Take a piece of scrap paper the size of a letter. (In the US, this is 8.5 x 11 inches, in the rest of the world this is A4). Tear off about one quarter of this page and set aside. Crumple the remainder into a tight ball.

You probably have the cat's attention by now, especially if you do this repeatedly. Now comes the tricky part, you must imbue it with life. That is, convince the cat that the paper is alive. Kittens are very easy to convince. The older a cat is, the less likely they will fall for this. But this process requires you to know the cat to some extent. Mostly you bat the ball back and forth on the floor, as quickly and as noisily as possible. Let it set quiet for about 3 or 4 seconds, then bat it again.

Eventually, throw it right past the cat, close enough so it can reach out and swat it as it passes and on into an area of the room free of obstacles. Properly done, you can thus create a toy that the cat will amuse itself with for hours. Additional notes: Why do you remove one quarter of the page? It's important to the success of the toy that it be small enough to carry in the cat's mouth. Three quarters of the page is nearly perfect for this and is the result of 100's of trials.

Other things to consider include the fact that you shouldn't have any fragile vases, etc. on the floor that the cat can smash into at full speed... but if you've owned a cat for a while, you probably already know that. When is this toy most useful? Whenever that cat has extra energy that it doesn't know what to do with. For example, all kittens have a point in the day when they need to attack something. This toy is perfect for that. Also, if the cat is a little pissed off about something, like for example that you left it alone for 18 hours. It has some aggression it needs to work out. It has learned that it's not appropriate to express this anger directly, so give it a "punching bag" that it can knock the stuffing out of. This also works better if you have few places that the toy cannot get "stuck" under such as refrigerators. But if you're not so well blessed, just get out another piece of scrap paper and "get to work, dad". You may end up with a number of these things under your furniture. Things are tough all over.

Oh yeah, and that quarter piece that you set aside. What do you do with that? Well, when you run out of pieces of scratch paper, you can start using those quarter pieces to make toys. They are smaller and lighter and especially for kittens, lots of fun...

The best part of all this, you can't beat the price!

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This process was the result of thousands of hours of painstaking research by a team of highly trained technicians...Last Updated 02.23.04

Oy, it never fails. Spend money on a cat toy, and it sits in the corner for weeks at a time. But unwrap a CD and you've created the ultimate cellophane mouse.

Another great "accidental cat toy" is an empty roll of toilet paper. It bounces really well, and skitters across the floor like a big bug or something. My cats love that.

Another inexpensive toy is what we called a pizza hat--it's those little plastic three-legged table-like structures often put in pizza boxes to prevent the box from crushing and smudging the cheese.

These have the perfect cat toy bounce dynamics, plenty of surfaces for the cat to grab, and the legs can be bitten by the cat and they can carry it around the house like a dead mouse. Our hyperactive cat will actually play fetch with the thing like some sort of dog.

In my experience, the perfect cat toy is a laser pointer. Flick it on and your cat will chase the little red dot until you get tired. Across hallways, up walls, and onto people - much fun is created by proper laser pointer use. I'd be careful not to shine it in the cat's eyes though.

One more thing to watch out for - the advanced technical concept of "amusing cats with laser pointers" is patented. (This is not a joke.) Oooh, I'm breaking the law, breaking the law! And amusing/excercising my cats at the same time. Beat that! (I fear the author of Mom, I Gave the Cat Some Acid very well might have.)

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