6 Easy Crafts You Can Make To Help Out Your Local Animal Shelter

Rita Brhel
by Rita Brhel
Calling all crafty pet lovers! Whether your style is sewing or woodworking or gluing empty toilet paper rolls together, your mad skills could be put to serious work at your local animal shelter.

Join crafters from across the continent on July 21 as they give to help pets in need in the best way they know how — through National Craft for Your Local Shelters Day.

Founded by Sew Doggy Style in 2012, this annual observance is all about combining the pet-loving crafter’s love for creating with her desire to give back. Basically, you use your crafty talent to benefit your local shelter.

To get started, contact your local shelter to discuss what crafty items and how many would be helpful. Once the item is decided, gather your materials — and friends! — for a craft night and get crafting.

Becasue the COVID-19 pandemic rocked volunteer opportunities and availability, the need to support our local shelters is growing. While many shelters ended up with empty kennels because so many people adopted while they were in quarantine, unfortunately, as many go back to work, there’s still shelter work to be done. And, until spaying and neutering pets as a given becomes a thing, there will always be those opportunities to support shelters with important items.

Don’t sew, or woodwork, or another formal crafty skill? No worries. Here are six easy craft ideas anyone can do:

1) Cat Treat Tubes

Empty toilet paper rolls can make some nice crafts! Here’s one that will keep any cat busy for hours.

Materials needed:

  • 1 empty, large tissue box
  • 14 empty toilet paper tubes
  • Scissors
  • Ribbon
  • Hot glue gun


  1. Using scissors, cut the top panel off the tissue box.
  2. Using scissors, punch 2 holes about 2 inches apart through the bottom panel of the tissue box. Stand the box on end so it is taller than it is wider from the surface. Thread the appropriate length of ribbon through the holes to be able to tie the box to a piece of furniture. Don’t tie yet.
  3. Set the box back down so the bottom panel is toward the surface. Place a row of 5 toilet paper tubes on one long side of the tissue box with the tube ends vertical. Secure with hot glue.
  4. Turn the box around so the row of vertical tubes is across from you. Place another row of 5 toilet paper tubes on the bare, long side of the tissue box. Again, be sure the tube ends are standing up in the box. Secure the tubes.
  5. Place a row of 4 toilet paper tubes down the empty, middle space between the two rows of tubes. Again, be sure the tube ends are standing up in the box. Secure the tubes.
  6. Place the box upright, and tie to a piece of furniture. Place a cat treat in one of the tubes, and let the tube games begin!

2) Dog Bed

Have an ugly sweater you need to retire? Turn it into something beautiful with this easy dog bed!

Materials needed:

  • 2 XL sweaters
  • Scissors
  • Sewing pins
  • 1 elastic band
  • Polyester or cotton filling, or old clothes you no longer wish to wear
  • Dressmaking pencil


  1. Using scissors, cut the sweaters sleeves off. Cut the remaining fabric into a large square.
  2. Fold both squares of fabric into quarters. Using pencil, trace a rounded shape.
  3. Using scissors, cut one folded square on the pencil line. Use the cut fabric as a pattern for the second folded square.
  4. Unfold both squares-turned-circles. Place both circles exactly together so that one is directly on top of the other. Pin together around the edge.
  5. Using scissors, cut slits 2-3 inches from the edge toward the middle of the circle, with each slit about 1 inch apart.
  6. Unpin the circles. Fold 1 of the circles in fourths to find the middle of the circle. Wrap your elastic band around the fabric center at about 3 inches from the middle.
  7. Place this circle on the surface with the elastic pointed up. Place the other circle directly on top. Tie both circles together by knotting the fringes together, except for 10 matching fringes left undone. – Stuff the bed, to your liking, with filling or old clothes. Tie the remaining fringes.

3) Dog Toy

Some of the fun of many crafts is being able to recycle something you no longer use. With this one, that old t-shirt will soon become a dog’s favorite tug-o-war toy!

Materials needed:

  • 2 t-shirts
  • Scissors


  1. Using scissors, cut slits into each t-shirt about 3 inches from the edge with each slit about 1 inch apart.
  2. Using your hands, rip each slit across the shirts to form strips of fabric.
  3. Gather your t-shirt strips together so they are even on the ends. Tie off one end of the strips about 2 inches from the end.
  4. Divide the longer end of the strips into 3 parts. Braid together.
  5. Once you braid to the length of your liking, tie off. Using scissors, trim the ends to a similar length as the other end.

4) Doggie Station


Help your local shelter get organized without having to spend big bucks on brand-new, fancy shelves. All you need is an old chest of drawers and a bit of creativity!

Materials needed:

  • Old chest of drawers or another shelving unit with drawers
  • Scrapbook alphabet stickers


  1. Using stickers, spell out supply categories for each drawer or storage space in the unit. Examples include: treats, toys, grooming, baths, and food. Ask your local shelter for their preferences.

5) Cat Scratcher

Here is a purr-fect craft for shelters who allow their cats time to roam the office.

Materials needed:

  • Spare desk leg
  • Rope
  • Scissors


  1. Using rope, wrap a desk leg starting at the floor end and moving toward the base. The strands of rope should be tightly against one another so no desk leg shows through.
  2. Once the desk leg is fully wrapped, tie off the rope. Using scissors, cut the end of the rope.

6) Cat Toy

Here’s another easy craft made with toilet paper tubes.

Materials needed:

  • 1 empty toilet paper tube
  • Scissors
  • Stapler, or glue, or needle and thread
  • Small jingle bell


  1. Using scissors, cut your toilet paper tube into quarters so that you have 4 intact bands when you are finished.
  2. Place 1 band inside another; then place a third band inside the other two bands. Spread them out to form an asterisk-shape. Secure with your choice of a stapler, glue, or needle and thread.
  3. Place the bell inside the ball. Place the fourth band so that it creates a more cohesive ball-shape. Secure the fourth band.

We also suggest making frozen treats to take to shelters. It’s hot; they’re easy to make and keep (though be sure to check with your shelter to see if they have storage) and they take little-to-no-effort to do! Here’s one of our favorite recipes!

Rita Brhel
Rita Brhel

Rita Brhel is a freelance writer with a huge heart for animals that she's passed on to her 3 children. Rita herself has a cat named Tippy (in photo) and 4 finches. Her 3 kids and husband share an additional 3 cats, 3 small parrots, 3 rabbits, 5 pigeons, 8 chickens, and 2 ducks on their acreage near Hastings, Nebraska, USA. She has experience with a lot of different species of pets of her own, has worked a 1-year stint in a vet clinic as part of a hands-on journalism project, and has been a foster pet parent for an animal shelter. Each of her children dream of careers working with animals, and Rita wholeheartedly supports them!

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