makeyourownpettoysI might as well come out and admit it: I LOVE shopping. Like the stereotypical femme, my ideal afternoon comprises of shopping, shopping and shopping, with maybe a spa treatment thrown in. When it comes to my cats, I’m no different. My partner has to tear me away from the cat toys and steer me out of the store when I start to get that glazed shopping look in my eyes. Shoppers, you know what look I’m talking about; I think we call it “the Zone.” How do I reconcile my love of shopping with my desire to stay on a budget? Simple: crafts!

For me, shopping is the hunt of finding something new; something unique and something perfect. Crafting is the art of making those things. With a little extra time and effort, I can feel so much better about my materialistic desires. This applies very nicely to pet toys and accessories, since most pet toys are easy and inexpensive to make. Now if I can just find the receipt to return that remote controlled mouse!

Cats

Easy
Almost all pet books will tell you this, but cats love nothing more than a crumpled up ball of paper or a ping pong ball (make sure it’s not cracked!). They also like paper bags with a hole in them, so they can jump in and out. Non-toxic bubbles are fun for them and putting plastic cups on the floor as an obstacle course gets them moving around. I save my empty toilet paper rolls; my cats love to run around the apartment after them.

Advanced
A packet of small toy mice can go a long way. For a couple of dollars, you can make a host of different toys. Tie one to the end of an old shoelace and use it to lure your cats through the paper cup obstacle course. Use some old elastic from a pair of sweatpants to tie it to a doorknob or a stick—cats will play with it for hours! Use this tutorial from Martha Stewart to make a fish out of an old, shrunken sock and some organic catnip. If you really want to go all out, you can attempt to make some cat furniture. There are some great IKEA hacks on IKEA hacker, including this clean looking and easy wall cat ladder. One of my friends took on the seemingly daunting task of making a cat tree. Not only was it loads cheaper, but it was also a fun weekend project- it is a lot easier than you think. This website is great resource if you’re going to attempt it. If you are nervous about all the carpentry involved with the more advanced cat trees, you can also just get an old wire spool from your local hardware store and coil sisal rope around it.

Dogs

Easy
Filling an empty paper towel roll with peanut butter and then twisting it to make a candy-like shape is about as easy and DIY as it gets. Be careful of the ingestion of the paper though. More detailed info from Instructables: A common frustration dog owners have about dog toys is their cost vs. longevity. Even the most expensive ones are short-lived in the home of a particularly determined dog. Here’s a great idea from RealSimple to take old dish towels and put them to a new use in a dog rope toy. Double your use for one cost, my favorite kind of craft!. From wrapping sticks with old t-shirts to stuffing tennis balls in socks, this site for making and building dog stuff is a great one-stop resource.

Advanced
Dog beds can be a costly item for pet owners. Especially if you own more than one dog. And especially if that dog is fond of mud, scaring skunks, and ripping things up with his teeth, like a dog I know. If you attempt to buy a pricey bed to replace every discarded one, the costs add up. Consider making your own dog bed with a replaceable, washable cover. At least you won’t feel so bad when it gets destroyed.

For all you scaly and feathered parents out there, here are a couple of links of great toy ideas for you and your pets too.

Crochet Patter Central is a clearinghouse of cute and easy crochet patterns for pet toys, bedding and clothes. Very very cute and inspiring for those of us who don’t know how to crochet. I hear it isn’t that hard.

Animal Planet has six great toy ideas for dogs, cats, bunnies and birds. I particularly like the monogrammed catnip pouch, because pet’s whole names are often longer than the usual three, which would make the monogram hilariously long. My kitten has 5 names and his monogram would be HMWDG. Ha!

The Martha Stewart site I linked to previously also has some instructions on how to make dog biscuts, a gift basket for rabbits, and a swing for parrots. The decorations for the fish tank are pretty cute too!
If you’re a bird owner (and I know at least one reader is) here’s a great link for DIY bird toys. I like the shirt with randomly sewn buttons and zippers; it seems so festive to wear particular clothing to play with your pet.

And last but not least- not particular to just pets, but paper silhouettes of your whole family should also include one of your pet. This is a great rainy day idea for you and your kids to do.

Are any of you shopping lovers? How do you cope with your urges to buy things? And if you’ve found some other cheap DIY pet entertainment ideas, please do share. My cat has taken to watching TV, and I’d like to give him something better to do! What cheap toys have you noticed your pet loving?