How can I Make Catnip Toys?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

There are a variety of ways to make catnip toys, ranging from simply hand-sewing toys to knitting and felting toys for cats. Hand made catnip toys can make great gifts for cat owners, and they can also save money for people with cats, as they can be made from scrap materials and homegrown catnip, rather than being purchased at a pet store. For people with cats who tend to go through catnip toys quickly, being able to make replacements can cut down on costs significantly.

Catnip can be grown at home to be used in cat toys.
Catnip can be grown at home to be used in cat toys.

The key thing to remember when making catnip toys is that they should be fun and safe for cats. This means that care should be taken during assembly to avoid the use of dangling strings which could detach and be swallowed, along with other small pieces which could pose a choking hazard. If cats swallow things like buttons, strings, and beads, they may be able to digest and pass them, but they could potentially choke or develop an intestinal blockage, which could require costly surgery. Therefore, catnip toys should be made from sturdy materials, and they should be well-constructed. They should also be replaced if they start to fray or fall apart.

Cat nip toys can be easily knitted.
Cat nip toys can be easily knitted.

Catnip for stuffing catnip toys can come from a number of sources. Many pet stores sell bulk dried catnip which you can use to stuff the toys, but you can also grow your own. Catnip prefers full sun to part shade, with moist, well-drained soil. It can be grown in containers or in the garden, although you may want to plant it out of reach of your cats, as they can destroy the plants before they have a chance to mature. Stems of catnip can be picked and hung to dry, and the plants typically reseed themselves as long as a few stems are allowed to go to seed.

If you want to sew catnip toys, pick a strong fabric such as a lightweight canvas or felt which will hold up to teeth and claws. You can sew a basic catnip “cigar” by making a simple tube, stuffing it with catnip, and sewing it up. For more creative crafters, it's possible to make little cloth mice, balls, and other shapes. This wiseGEEK author's cats happen to be fond, for example, of catnip toys in the shape of well-known politicians. Velcro or a zipper can be used to close the opening of a sewn catnip toy so that fresh catnip can be inserted periodically. Patterned fabrics can be used for more color variation, and features such as eyes, noses, and whiskers can be added with a fabric pen, if desired.

You can also make catnip toys by crocheting or knitting. Lots of free patterns are available on the Internet, and you can also develop your own, since the basic goal is simply to create a pouch for catnip. For toys which can be recharged with fresh catnip, you can fit a flap of velcro onto the opening. Knitted or crocheted toys can also be felted in the washing machine for a sturdier, more long-lasting toy.

When you make catnip toys, you can also play with things like texture and appearance. If you stuff paper in with the catnip, the toy will crackle in an appealing way, for example. You can also sew fins, feathers, or wings onto the toy, layering paper between the pieces of material for stiffness and added crackle. Avoid the use of mylar and plastics for crunch when you make catnip toys, as these materials can cut a cat's mouth or pose a choking hazard if swallowed. Trailing streamers can be made from thick fabric ribbons which are too large for your cat to swallow, and catnip toys can also be stuffed with bells or squeakers. Many pet stores carry replacement squeakers which you can use when you make catnip toys.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


I think that more than the method of making the toy, the material used to make it is important. It's shouldn't be too thin or the cat will tear it apart. And it shouldn't be too thick or the scent of the catnip won't be strong enough. I think pure cotton fabric makes the best cat toy.


@fify-- You don't need to know how to knit to make catnip toys. You can use some fleece material, fill it with quality catnip and tie a knot to keep it inside. It's a very simple toy but it works because the cats want the catnip and they will play with it.

I think that more than the method of making the toy, the material used to make it is important.


My aunt sells hand-made catnip toys for cats. She makes them herself. Most of them are knitted but she also makes fabric ones sometimes.

The great part about handmade catnip toys is that they're organic. So pet owners who want to stay away from products made with unsafe ingredients prefer it. Cats don't just play with catnip toys, they also nibble on them and bite them. So it has to be safe.

The downside is that one has to know knitting and stitching to make them. I personally can't knit, so I can't make my own organic catnip toys.

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