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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.

Supplies:

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

Thread

Scissors

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!

 
 

9 Famous Writers Who Loved Cats

Thursday, August 15, 2013 by

Cats are often considered reserved, independent, and graceful animals. It is no small wonder, then, that many a cat has found its human companion in the form of writers (who are often thought of as reserved, independent, and linguistically graceful humans). Check out these 9 famous writers who loved cats, and be sure to follow the Writers and Kitties tumblr for more pictures of authors with their feline friends.

1. Ernest Hemingway

hemingway and cat

Ernest Hemingway feeding his cat Christobal corn via JFK Library

Hemingway is one of the most recognizable names in American literary history. Despite his hard-edged, sparse writing style and typically masculine themes of war and violence, Hemingway was apparently a softie when it came to his cats. He owned multiple cats at any given time, including a polydactyl (6-toed) cat named Snowball.

hemingway cat typewriter

Hairy Truman, a Hemingway cat descended from Snowball. Photo via NPR.

Snowball was allowed to run wild at Hemingway’s Key West house, resulting in a colony of cats descended directly from Hemingway’s original Snowball. About half of these cats, which still are allowed to openly roam the property of the Hemingway house, are polydactyl, leading many people to call 6-toed kitties “Hemingway cats”.

2. Charles Bukowski

bukowski and cat

Hard to be tough with a cat in your lap. Photo via weimarart.blogspot.com.

Another hard-drinking literary tough guy with a straightforward writing style, Bukowski is known for his poetry, short stories, and novels which deal with the drudgery of life as a lower-class American. He may have had a bluebird in his heart , but he had cats in his home. Bukowski loved cats so much that he occasionally shirked his gritty subject matter in favor of his furry friends, as seen in his poem called “My Cats”.

3. Allen Ginsberg

ginsberg and cat

Ginsberg and his cat via Cultural Cat.

A few weeks ago, the Contemporary Jewish Museum of San Francisco paid homage to the Beat Generation’s love affair with cats in conjunction with the museum’s current exhibit of photography by Allen Ginsberg. Ginsberg was one of the leaders of the Beat Generation, and his 1956 poem “Howl” is among the most recognizable pieces of Beat literature. Ginsberg owned and was often photographed with his pet cats, as seen in the photo above.

4. Jack Kerouac

kerouac and cat

Kerouac and his cat via the New York Public Library’s tumblr

Another member of the Beat Generation, Jack Kerouac is most famous for his novel On the Road, considered by many to be the “Beat bible”. Kerouac owned several cats throughout his short life (he died at age 47 due to complications from alcohol abuse), one of which was immortalized in his novel Big Sur. The novel contains a passage in which Kerouac mourns the death of his beloved cat Tyke, who he had raised from a kitten and left with his mother in New York while he went on one of his cross-country adventures.

5. William S. Burroughs

william burroughs and cat

Burroughs with his cat Ginger. Photo via Vice.

A third (and final, as far as this list is concerned) notable figure of the Beat Generation, Burroughs wrote many postmodern novels, novellas, short stories, and essays, the most famous of which is his 1959 book Naked Lunch. More relevant to this list, however is Burroughs’ autobiographical novella The Cat Inside, which consists of vignettes reminiscing about the many cats Burroughs owned throughout his life.

6. Sylvia Plath

sylvia plath cat drawing

Drawing of a cat by Sylvia Plath via telegraph.co.uk

Sylvia Plath was an American poet, novelist, and short story writer who is best known for her semi-autobiographical novel The Bell Jar and her tragic life story (Plath suffered from depression and committed suicide at the age of 30). Plath’s life with cats is not well-documented, but they serve as the subject matter in her poem “Ella Mason and Her Eleven Cats” and in her drawing of a “Curious French cat” seen above.

7. Jean-Paul Sartre

sartre and cat

Sartre and cat via Writers and Kitties tumblr

Sartre was a French existentialist philosopher who played a major part in Marxism and 20th-century French philosophy, and whose writings are still influential on literary studies, critical theory, and sociology. Sartre’s existentialism may be heavy, but the serious Frenchman might have found solace in his adorably furry cat, pictured above. Additionally, Sartre’s writing serves as inspiration to Henri Le Chat Noir, whose depressed feline musings entertain millions on the internet.

8. Edgar Allan Poe

poe and cat

Drawing of Poe and cat via Writers and Kitties tumblr.

Famous for his macabre short stories and poems, Poe was an American author who is considered by many to be the inventor of the detective fiction genre. A cat is the central mysterious figure of his short story called “The Black Cat”, in which the spirit of a cat haunts its killer. Additionally, Poe and his wife Virginia owned a cat named Catterina.

9. Mark Twain

twain and kitten

Mark Twain with cigar and kitten via Maud Newton’s tumblr

Another giant of American literature, Mark Twain is best known for his novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and its sequel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, as well as his oft-quoted humorous about life. Twain owned and adored numerous cats, and reportedly even taught some of them tricks!

twain cats awake

Some of Twain’s cats responding to Twain’s “Wide awake!” command. Photo via twainquotes.com

Twain provides a quote which fits perfectly as an end to this post on famous cat-lovers. Twain once wrote, “When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction.”

Do you know of any historical figures who loved cats? Have any thoughts on the ones shared here? Let us hear it in the comments below.