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16 DIY Cardboard Cat Toys You Can Make at Home (With Pictures)

Written by: Lorre Luther

Last Updated on April 18, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat in a cardboard box

16 DIY Cardboard Cat Toys You Can Make at Home (With Pictures)

Watching your cat enjoy a good “hunt” is one of the absolute joys of being a cat companion. But even more importantly, activities that keep your cat mentally stimulated and physically active are critical for your cat’s well-being. While it’s always possible to purchase toys, puzzles, and cute hideouts for your cat, it’s also simple to make incredible toys without leaving the house. Read on for these amazing DIY cardboard cat toys of varying difficulty levels you can create right at home!

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The 16 DIY Cardboard Cat Toys

1. Simple Cardboard Entertainment Box by Fishki Show

Cardboard, wooden tongue depressors, small metal dowels, balls, bottle caps, metal nuts
Tools: Straight edge/ruler, box cutter, compass, glue gun, drill, pencil
Difficulty Level: Advanced

This super fun cardboard activity box features three holes with balls peeking through to pique your cat’s interest. It offers two play options; you can press on the levers, and the balls will pop up for your cat to bat at, or your cat can do the work themselves and depress the wooden handles to get the balls to appear and disappear. The project requires a bit of technical competence, making this an option best suited for experienced crafters. You’ll also need to use a screwdriver and glue gun, and the project is probably best attempted if you already have the right tools on hand!

2. Upcycled Scratching Box by More Than Thursdays

Upcycled Scratching Box by More Than Thursdays
Image Credit: More Than Thursdays
Cardboard boxes, glue catnip, adhesive shelf liner paper, catnip, cardboard box lid
Tools: Box cutter, straight edge, foam brush, elmer’s glue
Difficulty Level: Easy

Cats love two things like there’s no tomorrow: cardboard and scratching. This fun project combines your cat’s two favorite things and allows you to do some good by reusing the cardboard boxes you keep accumulating! You’ll essentially be cutting a ton of cardboard strips that you put into the lid of a box. Use the shelf paper to add a bit of splash to the exterior of the lid, but if you don’t have any on hand, don’t worry; it’s not a project deal breaker. Sprinkle catnip on the bottom of the box before gluing the individual strips together.

3. Easy Round Cat Scratcher by Dream A Little Bigger

Easy Round Cat Scratcher by Dream A Little Bigger
Image Credit: Dream A Little Bigger
Materials: Cardboard, glue
Tools: Box cutter, straight edge/ruler, glue gun
Difficulty Level: Intermediate

This fun cardboard scratching round is another wonderful way to reuse all those boxes you have lying around the house! First, you cut several 2-inch strips. Then you’ll need to score the strips using the box cutter so the cardboard bends easily. Put glue on one side and start rolling. Add new strips of cardboard until your scratcher reaches the circumference you want. While the project is simple, it requires a ton of cutting, making it less than ideal for young crafters.

4. Huge Cardboard Cat Puzzle by Cat Lessons

Cardboard toilet paper and kitchen roll cores, basket or other base structure, Elmer’s glue, cat treats
Tools: Clothespins
Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Cats absolutely need mental stimulation to be their best selves. Cat puzzles “hide” food or treats, and your cat has to use their brains to discover a way to obtain their favorite snack. This incredibly creative puzzle is made entirely of old toilet paper or kitchen roll cores. You essentially use a basket or other round object as a base and then glue the rolls together (not to the basket) until you have a stable round structure. Use clothespins to keep the structure together as the glue dries. Put treats in random tubes and watch your cat go crazy, sticking its paws here and there to “discover” and “flush out” its prey!

5. Cardboard Cat House by Creativity Window

Materials: Old cardboard boxes, twine
Tools: Glue gun, chalk/pencil, box cutter
Difficulty Level: Easy

This innovative yet simple cardboard cat house is incredibly creative and will provide your cat with an entertaining place to hang out and get wild. The concept is quite simple. You glue cardboard boxes shut and then cut holes for doors and windows, pushing the cutout pieces inwards and securing them with glue. While the instructional video shows you how to make a virtual castle, you can always stop with one or two simple “rooms.” The design even features a hanging cardboard ball for your cat to play with. While the instructional video lasts more than 3 minutes, most of it features adorable footage of kittens playing.

