A Bird Collar for Sundance

Sundance is my extremely huge long-haired tabby Maine-coonish sort of cat. And one of Sundance’s hobbies is to stalk and kill birds.

This is not OK.

Sundance on JanMadeIt

I wrote about it in my Bad Cat post over on Cottonmouth Creek, my photography blog.

Sundance's Bird Collar on JanMadeIt

My solution, and it works!, has been this big, bright fluffy collar. I had something like this in mind and when I googled “how to keep cats from killing birds” I found a Birdbesafe collar cover that works on the same premise.

Birds can see bright colors and this bright mane gives birds a chance to fly to safety when the cat is ready to pounce. I can’t guarantee it will work all the time with every cat, but Sundance doesn’t kill birds when he’s wearing this collar. He did, however, get a snake.  Ick.

Sundance's Bird Collar on JanMadeIt

Just in case my cat isn’t the only one out there that kills birds, I thought I’d show you how easy it is to make.

You’ll need elastic, some jingle bells, and a piece of fabric. Use bright scraps if you have them or if you need to buy some, 1/4 yard will do. Use woven cotton fabric for best results.

Sundance's Bird Collar on JanMadeIt

The quarter yard will be nine inches wide. Cut that piece into strips no wider than one inch. I used pinking shears but you can cut a straight edge if that’s all you have. Fabric with a tight weave will ravel less.

I matched the elastic to the length of his current collar and found ten inches is the length I need. Overlap the elastic about a half-inch and sew the ends together. You can stitch it by hand, or sew it on the machine.

Sundance's Bird Collar on JanMadeIt

Fold the fabric strips in half and loop them over the elastic and pull tight. Cram as many strips on the elastic as you can.

Then with a skinny strip of fabric, a shoe lace, or fishing line, string some jingle bells together in a loose clump and tie them to the collar and slip it on your cat.

Sundance's Bird Collar on JanMadeIt

I know some cats take to collars about as well as cats take to water, but fortunately Sundance doesn’t mind. The elastic is loose enough that he can slip his head out if it gets caught.

Montage was a white calico I had years ago. Within a few hours she would get out of any collar I put on her.  This wouldn’t have worked on her, but then she didn’t catch birds either.

After a few months the first collar I put on Sundance got pretty dingy and limp.  Before I could spruce it up or make a replacement a dead bird showed up on the patio. 😦

Sundance 6

Now I make a point to have a replacement handy.  I untied the strips on the first collar and put them in a lingerie bag and washed them. I have them to use on future collars. I used yellow because it was handy, and then I read that red and yellow are the colors most visible to birds. I’m going to add some red and neon green to the next collar I make.

I know, the best thing would be to keep the cat indoors, but that is not possible right now. Fortunately there’s a big back yard and Sundance has Zeus, the Chihuahua and Radley, the Papillon  to hang with.



Quick and Easy Dog Cape

This is Zeus. My full-blood blue-eyed rescued deer head chihuahua. I thought he was a “plain” chihuahua until someone told me he was a reindeer chihuahua. We thought it might be because of his long legs, but it has to do with the shape of the head. The little round-headed versions are called apple heads.

Dog Cape on JanMadeIt

He was about to be dumped on the side of the road when I agreed to take him in.

I think he was born in July 2011. The first owners got him in August and in January 2012 they said he was too mean to be around the kids and was biting and barking all the time so they were going to sell him. I wasn’t going to buy him but we were at the flea market and I had something she wanted, so she traded me to take the dog. He shivered constantly when I first got him. People said “all” chihuahua’s do that. I think he was mistreated and terrified.

He doesn’t shiver now. He doesn’t bite, or snap at anyone, and he only barks when Gray Cat growls at him.

But sometimes he needs a coat and most of those store-bought knitted doodahs get really ratty looking really fast. I just needed something practical and functional.

Quick and Easy Dog Cape on JanMadeIt

How’s this? He wasn’t much for posing the day I made this. This glare is one of the few times he looked at the camera.

Can you tell I made this out of the sleeve of a sweatshirt?

This recycled, repurposed project is free if you have a spare sweatshirt, and this little coat won’t look ragged and old anytime soon.  The only tool you need is a pair of scissors and it only takes about ten minutes.

This works for small dogs. Some sweatshirt cuffs get all stretched out so you might find something that will work for a bigger dog. I have a beagle who’s always digging under the covers, so I’m working on a design for larger dogs. I’ll post that when I get it figured out.

Quick and Easy Dog Cape on JanMadeIt

The first thing to do is cut the sleeve from the sweatshirt. To size it, with one hand hold the cuff of the sleeve at your dog’s neck, and with the other hand hold it at about the dog’s tail. Cut the sleeve off at this line. Try to cut it parallel to the cuff.

Quick and Easy Dog Cape on JanMadeIt

Next cut up the seam line all the way to the cuff.

Quick and Easy Dog Cape on JanMadeIt

At this point, you can slip the cuff over the dog’s neck to get an idea of where the armholes will go. The armholes will be very close to the cuff.

Quick and Easy Dog Cape on JanMadeIt

By folding the sleeve in half at the seam, you can clip both armholes at the same time so they’re in the same  place for both legs. I cut a slit about two inches long and then widened it to a narrow oval shape.

Quick and Easy Dog Cape on JanMadeIt

Now you’re ready to try it on. Zeus hadn’t worn a coat in months, so we wasn’t real crazy about it.

At this stage you can make adjustments if needed. Some things to check are:

  • Make the armholes bigger if they seem tight.
  • Cut off the length if the coat is too long down the dog’s back.
  • Curve the back edge if the points on the side hang too far down.
  • If the collar seems to go up too high, roll it down.
  • If the collar is too tight, clip it at the throat just across the seam. Just a tiny bit, because it will stretch out as the dog wears it more.
  • If your dog wears a harness all the time cut a slot for the ring at the appropriate spot between the shoulder blades. If your dog occasionally wears a harness—Zeus only wears one when I take him out on a leash—the harness I have will fit over the coat. His dog collar sits under the cuff and his tag hangs out at the throat.

Quick and Easy Dog Cape on JanMadeIt

You’re done.

Now that we’ve had a few coldish mornings I’ve slipped it on him before putting him outside and he knows it’s a good thing. After chasing him around the yard trying to take a picture of him from the front, I finally caught him looking right at me and I snapped the shutter.

And during the delay before the shot was captured, there was a noise in the street out front and this is what I got.

Quick and Easy Dog Cape on JanMadeIt

Any suggestions for a caption?


Deluxe Doggie Bed

Your pooch will love this hand-painted dog bed made out of a drawer found on the side of the road.

Deluxe Doggie Bed with Bedding
It comes with a doggie “mattress”, a pillow, and a blanket. All bedding is cotton and polyester and machine washable. Toss it in the washer and dryer and you’re good to go.

Deluxe Doggie Bed
The bed is a recycled drawer painted with high gloss paint which makes it a snap to clean with soap and water. The cotton rope handle makes it easy to tote around and safe for your pet to chew on.

Deluxe Doggie Bed With Bedding

This is one-of-a-kind.

I’ve rescued more drawers and plan to make more dog—and cat—beds and they’ll all be different.

What design and colors would you like to see me make?

Cait In Another Box

Cait In Another Box, originally uploaded by jcristi.

In no time at all Cait Sith will make a playhouse or a bed out of every box, basket, bucket or trash can he comes across. This is a wooden tray I found at a garage sale.

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