Sunday, March 26, 2017

Household Hacks: Even easier DIY cat toy

So, remember how a couple of weeks ago I said I had come up with the world's easiest DIY cat toy?

Well, I spoke too soon. Brian has come up with another toy that is also made of reused materials and is even simpler than the my paper twists. Plus, the cats are even more enthusiastic about it. The only catch is, to get the materials for it, you have to consume five heads of garlic.

At our house, this is no problem. Garlic is a staple for us, and so we routinely buy several heads at a time. They come bundled up together in a little mesh bag, like this. Brian thought these little bags looked like they might be useful for something, so he took to saving them. He'd just roll them up into little balls like this, rather resembling a jellyfish, and toss them in a larger mesh bag (the kind onions come in) for storage.

At some point, it occurred to him that these little balls were the sort of thing our cats might like to play with. They were lightweight and slightly irregular in shape, so when you tossed them, they'd bounce and roll in unpredictable ways—which seems to be the best way to hold the cats' interest. But he hesitated to give them one, because he thought they were so small the cats might somehow manage to swallow them.

Recently, however, we picked up a bag of garlic that was much larger than the stuff we usually buy. It wasn't quite as jumbo-sized as the stuff they call elephant garlic, but it was definitely bigger than average. And consequently, it came in a bigger bag. So Brian decided this bag made a large enough ball that we could safely give it to the cats and see how they reacted.

The answer, as it turns out, was "with great enthusiasm." If you toss this mesh ball for them, they will chase after it even more eagerly than they do the paper toys. They especially love when it goes rolling in a vaguely off-kilter path down the hall, so they can go bounding after it. The best part is that when they catch up to it and snatch at it, the mesh often catches on their claws, causing them to snake them until it comes free—which, of course, sends it flying off again, so they can chase it all over. So all we have to do is toss this toy once, and they will amuse themselves with it for—well, not for hours on end, but at least for several minutes.

I tried to get a few pictures of the cats playing with this toy, but unfortunately, our cats just love the camera. As soon as it comes out, they become far more interested in that than they were in whatever they were doing, and so all you can get is pictures of them staring into the camera and trying to bite it. So you'll just have to take my word for it: they love this thing.

Better still, after observing how our cats play with this extra-large garlic-bag ball, Brian has concluded that probably there would be no harm in letting them play with the smaller ones, as well. So once they manage to lose this toy or chew it to pieces (they've already pulled a couple of small strings loose), we have several more to replace it.

And that also means that if you want to try this toy on your cats, you don't necessarily have to seek out an unusually large bag of garlic to make it. Just buy a regular bag of whatever size your supermarket carries, eat all the garlic, and roll up the bag like this: start by turning up one end, then roll it over a second time, and just keep rolling until you've got the little jellyfish shape shown above. Then send it skittering down the hall, and watch your kitties pounce.
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