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Geeky Do-It-Yourself Projects for Your Pets

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Whether it’s your cat, dog, ferret, guinea pig, or rabbit, your pet is as much a part of your family as you are. Here are a few DIY projects for making life with your pet geekier and easier.

(Images by jeffreyw and jon_a_ross)

Quick and Easy Gifts

Sweater Dog Toys

IMG_3457_lg

(Photo by Erika Kern)

Have some old sweaters lying around? Show your canine some love by knitting them around chew toys. Now your pet has a longer-lasting, colorful, easily washable toy to fetch with.

Felted Kitty Ball

kittyballs_aft

(Photo by FuzzyGalore)

Treat your feline. This toy is easily fashioned from those plastic wobbly balls that cats love to chase. Covering it with felt gives your kitty a nice texture for its faux-hunting, and maybe a little added catnip will entice lazier cats to exercise.

Pet Collar Pouch

collar pouch

(Photo by Amy Bethune)

This little treat is two-fold. First, it adds a little decoration to your faithful friend’s collar. Second, it conveniently houses an emergency pet waste bag. Perfect for when you’re out walking your dog early in the morning and you’re so tired you forget to bring one.

Convert an Old TV or Monitor to a Fish Tank

codepo8

(Photo by codepo8)

If your pet are the swimming kind and not the walking kind, then you might enjoy them in a more classic setting. They get the benefit of a strong housing, and you get to watch them in style. Bonus points if you use an old-school iMac!

Custom Recycled Collar

recycled collar

(Photo by Keyka Lou)

Proudly display your pet’s tag with style and comfort. Using any old cloth, an old collar, or perhaps a geeky t-shirt or tie, your new collar will keep your pet more comfortable than nylon or other material might. If you have a larger dog, though, you probably won’t want to use this to attach your leash to.

Small Pet Carrier-Backpack

DIY-Recycled-Small-Pet-Carrier-Backpack

Ever want to take your small pet out into the city, but can’t fit a pet carrier onto your bike? Instructables user Komecake faced that very problem. While this project was based on smaller pets – rats, in particular – it’s a pretty solid basis from which to build something for other animals as well. Larger cats and dogs probably won’t fit, but kittens and puppies might, as well as other pets like ferrets and rabbits.

More Luxurious Creations

Movable Window Seat

Do your cats ever try to see the view, but are foiled by your apartment’s lack of window sills? This is the perfect project for you! If you’re not sure how this is moveable, take a look at the last image. Notice that the wall braces are attached to the board; the seat is designed to be secured via closing the window on the seat, and the bracing will help with the weight.

Vintage Suitcase Dog Bed

decordemon

(Photo by decordemon)

If you think your mutt deserves something special, why not create a comfortable bed? You can recycle an old suitcase to give your dog the perfect napping cushion. Of course, it’s great for cats, too.

Homemade Custom Cat Tree

jon_a_ross

(Photo by jon_a_ross)

Cat trees are the ultimate in feline fun, but they’re fairly expensive. If you’re handy with tools, you can make a custom designed cat tree (complete with scratching-post legs and carpeting) for much cheaper. The tutorial is great, but with some ingenuity, you can make one that’s any shape or size. Perfect for that unused breakfast nook that’s empty, or that oddly shaped corner behind the couch!

Advanced Geeky Projects

These next few ideas are a little more advanced. They require some soldering and use Arduinos. If that scares you, feel free to take a look How To Use A Soldering Iron and What Is Arduino? to catch up on the basics.

Tweeting, RFID-Authenticating Cat Door

Tweeting-Cat-Door

(Image from ioanghip)

This is a really cool project. An Arduino board is set up to monitor for RFID tags attached to your pets’ collars. It will authenticate the tag, take a photo, and upload it to Twitter so you can monitor your pets’ activities. After authentication, the pet door opens and allows the animal entry. Leaving is controlled by an IR beam. You can also lock the door, or allow your pets to come in but not allow them to get out via different settings.

The great part about this project – aside from giving your pets a web presence – is that it prevents strays or other animals from coming in willy-nilly. It also allows you to easily monitor which pet is coming and going. The website is bit dated, and the links to the parts are missing, but you can easily find substitutions and the relevant code and overall procedure are still there.

Laser-Controlled Wireless Automatic Food Dispenser

Demo and overview of spinning barrel/laser sensor

This project uses a customized plastic container, some tubing, a motor, and an Arduino. Essentially, a computer interfaces with the Arduino board, which then starts a motor that turns the cylinder. The cylinder has openings which allow some food to drop out and into the pet bowls below. There is a laser mechanism helps align the cylinder properly so that the right amount of food is dropped and extra doesn’t spill out.

The creator, Andres Leon, designed this because his cats were getting overweight, so this allowed him to automatically feed them in smaller portions throughout the day. The software allows access via a web interface as well.

Automatic Water-Cycling Pet Bowl

water-dish

(Image by Avatar-X)

Avatar-X’s project requires some more tinkering, including some plumbing. His water-bowl uses a set of copper wires to detect if there is water in the bowl. When it is empty, the system waits a set amount of time for the last dregs of water to evaporate (to prevent stale water), then refills the bowl. The water comes from an attachment that hooks into the line used for the icemaker in your fridge. All in all, a smart idea.

The creators problem was that traditional water-cycling fountains (even the ones with filters) got too dirty for his dog to drink out of. This came as a pretty handy solution. He even minimized the water sensing to prevent corrosion on his makeshift sensors.


Obviously, most of these projects had cats and dogs in mind, but they can be modified a bit for other pets as well. And, you can make the simpler projects geekier by using shapes inspired by video game characters and pixelated patterns.

Know of an interesting project for a more unusual animal? Made an improvement on these ideas? Share your thoughts below and inspire fellow pet-aficionados!

Yatri Trivedi is a monk-like geek. When he's not overdosing on meditation and geek news of all kinds, he's hacking and tweaking something, often while mumbling in 4 or 5 other languages.

  • Published 11/8/11

Comments (8)

  1. theflash

    Awesome, I loved the window seat one. I am going to make one of those for my pet.

  2. Lighthouse

    What about us hamsters ?

  3. Gordon Jones

    There’s got to be a way to get electricity out of a hamster wheel

  4. Lighthouse

    There is. Just ask on the forum.

  5. wazzup

    @lighthouse you know what to do with your hamster.

  6. Malcolm Jackson

    Can you fix it so I can share your stuff on Facebook??

  7. taishou

    i’ll make my hamsters make electricity to power-on my gaming pc

  8. Beverly Kurtin

    Some monster punctured our cat’s eyes when he was just a tiny kitten; needless to say he is blind. You would never know it the way he scampers around the house and outside in our Catio. A Catio is just a fenced in area where the cats can play to their heart’s content but can’t get out.

    For Toot, the blind kitty, I slapped a small oscillator and inserted it into a ball so he can track it down and toss it all over the place. His original name was Stevie but he has a bad habit of tooting right in your face, thus the new moniker.

    The oscillator beeps rather than giving out a solid tone. When the ball is still, it is silent. He know where he left it and can play with it any time he desires.

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