Reuse Roundup: NIPPERS! DIY Catnip Toys

What better way to show affection for your little douchwhiskers than to make them some homemade cat toys? Even on days when I feel like posting a note that says, “Dear Cats, you are making me murderful. Love, the Management” above their food bowls I still think of them fondly and dote on them like the children I can totally neglect.

Several months ago we visited a spring festival a few towns over. Isobel was too little for all of the rides and most of the games but she happily played the fishing game for about twenty minutes until the man working the booth decided she needed to win something and move on. She won, wait for it–a tiny stuffed shrimp–like so:

She did not give a mermaid’s toot about this tiny shrimp, but I had an idea right then and there, so I cackled and put it in my bag as we left the fairgrounds. You see, I could use this little guy, along with several other small thrifted animals, for Nippers–homemade cat toys.

In our garden we grow a lot of catnip which is kind of a miracle considering that whenever my mom tried to grow it the cats would crush it with love and happy drools. If you have space to grow things and cats that would let it grow unmolested, I highly suggest you grow catnip. As part of the mint family it is tenacious and will come back year after year. I harvest it, dry it and keep it in this flower vase. Growing your own catnip is totally not necessary, though, because you can by it dried and loose in pet stores or online. When the time came to make Nippers I let Isobel help me crumble a bunch of it while I broke out the sewing kit. And then I told her to smile for the camera and this face happened:

Note: it is impossible to make Nippers without a crowd of adoring and annoying douchewhiskers, so beware.

Nippers are extremely simple to make given you have basic sewing equipment and skills. You can make them in three simple steps:

1. Use a seam ripper to pull out an inch or so of stitches along the main seam.

2. Pull out some of the stuffed creature’s fluff and replace with dried catnip.

3. Sew the Nipper back up and you’re done!

Cats go crazy for Nippers, just ask Squirrelly. Did you know that kittens are immune to catnip’s wiles until they reach puberty? Very little kittens do not require nip. The fact that it worked on Squirrelly leads me to believe he’s very close to being ready for his Very Special Surgery soon.

Even Zorro loved the Nippers, which is wonderful yet sad, because two seconds after I took this photo he rolled off the table in a nip-induced haze.

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  1. Dingey says

    Oh, man. Isobel’s camera face is remarkably similar to the expression my own dear husband puts on whenever he catches me trying to take a photo of him. Let’s hope she grows out of it. Also: Oh, poor Zorro. Our dearly departed Noodles once got super bonkers on nip, hoisted her hearty carcass up onto a bannister, scrambled, slipped, and fell down the center of the open stairway to the floor below. She spent the next hour hiding under a Victrola in a narcotic, unreachable, bad-trip haze. .

    • Carrie Anne says

      Now that you mention it, Dingey, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Mr Dingey make that face a few times on your flickr. It’s quite attractive.

      Poor Noodles! And I love Noodles dearly despite never having met her. All of your Noodles stories are just glorious.

  2. says

    i don’t want to laugh at Zorro falling off the table, but i can’t help it!
    i wonder if beanie babies are too big for nippers. i have so many darn beanie babies that are not worth selling and i can only give so many to Avery. hmmm

    • Carrie Anne says

      Indeed, they are absolutely not too big! The lobster pictured here is actually a mini-beanie baby (Isobel ripped the TY tag off of it before we even brought dear Pinchy or whatever home), but my cats LOVE the full-sized Beanie Babies!

      Case in point: the first Nipper I bought was an off-brand BB (a Huggable Honey, thankyouverymuch) that are identical to the real thing in size and material. Anyway, instead of stuffing those guys I’d just stash them in a zippy bag full o’ the catnip for 24 hours or so and my cats would get absolutely loaded. They would alternately attack and lick that unicorn beanie baby until it was damp with drool. Here’s a photo:


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