I’ve been a pet parent for awhile. Quite awhile. 8 dogs, 20 cats, 4 bunnies, 17 birds, 1 chinchilla and umpteen guinea pigs, hamsters, and gerbils awhile.
Over the years I’ve learned a few tricks to help me take care of my crew. Sometimes you just have to get creative and come up with a pet hack to solve a problem or save some money.
Here are a few of my favorite.
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Homemade Bird Perches
I could get a boring dowel perch from the pet store or spend money on several manzanita or grapevine branches for the birds to use. Instead, thanks to some trees in my yard, I can make perches for free with just a little effort.
Every June, I trim my lilac trees taking out 1/3rd of the trunks. As I’m trimming, I put aside branches I think would make a good perch. Not all trees are safe. Some trees should not be used at all for birds because they can be toxic if chewed so be sure to check this safe wood list before putting just any old branch into your bird’s cage. You also don’t want to use any trees that have been treated with chemicals and it would be best to avoid taking branches from trees near a road or driveway. If you aren’t sure what type of tree a branch is from or if it has been treated, it’s best to not use it.
I found it’s easier to cut the branch to the length I need soon after I prune it from the tree. The wood hardens as it dries and I’m a weakling so found it was harder to cut to the length I needed. I let the branch dry in the sun for a few days, then soak in my bathtub. I do add a little bleach to the water, my birds don’t chew their branches so I don’t worry. After they’ve soaked I scrub to remove any fungus that might be on the branches. Then I let them dry for several days before adding to my bird’s cage.
To fit the branch into the cage I cut the ends on an angle and then just wedge between the bars. You can also use hardware to anchor the branches to the cage. Hardware is needed if you want to have perches secured to the cage on just one side. Here’s a great how-to for adding hardware to your perches.
Making my own perches gives me a chance to add perches that vary in width (great for my bird’s feet), have different angles and bends(add’s some interest) and allows me to have as many as I want(so I can change up the cage whenever I want).
Keeping Guinea Pig Vegetables Fresh
To keep my guinea pigs in fresh veggies I was stopping at the grocery store every 3-4 days. I love them, but I don’t love running to the store so often so I tried to find a way to keep the greens fresher longer. That way when I had to go the store I could buy more and that would last a few days longer spacing out my veggie runs.
I tried a few different things but nothing seemed to work as well as what I came up with.
I take a Sterilite Storage Container and line the bottom with papers towels(This container is not made for food storage. I’m okay with using it because of lining it with paper towels. If you prefer food safe, you might want to look at this one). Then I shred my greens putting them in layers in the box (ex. kale, Romaine lettuce, parsley, carrots, etc.) and top it off with another paper towel on top before putting the lid on.
This fits nicely on the bottom shelf in my fridge. The veggies stay fresh and crisp for about 5 days and have occasionally for 1 week.
A few suggestions to help keep the greens good-
- Don’t add real wet greens. I found the wetter the greens, the sooner they started to go bad. If your greens come home sopping wet from the grocery store misters, try blotting with a paper towel to remove the excess water.
- Store foods like peppers and fruits separately. I found these foods tended to go bad in a just a few days even in my box.
- Replace the paper towel on top as needed.
By storing my greens this way and having them last longer, I can buy more when I run to the store while spacing out my veggie runs.
Easy to Make Litter Box Cabinet
My dogs think the cat litter box is a snack machine.
And it grosses me out.
For years, I tried to get them to stop, but the allure of the poop was just too much so then I tried to manage it by putting an ex-pen around the box. No matter what configuration I set it up in, the dogs got through. I gave up. I dreamed of a nice decorative litter box cabinet that would let the cats in to do their business, but keep the dogs out. But the ones you could buy were way out of my budget and while I wanted to do-it-yourself one, I couldn’t get a good idea in my head about what I wanted it to look like.
Then one day, I had it. I was tired of trying to race my dogs downstairs each morning so I could get them to the back door and away from the litter box. I was tired of most of my bathroom being taken over by an ex-pen.
I wanted my bathroom back!
And my dogs to not have poop breath!
My plan? To turn the shelf unit into a litter box cabinet and cat feeding station for my bathroom.
First step was to set up the shelf. I figured out how much height I needed for the litter box shelf(the bottom one) and the feeding station shelf (the 3rd one) and I set the shelves to allow that height. Once it was together I set it up in the bathroom with one end just far enough away from the wall to allow a cat to fit, but(hopefully) not a dog. Then to help keep the dogs out, I zip-tied the storage cube panels together so it could cover the front of the shelf where the litter box went. I also zip-tied panels to cover the short side. I used the bungees to hold the panels to the shelf unit. To make it more decorative, I took my fabric and using fusible webbing made hems around the fabric to keep it from unraveling then made pockets on 2 sides(top and bottom). I threaded a bungee cord through each pocket then use the fabric panel to cover the panel which I hook to the shelf with the bungees. (Note: If dogs getting into the litter box is not a problem for you, you don’t have to use the panels. You can just use the fabric panels and attach them to the shelf with velcro.)
I put the shelf liners on the bottom and 3rd shelf to make it easier for my cats to walk on the shelves and added the litter box to the bottom shelf. I also put the boot tray on the 3rd shelf as a place to feed the cats. To clean the box, I just unhook one side of the bungee cords for easy access.
I needed to add a shelf next to the litterbox cabinet to make the entry way smaller because 1 dog (ahem, Malarky) is very tenacious and can fit in many places my cats can fit so I needed to make it harder for her.
I’m very happy with my litter box hack. I don’t feel like my bathroom is a giant cage, the dogs don’t have poop breath, and the cats can potty in privacy.