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Q: My two cats love to play with toys, but I'm going broke buying them new ones when they quickly tire of the old ones. Are there some inexpensive alternatives? They have multiple scratching posts and places to perch and hide.

A: Cats can definitely have short attention spans. Make that work to your advantage by putting away all their toys and then doling them out two or three at a time. Every few days, swap them out for some "new" toys from the cat toy closet. You save money and your cats can play with something they haven't seen in a while.

Different cats have different toy preferences, so make sure they have a wide assortment; catnip-filled, feathery, fishing pole- or wand-style toys, crinkle balls, tracks with balls inside that your cats can bat at, a tunnel for them to run through, toys that make noise (you may want to put those away at night) or electronic, battery-operated or wind-up toys that move, eliciting your cat's chase instinct.

And yes, there are lots of toys you can make yourself. Some of the best you don't have to make at all because they come ready-made to your home: paper grocery bags, empty boxes, and empty toilet paper or paper towel rolls. Crumple up a piece of paper and toss it for them. Pull out a flashlight and let them chase the beam. You can find easy and creative ideas at

Finally, remember to make yourself a part of their playtime, too. Drag a toy through the house for them to chase, toss a small ball (Ping-Pong or small tennis balls are fun) for them to chase, set a toy in motion for them to bat at. Attention from you is a cat's best "toy."

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