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5 DIY Pet Toys You Can Make With Upcycled Materials

These DIY pet toys are an easy and affordable way to entertain your cats and dogs—and you probably already have the materials.

Written by
Jenna Mignano
Published

Our furry friends bring us so much joy. So it's no surprise that we want to spoil them with cute new toys to return the favor—and give us an opportunity to play together, of course. Unfortunately, the bulk of store-bought pet toys contain plastics and other pollutants.

Instead of buying new, why not make your own? A wonderful thing about animals is that they don't care how much money you spend on their entertainment. There are many DIY pet toys for cats and dogs that can be crafted from items you may already own, each customizable for your animal's size.

DIY Pet Toys You Can Make for Your Furry Friends

This homemade toy only requires one material: a t-shirt! Simply cut the shirts into three or four thin, equal scraps of fabric, braid them, and tie a knot at both ends.

If you're feeling fancy, you can choose a couple of different shirts to create an alternating pattern. The braided rope is a very customizable craft: you can thread a tennis ball through the middle, braid it into a closed circle, or adjust the thickness and size based on your animal's size.

When crafting with a cat in mind, you can cut up smaller scraps and attach them through a single, tight knot in the middle rather than braiding the fabric.

There is a truth known to all cat owners: No matter how much you spend on intricate and fancy toys, your cat will still end up playing with the cardboard box the items came in. So, let them have their fun—but elevated.

To make your own whack-a-mole box, first find an empty cardboard box. We recommend using a thinner cardboard like a soda box so that it is easier to cut, and the edges aren't sharp from thick corrugation. Carefully cut out one of the smaller sides that is thinner in width, and use the cat toy that will serve as the "mole" to measure circles and create outlines on the top of the box.

If you don't have such a toy yet, don't worry! Simply make a pompom from extra yarn and secure it to a stick or straw. Finally, cut holes your measured holes. Manually alternate the pompom toy between the cut-out areas and let your cat enjoy it.

Does your clever pup love a challenge? Then this toy is a winning idea! Take a 3x4 cupcake tin and fill each mold with a tennis ball, hiding a treat underneath three of the balls. It may help to do this step in front of your dog so that they have a hint at the game's goal. Next, sit back, relax, and watch as your pup tries its best to track down the treats!

Instead of buying a stuffed animal friend for your pet from the store, why not try your hand at making one yourself? Find a long sock, fill it with stuffing or rice, tie a secure ribbon that separates the face and body, and finish it off with a cute face.

Instead of using components like buttons, glue, or foam, consider getting out a needle and thread to create a detailed design and secure the ribbon. This craft is especially great if you have kids who want to get in on the fun. It's sure to result in a great afternoon for everyone!

This DIY comes with pretty results. To create this toy, start by gathering together old craft supplies like feathers, yarn, and ribbon that never got put to good use, or are perhaps a remainder from a larger project. Forage for a stick that's about a centimeter thick, or find something that will work just as well around your home, like a takeout drink straw or a chopstick.

After that, cut and secure all of the pieces of string together, tying and gluing them on one end of the stick. If you use something with a hollow center you can forgo the glue altogether and push the yarn through with a toothpick. To finish, wrap the secured area with more yarn for extra strength. Shake it around in the air above your cat for hours of easy entertainment.

Want an eco-friendly doy toy option? Try this pick made from natural rubber and natural cotton.