Introduction: Cat Spring 'n Swing
This swinging, spinning, cat toy can entertain your cat for hours, well at least for a few seconds. If you have multiple cats in your household, or just have one cat that loses interest as soon as it catches a toy, it will promote additional play.
When the cat catches one mouse, the spring bends, the rod swings. Then the other mouse bounces and swings, attracting their attention to the other toy.
The toy is designed to be portable, breaking down into three, easy-to-store pieces.
It is made from PVC pipe, an extension spring, a few cat toys, some fishing gear, and some household items.
Step 1: Gather Your Materials and Tools
- 11 feet of schedule 40 1" PVC Pipe
- Four 1" PVC elbows
- Three 1" PVC Tees
- One 3/4"PVC Tee
- Two 3/4" PVC caps
- One 1 1/2" cotter pin
- One 10" x 7/16" Extension Spring
NOTE: If you are not sure of the size make sure it slides in and out of the PVC pipe with very little wiggle room.
- One can of PVC glue
- 2 cups of Plaster of Paris mix (and 4 cups of cold water
- One 3' x 6/8" (or wider) fiberglass rod
NOTE: A Feather cat teaser from any pet store works great.
- Two 3/8" hose clamps
- Two split ring key chains
- Two barrel swivels (deep-sea fishing swivels)
- Two barrel swivels with a safety snap (fresh water fishing swivels)
- Two pieces of 3' para-cord
- Some heavy duty thread or fishing leader.
- Two small soft cat toys
- Optional - a can of spray paint.
- Measuring Tape
- Marker or pencil
- Pipe cutter or hacksaw
- Bolt cutter or hacksaw
- One or two small clamps
- Drill with assorted bits
- Flat-head screw driver
- Clean 2 qt. can and stirring stick
- Rubber mallet
- Sewing needle (with a large eye)
Step 2: One More Very Important Thing
It really helps if you have a cat or two or three.
Step 3: Assemble the Stand
A. Create the base
- Cut the PVC Pipe into the following segments:
- One 32" segment (for the post to be used later)
- Two 18" segments
- Six 7 3/4 " segments
- Connect two elbows to ends of each of the 18" segments
- Connect two of the 7 3/4" segments to each of the 1" tees
- Connect one of the Tee segments to the other two Tee segments, make sure that the center Tee is facing straight up.
- Connect the 18" ends to the open ends of the connected Tee segments.
- After verifying that everything fits together take it all apart, and re-assemble the pieces using the PVC glue.
**** Make sure the Tee section in the center is pointing straight up!! ****
- Let the PVC glue cure for at least an hour.
- Mix the Plaster of Paris, according to the instructions, and pour it into the open Tee of the stand
- Pour a little at a time
- Gently shake the pipes back and forth between pours to get even dispersal.
Let the stand dry overnight.
Step 4: Prepare the Spring
- Using Bolt cutters, or a hacksaw, cut off on of the loops in the spring as close to the base as possible.
- If necessary, use the pliers to bend down the tip, so no edges stick out from the top.
Step 5: Attach the Spring to the Post
- Clamp the 32" PVC pipe securely to your work-space.
In my experience, It is HIGHLY recommended to clamp round objects before drilling.
- Measure and mark 2 1/2" down the pipe from the end.
- Using a 9/64" drill bit, drill completely through the pipe.
- Insert the cotter pin into the pipe to make sure it fits through.
To make the process easier, you may re-drill the underside hole with a larger bit.
- Insert the spring, loop side first, into the pipe, so that about 7" of the spring is visible.
- Using a great deal of finesse, and a few finely timed swear words, finagle the cotter pin through the drilled hole and the spring in the PVC pipe.
The method I used:
- Placing the long edge of tin pin parallel to the visible spring groove.
- Pound the pin lightly with the rubber mallet until the long edge is between the spring coils.
- Use the pliers to turn the cotter pin 45°, Which should widen the space between the coils.
- Lightly hammer the pin down, until their is some resistance.
NOTE: From personal experience, using excessive force only mangles the cotter pin.
- Turn the cotter pin 45° again so the long edge can fit between the coils.
- Feeling you way, move the cotter pin, so it appear to line up with the underside drilled hole, and is snug between two coils.
