It’s no secret that most of our furry feline friends LOVE chasing bugs. The natural-born hunters can spend hours running around after creepy crawlers inside and outside the house.
For most cat owners, having a little bug-killing machine is a huge perk, but how do you keep your cat entertained when there are no bugs in sight? Should you go outside and track down a bug, let it loose in your house and let your cat hunt it down? That kind of thinking can lead to an infestation of household bugs (some that are poisonous to cats who eat bugs) and expensive extermination services.
The good news is you don’t need to let any creepy crawlies or flying critters into your home. The simple solution is a toy that simulates the sounds, movements, and texture of the bugs your cat loves to hunt.
Look for a toy that moves and sounds like a bug
A perfect toy to tap into your cat’s natural instincts for bug hunting is a toy made with paper or lightweight cardboard. The fluttering sound made by these textures makes a similar skittering noise that roaches and other bugs make.
Cats have an acute sense of hearing, and look for these noises in toys to stay stimulated. While toys that mimic ground prey (think beetles and grubs) are great for some cats, others prefer wand toys, as they can be used to imitate flying insects.
To mimic the movement and sound of bugs, you can quickly move the toy through the air (or across floors and tables) and let your cat hunt away! The crunchy paper of toys like our Buzzer wand attachment are great at mimicking the crunch cats desire when hunting bugs.
Keep in mind your cat’s hunting preferences
While little plush toys shaped like spiders and bees are very cute, not all cats enjoy playing with them. Many bug-themed toys don’t emulate the sounds and movement of a bug, and your cat will quickly lose interest, or not play with it to begin with. Cats love toys that mimic actual prey, so if your cat’s not into mouse toys (aka a cat who likes to hunt fluffy ground prey) they might not enjoy stuffed toys.
Another thing to avoid when buying toys for a bug loving cat is any small plastic bug replicas. While your cat would likely love little plastic Halloween spiders, some cats have tendencies to swallow bits of plastic toys, this can lead to a lot of internal damage and discomfort for your cat – and hefty vet bills for you. So it’s best to stick to materials that won’t cause blockages – like paper and cardboard.
How to make a DIY bug toy
Even if you can’t go out and buy a bug toy, or you want to start entertaining your cat right away, there are some simple ways to craft a DIY bug toy with materials you probably have around your home right now.
All you’ll need is some yarn, a hot glue gun, some scrap cardboard, and a stick (find one outside or use a skewer from your kitchen). I used an old paper towel roll!
What you’ll need:
- Kraft paper or lightweight cardboard
- 2 yards (62 inches) of yarn
- An 8” to 10” stick or paper towel roll
- Glue (any that’s non-toxic to cats)
Step 1: Shred some paper
You can use any paper or cardboard you have laying around, but you want something that will flutter and move. If you have any paper mailers they’ll work great as well.
Cut three rectangles of paper approximately 3 inches wide by 3 ½ inches tall.
Cut tassels into each rectangle of paper leaving it attached at the top. It should look a bit like the ends of our Magic Carpet play mat.
Then, roll the connected end to form a tube. Repeat this process for all three rectangles.
Step 2: Make a pom pom
Cut a 4 inch length of yarn and set aside. Then take the remaining yarn and wrap it around two fingers about 20 times. Trim the remaining yarn and set aside.
Leaving the yarn on your fingers, Grab your 4 inch piece of yarn and use it to tie the center of the loops tightly. There will be two loops, one around each finger.
Remove the loops from your fingers and cut each bundle of loops down the center. From here just fluff it up to make your pom-pom.
Step 3: Assemble the bug
Gather up your pom-pom and paper rolls. Lay out where you want the paper “legs” to stick out from your pom pom body to form a bug shape.
Once you’re happy with your design, glue the legs to assemble your bug.
Step 4: Attach to a stick
Cut a 2 to 3 inch section of yarn and make a loop. Glue the loop to the bug.
Tie the remaining length of yarn to your stick. You may need to glue it to get it to stay in place. Tie the other end to the loop on top of the bug toy.
Step 5: Play away!
Your handmade bug toy is ready for some play time. Remember, cats love it when toys resemble their prey, so skitter the toy around like a bug.
A word of caution
While paper isn’t likely to harm your cat, other parts of this toy can be. If the toy becomes damaged, it’s best to throw it away. In general, don’t leave this toy lying around when you aren’t playing with your cat. You don’t want them swallowing the yarn — if ingested, linear foreign bodies (like yarn or string) can be life-threatening.
Keep the fun going with toys made for enrichment
Homemade cat toys won’t last forever, but it’s a great way to spend a rainy afternoon bonding with your cat. Get creative with items around your home. Think toilet paper rolls, tissue paper, cardboard boxes, If you’re not into DIY or want to save some time, there are plenty of fun toys for bug-loving cats. Just remember, always look for a toy that crunches and skitters like a real bug.