Monday, October 22, 2012

How to Craft a Cat Toy with Fresh Catnip

I made four cat toys filled with catnip from my CSA share. Here's a detailed account of what I did. This should allow even folks with limited sewing skills to make a simple cat toy with ease in about 10 minutes.

I started with a bunch of catnip I dried myself a few weeks ago. (You can read how I did that here.)

Hanging catnip to dry.

I used scissors to snip only the leaves into a bowl. I saved the stems for composting since (according to a brief internet research session) they don't have the same cat crazing power as the leaves.

That bunch of catnip made about a cup and a half of catnip!
I gathered more supplies: scissors, marker, scrap paper, craft thread, needle, and felt. I drew a simple fish and cut it out to create a template/pattern.

Everything you need to make a catnip filled toy.
I placed two pieces of felt on top of each other and cut them into fish shapes using the template. (I used different colors of felt for fun, but obviously one color totally works). During this step, you might find that pinning the pieces of felt and the template together is very helpful. If you don't have sewing pins handy, just use the needle. That's what I did.

Starting at the corner of the fin (and pushing the needle up through the underside), I began to sew the two felt pieces together using a running stitch around the outside of the fish. Once I got to the bottom opposite corner of the fin, I stopped sewing and filled the fish with dried catnip using the opening.

While it did free my other hand to take this photo, using the template as a funnel wasn't necessary because my catnip was so chunky. If your catnip is finer, it may be helpful. 
I then continued sewing so that I stitched the fish closed.

The final stitch.


Slightly more advanced variations:
  • Stitch a bead or button to the toy to create eyes. (Don't do this if your cat eats things that aren't food!)
  • You can also create eyes with a french knot to stay on the safe side.
  • Use a split stitch to create a smile.
  • Try making toys in different shapes by drawing different templates.
  • Use a sewing machine.  

Clockwise from top left: Tree sewed using machine (except for attaching trunk to top). Fish with French knot eyes and split stitch smile. Simple fish. Fish with bead eyes and split stitch mouth.

Other random tips:
  • If you don't have lots of catnip but want a super plush toy, stuff some of the toy with bits of felt scraps. Just make sure you put in enough catnip for your cat to have a good time (about 2 tablespoons).
  • Best thing about this project? As long as it has catnip inside of it, your cat will be happy so no need to really stress over how it looks!
  • Squeeze toy every now and then to rejuvenate catnip. Putting it in the freezer in a plastic bag for a bit also works.
  • Store unused catnip in a glass jar or small tin canister.

Olivia Lane is a Blogger, Green Living Educator, and Health Coach trained at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She's also author of Baking Soda & Bliss: The Healthy & Happy Guide to Green Cleaning 

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