Cats love to play, but you don't need an expensive toy to keep them entertained. Your cat won't be able to tell the difference between the bought toy and the home-made one if they're both fun.
Make creatures out of materials. Tie a string to the "prey". This will make it look alive.
Get creative with household items. A paper bag from the grocery store, empty sewing-thread spools, empty containers (washed thoroughly beforehand) crumpled pieces of paper, whatever. They can all be things for your cat to play with, around or inside of, or can be appealing to their ever-watchful eyes. The plastic safety rings from 1-gallon water bottles are especially exciting for cats.
Use a flashlight to amuse your cat. Cats will chase them for hours, stalk them and even run into other things when chasing, so exercise caution when moving the flashlight to ensure you will not harm your cat in its attempts to catch the light's dot.
Try making a cat fishing rod! Attach a string and pom-pom or small toy onto a garden cane. A simple feather tied with a 3-foot length of mint dental floss to the end of a 3-foot long piece of wooden dowling rod makes a great toy. This provides hours of kitty motocross across the sofa, on to the bed over the stuffed chairs. Its great exercise for you and your tiger. For that matter, a long feather can make a fun, inexpensive toy.
Make a string toy. A three-or-more-feet-long piece of that fabric twisted-cord from the fabric department, with a knot tied tightly at each end, allows you to interactively play "string" with your feline... or allows two or more cats to play together pulling and running with it. The thicker it is, the safer they are with it. Slowly pulling it across the floor or bed, then pausing, then "twitching" it now and then will entertain most of my cats for hours - even the older ones who have less rip-and-tear in them often get involved!
Take small boxes and cut out doors and windows that they can reach into to bat other toys inside - and use even bigger ones they can hide in and dive into to play. Cats love to hide and believe they are invisible, then spring out at unsuspecting prey.
Some baby toys make great cat toys. Usually, toys that are safe enough for infants are safe enough for cats. Examples: clear plastic balls with spinners inside that twirl when the ball stops rolling, or small stuffed animals that rattle.
Self-serve treat toy. Put some dry cat food or cat treats inside an uncapped beverage plastic bottle. Your pet will hit and roll the bottle around getting his food out bit by bit. Use a bottle that has a wide cap.
Throw a ping-pong ball for your cat to chase and bat around. Warning, this can be rather loud on tile/hardwood flooring.
Sew some scrap materials together and thread some fishing wire through. Attach to a wooden pole or rod. The cat may be scared first time by it. But turn it over on its back and let it attempt to bite your hand. Once this is done just place it instead of your hand. Hours and hours of endless fun and is free.
For teething kittens, all you need is the tie from a robe. Some bathrobes have strips of material that ties around the waist. Pull it across the floor, so it gets kitty's attention. These are perfect because your kitten can bite into these.
Sock on a string! Just tie an old sock onto a string and wiggle it around the ground.
Scrunch up a piece of newspaper and tie it on a string and drop it in front of your cat. They love this.
You don't even need to make toys, a lot of shops at Christmas time have fun stockings for your cat and even dogs, they are packed with toys and treats.
Empty toilet paper rolls make great toys, believe it or not.
Basically, cats like anything that moves, so bubbles are a great way to have fun with your cat.
Another thing is shoe laces. Cats just love them. If your shoelace is untied, and kittens especially, should chase it around.
Cats love the little plastic circle rings that are part of the plastic cap on a 1 gallon milk jug. They are just right to pounce on and biting the little rough ridges on the inside won't hurt kitty at all.
Cats also like pine cones and you can attach a piece of ribbon for double the fun!
Not all kitties will want to play with you. It's not you or the toy, it is just the kitty's personality on that day. Who knows, kitty might have been awake chasing moths all night while you were asleep and is simply bone tired. Same goes for petting, strange but true,not all kitties like pets. Some just like to sit and snooze or watch you watch TV. Even if your kitty doesn't seem to want to play or even get pets, your kitty still loves you a lot and needs the same care as a more pettable playful kitty. Just be sure to respect your kitty's wishes on that day and be extra loving.
Experiment with different house-hold items. Boring, everyday items to us, can be quite interesting to a cat.
Hide the toy behind something when you're playing with your cat, but letting it know its "prey" is still there. Cats love hide 'n seek.
Reward the cat with its favorite snack after it catches the toy. However, don't reward them too often, or your cat will become overweight.
Remember, kittens are more playful than old cats.
Turn on a ceiling fan and throw crumpled paper up into it. The fan will throw the paper ball somewhere in the room and your cat will have to watch closely to see where it goes!
Try to play interactively often when your cat is in paper bags and boxes- let them learn to "follow" with their ears the scratching sound you make with your fingernail on the outside. This lets them become sharper at following "prey" but also allows you to help them focus enough that when you point to and tap something, they have a better chance of understanding that your finger is tapping something they need to investigate. Cats can't see things really close to their nose, so they benefit from this in the moments when you are, say, pointing a bit of spilled food out to them.
To encourage your cat to play with the toy, move it around near the cat's paws.
With older cats, make sure you don't overtax them. Keep the toy within reach; don't try to make them run all over like younger cats.
Buy sparkly pom-poms. You can buy them cheap at craft stores.
Observe your cat, and see what they like to chew on. Do NOT give them toys they will chew on unless supervised. You want your cat to play, not get sick.
Make sure that your cat cannot eat the pieces of the toy that they pull off. For instance, rubber bands are easily eaten and can kill your pet by causing an intestinal blockage.
Watch for claws! Even the most gentle and loving cat can get carried away when excited. (It is good to make it a practice to keep the tips of your cat's claws snipped anyway. Play time can be a reward for a cat tolerating nail trimming.)Note: Never put nail polish on kitty's nails. Kitty WILL lick it off wet or dry and it contains a substance that is harmful to your kitty.
Always watch your cats when they play with their toys.
String or thread should be avoided entirely as they can be swallowed. If the string reaches the intestinal tract, it can actually function as a knife on the intestinal walls and create a life-threatening situation. Cats have required surgery or have died from swallowing string and thread.
Do not let a cat play unsupervised with a toy dangling from a string that has been tied to something because it could wrap around the cat's neck and strangle it.
Don't use plastic bags as cats can get caught in the handles or choke on small pieces of plastic they bite or scratch off of it.
Don't use anything with chocolate, soda, coffee or tea on it. The caffeine will kill the kitty, same with dogs. You want to have fun, not sadness.
NEVER ever no matter what, hit any kitty ever, their bones are very delicate and even a small hit can hurt them deeply. They will respond way better to your raised voice (even yelling) than a hit. Kitties have a rhythm to them, raising your voice disturbs that rhythm and they will learn after a few times of raising your voice.
Things You'll Need
Pretty much anything you can find in your house:
Paper(noisy paper bags, tissue paper,crumpled paper,)
Small stuffed animals,
Rings from milk jugs,
Cap covers from pill bottles (thoroughly washed)
Rags, pieces of cloth,ribbon (not too little or thin),fabric rope tied on the ends,
Bells (large enough not to be a choking hazard or tied to something larger!),
Boxes with doors cut out. They can reach into to bat other toys inside - and even bigger ones they can hide in and dive into to play.
Socks - Stuffing an old sock with pillow stuffing and catnip is great, they hug it and kick it with their hind legs.