Cats are well-known for their curiosity, their independence, their flexibility, and their tendency to jump from places they shouldn’t. Oh—and their cuteness. You can’t forget the cuteness!
Cats make great pets, but if you’re not up for the challenge of taking one on full-time—or if you already have a cat or two—consider making a much lower-maintenance feline with origami. A paper cat can also make for a fantastic gift for the cat lovers in your life!
Origami is fairly easy to learn, and once you’ve practiced making one or two items, you can branch out into others on your own. It doesn’t require a lot of materials, it’s a great outlet for stress, and it’s also a lot of fun.
The Meaning of Origami Cats
Many origami projects have specific symbolism in Japanese culture. Paper cranes, for instance, have become a symbol of hope and healing. According to tradition, if you fold 1,000 paper cranes, your wishes will be granted.
While origami cats don’t specifically have their own meaning, cats have been known in various cultures to symbolize elegance, curiosity, independence, protection, and magic, among other things. If you’d like to communicate any of these concepts or gift any of these qualities to a friend or loved one, a handmade origami cat is a thoughtful, tangible way to do it.
More casually, you might consider making a paper cat for anyone who appreciates these unique animals, just to show them that you pay attention to their interests.
How to Make an Origami Cat
No origami experience? No problem! Practicing with paper cats is as good a way as any to get into the world of origami. If you already have some background in origami, this project will be no problem at all.
The only thing you need to make an origami cat and follow an origami cat pattern is origami paper. Standard origami paper has a texture that’s ideal for folding and comes with one white side and one colored side. Choose your favorite color, and let’s jump into the specifics of how to make origami cats.
Step 1: Fold the Origami Paper in Half Both Ways
Starting with the white side of your origami paper up, fold it in half across the diagonal to create a triangle.
Unfold the triangle and make the same fold in the other direction so that the paper appears to be divided into four equal quadrants when laying flat on your work surface.
Step 2: Fold Two Corners Into the Center
At this point, your origami paper should have two identical creases crossing in the middle. Laying the paper flat on your work surface, grab one tip and fold it neatly in so that it perfectly meets the center point. Pinch your finger at the center of each fold.
Repeat with the tip on the opposite side of the paper.
Step 3: Fold the Tips Into the New Creases
Grab the first corner that you folded in in the last step and fold it into the crease you just created. Press down firmly across the fold.
Repeat on the opposite side.
Step 4: Fold Edges to the Middle
After the third step, you should have freshly folded edges on two sides of your square. Fold them into the center of the paper so they’re flush with the center line.
Step 5: Fold Remaining Flaps
Fold one of the remaining two points into the center of the paper, pinching only the center of the fold in the process.
Grab the remaining point and fold it up so it meets the crease closest to the edge of the opposite corner.
Step 6: Flip and Fold in Half
Unfold your last two creases and flip the paper over so that only the colored side is facing you. Fold it in half. It should look like a small envelope.
Step 7: Fold Along the New Line
Once you’ve created that little envelope, you’ll see a crease near the bottom of the straight side of the paper. Fold the top of the paper down along that crease.
Step 8: Fold in Half
Fold your paper in half along the longer center crease so that the colored sides remain on the outside of your project.
Step 9: Pull Up on One Side
Keep a firm grip on one corner, pulling up gently on the other until you can make another crease near the center.
Step 10: Flip and Fold Again
Turn the paper upside down so that the pointed edges are facing toward you. Starting at the center line, fold one side down to create another crease.
Step 11: Fold Along the New Crease
Fold the outer tip of the side you were just working with in along the crease you created in the last step. A bit of space will be left on the edge of the bottom layer of paper.
Step 12: Create a Mountain Fold
Open up the flap you were just working with and push in the corner to create a mountain fold out of the crease. Squash the point down flat.
Step 13: Fold the Opposite Side
Flip the paper over. Fold in the outside corner of the crease you made in the previous step along the centerline. Flip to the other side and repeat.
Step 14: Create the Cat’s Ears
Neatly pull up the points of the creases you just made to make cat ears. Make them as big or as small as you’d like.
Step 15: Fold the Top Point
Grab the top-most point of your project and fold it down along the crease.
Step 16: Make a Nose
Flip the paper over. Grab the edge of the point below the ears you made two steps ago and pull it up to reveal the white paper underneath. Fold neatly into a nose for your cat. Fold the top of that white tip down slightly to add texture.
Step 16: Create the Cat’s Body
Grab the end of the long side of the paper and fold it down into a right angle.
Open up the back of the cat and create a reverse inside fold so that you get a peek at the white paper.
Step 17: Finish It Up!
Make an inside reverse fold on each side of the paper along the fold you created in the last step. You’ve got yourself a cat with some real texture!
Enjoy Your Origami Cat!
Congratulations! You’ve officially made your first paper cat. Why not make a whole cat family next, or an origami dog?
Try More Origami Animals
Origami Basics: Learn to Fold 7 Origami Animals