care as long as it is full of catnip.

FUR TOYS

Rabbit pelts are easy to work with and make the ultimate in deluxe kitty toys. Cats really seem to enjoy batting fur toys around and will lick them down to the leather sometimes. Pelts can be purchased at craft stores or by mail-order. The rabbit leather is very soft and easy to sew, only a little more difficult than sewing felt.

To work with fur pelts, you will need a very sharp pair of scissors or an exacto knife. First, make a cardboard pattern of a mouse shape about the size of a real mouse. This should be very basic, sort of a flattened pear, as you will only be sewing on the rounded seam. Lay the pelt fur-side down on your work surface. Position the pattern so that the fur “grows” from the pointy part to the flattened part. Trace around the pattern with a felt-tip pen. Try to arrange the pattern so that you get the most use of the pelt and save some for tails.

Cut the shapes out and fold in half, fur on the inside. Cut a long piece of pelt for a tail (or use a length of yarn) and attach at the center of the flattened end, tuck it to the inside, and begin sewing toward the nose. Use a sharp needle and an overhand stitch. When you are about two inches from the nose tip, turn the mouse fur-side out, stuff with dried catnip and whip-stitch the opening closed.

Try to utilize as much of the pelt as possible, making pillow shapes out of odd bits and pieces. These toys should be kept in plastic bags with dried catnip and doled out to your pet one at a time. They also make wonderful gifts for cat-owned friends.

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