Cats love to play! And that’s a good thing because getting plenty of exercise and mental stimulation are important for mental and physical health. While you can always head to the store to buy cat toys, making your own at home can also be fun, particularly when we’re talking about using cardboard, pretty much every cat’s favorite substance.
Cats love to hide in and jump out of cardboard boxes, and there’s probably not a cat on earth who can resist giving corrugated cardboard a good long scratch. Read to discover 15 DIY cardboard cat toys you can make today! While most are great for upcycling old delivery boxes, a few require trips to the store, new materials, and some serious crafting skills! Enjoy!
The 15 DIY Cardboard Cat Toys
1. DIY Whack-A-Mole by Fishki Show
|Material:||Cardboard, Pencil/Pen, Tongue Depressors, Small Metal Dowels, Balls, Bolts/Small Weights, Bottle Caps|
|Tools:||Ruler, Box Cutter, Compass, Glue Gun, Drill|
This adorable whack-a-mole project uses cardboard to create a fun interactive toy you can enjoy with your cat. You use cardboard to construct the box that’ll hold the disappearing balls. Tongue depressors and dowels form the mechanism that moves the balls up and down. While it’s not a terribly difficult or involved project, it requires a glue gun, drill, and utility knife, making adult supervision necessary.
Unless you’re a serious crafter with a glue gun and tongue depressors on hand, you’ll probably need to head to the store to get started. Keep in mind that this is an interactive toy, and you’ll need to hit the levers for your cat to enjoy the game!
2. DIY Egg Carton Scratcher by Sunflower
|Material:||Cardboard Box, Egg Cartons|
|Difficulty Level:||Super Easy|
Cats love to scratch, and they love to dig into cardboard even more! This easy egg carton cat scratcher is a great way to upcycle not only those old cardboard boxes you have sitting around the house from online deliveries but cardboard egg cartons as well!
There’s a fun instructional video in Spanish. Quite honestly, the project is so easy that you don’t really need to understand the directions. But just in case, grab a box that’s slightly more than 4 inches high and just over 12 inches wide. Take your egg cartons (you’ll need a bunch), remove the tops, and stack your cartons on top of each other. Turn the stack sideways and place it in the box.
3. DIY Cardboard Box Cat Scratcher by More than Thursdays
|Material:||Old Cardboard Boxes, Shelf Liner Paper|
|Tools:||Utility Knife, Ruler, Utility Knife, Glue, Foam Brush, Catnip|
This fun cat scratcher is another easy project that upcycles products that you probably already have at home. Instead of egg cartons, this project uses strips of cardboard from old boxes to create a scratcher, which means lots and lots of cutting.
Cut enough 2-inch strips from old cardboard boxes to fill your base, then add a bit of catnip. Glue the strips to the bottom of your base and decorate the outside of the box using the shelf liner paper. Make sure to use non-toxic glue, as cats are notorious for their tendency to gobble up just about anything they can get their paws on.
4. DIY Cardboard Cat Enrichment Toy by Massiel Dominguez
|Material:||Shoe Box, Tape, Toilet Paper Rolls, Rope|
Cats thrive on enrichment toys and activities! Not only do puzzles and games keep them entertained, but these sorts of activities are crucial for feline happiness. Poke holes in the back of the box and run the rope through them; this allows you to fasten the box to a stationary object and prevent wholesale chaos.
Glue the individual toilet paper rolls (opening side up) to the bottom of the box and let everything dry for a bit. Add snacks and toys to your creation and let your cat lose for some fun. Keep it interesting for your cat by varying what you hide, and remember not to put a reward in every tube. The point is to stimulate your cat’s mind by engaging their curiosity.
5. DIY Recycled Cardboard Mouse from Feline Living
|Material:||Old Cardboard Boxes, Rope|
|Tools:||Box Cutter, Compass|
If your cat’s bored and looking for a new toy, you can string an adorable cardboard mouse together in a snap. Grab an old cardboard box, open it up, and lay it flat. Draw a series of increasingly large circles on the cardboard: small circles for the tail and head and larger ones for the middle section.
Punch a good-sized hole in the middle of each. Don’t worry about getting everything just right, variation is part of what makes this toy so enticing. After you’ve cut all the separate pieces out, grab your rope and string the pieces together so they resemble a mouse. Add little ears to a piece close to the snout if you’re really going for a “realistic” look!
6. Adorable DIY Cardboard Cut-Out Mouse from Instructables
|Material:||Cardboard Box, Glue|
|Tools:||Box Cutter, Template, Tape, Cutting Mat|
This fun toy offers a great way to upcycle your old cardboard boxes hanging around the house. And best of all, the entire project only takes minutes to complete. Remember those paper toys that used to come in cereal boxes: the ones with cutouts, tongues, and grooves you used to put things like cars and fake appliances together?
This simple project is a riff on that theme! It essentially consists of two pieces of cardboard that slide into each other and are glued together for security. There’s a handy template to help you get the hang of things, but once you get the gist, you can quickly come up with your own designs, which is a great way to engage the creativity of younger crafters!
7. DIY Cardboard Playhouse by Kittycat Chronicles
|Material:||Cardboard Boxes, Templates,|
|Tools:||Pencil, Bone Folder, Ruler, Box Cutter, Cutting Mat, Glue Gun|
Don’t let the list of tools required to complete this super cute project dissuade you; it’s a Martha Stewart design, so there are tons of ways you can adapt it to simplify things. This snazzy cat house is made of cardboard, and it looks great and gives kitties a lovely place to hide, rest, and nap.
You have to cut the edges of a box’s top flaps to create a triangle for the roof. The instructions provide a pretty elaborate airhole template. You can always make your project a bit less involved and just cut air holes.