- Repeat steps 2-4 to get the pin through the far side of the coil
- Then, push, hammer, wiggle the pin through the underside hole in the pipe.
Step 6: Pepare the Rod
- If the fiberglass rod has end caps, remove them.
- Clamp the rod to the work-table, so that only 1 1/4" - 1 1/2" extends from the end.
- Using a 5/64" drill bit, drill a hole through the rod, 1" from the end.
- Remove and re-clamp the rod so the other end is ready for drilling.
WARNING: Make sure the holes are facing the same way on the rod.
As I used a cat teaser, I drilled 1" from the feather attachment instead of the end of the rod.
- Drill the second hole using the 5/64" inch bit.
Step 7: Add the Connection Tee to the Rod
- Compare the drill bits to the width of your fiberglass rod, and select one that is slightly larger than the diameter of the rod. (For this rod, the 1/4" drill bit worked.)
- Hold or clamp the PVC end caps, so the stopper side is facing up.
- Finding the exact center of the end cap, drill a hole through the end, do the same to the second end cap.
- Place the PVC end cap in one side of the of the Tee portion of the Tee, if the cap fits loosely, use some PVC glue to make it a firm fit.
WARNING: Do NOT insert the other cap at this time, it will make next step very difficult.
- Measure between the drilled holes on the rod, and mark the center point.
- Insert the rod through the end cap.
NOTE: If using a cat teaser for the rod, insert the rod with the feather side toward the end cap.
Step 8: Fasten the Connection Tee
- Place both hose clamps on the fiberglass rod
- Tighten the clamps, one on each side of the center point mark
- Pull the rod so that the hose clamps are inside the PVC Tee.
If aligned right, you should be able to adjust the clamps as needed through the center Tee hole.
- Place the other end cap over the through the rod and into the Tee. If needed, glue the end cap so that it is secure.
- If your fiberglass rod had a safety tip on the end, re-attach to the end.
- At this point the rod should not move much in the Tee, and be pretty well balanced. If there is too much play, loosen one of the hose clamps and move it farther from the other, then re-tighten it through the Tee hole.
Step 9: Attach the Toy Connectors
- The soft toys
My cat prefers the stuffed rabbit skin mice with feather tails. These do not have any loops or attachments, so I add my own. To save a step, purchase the cat-fish toys that already have a loop on the end.
- Measure out and cut about 10" of heavy duty thread or fishing line for each toy.
- Sew the small closed end of the freshwater safety snap swivel into the toy as you would a shank button.
- Securely knot the thread and cut off any excess ends.
- If the toys have tags, be sure cut them off as close as possible to the material.
- Connect one end of the deep-sea bass swivels to the key ring. Do this for both key rings.
- Insert the each key ring into one of the holes on each end the fiberglass rod.
Step 10: Attach the Post and Rod.
The Post and rod are designed to be attached and removed easily. This allows the toy to be stored in a relatively small space.
- Insert the post into the Connection Tee in the base.
- Place the Rod Tee over the extension spring.
Step 11: Attach the Toys
Follow the instructions below for each toy:
- Insert one end of the para-cord through the snap of the safety-snap swivel on the toy. It may be easier to undo the snap end (like a safety pin) to insert the cord. Make sure there is at least 1 1/2" inches of the cord coming out from the end.
- Tie the toy securely to the cord. I prefer the double half hitch knot.
- Place the other end of the para-cord through the deep-sea bass swivel on the rod.
- Measure the distance of the toy from the floor, The toy should be free swinging, and slightly below the cat's eye line. I recommend between 5" and 8".
- Tie a double half-hitch knot in the cord. at the deep-sea bass swivel for the desired height.
NOTE: While the excess may be trimmed at any time, I recommend waiting, so that you can adjust the line to accommodate your cat's habits. For example, my cat likes to roll on her back and bat the mouse back and forth, so I had to raise the mice so they would swing over her chest.
Step 12: Enjoy Your Cats' New Entertainment System
Your Cat Spring 'n Swing is ready to be used by your cats.
The end product should swivel around 360 degrees, bend over 90 degrees, and withstand the most ambitious of cats.
Please let us know how your feline friends enjoyed their new toy.
This Collaborative effort is from the minds of Jay V. Sharon & Glenn Clausson of S. Claus Toys.