Green Pets: DIY Upcycling Projects for our Animal Companions

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Oh how we love our pets; whether it’s a pooch or a kitty kitty, one with feathers or scales, or others that hop, crawl, squeak, creep or climb … they bring joy into our lives. At the moment I have 3-cats. They, like momma are all green pets and love up cycling!

Awesome Kitty Hammock Tutorial coming up, but first . . .

Meet my menagerie

My Three Kitties

and my daughter Antares’ dog, Roxie Roodle the Doodle Dog.

This happens OFTEN!

This happens OFTEN!

We are a pet family! I have always had a caboodle of cats. Cody was my one-and-only dog Of course we adopted him for the kids but he became my shadow, my “therapist,” my fur-ball to cry on, my walking buddy, my  faithful friend. I lost him 2 years ago and boy do I miss him. He was 14. Cody, and our other critters, came along over the years after Antares and Rigel were born.

Cody - we adopted him for the kids but became my shadow, my "therapist", my fur-ball to cry on, my walking buddy, my friend.  I lost him 2-years ago.  He was 14.  Miss him!

Cody

Our pet family consisted of a group of 6 adopted guinea pigs, images-4

Baby Red Eared Slider                                                                                                                           

several Red-eared sliders,which I will admit to buying (illegally) in Chinatown, NY. I figured I was saving a couple of lives and my  son took very good care of them.  They were indeed very happy little terrapins!  For a time, my son had several small lizards called anoles images-5 and a hermit crab.  We also had birds, cockatiels and parakeets.  imagesimages-2

By far some of the very best pets were Ingbar and Charlie … 2 adopted domestic rats.  I know just the word “rats” will give some of you the “screaming-meenies”,  but trust me, they are smart, faithful and clean.  Unlike guinea pigs, they do not smell and they do not pee on your lap!images-3   Then there’s  Marco, named after the Italian adventurer Marco Polo.   Marco was a brave squirrel I trained to jump onto the window sill outside my home office .  Eventually, Marco would hear me call … a basic “tsk, tsk” sound … run down his tree, jump to the window sill, make his way in and onto my desk where he just chomped up as many bits yummy stuff as he could handle in one visit.

Marco, which if you look closely, is munching a walnut.  Yes! I spoiled him.

Marco, which if you look closely, is munching a walnut. Yes! I spoiled him.

All our pets – except for the tiny turtles – were adopted from shelters or from folks who simply didn’t want the animals anymore.  Sad.  Those that needed an enclosure came with it. I rarely, if ever  bought new “stuff” for my animals.  We pretty much made do, re-purposing what we had.  That still applies today.

keep going for an awesome DIY kitty hammock tutorial!

My kitties love having a place of their own. I can always find Luna on my bed, Joey on the living room love seat and Stella … well Stella likes to move around plopping down wherever she finds a comfy spot. She seeks out the old fleece or wool sweater, wrapped around an old throw pillow and tucked into a box. To her, that’s living “high on the hog!” (NO hogs were injured during the making of these beds). If, however you believe your feline or smaller pooch needs a bit more style, a bit more, “this is MY space,” then there are several things you can make by re-purposing & up-cycling what you have around the house.

GD Mizar’s DIY Kitty Hammock – Here’s How

Kitties in Hammock

You’ll need . . . 

Any one or a combination of:

  • an old blanket
  • an old sweater
  • pieces of fabric left over from some other project
  • any kind of strong cording or …
  • old nylon (thinner) dog leash or …
  • nylon badge holders – of which I have a ton (I’m almost afraid to admit it, but I keep them all because, well … because you never know!)
  • sewing machine or needle and thread (then you’ll need some elbow grease as well)
    IMG_4363

    Luna looking on probably wondering, “Now What?”

1. Cut into 2 squares measuring really no more than 18″ square … you do not need to be exact here, just gauge the size of Kitty-Kitty.2013-04-10 09.33.18

2.  Cut 4-pieces of the nylon badge ribbon, each about 6″ long

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3. Fold the ribbon into a loop, pin one at each corner of the square, onto to the RIGHT side of the fabric, facing inward toward the center.

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4. Sew the ribbon in place. Now … make sure you secure this really well, especially if you have a kitty like my Joey or Stella – they hover around 13-14 pounds each. I know … too heavy but there’s no doubt they’ll slim down this summer as they start chasing down all the varmints in the woods behind the house. FYI – Luna is skin, bone and a lot of fur; she weighs in at 7-pounds.

IMG_4377IMG_43782013-04-10 09.42.53

NOW … you can do it neatly and professionally, sewing a square and then an X through the middle or you can just sew the snot out of it as I do because frankly, it’s easier, the cats could not care less and no one is going to see it anyway!

5. Place the 2 pieces of fabric on top of each other with the RIGHT side of the fabric facing inward. Sew a 1/2″ seam all around the square. I go back and forth over the corners a couple of time to really secure it … remember, I have fat cats!

IMG_4381 IMG_4382

DO NOT go all the way around; leave about a 5 inch opening.

6. Turn the square right-side out with the hoops on each corner.

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7. Sew the opening shut by folding fabric at the opening inward and sew a seeam as close to the edge of the fabric as possible.

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8. IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure you trim all the excess thread and throw it away. Kitties find thread and string an irresistible plaything. Trouble is they eat it and if that happens, that thin thread can tear up their intestinal tract. If they eat enough, it can kill them. If they don’t die, it’s a a pretty expensive fix, requiring surgery.  IMG_4387

9. Take the hammock and tie the 4-corners to the the legs of ironing board, your desk, a small table , etc. and you’re done!  Now we wait for kitty to find it.  Spiking it with a bit of catnip isn’t a bad idea and your cat will love you for it!

