5 Easy ways to create a DIY cat playground under quarantine

In my last blog I talked about how learning your cat’s routine can help make their days more enjoyable. But now I want to take it a step further and give you both something fun to do: a DIY indoor playground, using only the things you have around the house.

Hide and Sneak cat tunnel, Chewy boxes, and crumbled brown paper

Now obviously, I can’t possibly know exactly what you have around the house, but here are 5 ideas using common household items that will hopefully spark your imagination and entertain your cat.

Empty boxes – Okay, we all know cats love empty boxes, but hear me out. Since it’s better to limit how much we go shopping, many of us are getting our groceries and essentials shipped directly to us. That means lots of extra boxes lying around. So use them. Scatter a few in a room and bring out the wand toy. The boxes will help elevate this game of cat and “mouse” because cats love to sneak up on prey. They even get a little thrill when they can hear their prey but can’t see it. From behind their boxes they can launch a surprise attack on their unsuspecting “victims.” So have fun with it and use different sizes, heights, and even some with holes cut out. Rotate them as you learn your cats preferences.

hide and sneak paper cat toy tunnel

Empty toilet paper rolls – Cats are natural hunters, so anything we can do to help them exercise this instinct is a lot of fun for them. When you finally get through all that toilet paper you bought, you can use the little cardboard rolls to make a fun toy, and it only takes a second. Simply stuff an empty roll with a sheet of tissue paper, drop treats inside the tube or sprinkle with a cat attractant like Cloud Nine or catnip, and let her kick, shred, chew, and destroy it to her heart's delight. This is the easiest and cheapest toy any one can make and one that most cats will love to play with. And cleaning up after the party is easy because you can toss everything in the recycle bin.

tabby cat pawing a piece of tissue paper stuffed into an empty toilet paper roll

cloud nine silvervine cat attractant

Paper plates – For this trick you’ll need a few paper plates and some dry cat food or treats. Put 10 - 20 pieces of food (that’s about 40 calories worth of food and is about what your cat will eat in a meal) on each plate and then hide them in a few interesting places throughout your home. This lets your cat discover their meals throughout the day like they would in the wild. Paper sandwich bags work too for hiding treats that your cat can hunt and discover. Let them tear the bags open to reach the prize.

a paper plate wedged between two doors with a few kibbles of cat food on it

Scraps of paper – Cats love the crinkling of paper; it sounds like small ground prey rustling in the leaves. For this trick you can use whatever is readily available: old newspapers, packing paper from your food deliveries, a torn up paper sack, tissue paper, or even used printer paper. Smaller pieces can be balled up loosely and used like toys to be batted around or chewed on. Larger sheets can be used like our Magic Carpet. Rustle the paper a bit, or place a treat or a scented toy underneath to get your kitty hunting like a pro.

Cat food and treats – Okay this one has to be the easiest of all. Grab a handful of dry kibble or cat treats and play a game of fetch. Of course, I don’t think your cat will bring it back to you, but it’s a little more fun for them than just digging their dinner out of a bowl. Remember, cats are hunters by nature and they love the thrill of the chase. Make it a challenge for them and they’ll get some exercise and have a little fun.

Those are my tips, but I’d love to hear your ideas too. Let me know how you’re keeping your cats entertained. Are there items around your house that your cat loves to play with?


  • Leslie Cooper

    Just wanted to thank you for fun and informative emails you send us. I should have thanked you before now. I’ve lived with cats since I was born, except for the years in dorms, but I still learn things from every email.

  • jmuhj

    These really are the greatest cat-pleasing toys — far more so that most of the commercially produced ones, especially all of those hard plastic, battery-operated toys!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published