Pet Projects That Repurpose Unwanted Stuff

Pet bed made from an old suitcaseThis old dresser drawer was upcycled into an eco-friendly pet bed. Image: StephanieJane Upcycle

These 5 repurposing tricks turn unwanted stuff into cool pet things.

Today is America Recycles Day, so we turned to some of our favorite online sites for penny-pinching repurposing ideas that will benefit cats and canines.

But before we dive in, keep the following in mind: When it comes to buying or making repurposed stuff for pets, make sure all materials are non-toxic and don’t pose a hazard to Spot or Kitty.

(If pets aren’t your thing, then check out yesterday’s post about repurposing burnt-out light bulbs, or come back tomorrow, when we’ll tell you how to repurpose leftover chopsticks and plastic containers from your takeout dinners).

One-of-a-kind pet beds

Most store-bought pet beds are eyesores. But something repurposed from old furniture or even an outdated consumer electronic makes a great conversation piece — in addition to a cool pet nook.

1. Dresser drawer pet bed: StephanieJane Upcycle, an Etsy seller, turned a drawer from a broken dresser into an eco-friendly pet bed. They kept animal and human wellness in mind while adding the final touches. The drawer was stripped and refinished using biodegradable and non-toxic products.

Recycling tip:There are organizations that specifically recycle broken furniture. To find a local solution for your broken stuff, visit Earth911.com.

    2. A toaster oven pet bed: The Etsy shop Recycled Arts gave an outmoded kitchen appliance new life as a pet crash pad (albeit for pint-sized pets). A fleece blanket was added for comfort. And just for fun, they left the timer intact. 

    Toaster bed

    Credit: Julia Hosack/Linden Tree Photography

    Recycling tip: Have a bunch of old blankets and linens that you want to get rid of? Donate them to your local animal shelter. By doing so, you’ll keep rescued dogs and cats warm this winter.

      Fun pet toys

      You know how you can keep small kids entertained for hours with a big cardboard box? Well, you can do the same for cats with a toilet paper tube.

      3. Toilet paper tube cat toy: 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. All you need to do is flatten one crosswise and then, using a pair of scissors, cut into 1/3” rings.

      Afterwards, pop the flattened rings back into a circle and form them into a ball. When you’re finished, grab the kitty’s attention and toss the new toy in the air. Your cat will have a ball chasing the rings that fall across the floor.

      Cardboard cat toy

      Credit: Deirdre Sullivan for HouseLogic

      Recycling tip: The Humane Society also has a few ideas for repurposed cat toys: round plastic shower curtain rings make great toys for cats to bat around; plus large paper bags (never plastic) with the handles removed are perfect for a game of kitty hide and seek.

        Give doggie dining a leg up

        Large dogs, especially those in their senior years, can experience joint stress and other painful issues from repeatedly crouching down to reach their meals. Here’s an idea that alleviates discomfort by raising food and water bowls off the ground.

        4. Eco-friendly canine feeding station: This clever food and water bowl set by For Love of a Dog gives canine meals a lift using small vintage school chairs. A foam gasket was added to stabilize the dog bowls; plus, the seats were water-sealed to protect the wood from spills.

        Dog feeder

        Credit: For Love of a Dog Jewelry & Gifts

        Recycling tip: In addition to blankets and linens, many pet shelters will accept non-breakable dishes that can function as dog and cat bowls.

          Give plastic bags a new leash on life

          Here’s a green idea worthy of man’s best friend that turns pesky plastic bags into a dog leash. 

          5. Grocery bag dog lead: You’ll need a clasp for the dog’s collar to compete this project, plus a plastic clothesline clip, glue, and scissors. Keep in mind: While this leash does look sturdy, it is not suited for large dogs and aggressive leash-pullers.

          Donation idea: You don’t have to be a dog owner to make one of these. As the video suggests, you can make a few leashes and donate them to a local animal shelter or rescue organization.

          Have a great repurposing idea that benefits pets? Share in the comments below.