I’ve read about this cat toy called “Da Bird.” Everyone seems to swear by it and love it, so I looked it up. Turns out it’s essentially feathers attached to a string attached to a pole of some kind. Now, I don’t know the exact mechanics of this popular cat toy, but my thought was: “I’ve been using leather shoelaces/crinkly plastic and part of a fishing pole for years, this isn’t new.” My cat Misty loved that fishing pole/leather shoelace thing - she’d chase it for hours, drag it around the house, and would even bring it to me as I sat on the couch watching TV.
The most obvious difference of Da Bird is the feather tip. And I suspect Da Bird uses a more stretchy, springy type string than leather bootlaces. Still, since I’m cheap and like to tinker with things, I thought I’d try making my own Da Bird. Kind of. I mean, y’know, it won’t have the springy string to make it bounce around, but that’s what arm muscles are for. And a leather shoelace lasts for years. I know, because the toy Misty played with I only ever used one shoelace for it, and it lasted for a decade. Alas, I don’t have that fishing pole piece anymore, so I’d have to improvise for the stick.
The local Walgreens had a cat toy that consisted of feathers attached to velcro-backed cloth, which then was stuck to cloth covered balls. These came three to a package, for four bucks. Then the leather shoelaces - about the same price for a pair, maybe it was closer to six bucks, I don’t recall. Eight to ten bucks for 3 imitation Da Birds. Maybe even 4 or 5, if I split the feathers - there are more feathers on these ball-toys than on the Da Bird’s I’ve seen. Now, I’ve seen Da Bird advertised on-line for about $6-$8 each (Edit:they’re a bit cheaper now, in 2010), not including feather refills. So it’s not tons cheaper to make your own, but for me at least, it’s a lot more fun than just buying. You could probably do it cheaper than I did, too. I wasn’t trying to be ultra-creative. Anyway, I took the feathered ends of one of these cat ball toys and unvelcro-ed the feathers from the actual ball, so I was left with just the feathers+cloth they were attached to.
Next, I went into the backyard. One of the big trees that covers our yard drops thin branches all the time. I scrounged around until I found one that would work as a stick handle. I tied a shoelace around one end of this stick. Then I took the “feather bundle” and with a small pocket knife made a slit in the attached fabric. I threaded the shoelace through that, tied it off, and wallah. I have feathers on a string on a stick. Probably more durable than Da Bird, too, based on pictures I’ve seen.
So, I had my homemade feather toy. All I needed was a cat to try it out on. I called out for Baby, who eventually got out of his sleeping basket to come see what I was fussing about. He meowed in greeting and sat at my feet. I tossed the feathers in front of him and jiggled the toy around. I skated it around the floor, made it jump and leap in the air, and I walked around the couch dragging it behind me. During all my efforts, Baby stared at it curiously. I believe he yawned a few more times. He occasionally stuck out a paw to poke at the feathers. He meowed some more. After a bit, he followed me around the couch, but mostly because that’s what he always does - follow-the-leader - he didn’t seem very interested in the toy itself. After a while he even seemed a bit annoyed that I had woken him up for such silly non-food-related shenanigans.
I kept at it for a few minutes longer, and Baby finally did have a few burst of playful energy, as illustrated by the next photo. But I wouldn’t exactly say the toy was a successful hit or anything. Heheh.
Man, Misty would have loved this toy. Bailey would have too, as well as Moochie and Stripe and…. But to be fair, Baby has never been a “playing” kitty. One of those few cats who just doesn’t “play”. He won’t even chase after laser pointer dots, for example. Completely ignores the dot…sometimes he runs away from the red dot, even. All my cats who were obsessively playful are gone, and I’m left with this elderly, neurotic, anti-social, skittish but sweet cat who likes to beg on his hind legs and bite fingers as his form of entertainment. So I guess my homemade Da Bird shall have to await a possible future kitten to get any real use out of it. :)