Random Rant #14 – DIY on a Budget

I am not a crafty person. These toys are not pretty, they are functional, cheap and easy to make. They will not require sewing or a collection of charms, though you’re always welcome to add bling. The primary materials you will need are fleece, plastic hardware mesh, shot cups, bangle bracelets, and C-clips.

Fleece

Fleece has a stretchy direction and a non-stretchy direction, you do not want fleece strips to stretch in their long dimension.

A couple yards of fleece will run you about $20 with shipping and can make a ton of things:

Uncut swaths can be held to a cage with binder clips to make a cage cover.

The drop pan can be lined in fleece. See previous random rant for reasons to use fleece drop pan liners.

Small squares of fleece tucked into their pouch make good blankies. You can tuck blankies on you to absorb your scent before they go into the pouch.

Fleece braids make excellent rope highways. Tie the ends of the braid up with a circular zip tie in the knot for easy C-clipping and be sure the rope is very taut by stretching it tight and securing both ends in the cage. I go crazy with fleece braids and make a big interconnected highway out of them. Braids are probably the most used items for the least expense and time investment.

Frond showers are super easy to make. If you hang them near a pouch opening gliders may pull them in, which is extremely fun to watch. To make a frond cut a wide strip of fleece, and make cuts 75% of the way across the short dimension of the strip on alternating sides, with cuts spaced about ½ to an inch apart. It will form a zigzag when released. Make a bundle of these fronds and zip tie it in the middle, hang the frond shower from the zip-tie.

Cut a large circle of fleece, punch holes in the fleece all along the edge of the circle, thread a long thin strip of fleece through a hole, then back out through an adjacent hole, then back in through the next hole, etc until you’ve gone around the whole circle, scrunch up the circle and pull the ends of the fleece drawstring tight to make a pouch.

Mesh

I use Tenex brand plastic hardware mesh and trim the spokes off of the cut edges with a pair of toenail trimmers, which is very fast and effective.

Mesh bridges and corner hammocks are the simplest things in the world, just cut the mesh to fit your cage and hang it with multiple C clips. For a fun twist add a twist in a bridge before attaching it to the cage.

Mesh tunnels are simple to make, cut and trim a square, roll it so that two of the mesh squares overlap with the opposite edge of the mesh, and weave a strip of fleece through the squares to hold the shape.

You can also cut 5 squares of mesh and weave them together at their edges to make an open topped cube for a ball pit or fill it with fleece scraps for an open environment sleeping spot.

A large cut of mesh attached to a wall (staple gun or eye bolts and C clips) makes easy and cheap climbable walls that are easy to clean and removable.

Shot Cups

Little plastic shot glasses or mini solo cup style shot cups make great treat cups. Just burn a hole in the side of one and slip it onto a C clip, fill with treats, and hang in the cage.

You can make a neat foraging toy by melting a hole in the center of the bottoms of these cups, threading a fleece strip through the bottom of one cup, and tying a fat knot underneath the cup to hold it. Flip another cup upside down and thread it onto the fleece strip so the mouths of the two cups meet; Do not make a knot above it, though. Leave it free so the glider can lift it up and get into the space they make. You can thread multiple sets of these onto the same strip and hang it in their cage, filling all of the compartments with treats.

Plastic Bangle Bracelets

Tail carrier gliders love these cheap dollar store bangle bracelets. You can sprinkle them around the toy areas, hang them off of S clips (melt a C clip in the center and twist hard), or you can make toys out of them.

The simplest toy is an anchored bangle. Tie a strip of fleece onto the bangle and tie the other end of the strip to the cage bars.

Pulleys are also very simple to make. Tie a fleece strip to one bangle, thread the strip out through the cage bars, then back into the cage so it’s looped around a bar or two, then tie the free end of the fleece to a second bangle.

With enough playing they can work the bangles through the bars. If this becomes an issue, you can use a zip tie where the fleece comes through to stop the bangle; or you can thread it through a plastic whiffle ball.

Tidy Traveler

A quick and cheap way to make a safe traveling cage for car rides is to modify an empty Tidy Cat litter pail. Cut a large square hole in the face of one of sides, drill a bunch of holes into the plastic around the hole you cut, cut and trim a square of plastic mesh to fit over the hole, and zip tie it in place.

Drill holes near the top of the container to hang pouches and toys from (I find it helpful to melt C clips into S clips for hanging pouches in these).

For longer trips you can add a water bottle by drilling a hole for the spout to fit through and four holes around the bottle to thread two zip ties through, one at the top and one at the base. The Tidy Cat container has a snap-on lid and a carrying handle, and they will stack together nicely if you have more than one.

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