DIY Your Cat’s Life

Kitten Playing with Yarn

Meow and happy World Cat Day! Let’s celebrate another year of cohabitation with cats, adding to the 12,000 or so years of domesticity we’ve already enjoyed together. Whether we’re watching them fall off Roombas on Youtube, or watching them stalk back and forth over the keyboard, blocking the laptop screen, it’s impossible to ignore a cat, no matter how much they ignore us.

This Cat Day, fête your favorite feline with a few DIY surprises that are as fun to make as they are for your cuddle muffin to play with. No trips to the craft store required—most of these eco-friendly projects can be made by upcycling materials you already have around the house.

Jokes aside, some cats really do need more attention. Cat Day was founded by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, an organization committed to rescuing and protecting animals around the world. You can help out snuggle-deprived kittens by volunteering or donating to your local pet shelter.

Tuttle DIY Cat ToyToys

Stitch together a simple catnip mouse (or fish, or naked mole rat) using scraps of fabric from old clothes or accessories. Fill with certified organic catnip for a healthy kitty and earth.  Hone your cat’s predator instincts with a feather toy made from felt or a repurposed fleece jacket. Dangling catnip filled doodads make this wand irresistible to pouncy kitties. Don’t have a dowel on hand? A long pencil or chopstick will do just fine, or go for a walk and find a slender stick.    


Cooped up cat clawing the carpet to shreds? Run for the recycling bin and rescue some discarded cardboard for a mod scratching pad. Another easy remedy is wrapping sisal rope tightly around the legs of a stool. Bonus: the rope stool adds rustic charm to any room.  


If Mr. Fluffy is getting territorial, give him his own house—a two-story bungalow constructed from recycled cardboard boxes. If kitty is climbing the walls, help her out with strategically placed floating shelves. Hipster cats might prefer to preen while perching on a vintage ladder. Primitive prowlers can survey their jungle kingdom from the heights of a repurposed tree branch.    

DIY Cat Bed from Suitcase by Claire Zinnecker for Camille StylesBedding

Cats sleep for 15-20 hours per day, so give your somnolent sweetie a first class ticket to dreamland. A vintage suitcase makes a chic sleeper car for the itinerant feline. Do you often find her snoozing in your sweaters? Upcycle that frumpy one you never wear into a cozy bed just for her.  


The forbidden fruit always tastes sweetest, so sneak kitty a morsel from the heavenly heights of the kitchen counter. In the wild, cats ingest the vegetable matter in the entrails of their prey, but the domesticated diet rarely includes much green. You might find that your cat has been craving veggies. Serve up a small portion of baked carrots, steamed asparagus or broccoli, green beans or winter squash, and watch it disappear. Adding these cat-safe fruits and vegetables to your darling’s daily diet could strengthen her immune system and help maintain a healthy weight. But be sure to keep harmful foods out of kitty’s reach—onion, garlic, kelp, nuts, tomatoes, avocados, mushrooms, stone fruits, grapes and raisins are for people, not pets. 


The jury is still out on the question of who hates bath day more: you or your cat. While a homemade cat shampoo isn’t guaranteed to protect you from flailing claws, it will protect kitty from the parabens, petrochemicals, sodium laureth sulphate, and artificial dyes found in commercial brands. If itchy, irritated skin is the problem, skip the bath for a simple oatmeal soother: no water necessary. When harsh weather or terrain cause chapping and cracking, pamper your tabby’s tootsies with homemade protective paw wax.   


As if cleaning the litter box weren’t disgusting enough, it turns out that many commercial litters are really nasty to the environment. Their primary ingredient, sodium bentonite clay, is highly absorbent and clumps well, but takes many decades to biodegrade. Worse still, most bentonite is extracted with strip mining methods. Hit two nails with one blow by making your own biodegradable, low-odor litter from the old newspapers lying around your house. Ground wheat berries are also an economical and eco-friendly option.  

Kitten in a Bag

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Kitten photos by iStock/Silver V and iStock/EEI_Tony

DIY Cat Bed from Suitcase by Claire Zinnecker for Camille Styles

DIY Cat Toy by Susan Tuttle Photography


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