IMG_4393 IMG_4395

Volunteers at  Oakland Animal Services  use eye hooks screwed into the sides of whatever space they’ve created for their shelter cats and hook hammocks directly onto the hooks. Such happy kitties … if only they could find their forever home!

Some other fun DIY Upcycling Pet Projects

Take a look at what the folks at Collard Greens Dogs have done … Yep, that’s an old suitcase with legs and a cushy, comfortable pillow. You can do this too! Find one of those old rigid suitcases … your Aunt Betty may have one in her attic … some scrap wood for the legs and of course, and old pillow or other re-purposed filling and a nice soft piece of fabric. When you set out to make this, be sure to really secure the legs to the suitcase. Use sturdy screws because if one leg ever comes off with pooch atop her mattress, it’ll be a long time before she climbs back up. Of course what’s good for doggie works just as well for kitty! Take a look at all the really clever suitcase beds for cats …what fun!

Suitcase beds

Now for our friends wearing feathers. Whether you have a parrot, a parakeet, a cockatiel, finches, love birds or what-have-you, they need toys to be happy and healthy. Buying new toys can get very expensive but again, you can make your own. Make several in one sitting because they’ll chew them up and rip them apart in no time at all. The trick here is to be crafty and creative and RE-use whatever you have around the house to make nifty toys which will save you a bucket of bucks ans will keep “Polly” very happy indeed! 1374394_com_4waywithbl

BUT … There are several very important  things to keep in mind when building a homemade parrot toy. Some types of wood and metals can be extremely toxic, even deadly to birds.

And while on the subject toys … cats and dogs love their toys.  Cody used to love an old chipmunk stuffed we called, “Mr. Squirrel” – pronounced “meest-her squeeeer-el.” It  became his lifelong pal. I still have Cody in a box on a shelf with “Mr. Squirrel” keeping watch.

Kitties like variety. Luna’s favorite is catnip in an orphaned sock, preferably pink, knotted at one end. She’ll chomp on that thing forever … until it’s covered with drool and other cat stuff. You can keep your cats amused without  breaking the bank. Making cat toys is child’s play, so involve the kids, find NON-toxic stuff around  house and don’t waste any more time worrying about entertaining your catGreen Little Cat is all about recycling and repurposing for your pet. Holly Tse is the blogger behind the eco-friendly site Green Little Cat. She keeps her feline friend entertained with balls of rings made from cardboard toilet paper tubes.

500px-make-cute-easy-cat-toys-step-6 pet-projects-repurpose-cat-toy_f016611fabcbf08efdb37fda21a0cd76

I don’t like cages.  Animals do not belong in cages and while I would take in whatever animal needed a home, I cringed when it arrived with a cage. But take the guinea pigs  … we had  six  all at the same time. I took a length of old metal garden fencing and fashioned it into a nice, large ring. I secured the ends together and bent about 6-inches of the bottom inward. I put it on the grass in the shade, placing large rocks on the 6-inches bent inward and gave my guinea pigs play time outside whenever possible. Boy did they love that!

If you do need an enclosure for your pet … say a snake or a rabbit, take a look at how COOL this is!  Adam Keller Makes these coffee table enclosures … plus a lot of more traditional … there’s that word again … cages – but they’re huge.

000543196How difficult can something like this table be to make?  Get an old table from a garage sale or a thrift store  and get to work. Some tempered or thick glass on each side and the top and done. Make sure to hinge one side of the top so that you can have access. And how about this from Reptic Zone. This guy’s wife said, “Enough!”  Basically she doesn’t like snakes and didn’t want  to see any more glass tanks or cages around the house. Clearly she preferred a living room and not a zoo!

snake

How many times have you seen old china cabinets at a yard sale or even sitting on the side of the road waiting for someone to scoop it up. What a perfect marriage … old furniture and snakes!  Love it! Oh, and by the way, I like snakes!

And that bunny; why should Cotton Tail be stuck in a plastic and wire … cage? Here again using an old cabinet, chest, or table, Peter rabbit can have the snazziest “crib” in the house.  I’m not sure I would use something antique but if it can’t be repaired for your home, it can probably be fixed for that bunny or as where rabbits are concerned … bunnies!

WOW! Wow … what else is there to say. Clearly this bunny is well loved and, as it says on the website, well respected. Wow!

swank_9

Making sweaters for your Spot is just so easy.  There really is no need to buy one ever. Here’s a very fashionable Brooke donning a re-purposed sweatshirt.  Her Doggie Mom loves her so much, she’s making sure a trip the the Salvation Army thrift store and a little creative imagination will Brooke stays nice and warm even on the chillest day!

IMG_3912 edit

The old cliche says our pets are like family.  They are.  I take care of mine like I do my husband, my parents, my children, etc.  EVERYONE knows, why buy it when”mom” can make something by re-purposing! Now, if only I can figure out how to get this nighttime visitor looking for a free handout in my laundry room — via the kitty door — to join our family. I’d make something for this rascal as well!

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About the author / 

Green Diva Mizar
mizar@pur2o.com'

Green Diva Mizar is a former co-host of the GD show. GD Mizar is also dedicated to providing safe, clean water to all through her company Pur2o Water Filtration & Purification.

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