Cat inside a brown paper bag.

8 Household Objects That Make Safe Instant Cat Toys — & Some You Should Avoid

There are plenty of great cat toys on the market, but you don’t need to spend a ton of money to keep your kitty entertained.

Bored cats can become destructive, so it’s important to keep them mentally and physically stimulated with fun things to play with.

Here are eight common household objects that can make fun, safe cat toys, and a few items you shouldn’t let your cat play with.

1. Boxes & Paper Bags

Cat in box and looking up.
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Boxes are fun places for cats to relax, hide, and play, but did you know that boxes can also reduce anxiety in cats? This reduction in stress can helps cats recover and aid healing.

Paper bags can function in the same way. Just make sure any handles on the bags are removed.

If your cat starts chewing or tearing bits off, replace the box or bag. Paper generally isn’t a choking hazard and doesn’t usually cause blockages, but it’s best to just be safe.

2. Paper Towel Rolls

Paper towel rolls and toilet paper rolls can actually make fun puzzle toys for your cat. Try putting your cat’s food in the middle and watch as they figure out how to get at it.

This is mentally stimulating, and puzzle feeders have lots of benefits in reducing boredom, anxiety, and destructive behavior in cats.

Again, replace the roll if your cat tears bits off.

3. Bottle Caps

Your cat will have a blast batting bottle caps around so long as you make sure there are no sharp edges. Rounded twist-off tops are great for this purpose, but metal caps with pointy edges from, say, a beer bottle should not be used.

If you are using a plastic top, make sure it’s durable and large enough that it cannot be swallowed. Round tops can roll around and allow your kitty to use their hunting and pouncing instincts.

It’s best to supervise and replace any caps that get damaged during play.

4. Socks

Close-Up Of Cat
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Socks can be a lot of fun for a cat. You can dangle them and let your cat paw them, making a game for you to bond with your feline companion, or you can fill the socks with catnip for a solo toy.

As with any other toy, keep an eye on the socks and make sure they aren’t torn to shreds. Threads and pieces of sock can cause problems if they’re swallowed.

5. Ice Cubes

Brown persian cat and white and beige cat examining blocks of ice on plate on floor
(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

Ice cubes can make for a refreshing treat on a warm day, as well as a fun toy. They are small enough to bat around and slide easily, making them perfect for practicing pouncing skills.

They can get messy, so watch out for puddles.

For an extra treat, you can even make ice cubes out of broth and let your cat have something yummy while they play.

6. Plastic Bottles

If you’re looking for a quick and easy puzzle toy for your cat, you can use a plastic bottle filled with treats. Cats can bat them around to get the food out for a challenging, stimulating mental and physical exercise.

Make sure you remove any labels that can be chewed off, and replace any bottles that get damaged during play.

7. Couch Cushions And Blankets

A sleeping cat using blankets as a fort
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Blanket forts are fun for human children, but they’re also a blast for cats.

Much like boxes, a hiding place beneath some cushions and blankets can provide a safe space for your kitty to feel relaxed and reduce stress.

This is especially helpful for anxious cats or cats who may be in an unfamiliar environment such as a new home after a move.

8. Ping Pong Balls

Cat playing with a ball.
(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

Ping pong balls are cheap and easy instant cat toys. They roll around and are difficult to keep a hold of, so your cat will probably be busy for a while chasing them around.

This toy may frequently roll under furniture and be lost until the next time you move the couch. But they’re fun while they last, and they’ll challenge your cat to use their brain and hunting instincts.

NOT Safe Toys

Silver tabby cat climbing over edge of table looking at pile of wool
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There are many items around your house that your cat might like to play with, but they aren’t safe. Many can be a choking hazard or cause gastrointestinal blockages that may be life-threatening. It’s best to be cautious.

Supervise your cat’s playtime and avoid using these items as toys.

  • Hair ties: Your cat has probably stolen a few of these to play with, but they’re small and easily swallowed. One cat had to undergo surgery after ingesting over a dozen hair ties. They aren’t digestible material, so make sure to keep them away from your cat.
  • String and yarn: Any type of string, including yarn and shoe laces, may be fun to dangle in front of your cat. They may not present a problem most of the time, especially while you’re holding them, but they are choking hazards and can cause deadly blockages in your cat’s intestines if swallowed. Best to stay clear of strings, especially when you’re not supervising play.
  • Jewelry: It’s shiny and usually dangly, but it’s also a choking hazard. Obviously jewelry is not digestible, and shiny stones can fall out and wreak havoc on your cat’s insides. Maybe it will pass harmlessly, but maybe not. Keep the jewelry on your body or in the jewelry box.
  • Aluminum foil balls: It’s easy to roll up a ball of aluminum foil and toss it to your cat, but aluminum foil breaks apart easily and can be swallowed bit by bit. Do you really want your cat swallowing aluminum?
  • Plastic bags: Paper bags may be fun and safe, but plastic bags can be a disaster. Much like human children, cats can get caught in the plastic and suffocate. They can pull bits off and swallow them, causing an obstruction in the digestive tract. Don’t let your cat swallow plastic.

What other household items do you let your cat play with? Does your kitty make their own toys out of stuff around the house? Let us know in the comments below!

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