6. Cardboard Activity Box by Charleston Crafted

Cardboard Activity Box by Charleston Crafted
Image Credit: Charleston Crafted
Materials: Cardboard box. packing tape, string, pipe cleaners, pompoms
Tools: Box cutter, glue gun
Difficulty Level: Easy

This fun activity box will provide your cat with hours of stimulation. It’s easy to make and most likely won’t even require a trip to the craft or hardware store. Find a big box for your cat to get into, then seal it entirely shut with packing tape. Grab your box cutter and create a large window on each side of the box; you’ll essentially be creating four frames with about 2 inches or so of cardboard remaining in the box. Attach the pipe cleaners, pompoms, and toys to the string and then secure them through holes in the cardboard. Your cat can bat and swipe until its little heart is satisfied.

7. Modern Cardboard Cat House by Cardboard Ninja

Materials: Cardboard, cushion, blanket, led lights
Tools: Glue gun, box cutter, pencil, ruler
Difficulty Level: Intermediate

This clever modern cardboard cat house will charm your cat and impress your Instagram followers. It uses an old cardboard box turned inside out as a base and builds from there. The plans of this “edgy” angular, modern cathouse include fun lighting and “siding.” Best of all, everything is held together with glue, making this a simple project to execute. You can either follow the instructions on the designer’s website or view a handy instructional video on YouTube. Don’t forget to add a comfy blanket or cushion when you’re done to create the perfect cat hideaway!

8. DIY Cardboard Whack-A-Mole by Joeyful Dog and Cat

Materials: Cardboard box, wooden tongue depressors, decals,
Tools: Ruler, pencil, glue gun, box cutter, drill, compass,
Difficulty Level: Advanced

Your cat will fall in love with this fun cardboard whack-a-mole game. You’ll build levers with tongue depressors that your cat can hit to send fun things to bat at through one of the three holes in the top of the cardboard. The design is anything but simple, so set aside a fair amount of time to complete the project as you’ll be gluing, drilling, and measuring quite a bit. Because of the level of precision required and the need to use a box cutter and drill, this is probably a project best left to experienced crafters looking for a weekend evening challenge.

9. Complex Whack-A-Mole by SKM

Materials: Cardboard box, toothpicks, rubber bands, shoelaces,
tools: box cutter, compass, pencil, glue gun, hole punching tool
Difficulty Level: Advanced

If your cat loves to bat at things that pop up from cardboard boxes, this project for advanced crafters will be right up their alley. You’ll be using cardboard, tongue depressors and rubber bands to create a mechanism that you depress to send a piece of shoelace through the top of a refashioned cardboard box. The project requires extremely detailed work, making it a great project if you’re looking for a healthy way to challenge your crafting skills. It’s a toy that will only work with you operating the levers. You have to put it away when you’re not using it since the toy is not suitable for solo cat entertainment.

10. Toilet Paper Roll Puzzle by Pets Plus Us

Toilet Paper Roll Puzzle by Pets Plus Us
Image Credit: Pets Plus Us
Materials: Toilet paper roll core, treats
Tools: None
Difficulty Level: Easy

Cat puzzles are one of the best ways to keep your cat mentally stimulated and entertained. They also encourage your cat to get moving by nudging them to “hunt” for their “prey,” or in this case, their favorite treat. This super simple puzzle requires nothing more than cat treats and a cardboard toilet paper core. Just poke a few holes in the toilet paper roll core, place treats inside and fold the ends closed. Make sure the holes are big enough for the cat treats to fit through when your cat bats the toy. If your cat needs to drop a few pounds, fill the toy with part of your cat’s daily kibble allowance.

11. Cardboard Cat Fort by Kitty Cat Chronicles

Cardboard Cat Fort by Kitty Cat Chronicles
Image Credit: Kitty Cat Chronicles
Materials: Cardboard box, packing tape
tools: box cutter, scissors
Difficulty Level: Easy

Your cat will adore this cardboard fort with its myriad places to explore and hide. Best of all, the project requires nothing but a few boxes, a box cutter, tape, scissors, and a ton of ingenuity. You’ll essentially be creating your own design by linking the boxes together with matched holes you cut in the sides. The project requires a good bit of creativity and planning, making this a fantastic choice for young crafters. However, they’ll need supervision when it’s time to use the box cutter to create the tunnels leading from box to box.


