MillWorks: Fishing Pole Toy

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Fishing Pole Toy

"You get a line, and I'll get a pole, kitty . . ."

This project makes two fishing pole toys. It's handy to store a fishing pole toy in a couple different rooms (in a spot your cat can't get to--these toys require pet-parent supervision) so you'll always have one handy for your cat. I find this type of toy really useful especially in getting a cat to go somewhere you want it to go. If you only need one, go ahead and make two, anyway. The extra one would make a great gift for another cat fan.

Let's get started!

Sand a 36" long (standard) 1/2" dowel rod along its length with fine grit sandpaper.

Saw the dowel directly in half, leaving you with two 18" poles. This craft makes two fishing poles, but I'll mostly refer to only one to make the instructions more clear. Using a rough grit sandpaper, sand off the color coded end. Sand each end with this rougher grit until the ends have a smoother appearance. Also, sand along the edges to round them off. Once you have a good shape, use the finer sandpaper to sand down the edges to a smooth, rounded appearance (see photo below).

Attach the dowel to a workbench, and, using a pencil, draw a dot 1/2" from one end, directly in the center of that end. Use a drill with a 9/64" drill bit and drill going straight down.

At this point, you're all done with using tools, which to me is always a huge sigh of relief!

Next, stain (or paint) the fishing pole. Since you have two, you can add variety, if you want to, by doing two different colors. In order to get the stain inside the hole, I dipped the end of the pole directly into it. Using two coats of stain, I stained one a dark English Chestnut (right side in photo), and the other a light Oak.

It's time to put the finishing touches on the fishing pole by sealing it with a product such as varnish (you can use a toothpick to varnish inside the hole). Everyone has his or her own favorite way of sealing a wood project. I did sealer, sealer, sanded with fine grit sandpaper, sealer, sealer (i.e., four coats of sealer). I used oil-based products for both the stain and the varnish. Please allow a stained and varnished piece ample time to air out before bringing it indoors.

Cut plastic canvas cord (not the yarn!) to 40", or whatever length you'd like. You'll lose a bit of the length to knots.

Quickly run each cut end of the cord over an open flame, to create a water-proof heat seal. If you don't want to work with a flame, craft glue (which isn't water-proof) can be used instead.

Thread one end of the cord through the pole's hole. Use a toothpick or other small tool to help get it through, if necessary. Knot this several times with an overhand knot, toward one side (not the end) of the pole.

How you attach the toy is up to you, but if it has a tail it's really easy to attach by holding the tail and cord together side by side and knotting them that way, leaving less of the cord end than tail hanging from the knot. This method was used on the mouse toy in the photos. You can also securely tack a toy on with doubled thread, sewing to the tip of the heat-sealed end, as I did with the Cinnamoroll plushie. Even a toy like this mouse could alternately be tacked on instead, but a knot can make it easier to switch to a different toy when needed.

Be sure to check the toy before and after play sessions, and don't leave your cat alone with it.

Let the fun begin!


My super-feisty kitten regularly bit right through the cording on store-bought fishing pole toys. I would tie a knot to connect the two ends, and we'd start all over again with her invented game until there wasn't enough cord left to play with the attached mouse. She went through two toys this way. I did my own part in helping to destroy one by accidentally breaking the thin hollow plastic pole in two. The store-bought toys are made in such a way that you can't really fix them, and they break so easily. With this fishing pole, the string can be replaced when your cat misbehaves (you'll have a bunch left over after this project), the toys can be replaced when worn out, and the pole can take a lot of stress given to it by the cat's human. Best of all, it will help you have quality interactive playtime with your cat(s).

Have fun!

Providing crafts since October 2011. Fishing pole project created in November and December of 2014. Copyright 2011- and all contents by Millie. Resulting products can only be kept or given away as gifts. Always keep safety in mind.