Up here in the frozen tundra we call Minnesota, we often need to find ways to amuse ourselves and our pets during the long winter months. We may bake treats, teach new tricks, or even try to teach our pets to talk with buttons. But after a while we need to change things up. If you enjoy DIY projects, why not try some DIY that would make both you and your pet happy!?
More and more pet parents these days are keeping their pets in mind when buying or renting homes. They pay attention to the flooring, the stairs, the places to put gates, pet doors, or cat trees, and the spaces for play, bathing, and grooming. (Check out the infographic below for more details!)
It’s wonderful that so many people are considering their pets’ comfort when choosing their homes. However, you can still customize their living spaces for their entertainment and peace of mind even more, or if you weren’t able to choose your housing with your pet in mind, here’s a chance to spice things up!
Cats love climbing and high spaces. Higher perches allow them to feel safe and secure in their surroundings. But there are some places in your home, like your kitchen countertops, that you’d prefer their little toe beans to stay off! Some cat owners put a hammock in a window for their cats but what about building them their own highway in the sky? From installing a singular wall perch for your cats to creating levels of shelves, walkways, and tunnels, building cat shelves will be a great way to enrich your kitty’s life and keep them off unwanted surfaces!
To build your shelves you’ll need a sturdy wooden board at least 1/2 inch thick, “L” brackets, and heavy duty wall anchors. Be sure that your shelf is long enough for your cat to comfortable rest without parts of their body hanging off. Hillspet.com has a great how to guide to get started with your cat shelves. You can easily customize your design to best suit you, your cat, and your home!
Most cats will gravitate to their new kingdom in the sky, but if they are unsure of change you can help encourage them to interact with their new world by placing treats or catnip on the shelf as enticement. Soon your cats will be climbing all the time!
Yep, a catio (a cat patio) is a thing! I should know, I have one and my cats adore it. I bet you can imagine the look on Beans’ face when I tell her “no, I’m sorry, you can’t go outside because it’s -10 degrees.” They absolutely love having the space to explore outside, and I love that they (and our local birds) are safe.
Catios can range from a box attached to your window that you cat can relax in to watch the birds, to an enclosure large enough to be considered an addition to your house! There are many different catio plans out there so depending on your home type, number of cats, and handiness with power tools, you can create an outdoor oasis for your kitties.
The first step is determining where and how large your catio will be.The Daily Paws suggests creating a structure that is at least 20 feet wide and 8 feet high if you have the space, giving your cat optimal room to roam (and a bench for you!), and provides ideas for flooring, roofing, and extra enrichment. Catio World has suggestions for structures of all sizes as well as step by step instructions for construction. For those of us who maybe aren’t quite as DIY as we thought, Catio Spaces has plans and catio kits available.
Most of our pups love to spend time outside, sniffing the breeze, watching the neighbors, and just relaxing in the sun. Wouldn’t it be fun to create a space outdoors just for your pup? There are a ton of pre-made dog houses out there, but designing your own means you can customize your pup’s home to their preferences? Does your dog love to sit up high (maybe channeling Snoopy)? Add a deck on top of their house. Does your pet have a thick coat that gets hot in the summer months? Add a porch to the front for some shade.
The most important part of DIY’ing a dog house is ensuring the frame is sturdy so that your pup can safely relax inside or play around their new space. Home Depot has some great instructions for how to purchase supplies, measure, and build your pup’s new pad. They also have some tips on how to insulate and weather proof the house to make it safer for your pet to enjoy in all weather. Just be sure to always bring your pup inside in severe weather.
If you have some carpentry skills and want to plan your own dog house, go for it! Just remember to include a floor so your dog is up off the ground, and add some insulation to make it cozy as it gets colder. If you are new to building houses of any size, check out these plans from thespruce.com or k9ofmine.com.
Ok, I’ll admit that this last one is not so much for your pup as it is for you. For those of you who don’t know what a “dooley” is, it can also be called a doggie septic system or a doggie waste digester. Disposing of your dog’s waste often means having a trash can in the backyard, throwing away many plastic bags per day, or paying for a pooper scooper service. Instead, why not try to compost your pup’s waste. Just don’t use it in your vegetable garden, stick to using it around trees or flower beds.
Creating your own doggie dooley can be as easy as buying a large plastic trash bin (bonus points if you have an old one lying around that you can repurpose), cutting the bottom out, digging a hole for it, lining the bottom of the hole with rocks and gravel, and putting it in! The Wildest has a clear step by step guide on how to do this.
You’ll likely need to add a “starter” to the bin to get the waste to begin breaking down, so you can use a septic starter from any home improvement store. However, if you’re concerned about any of the chemicals, here is a good option for a more natural starter.
There are so many other options out there, these are just the beginning! You can build your pet their own room, a throne, some costumes, or a castle. The sky is the limit, so get out there and DIY for your pet!