Make your own toy mouse

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catbird:
With the current news about toxic pet toys, I thought some people might be interested in making toys yourself.  You can always stuff a small sock with catnip and tie it shut, but for those of you who would like something a little more elaborate, you can make your own safe, non-imported toy mice for your cats to play with!  You probably learned all the skills you need in kindergarten.  If you can sew on a button by hand, you can do this.  Remember, the cats don’t care if it looks perfect or not.

Materials:
--Scraps of medium-to-heavy fabric (pieces of old pants or lighter-weight blue jeans work well.  If you are using new fabric, wash it several times with your regular laundry first to remove fabric chemicals)

--Polyester stuffing (available in fabric stores), or old T-shirts cut into small pieces, to stuff the mice

--Scraps of yarn for tails (optional—some cats will pull off the tails and might swallow them.  You know yours best.)

--Piece of stiff paper, like construction paper, or re-use a thin piece of cardboard from a box you are discarding in your trash, to make the pattern

Tools:

Scissors
Needle and thread (sewing machine is optional)
Pencil or crayon to mark on fabric
Permanent marker (optional—to draw eyes and nose on mouse)

What to do:

Remember making hearts for valentines when you were a kid?  Start by doing that:  Fold the stiff paper in half.  Draw half a heart on the paper along the fold.    Cut through both layers and open out into a heart.  This is your pattern.  Any size is OK but it will be difficult for you to handle if it is too small.  I generally make them about 4 inches long.

Trace around the heart pattern on the fabric.  Cut out the fabric heart.

Fold the fabric heart in half the same way the pattern was folded, and begin sewing the edges together, starting at the point.  If you are hand-sewing, have the wrong sides of the fabric together.  (Machine-sewers, you need the right sides together and should leave a very narrow seam allowance.  I’m assuming I don’t need to explain to you how to do this.) Sew about ½  to ¾ of the way around the heart.  Use small stitches close together if you are hand-sewing, and go over the the cut edges of the fabric from front to back and come out the front again for each stitch (overcast).  (Machine sewers should now turn right side out.)

Stuff the mouse with stuffing material that you chose.  A pencil is handy for poking the stuffing into the point.  (You can add catnip to the stuffing if you wish.) Finish sewing it shut.  When you get to the end (the V of the original heart), make several small stitches in the same place and knot the thread.  Then put the needle into the mouse and come out about an inch away on the seam (the place you have been sewing, for you non-sewers.)  This will help anchor the thread.  Cut off the thread even with the side of the mouse.

The pointed end of your toy is the nose of the mouse.  You may now draw on eyes, nose, and whiskers with the permanent marker.

To make the tail, cut three pieces of yarn about 5 inches long.  Knot them together at one end.  Braid the pieces together and knot at the other end.  Sew the tail to the ”rump” (rounded) end of the mouse.

Admire your handiwork for a minute and then toss to the cats!

A great project for Scouts, after-school groups, etc.

For those of you with more sewing skill, a more complicated version is here:

http://sewing.about.com/od/freeprojects/ss/catmousetoy.htm

purringfur:
Catbird, thank you for the instructions!  I've never done anything as elaborate as mice!  I just sewed squares of fabric that I stuffed with sterile cotton balls and a little catnip.  I dry our catnip each year and save it for the winter and spring months.  When the catnip toy gets "stale," I just pop it in a Zip-loc bag with ground catnip for an hour, and it's refreshed (read, "stinky") for many more play times.  Kitty loves to snag the toy with a claw and toss it in the air!

I have some soft vinyl and cloth toys that I have to throw out.  I'm thinking of buying a few lead test kits just to see what I find out...

JustMe:
Cool.  Thanks catbird and purringfur.   ;D

MrsP:
If anyone's a knitter, I've made the Bumble Cat Toy, the Catnip Mice, and the Whale Cat Toy from this site. http://www.knittingpatterncentral.com/directory/pets.php
The only thing I do differently is an I-cord for the tail on the mice.  It's harder for them to chew off.  (I wonder if I can do lead testing on yarn.)

I like your sewing patterns.  I know what I'll be doing next. 

JustMe:
Nice, MrsP.  I crochet and knit.  Haven't in awhile.  Time to start again.  I saw the knitted eye patch.  May make that for my little one-eyed kitty. 

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