The solution is to separate yourself from the sharp end of the kitty by putting the feather, or feathers, on a string on a stick.
Yes, it's been done before and you can buy such things anywhere, but it's super simple and it costs next to nothing to build one yourself!
Plus if you want a healthier feather toy for your cat, this is the way to do it.
This project started for me while we were kayaking down a river in BC (Canada), and the local geese had left us lots of little feathers scattered all over the river. I knew that the kitty would be upset at me if I didn't fetch him a few.
So if you have a few minutes to spare, let's go build a cat toy!
The usual disclaimer applies: Be safe and keep your kitty safe. I'll happily take credit for things going well, but I'm not responsible if anything goes wrong :)
Step 1: Parts
For this instructable, I used the following:
- 20" piece of 1/4" dowel
- 1" piece of clear tubing, 3/8" outside, 1/4" inside dimension.
- 18" piece of strong cord.
- a pen cap
- a stick of glue gun glue
- Glue gun
I already had all the parts lying around, but you can buy most of the pieces inexpensively or free.
For the dowel you could use any stick (plastic or wood) that you might already have.
For the tubing, mine was from a wine-making place, usually used for moving wine or filling bottles. It needs to fit snugly on the stick.
I used a kind of string/cord often used for roman blinds. Any strong string should do.
The feathers were donated by the local geese (in a peaceful manner, I think they were preening themselves). The blue feathers in this instructable were from the dollar store. Obviously the blue ones are not as environmentally or bird friendly, and the blue colour isn't as good for the kitty as natural feathers (but no worse from store-bought toys).
The pen cap was easy - it's from those cheap stick pens that you get at any hotel or conference. It's nice in that the plastic is strong but handles chewing well. Make sure you use one that won't shatter, as the kitty will be chewing on it.
Step 2: Assemble the Stick-Cord-Cap
1. put a knot in one end of the string/cord
2. using the scissors (or any suitable pokey-device), trim the tab (if any) off the pen cap, then poke a hole into the top of the pen cap that is big enough for the string/cord to go through, but not so big as to let the knot through.
3. thread the string through the hole in the cap, so that the knot ends up on the inside of the cap. For me I just pushed the string through and then pull it out the hole. You might need to use a needle or skewer to help it through.
4. put the other (non-knot) side of the string through the tubing piece
5. push the tubing onto the end of the stick, so that it holds the string in place.
In my case, the string was held on so tight by the tubing that I didn't need anything else there. If it's loose, you could add a knot to that end of the string/cord, or add a drop of hot glue.
Step 3: Just Add Feathers
1. select a bunch of feathers and align them with the pin ends all pointing one way
2. test fit the feathers into the cap (pin ends into cap) - add more if needed, or remove some if you had too many. Take them out before the next step.
3. squeeze some hot glue into the cap. Fill it maybe halfway.
4. before the hot glue sets, push the bunch of feathers into it. Pin ends go into the cap, into the glue. Some hot glue will likely ooze out the end of the pen cap - keep fingers clear!
5. remove excess hot glue from the end of the pen cap (wipe it onto some paper or cardboard).
6. let the hot glue cool and set
7. remove any loose feathers
I'm actually quite impressed by how well the hot glue holds the feathers in place.
Step 4: Finished!
Step 5: Beta Testing
Step 6: A Variation on the Theme
For this case, I used the grippy part of a pen which is basically just a rubbery tube.
The concept is the same - hot glue holds in place a bunch of feathers. I started by putting a bunch of feathers in one end, then adding the glue, and then pressing another bunch of feathers into the other end.
This one is very packable. Beta testing lasted at least 2 hours for this item! (We lost one feather in the process, not bad!)