I got tired of paying $5 to $10 for store-bought cat toys, only to have them fall apart after fifteen minutes of play. This design is both durable and dirt cheap, and I can whip up a new one any time.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
You will need the following materials:
1 dry cleaning hanger for pants (the kind with the cardboard tube across the bottom.)
1 piece of string around 36 inches long. (Having experimented with a variety of yarns and strings, I've found cotton string or hemp twine work best, at least with my cats.)
You will also need the following tools:
1 pair of scissors, or a boxcutter
Step 2: Separate the Tube From the Hanger
Pull the metal hanger ends out of the cardboard tube. Twisting the tube back and forth sometimes helps, and has the added benefit of straightening the ends of the tube out a little.
Step 3: Cut Slots in the Ends of the Tube
Pick one end of the tube to be the handle. Starting at the other end, cut 3/4" slits on opposite sides of the tube, giving you two slits total.
Step 4: Tie Knot in String, Insert in Slit
Tie a simple overhand knot about 3" from the end of the string. This 3" section is now the "short side" of the string; the rest is the "long side".
Slide the long side of the string into the slits, then pull away from the short side, such that the knot pulls up against the slit and stops the sliding action.
Step 5: Wrap and Tie the String
Wrap the long side of the string around the slitted portion of the tube, above the overhand knot. Tie it to the short side of the string using a square knot. Be sure to keep tension on the wraps as you tie the knot (Another option is to run the long side back through the slits again to maintain tension, then tie it off.)
Step 6: Tie a Knot Near the End to Arrest Fraying
Tie a simple overhand knot 2-3" from the end of the long side. When the end inevitably frays, this will arrest the fraying and keep it from running up the entire string.
Step 7: Play With (All Of) Your Cat(s)
Have fun! If your cats are birders, flick the string in the air. If they're mousers, run it around on the ground. Either way, they'll love it!
(If I get a chance, I'll record and post a video of my cat running around after it in near-light-speed circles on our bed.)