Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: January 25, 2023 by Crystal Uys


Play is essential for your cat’s well-being. It mimics their natural hunting instinct, and it keeps your kitty occupied. And while pet stores (and our product guide!) are brimming with cute and innovative toys, cat toys don’t have to be expensive, and you don’t even have to leave the house to find new ones. If your cat hasn’t already shown you that there are plenty of household items that make great, and perfectly safe toys, here are some suggestions for you:

Plastic milk carton tops

These plastic rings make fantastic toys, especially on hardwood or tile floors. They bounce unpredictably, making the chase fun for your cats. Toss multiple rings and watch your cat chase them. You can even teach her to retrieve the toys and bring them back to you.


Q-tips can provide endless entertainment. If you have a cat who likes to eat the ends, you may want to pull them off before giving the Q-tip to her. Even though ingesting cotton will probably not harm your cat, it’s not worth taking chances. For added entertainment, place a couple of Q-tips inside the bathtub and watch your cat bat them around the smooth surface.

Aluminum foil balls

Wad up a piece of aluminum foil and watch kitty have fun as she bats it all over the house. Make balls in various sizes to keep things interesting for your kitty. The combination of shiny appearance and crinkly noise make these balls irresistible for most cats.

Paper shopping bags

Grocery bags or other paper shopping bags make wonderful cat toys. Be sure to cut off the handles so kitty can’t get her neck caught, and watch her dash in and out of the bag or use it as a safe hideaway. Never give plastic shopping bags to your cats; these bags can wrap themselves around your cat’s neck during play and present a choking hazard.


Boxes seem to hold an irresistible fascination for cats. And size doesn’t seem to matter: some cats will fit themselves into boxes that seem way too small for them. Keep an assortment of different sized boxes out for your cat to enjoy. Rotate them occasionally to keep things interesting for your kitty.

Keep your cat healthy and entertained by providing new toys that don’t cost a fortune. If you view your home objects through the eyes of a cat, you may be surprised at what you can come up with.

This article was originally published on and is republished with permission.

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18 Comments on 5 Home Objects That Make Great Cat Toys

    • Q-tips, yes. I used to leave the jar of them out on the bathroom counter and come in to find him taking them out one at a time with his little “hand.” I now put them away or I could go broke. LOL

  1. A word of warning.
    One of my cats swallowed a piece of plastic from around a vitamin bottle. He coughed and choked and nearly scared us half to death. Luckily he pooped it out and was fine…lol! But I won’t give it to my kitty unless I’m right there watching and pick it up after boredom sets in.

    I’ll also add just a simple string held by mommy is a favorite of my kitty! Again, I put it away when we’re finished. Play safe!

  2. Two of my Jascha’s favorite things were plastic milk jug rings and empty paper towel rolls (well, he preferred full but that was a huge mess!). Before sending his body to the pet crematorium we placed one of each (plus a Dorito, his favorite treat) in the box with a request to put them with him. RIP big guy (1996-2010).

  3. I kinda like plastic straws and the crinkly rings from outside of vitamin bottles. TW cuts the straws up or leaves them whole. You can say on run on Dunkin Donut’s straws. I didn’t like the stirrers though. Don’t forget tissue paper!

  4. Mine love paper bags, boxes with paper in them, and I have one who even likes empty toilet paper rolls. He just rolls them around on the floor & tosses them. LOL. I am afraid of the milk rings as I have one whom chews on anything plastic so I know he would eat some of it. I remember other cats that I have had through the years have loved them.

  5. Forget about anything from the store, my cat LOVES paper balls. Just the sound of wadding up the paper brings her running. (It is one of the tricks we use if we can’t find her.) Half of an 8.5×11″ sheet of paper seems to be her favorite. She bats them around like a soccer ball or we play catch or baseball. Sometimes she even carries them around the house.

    • I love it when cats carry toys around the house, Linda. That’s so cute that just wadding up paper brings your kitty running!

    • Same with our younger boy. We do the same to “call” him, and it’s next to impossible to throw any out because he can hear them!

  6. Toilet paper tubes are a popular item here. And a 6″ piece of foam pipe insulation Leonard purloined from our bathroom renovation construction zone. They have just about shredded that. Leonard tends to steal things and hide them in my bed. I found a missing flash drive this morning. Nail clippers. A sock. Gift wrap ribbon. Rubber bracelets.

  7. Other than Q-tips we use all the items you listed. I’ve made them catnip and fiberfill stuffed socks, but common household objects make great toys. Back in the days when I used 35mm film, the plastic case the film came in made a great toy. I recently found the cover from one of those and Calypso bats that thing all over. One favorite toy is a small Christmas poinsettia decoration. Little plastic cupcake toppings are fun. A small sample bottle of hand sanitizer and a sample bandaid in a plastic case are great hits right now. I have a plastic egg that some Easter candy came in that gets batted all over. Calypso went nuts when I had walnuts in the shell at Christmas. I’m still finding those under furniture. Small pads of Post-its are also popular. And my mail, and my newspaper I’m trying to read….

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