12. Cardboard Cat Mouse by Instructables

DIY Cardboard Toys
Image Credit: Instructables
Materials: Kraft cardboard, tape, non-toxic Elmer’s glue
Tools: X-acto blade, cutting mat (or additional sheet of cardboard), printed or hand-drawn template
Difficulty Level: Easy

This is a perfect project to indulge your crafty side on a lazy Sunday afternoon and entertain your cat at the same time. In this project, you’ll create a 3D mouse-shaped cat toy out of cardboard, a material that cats seem to find irresistibly fun. Whether it’s the texture, the smell, or the sound it makes gliding across the floor, this simple and recyclable material will keep your feline friend entertained for hours.

Crafted from lightweight but rigid Kraft cardboard, the toy is designed to withstand being tossed in the air and batted around. Overexcited cats may shred their cardboard prey but fear not—this is a low-cost project that you can easily replicate as needed, even producing dozens of replacements without any additional cost!

13. Easy Cardboard Cat House by Happiness Is Homemade

DIY Cardboard Toys
Image Credit: Happiness Is Homemade
Materials: Cardboard box (20–24” cube or large enough for your cat), cardboard sheet for roof, embellishments like craft paint, colored paper, ribbon, etc.
Tools: Utility knife, metal ruler, hot glue gun
Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Transform a basic cardboard box into a charming cat house with this delightful DIY project. Ideal for households bustling with energy, this cat house gives your feline a cozy spot to relax and claim as their own. The plan’s design is girly and cute, but you can customize it to suit your cat’s personality. The project utilizes materials you might already have at home, like a cardboard box and sheet, along with a utility knife and hot glue gun.

You can further personalize the cat house with embellishments such as craft paint, colored paper, or ribbon. The goal is to give your cat a comfy space that is truly their own—it might even deter them from occupying your pillow!

14. DIY Puzzle Toy by Cat Lessons

Materials: Approximately 150 toilet paper and paper towel rolls, a basket sized for a cat, glue
Tools: Hot glue gun, box cutter, scissors
Difficulty Level: Easy

Turn your recycled toilet paper and paper towel rolls into a creative and engaging puzzle toy for your feline friend. This project is an innovative way to keep your cat occupied while providing an enjoyable challenge. Using a cat-sized basket as the shape guide, cut and glue together the cardboard rolls to form a fun puzzle.

To add an extra layer of fun, you can hide treats in some of the rolls for your cat to discover and play with. The leftover cardboard can be repurposed into simple toys for your kitty to bat around. This easy and low-cost project not only entertains your pet but also promotes recycling and sustainability in your household.

15. DIY Ball Toy by Instructables

DIY Cardboard Toys
Image Credit: Instructables
Materials: 2 mm thick cardboard
Tools: Glue, scissors, compass
Difficulty Level: Easy

Engage your cat with a simple and enjoyable project: a DIY Ball Toy. All you need are a few pieces of 2-millimeter thick cardboard and some glue. Start by drawing out a circle of your desired size and divide it into layers. Then, simply measure and cut accordingly.

At first, the shape may not resemble a sphere, but as you progress, it will. Once complete, a gentle squeeze might be needed to make it look more sphere-like. Now it’s ready for your cat to play with! This project not only provides entertainment for your furry friend but also allows you to reuse cardboard in a fun way.

16. DIY Cat Tower by ikat bag

DIY Cardboard Toys
Image Credit: Instructables
Materials: Cardboard, sisal cord, packing tape, fleece, upholstery fabric
Tools: Scissors, glue gun, measuring tape
Difficulty Level: Intermediate

For the discerning and tasteful cats who find joy in cardboard, why not put together an impressive DIY Cat Tower? With just a few materials and tools, you can create an enriching activity center that helps keep your cat entertained and active.

The complex structure requires careful attention to detail and safety, especially when you have curious kittens around. But the joy and satisfaction you’ll gain from watching your cats enjoying their new play tower make all the effort worthwhile. So, get ready to put on your creative hat and craft an amazing playground for your kittens!

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Final Thoughts

While some of these diy cardboard projects are quite involved and best for experienced crafters, others are simple and great for those times when your cat is bored, and you need to come up with an activity in a snap. As every cat lover knows, cats love anything having to do with cardboard! So, grab an old box and get busy. Your cat will thank you!

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Featured Image Credit: Cat Box, Shutterstock

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