I have a thing with rescuing animals. I have honestly lost count of the number of strays I have brought into my home, and with the help of my sister, found new homes for. Check out Rhonda, Lily, Rowena, Peter, Cleo and Miss Kitty. Awww. So sweet! But that's not counting any dogs, or even all of the cats!
Because I bring in a lot of animals, and I have my own permanent animals - I tend to go through a lot of pet toys. Since I have a lot of felt and a lot of catnip, I thought I'd try my hand at making a couple cat toys. I would like to unveil, my "It's Fishy Cat Toys & Crack Stick". If you are unfamiliar with a crack stick, it's a cat toy that is as irresistible as crack. Cats go nuts for them. I believe that most of you might call it a "cat teaser" and that's fine, but I feel that "crack stick" is far more accurate. To each his own.
For this project, you're going to need:
- Felt in assorted colors
- hot glue gun & sticks
- your printable PDF fishy pattern
- black permanent fabric pen
- loose catnip
- 1/2 inch wooden dowel rod
- dowel rod decorative cap
- acrylic paint
- foam brush and ribbon
- yarn or elastic (you might want to see my note in step 9 regarding string choice)
STEP 1: Take your printable pattern and cut out your fishy shapes. You'll need to cut out two eyes and lids and bodies, and one back fin and one gut fin. We have a happy fish, sad fish and an ambivalent fish. Use just one style or all three. Trace your shapes out onto felt and cut each piece out. Using hot glue, glue your back fin and gut fin into place.
STEP 2: Taking the underside of your fish, outline the edges with a thick line of glue - but don't put any glue at the top of the fish, by the back fin - this is where you're going to put in catnip. If you're using this fish for a crack stick, be sure to glue your string into its mouth. Make sure the string is glued down well and really sturdy. Your cat will try to tear off these little suckers. Turn your fishy over onto a blank piece of felt and give it some time to dry.
STEP 3: Now that your fish is nice and dry, cut around him. You'll want to cut around the body of the fish, because you're using the one back fin and the one gut fin for both sides.
STEP 4: Using your permanent fabric pen, trace around the shapes of the fins, eyes and body. Draw in the pupil, an arm fin for your little guy's body and some details on the back and gut fins. The thicker the lines, the more cartoony your fish will be in the end.
STEP 5: Go around the edges of your fish with extra glue. Look for any pockets where the glue may not have stuck. You want to have nice, closed up edges so that you don't wind up cleaning catnip off of your floor the first play session. Stick your fish under a book or other weight and let him hang out under there for a while to ensure a good seal.
STEP 6: Push open the hole at the top of your fish's back and shove in some loose catnip.
STEP 7: Fill the pouch with glue and hold closed. Depending on how full you make the pouch, you may need to use more pressure for it to actually glue shut. Watch that you don't burn your fingers or hot glue catnip to yourself in the process! Go ahead and repeat steps 1-7 to make as many fish as you'll be needing.
If you're only making a couple of loose catnip filled toys, you're done! If you want to make the fishing pole cat stick, continue...
STEP 8: Take your wooden dowel and cut down to a size that is comfortable for you to swing around like a loon. For me, 26 inches was the perfect length to go nuts enough with to entice the cats but not knock anything ornamental over. Paint your stick and your ornamental end. Allow to dry.
STEP 9: Gather your fish together and arrange how you'd like them and trim with your scissors. They can all be at the same length, or you can vary them like I did. A word of advice - I didn't anticipate my elastic getting so bunched up while using. I wound up braiding the elastic from the end to the first fish to compensate. If all you have is elastic, it will work and have nice bounce, but I think ribbon or yarn would be a better option because of the tangles.
STEP 10: Take your thumbtack and push it through your strings, or tie around the push pin portion of the tack.
STEP 11: Push your pin into the end of your dowel. You can also put a bit of hot glue on the underside of the tack for a little more strength.
STEP 12: Put some hot glue in your ornamental cover and shove over the end, covering your thumb tack and the end of the dowel. Give plenty of time to dry before testing out.
So there you have some cute fish for your cute cats to play with. If you're smarter than me, you won't give them to your kitties late at night and have to deal with cracked out cats running rampant over you while you attempt to sleep. Hope your week is starting out great!
By the by, the kitty trying out the crack stick at the top of the page is Marla. My sister found her eating french fries on the side of the highway in Ardmore, OK and gave her to me. Her first vet visit was awful because someone had her in a bag they had set fire to (to the best of the vet's assumptions). She was missing fur and whiskers and covered in parasites. Flash forward five years to present time, and she's one action-packed, happy, healthy, trouble-making kitty!