I made these DIY fish cat toys as a gift for a friend with new kittens. They were super easy to make and used up the scraps from another project. Sewing the fish right-side out makes this fast and easy.
The materials list is pretty short:
- Scrap fabric – cotton, heavy felt and upholstery fabric are all good choices
- Thread – your stitches will show so choose a color that matches, coordinates or contrasts as you like. I chose colors that matched the fabrics, but alternated them so that each fish had a thread color from one of the other fish.
- Scrap felt, fleece – for catnip pouches and stuffing. I like using pieces of fabric to stuff animal toys because I don’t have to worry about fiberfill stuffing coming out and being toxic to or choking the animal. At worst, they will pull out a piece of scrap fabric that is too big for them to eat, and you might find a slobbery wad of fabric on the floor.
- Dried Catnip
- Paper, paper bag, etc. for template
- Scissors, Pinking Shears (optional)
I started with laundered fabric scraps. You want to make sure no sizing chemicals are left, that might cause harm to your furry friends.
I drew a fish pattern on a paper bag, which I used for exactly one fish before I realized it was too wide for the rest of my scraps. I had initially planned for all of the fish to be the same size and shape. But I had my heart set on using up those scraps, so I adjusted on the fly and ended up with different sizes and shapes.
Once I cut out my fish bodies, it was time to work on the stuffing. I’ve had commercial cat toys before that shed catnip all over the house. I didn’t want to do that to my friend, so I took a little left over fleece and made little pouches to stuff the catnip into. This also gave the fish a little “body”. I wasn’t exact about the size or shape of these pouches. Just snipped a few scraps, folded them in half and sewed two sides, making sure to back-stitch the ends so they didn’t come undone. Once I had a bunch of little pouches I stuffed them with catnip. After you’ve stuffed all of your catnip pouches, sew closed the final side of your pouch, again backstitching the ends to make sure they stay closed, these will be treated roughly, so you want to make sure the catnip stays inside. Insider tip: After completing my first pouch, I made a whole fish and tossed it to my cats to see how they would react. I wanted to make sure that the fleece wasn’t so thick that they wouldn’t smell the catnip inside. They pounced immediately and I could tell it was working.
Once all of my inner pouches were done I placed my two fish halves right sides out and began sewing. I used the side of my presser foot for the seam allowance and started sewing at the tail, up and around toward the head. I lifted the presser foot and adjusted the fabric as necessary to sew around the curves, and make clean corners.
I sewed around the fish until I was just past the head. Made sure my needle was down, and lifted the presser foot if necessary. Then I stuffed the pouches of catnip into the heads and bodies of the fish. I also cut little triangles of the fabric to stuff into the tails and added some strips or small pieces wherever I thought fullness would be necessary.
Once stuffed, I finished sewing all the way around the fish.
I finished off the edges by fraying them, or using my pinking shears, to give them each an individual look.
Looking for other projects to use up scrap fabric? Check out these cute scrap heap monsters!