Introduction: Custom-Made Catnip Cat Toy

This is a design for a customizable felt cat toy, complete with feathers, bells, catnip, and whatever else you can think of to add! You can make this little critter in less than an hour, and the supplies are cheap at your local craft store. It's an easy-to-make, creative gift for your own cat, or the cat lovers in your life.

thin or heavy-duty felt
thick thread
big needle
poly-fill stuffing

Optional Supplies:
buttons (for eyes)
pipe cleaners (for arms and legs)
anything else you think your kitty might enjoy

Note: Your cat may become excited even at the sight of the raw materials for the toy. In this case, remove the cat from the room for the duration of the cat toy assembly.

Step 1: Cut the Body Pieces From Felt.

First, you'll need to decide what body shape you would like your toy to have. For this one, I chose an oval shape with pointy ears. Cut identical pieces out of felt, in contrasting colors if you like. (You may want to use a more heavy-duty type of felt if you think your pet might tear it up. My cat destroyed her first one, but still loves it and carries it around with the stuffing coming out!)

Step 2: Create the Face.

You'll want your toy to have a face, so at this point you need to decide a little about the character of your toy. Do you want the eyes to be buttons or bells, or would you rather just use thread? For my creature, I sewed on two buttons for eyes, and used a part of a pipe cleaner for the mouth. You can always use thread to stitch the eyes and mouth if you want to keep it simple. Remember, it doesn't matter what the inside looks like, so keep the messy stuff on the back.

Step 3: Start Stitching.

Get out your needle and thread, and start stitching. I prefer a spiral type of stitch, and I usually use thick thread and a big needle, although the smaller stuff works too, as seen here. The thicker thread will catch a little better in the felt without slipping through, which is especially nice when you start stuffing.

Begin near the top of the head and work downward. As you go, add in the pipe cleaners for arms and legs if you wish. I have made critters with two, four, and six legs - it all depends on the look you are going for. The important thing is to add them as you stitch so that they are tightly held in place by the thread. You may also want to add bells on a pipe cleaner and make it into a loop as I did here.

Stitch all the way around to the other ear, but leave the top open for stuffing. In this case, I also planned to leave the top open so I could insert feathers.

Step 4: Add the Stuffing and Catnip.

Grab a handful of poly-fill and start stuffing. You may have to use a pencil to poke the stuffing all the way to the bottom. Once you get it about halfway full, throw a few pinches of catnip in, then stuff the rest of the way.

Step 5: Add Feathers.

This is a good time to add in some feathers. (You can also add them at the sides or tail as you stitch). Same principle as the pipe cleaners - stick in the feathers an inch or two, and then use the thread to hold in the feathers by stitching as tightly as possible. You can even stitch "through" the feathers. Your cat will probably get them out anyways, but the tighter they are, the longer they'll last. A hot glue gun might help to really give the feathers staying power.

Step 6: Add Final Touches

You're almost done. Now you can shape the legs however you want them - just don't leave anything sharp that could injure the cat. If you want to hot-glue on pom-pons or anything else, this is the time to do it.

Congratulations! You've created a custom-made catnip cat toy that your cat is guaranteed to love.

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