DIY Pet-Proof Placemat

Friday, August 16, 2013 by

cat in shower

No need for messy eaters to take their meals in the tub, just put a mat under their bowls!

Is your dog or cat a messy eater? Do you find yourself sweeping kibble off the kitchen floor or mopping up spilled water on a regular basis? Tired of looking at the soaked dirty newspaper you have put under your pet bowls to minimize floor damage?

This week’s DIY project is a cute solution to this messy eater problem. This project (inspired by this one at Pink Chalk Studio) yields a customized, durable floor mat which can be placed under your pets’ bowls to keep your floor mess-free.  Also, this mat is super simple to make and can be simply wiped clean when it gets dirty.

If you want a mat for your pet’s dishes and don’t want to go through the trouble of making one yourself, check out Petmate’s offerings.


Waterproof fabric

Oilcloth or any other laminated fabric will work. The amount you need will depend on the size of your mat, which is determined by the size of your pet’s bowls, which is determined by your pet’s size. Use your best judgment.

Sewing machine

diy pet mat

Photo via Kathy Mack’s flickr

Straight pins



Border fabric/ribbon (optional)

Step 1: Cut Your Fabric

This is where your creativity comes in—right at the beginning of the project. After choosing a suitably whimsical or minimal fabric for your mat, choose what shape you want your mat to be. For a cat, consider a fish or the outline of a cat’s head. For a dog, try a bone shape. Or just keep it simple with a geometric shape (rectangle, oval, etc.). Keep in mind that you will have to sew around the edges of whatever shape you choose, so consider your sewing machine skills before committing to a life-size outline of your dog.

You’ll be sewing together two pieces of fabric, so whatever shape you choose, make sure that the two fabric pieces are identical in size and shape. Additionally, you will want the laminated side of the fabric to be exposed on both sides of the finished mat, so account for that in your cutting if you are making an asymmetrical shape.

cat head template fabric

Draw out your desired shape on the non-laminated side of the fabric.

If you’re feeling confident, you can freehand the shape. Otherwise, draw out your shape on the non-laminated side of one piece of fabric, cut it out, and then use the cut shape as a template for your second piece of fabric.

Step 2: Pin the Pieces Together

Place the two pieces of fabric together so that the non-laminated sides are touching. Pin the two pieces together, lining up the edges as best you can. Pins can leave small holes in oilcloth, so if this is a concern for you be sure to pin as close to the edges as possible.

diy mat line up pieces

Make sure that the two non-waterproof sides of the fabric pieces are touching when you pin them together.

Step 3: Sew the Pieces Together

Using a sewing machine, sew the two pieces of the mat together along the edges. You now have a basic mat to place under your pet bowls.

diy mat sewn

Basic mat without border. Waterproof on both sides.

If you’d like to jazz up the mat a bit and protect the edges from wear and tear, continue on to the next steps.

Step 4: Create Border Fabric

Choose a thick, wide (about 2-3” wide) ribbon or fabric in a color or print that complements the fabric of your mat. Place the fabric good side down and fold in the long edges so that they just meet in the middle. Pin the edges. Sew the edges down, trying to place the seams near the center. You should have a long, narrow piece of fabric with two seams near the center, as shown in the diagram below.

folded border fabric

Fabric should be folded and sewn so that the long edges just touch in the middle, with the good side of the fabric facing down.

Step 5: Pin the Border to the Mat

Place the center of the border fabric onto the edge of the mat and fold the halves of the border fabric down so that each side of the mat has an even amount of border fabric showing. Pin this down.

Step 6: Sew the Border to the Mat

Use the sewing machine to sew the border to the mat on both sides. Depending on the shape of your mat and your sewing finesse, you may have to cut separate strips of border fabric to cover each edge, but ideally the border will be one continuous strip of fabric. It doesn’t have to be perfect—remember, this mat is to catch fallen kibble!

DIY mat final pink background

Cat head mat with border.

Step 7: Place Under Your Pet’s Bowls

Voila! You’ve made a stylish (or tacky, depending on your fabric choices) homemade mat which will keep your floors clean of pet food mess. To clean, simply wipe off the mat with a damp paper towel. Or take it out back and hose it off. We won’t judge.

What do you think of this project? Have any ideas for DIY pet projects? Share your thoughts in the comments below!