Penny-Pinching for Pet Owners: Save With DIY Cat Toys and Treats

A woman feeds her cat a treat after it did a trick in their home.
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Like any devoted pet owner, you want to provide the best for your beloved cat. But stocking up on specialized toys and tasty treats for your feline friend can wind up costing you a fortune.

You may already be cutting down on extra expenses by seeking out affordable pet food, but the cost of toys and treats can still add up quickly.

Saving on pet expenses is especially important these days when we’re teetering on the edge of an impending recession here in the US. Luckily there are ways to provide the finest in feline accoutrement without breaking the bank.

Plus, honing your DIY cat toy skills can even open up surprising side hustle possibilities. Let’s explore how to creatively repurpose household materials and reuse objects you’d normally throw away, all while creating fantastic homemade treats for your favorite furry companion.

Homemade Cat Treats

Taking the time to bake fresh goodies for your loved ones is always a nice idea, and when it comes to your cat, you can take the same approach. For simple homemade cat treats your kitty will adore, try combining canned chicken, salmon or tuna with yellow cornmeal and egg whites, scrambled.

Bake these treats in the oven and cut them into bite-sized squares — the right size for a cat bite, of course. You can freeze the leftovers so your baked goods will keep on providing nourishment for your kitty friend far into the future.

For an irresistible homemade vegetarian version, combine catnip, shredded carrots, egg, and flour to create an enticing special feline treat.

Cut with a pizza cutter to create extra small nibble-sized portions. You can teach your cat tricks and give these extra special homemade goodies as a reward.

Or for a homemade seasonal cat treat, try mixing up pumpkin puree, salmon, egg, and flour to make autumnal kitty bits that will let your cat join in the festive holiday spirit of the season.

DIY Cat Toys

Sometimes the simplest items you have in your home can serve as unexpectedly entertaining toys for your feline friend. Before you throw away your empty toilet paper rolls and cardboard paper towel tubes, try making them into simple but fun DIY cat toys instead.

Stuff them with some enticing cat treats (even the homemade versions mentioned above) and leave them in a place that will be easy for your cat to find. You may be surprised by just how many hours of entertainment this super simple toy can provide for your furry friend.

If you have a glamorous cat, try making a simple (and extra fabulous) cat wand that will keep your diva cat mesmerized for hours.

Cut a simple fringe into some metallic craft paper, or even aluminum tin foil glued to construction paper. Then tape that fringey paper in a circle around one edge of a wooden dowel, or even two wooden chopsticks taped together for extra length.

Wave this assemblage in front of your cat’s entranced eyes and voila! A sparkly, reflective magic kitty wand.

You can try making different varieties of this toy by attaching feathers, beads, buttons, or any other small objects that will dazzle your cat when they dangle in front of their eyes. Bring out your kitty’s hunting skills as they try to pounce and catch the dangling end of the wand.

When your cat is ready for a rest, they can curl up inside a cozy DIY cat tent for extra comfort. Take an extra large old T-shirt and stretch it over a simple wireframe made from repurposed clothes hangers, tape, and cardboard. You can fasten the cat tent door with safety pins and fill the inside with blankets to make a plush- but inexpensive- kitty retreat.

What To Do If Your DIY Cat Toy Hobby Takes Off

If you are a true pet lover, you may already have found ways to transform your passion for pets into a monetized gig. You may, for example, already have figured out that you can leverage your natural affinity for pets into an ongoing side hustle as a pet sitter.

If word gets out that you are the pet sitter who brings along your own homemade pet treats and toys to every gig, you will suddenly find yourself awash with clients who will be clamoring for your business.

Providing homemade DIY pet toys and treats when you show up for a pet-sitting gig shows that you really intend to take extra care of other people’s beloved furry friends and that you are willing to go the extra mile to provide them with a good time while their owners are away.

There’s also a possibility that other people will notice what you’re doing—and that may be an opportunity to turn your hobby into a business. In that case, you’ll need to stay organized in order to really maximize the profit potential of your crafty side hustle.

You should try to get as much feedback as possible, put it into a PDF document, and regularly analyze it. Also, don’t forget to edit that PDF regularly, especially with ideas, plans and updated pet treat product descriptions.

Pet owners might be interested in supporting your DIY pet treat and toy endeavors by purchasing the DIY treats and toys you make, so as long as you stay on top of the ever-evolving details of starting up a small business, your homemade treats could become a great side hustle.

How to Earn Extra Cash For Special Occasion Cat Treats and Toys 

While taking the time to make homemade goodies for your cat is a great idea for cutting back on pet expenses overall, there may be some special occasions when you feel it is important to give your cat that rare expensive treat. Maybe you want to splurge on providing your cat with some organic, high-quality catnip toys. Or perhaps your kitty is suffering from anxiety and you want to see if safe for cats CBD products can provide the cure.

So here are a few simple ways to earn extra cash for extra special pet occasions:

  1. As we mentioned above, you can try monetizing your DIY cat treat and toy-making, turning these homemade goods into marketable products that can bring in a bit of extra cash on the side.
  2. If your business has taken off, and you’re in a pinch, you can also try invoice factoring, which is a great way to get quicker access to the cash that you’ve already earned on the side to treat your pooch or kitten.
  3. Consider starting up an Instagram account that taps into the widespread and ongoing cat craze sweeping the internet.  If your channel becomes popular you can build up a sponsorship with advertising agencies or charge viewers a small amount to see special exclusive extra ridiculous cat content.
  4. Or start up a blog that offers expert cat care advice for fellow cat owners. If you are knowledgeable and love nothing more than to share your hard-earned cat wisdom, this could be a good way to bring in an extra flow of extra cash on the side.

By earning a bit of extra cash you can splurge for these occasional special quality goods for your kitty, which may even help you save money on pet care in the long run.

Final Thoughts

Whether you are getting crafty to create a DIY cat tent, teasing out your kitty’s inner hunter with a dazzling DIY magic cat wand, or baking mouth-watering cat treats at home, all of the effort and time you put into getting creative for your cat will pay off.

Not only will you be saving money on cat toys and treats, but you will also be providing healthier food for your kitty, and giving them extra care and attention.

So crafting homemade cat treats and toys can allow you to share your love for your feline friend while helping you stick to a tighter budget. And that may even leave space for the occasional extra special cat toy splurge, which your cat will surely enjoy.

New York contributor Kiara Taylor specializes in financial literacy and financial technology subjects. She is a corporate financial analyst who also leads a group affiliated with University of Cincinnati that teaches financial literacy to Black students and helps them secure employment and internships.