June Bug and Curly Jo are my two fur babies. Both are domestic short hair cats. Both are rescues. Both are spoiled rotten! They have a ridiculous number of toys and dedicated play time to help keep them active and engaged. But, not all toys are created equal. In fact, here in Canada, the pet toy industry isn't regulated, which means that neither the materials nor the quality of the manufacturing are inspected. Consequently, playtime can be dangerous to kitty as a result of sharp edges, toxic materials or parts that can easily be ingested, creating a choking hazard.
Read more about cat toy safety here and here
One way to mitigate cat toy dangers is supervised play time, ensuring that kitty doesn't eat the item rather than swatting and chasing it. Pet parents should also take care to put cat toys away in a safe spot after the game is over.
Another way to ensure a safe toy is to make your own using quality ingredients, determining the correct size so that it can't be ingested and making certain it is well made. This Catnap Play Pillow is made with natural pre-washed fabric and is filled with all natural materials that is safe for kitty and keeps textiles from the landfill. At the end of it's life, this toy is fully compostable.
How the Catnap Play Pillow Was Born
My small business is all about sustainable handmade products that are functional and help us reduce our reliance on plastic. After making bread bags, aprons, tea towels and eye pillows, there are invariably scraps left. As a sustainable business, it is imperative to keep textile waste from the landfill, so I make products using these remnants. The Catnap Play Pillow was created after visiting Coventry Vet Hospital in Stratford, Ontario. Dr. Angela gifted us some homegrown catnip and I promptly made the cat toy and sent a picture back as a thank you.
Dr. Angela's homegrown catnip
Dr. Angela suggested that I could sell the toys at the hospital. I promptly agreed. The cat toys sit at the front desk and are for sale by donation with all proceeds going to help the feral cat population through a charitable organization called Feline Friends Network.
I posted about the little toys on Instagram and was so delighted with the response, that I added it to the website. But then I thought why stop there? Let's get these instructions out there to anyone who wants to make a safe, economical and darned cute toy that will give kitty hours of fun!
Step by Step Catnap Play Pillow
- a scrap of pre-washed natural fabric (I used cotton canvas at 6 1/2 x 3 1/2")
- pesticide-free catnip
- flax seed (optional)
- natural fabric scraps for filling
- fabric scissors
- a sewing machine or needle and thread
- a non-toxic fabric marker
Step 1--Cut the fabric for the body of the cat toy & add a face using a non-toxic fabric marker
I used pre-washed cotton canvas at 6 1/2 x 3 1/2". Using natural materials means kitty isn't ingesting synthetic fabrics.
Step 2--Make the filling
I used a blend of pesticide-free catnip, some flax seed which gives the toy a bit of heft and fabric scraps (I stayed away from thread and very long pieces because I don't want a choking hazard). I eye-balled the amounts...there is no need to measure here.
Step 3--SewFold the body of the play pillow so that the cat face is on the inside. Sew up both sides of the body, leaving the bottom completely open for stuffing. Turn right side out.
Step 4--Create the little ears!
Step 5--Fold and Press the Base
Finger press all along the base of the play pillow at 1/2"...the longer seam means a safer toy. Press with an iron. This will make the final stages filling and sewing simpler.
Step 6--Fill and Sew Shut
Fill with a blend of pesticide-free catnip, flax seed (optional) and natural fabric remnants (You could use pieces of an old sock! The other sock can be used to dust up cat hair!)
Sew the base shut being sure to back stitch at the beginning and at the end of each seam. I've sewn my with two lines of stitches for extra durability.
Step 7--Watch Kitty Play!
I hope you enjoy making these sustainable, durable & natural cat toys. If making isn't your thing, you are welcome to purchase them ready made here.
Alternatively, find more great Canadian made & upcycled pet toys here