8. Simple DIY Cardboard Food Puzzle by Kittycat Chronicles
|Material:||Toilet Paper Roll Core, Cat Treats|
This incredibly simple toy is created with a toilet paper roll and some cat treats. Put a few treats in the roll and fold the ends shut. Poke a few holes in the roll so your cat can knock bits of kibble out, and you’re done. The entire project will take minutes to complete, cost you almost nothing, and entertain your cat for hours.
9. DIY Toilet Paper Pompoms or Straws by Kittycat Chronicles
|Material:||Toilet Paper or Kitchen Rolls, Pompoms or Straws, Rope|
|Tools:||Glue Gun, Hole Making Tool|
These simple projects are the perfect way to upcycle your toilet paper rolls! The pompom version is the easiest option; just glue a bunch of pompoms to the outside of a cardboard toilet paper roll, and you’re set. The straw version requires more effort as you’ll need to poke holes in the roll and use glue to fasten the straws securely.
To create a design that you can hang on the back of a door, loop a bit of rope through the roll and tie a secure knot. Remember that straws, pompoms, and rope can be problematic if your cat ingests them, so all of these toys require close human supervision!
10. DIY Cardboard Box Cat Fort by Kittycat Chronicles
|Material:||Boxes, Packing Tape|
|Tools:||Scissors, Box Cutter|
The project requires substantial planning, as you’ll need to figure out how to connect your boxes to create a fort. But who cares if things don’t quite line up the first time, there are ways to trim those other leftover boxes to get things back on course.
To create his cardboard fort, grab a box, cut a hole, and cut a mirror image hole in another box. Use tape to fasten the boxes together. Keep going until you have the fort you envisioned. Your creation can consist of any number of boxes; whatever you have on hand is perfect. Make sure to give any tape you use a good trim to keep your pet from nibbling on adhesives and other chemicals.
11. DIY Toilet Paper Ball by Cats Herd You
|Material:||Old Toilet Paper Roll|
|Tools:||Pencil, Scissors. Glue|
These adorable balls are made of toilet paper rolls headed to the recycling bin. They’re adorable, easy to put together, and perfect if you’re looking for a simple homemade cat toy. Grab your pencil and ruler. Place a mark every 2 centimeters or so along the roll. Take your scissors and cut along the lines you marked, creating rings.
Put those rings over each other to create a ball. Add a drop of non-toxic glue between layers to make the toy sturdier, and you’re done. These adorable toys are a great way to give new life to toilet paper rolls, and they’re almost cute enough for you to give to your cat on their birthday!
12. DIY Cardboard Bus by eHow
|Material:||Cardboard Box, Tape, Paint|
|Tools:||Ruler, Box Cutter, Pencil, Scissors, Paint Brush, Glue Gun|
This adorable cardboard bus will brighten up your room, give you a fun project to complete, and provide your cat with a cute hideaway. Tape a cardboard box shut, leaving one side open. Remove one top flap and then snip out triangular pieces on each side.
Make a windshield out of cardboard by cutting out two rectangles, leaving a bit of space between each, and tape it to the body of your bus. Draw a door and windows on the sides, and use the box cutter to create openings your cat can use to get in and out of the box. Put down some paper, grab the paint, and personalize your creation.
13. Simple DIY Cardboard Cat Teaser by I Love Green Grass
|Material:||Cardboard Box, Rope,|
|Tools:||Needle, Box Cutter, Pencil|
This is a super simple project perfect for keeping your hands busy while watching TV or listening to a podcast! Grab four differently sized round objects, like a coaster, a roll of tape, or a toilet paper roll. Get creative; the exact size or what you use doesn’t matter!
Place your objects on the cardboard and trace them with your pencil. You’ll need two cutouts of each size. Load the large needle with the rope and poke the rope through the first circle. Make a secure knot after you add each circle. Leave a bit of rope at the end if you want to hang the toy on the back of a door.
14. DIY Cardboard Activity Box by Catreesco
|Material:||Cardboard Box, Buttons, Rope, Tape|
This cardboard activity box provides a ton of feline fun and mental stimulation. Grab a cardboard box and cut off the flaps on one end; that’s how your cat will get into and out of the box. Make small holes in the box using scissors. Thread the rope through your button and then through a hole in the cardboard.
Make a knot and fix the rope with a bit of tape on the top. Add buttons or other dangly things for your cat to bat at. Because your toy involves buttons and rope, you’ll definitely need to supervise your pet when they’re using the toy.
15. DIY Toilet Paper Roll Cat Puzzle by Cat Lessons
|Material:||Toilet Paper Rolls|
|Tools:||Glue, Round Base, Clothespins|
Cat puzzles work with your cat’s natural curiosity to provide fun mental stimulation by encouraging your cat to “hunt” for their treats. This adorable food puzzle looks amazing. It’s pretty much guaranteed to wow your Instagram followers, not to mention your cat!
Start saving those toilet paper cores now because you’ll need a ton of them to make this toy. The project requires you to use a round object as a temporary base: a basket or hamper is perfect. Glue the individual rolls together using clothespins to ensure everything stays together while the glue dries. Begin to build your puzzle by adding rolls around the base. Start at the bottom, and don’t forget the glue. Remove the base after the glue has set and add cat treats randomly throughout.
Cats love cardboard more than anything on earth, other than their favorite people, of course. Because these projects involve cardboard, you won’t need to spend a ton of money on materials. And if you use old boxes, you’ll be doing something great for your cat and the environment.
There are tons several projects to choose from, including quick and easy options to super detailed projects that’ll keep you busy for a few hours! Either way, your cat will be a happy creature once you present them with their new toy, and hopefully, you’ll have fun making something cool with your hands!
Featured Image Credit: JulieK2, Shutterstock