US 20020197933 A1
A cat toy and method of making a cat toy, which is a springy thingy. The lightweight section of plastic coil has at least two windings, said windings allow storage and release of potential energy. The coil offers a cat a lifelike chaotically varied motion and response to mimic a cat's natural prey and evoke a cat's natural hunting instincts. The coil can jump when hit at an end by a cat. A cat can also roll the coil along a floor.
1. A cat toy comprising: a lightweight section of plastic coil having at least two windings, said windings allowing storage and release of potential energy, whereby said coil can jump when hit at an end by a cat, whereby a cat can also roll said coil along a floor.
2. The cat toy of
3. The cat toy of
4. The cat toy of
5. The cat toy of
6. The cat toy of
7. The cat toy of
8. The cat toy of
9. The cat toy of
10. A method of forming a plastic coil for use as a cat toy comprising the steps of:
a. Cutting a section of lightweight plastic coil from a longer stock coil, said section of lightweight plastic coil having at least two windings, said windings allowing storage and release of potential energy, whereby said coil can jump when hit at an end by a cat, whereby a cat can also roll said coil along a floor.
11. The method of
b. selecting a plastic stock coil of 1 inch in diameter, and 30 mil in thickness, said coil having initially between 2 to 4 windings per inch, said coil having about four windings total,
12. The method of
c. selecting a cutting location such that said section of lightweight plastic is approximately 2 inches in total length, and has a weight of less than 2 oz.
13. The method of
d. adjusting the coil by plastically stretching said plastic coil to a pitch beyond 4 to 1.
14. The method of
 Entertaining cats can be a very enjoyable and satisfying experience for many pet owners. Yet cat toys today are not as much fun as they could be. Many cat toys are often heavy, sluggish, lacking in quick motion and require human interaction. Cats seem to enjoy toys that allow them to use their natural agility. Several toys show that moving toys are more fun and engaging than stationary ones.
 Many cat owners have Ping-Pong balls and other small toys for their cats because cats enjoy chasing things. A human toy that a cat would like to play with is Kuo Jung Lin 5727984, a spring toy that moves like a furry animal when in motion. A user throws a ball attached to a spring. The spring is covered with a furry envelope. When the spring moves toward the ball, it appears as if a furry animal is chasing a ball. Such a toy would naturally appeal to a cat. Unfortunately, the toy is not particularly designed for cats because the furry cover slows down the toy and makes it not as much fun to play with.
 Joan C. Munro, 4505687 has a resilient and furry stuff animal, which will return to its original shape after the deforming force is removed. This greatly appeals to humans but such change in shape lacks the appeal to a cat.
 Yip Wing Kay, 6168496 is a Slinky that is covered with fabric. Slinkys are wonderful human toys, but cats lack opposable digits and would not be able to play with such a toy.
 Although cats can play with any coil, the particular dimensions of a coil, including the material and weight play an important role in the responsiveness of the toy. Holding a cat's interest requires a responsiveness attuned to that of a cat's natural prey in the wild. The invention recreates an interactive animal toy through its unique dimensional recipe.
 The best mode of the invention (FIG. 1) is a plastic coil 10 having approximately 2-4 windings per inch. The ideal number of windings is 4. A winding is a complete 360-degree turn of the coil. The coil is preferably 2 inches long, 1 inch in diameter, and 30 mil in thickness. A 4 to 1 pitch is preferable. The weight should be less than 1 oz, but a coil weighing as much as 2 oz still retains some of the functionality and randomness of a coil weighing less than 1 oz. The material should be plastic PVC.
 The plastic must be light and resilient enough to act in a lively manner when a cat plays with it. The liveliness of the coil allows a cat to play with the toy independently and does not require the input of a human to make the toy fan and exciting for the cat.
 Being lightweight, the cat can pick up the coil with both paws and throw it. A cat has difficulty picking up a spherical ball due to the smooth shape of the ball. Cats can also handle the coil by putting a paw between the coils. A cat can also pick up the coil in the mouth.
 A cat owner can make the invention by purchasing commonly available paper binder coil and cutting it to the appropriate length. The user then rounds the ends for safety. Being made of a light plastic allows the coil to jump when a cat plays with the coil. The coils used in most plastic coil binders are often of a smaller diameter, such as ½ inch or ¼ inch. In this case, the coil may be too small for a cat to play with. Selecting and cutting a longer stock coil makes the shorter section of coil.
 A user can also stretch the coil beyond its range of ordinary elasticity. Thus, the coil can be tuned for bounce and roll.
 The coil acts as a spring offering compressive and tensile forces. A human could push to compact the coil and pull to expand the coil. When a cat plays with the coil, the cat can bat the coil with its paw. The coil stores compressive potential energy allowing it to jump, bounce and roll. Thus, the coil must act as a spring to store compressive energy. The coil can jump up to 20 feet across a floor when released. A cat can hit the end of a coil to make it jump across the floor.
 The quick springing motion of the cat coil attracts a cat's attention and evokes a cat's natural instincts of chasing prey. The lightness of the coil allows it to travel so that cats enjoy chasing it.
 When a cat hits the side of the coil, the coil rolls, bounces or jumps. When the cat hits the end of the coil, the coil jumps and then bounces or rolls depending on how the coil lands. A cat can enjoy a wider range of random motion and varied responses from the coil. This seems to entertain cats more than playing with spherical ping pong balls.
 A ping pong ball may bounce or roll in a constant and predictable direction, but the cat coil toy offers a chaotically varied response. The unpredictable chaotically varied response gives the coil a life like motion not found in a ping pong ball. The coil can bounce or jump in one direction unless it lands on its end, which can reverse the direction of the toy. The coil can spring in one direction, land on its side, roll across a floor and offer infinite variations in motion.
 Although the coil toy is designed so that human interaction is not required, a person can play with a cat by throwing the coil against a wall or against the ground. The shape of the cylindrical coil allows a human to roll the coil along the floor, throw it against a wall, or compress the coil to allow the coil to jump across the room. A cat owner can also tie a string to the coil to drag it along the ground, but this dampens the jumpy springiness of the coil.
 The substantially cylindrical version can be further modified into a cone shaped version. The cylindrical profile allows rolling along a straight path. It is also possible that some cats prefer a cone shaped spring that can allow rolling in a circular path. In any case, the invention encompasses both embodiments.