Recycled Pet Toys: A DIY Project

by Denise Plemmons

Merfi trying out Denise's DIY pet toys from recycled materials.

Merfi trying out Denise's DIY pet toys from recycled materials.

Pet toys can be expensive and often don’t last very long. But you can save money by making your own toys. You don’t have to be a Pinterest queen to make some simple toys! Here are a few examples:

T-Shirt Rope Toy

Got some old t-shirts you don’t wear anymore? Or even old towels? You can turn those into a great tug toy for your dog. Simply cut it into 2-inch wide strips, and if you want it thicker, just add more strips. You can make them as long or short as you want. Then simply tie one end into a knot, section into three sections, and braid. When the braid is done, tie another knot at the end and you’re done. You can add an old tennis ball to the middle for some added fun!

Water Bottle Sock

Grab an old sock, insert a water bottle, and then close with a knot. Your doggie will love the crinkly noise.

Interactive Treat Puzzle

Get an empty plastic container, and cut a few holes big enough for treats to fall out. I used the treat container itself. Fill with treats, close and let your pet have a blast. 

Toilet paper tubes also make great treat puzzles for cats. They’re free, everyone has them and they can be made into many things. I added some cute Valentine’s stickers for a festive look. Just be sure to secure them so your kitty or doggie doesn’t eat them.

Cork Toys

Cork is a 100 percent natural, biodegradable and renewable resource. But not recyclable in Athens. However, it can be used to make a great cat toy! Just insert some feathers, ribbon, jute or anything else that will attract your cat.

Stringed Straw Toy

Straws are one-time use pieces of plastic that aren’t recyclable, and they seem to be everywhere. You get them even if you don’t want them. Here I found a fun way to put them to good use. Just cut two straws into 2-inch pieces, and string together. It can be a fun toy for a cat or for small critters like birds and rats. You can even put small pieces of food in the straws.

Here’s my test kitty, Merfi. I think her favorite was the straw wrapper.

As with any toy, monitor your pet when they are playing. Toss out any damaged toys.

Denise Plemmons is the Commercial Recycling Specialist for Athens-Clarke County Solid Waste Department. She has also worked with animals at the Athens Area Humane Society. If you have any questions about recycling, you can reach her at or 706-621-2836.