The Broken Toy Clinic

My cats love toys. They also like to break them (out of love). And one thing any cat owner can attest to is: good cat products are expensive.

I’m a big proponent of make-it-yourself cat things, like scratching posts, food puzzles, and catnip mice. But there are some store bought things that the alcohol cats just go crazy for that are harder to replicate. One such toy is the Da Bird Cat Catcher.

Now, under $10 for a wand toy is fairly standard. And not too unreasonable considering my cats go nuts for this toy. They will scale walls, do back flips, and once the mouse is caught, drag the entire thing into their cardboard castle (which I made from a box), and gnaw on it until it’s covered in drool.

After a few months, it looked like this:

Note this missing mouse tail, missing red rubber end, and duct tape holding the wire to the wand.
Note the missing mouse tail, missing red rubber end, and duct tape holding the wire to the wand.

So finally, I thought it was time for an old-fashioned repair job, which would help me figure out how to make my own wand toys for cheap (or if not cheap, at least more durable).

On my way home from work, I stopped in the local hardware store and craft store to see what I could find. (It’s a great benefit of living in a city, because they were right next to each other.) The hardware store is generally cheaper (great for buying new wire), but the craft store has a wider selection of items (like pre-cut wooden dowels and jewelry connector pieces). Here is what I came up with:

Twine, wires, and tape were from the hardware store. All else was from the craft store.
Twine, wires, and tape were from the hardware store. All else was from the craft store.

I bought two types of wire because I couldn’t find quite the right kind (I ended up using a braided wire, but it’s thicker than the original wire on the toy). I bought more stuff than I ended up using (such as the twine). But I’m sure I’ll find other uses for them.

After about 30-40 minutes, and with the help of some very sturdy pliers, I had finished the repair job. I decided for the time being to re-use the end part of the Da Bird toy, since I know my cats love it and because I couldn’t decide what to make for the end of it. (I will probably end up knitting something with catnip inside.)

Here is the final product:

It has the cats' approval.
It has the cats’ approval.

This is wand toy prototype 1. I had to fiddle with the connecting part from the wire to the actual toy to make sure there weren’t any sharp ends*. I couldn’t find eye screws small enough for what I wanted, so where the wire meets the dowel, it moves around a bit. But at least it’s not held together by a wad of duct tape!

*I got the toy to the point where I trust my own two cats with it, and could run my fingers all along it without feeling anything sharp. But it needs further adjustments in order to be truly pet-safe, which is why I’ve excluded full details.

Now I just have to work on perfecting the design!


2 Replies to “The Broken Toy Clinic”

  1. Our cat, Bsco, has the same toy, or what is left of it. She only has half of the long stick, but the bird part is long gone and the cord is shredded. My granddaughter tied a ribbon onto the end of the shredded cord so that it is longer. Bsco drags it all over the house, up and down the stairs. She picks up the cord in her mouth and walks like a drunken sailor with the stick between her legs. She has this fixation with putting it on her food dish, which is only dry food. Recently, due to the fact we have another cat in the house, she pooed in my granddaughter’s room and dropped her toy in the poo! My granddaughter threw out the toy and made her another one with ribbon and the other half of the original stick. So Bsco has her toy back and hopefully won’t have any more accidents.
    (the new cat is a handful. Or should I say pawful. He will be getting neutered in the near future. We discovered that we can get him neutered for free by picking up an application at the animal shelter and applying for a neutering voucher. We were told to do this on April 1st. Hopefully it will calm him down and the destructive behavior might slow down a bit.)

  2. Both Da Birds I bought have only about 1/2 inch of the original cord/string remaining from the rod. They still like playing with it but replacing it with a sturdy wire is such a great idea. Thanks!

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