Remnant Rehab: Cat toy encourages playtime

Kitty needs some time to warm up to her new catnip-filled toy. Perhaps it’s the idea of moving around that has her perplexed.

This catnip toy uses three sturdy fabrics to withstand a cat's claws and teeth — denim, canvas and a vintage flour sack.

As we talked about the issue of overweight pets, which is the topic of our Go! cover story, I wondered how a cat owner could entice their cat to be more active.

From my observations, many cats seem to do a lot of sitting. How do you change that? One Journal-World reporter says he’s seen a cat being walked on a leash, but certainly that’s not common.

The answer veterinarians and trainers gave was to play with cats. Playing is their exercise.

With that mystery solved, I made a toy for a lazy cat I know. Because catnip gets her riled up, I put some inside so the toy would get her attention.


  • 3 fabric scraps of similar size
  • fabric marker
  • scissors
  • 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon dried catnip
  • batting
  • thread
  • sewing machine
  • hand-sewing needle


  1. Trim the fabric scraps to the same size, if needed. I used three coordinating and sturdy fabrics (to withstand the cat’s claws and teeth), sized 5 inches by 4 inches. It made a pretty big toy, so feel free to go smaller.
  2. Fold the first scrap in quarters. Draw a curve between two opposite corners, bowing away from the folded edges. Cut along the curve. You should be cutting off the open sides, not the folded sides.
  3. Keep the first scrap folded. Fold the next scrap into quarters and, lining up the folded edges with the folded edges of the first scrap. Use the first scrap as a template and cut the second scrap. Repeat with the third scrap.
  4. Unfold each scrap. You should have three football-shaped pieces. Take the first two and lay them right sides together. Sew along one curve with about a 3/8-inch seam, backstitching at each end. Lay the third scrap against one of the other two pieces, right sides together, and sew along the curve.
  5. For the last seam, match up the open sides and sew most of the curve, leaving a 2-inch to 3-inch opening for turning, and backstitching at the end of the seam.
  6. Turn the toy right-side out. Add some of the catnip, then batting. When the toy is mostly stuffed, add the rest of the catnip. You want the catnip to be against the fabric so the cat can smell it. Stuff the toy with batting until full.
  7. Fold the raw edges of the turning hole in and close the seam with a slip stitch or whipstitch. I recommend small, tight stitches so it will hold up against chewing and clawing.

It’s playtime … if you can convince the cat.