DIY: How to Make an Interactive Feeder or Toy #PAW2014


downloadPet Appreciation Week (PAW) is coming up at Tractor Supply stores everywhere from September 17-21 with a special in-store event on September 20! Tractor Supply just recently wrapped up a big $10,000 contest for shelters and this week they’re turning the attention to both pets and shelter pets with special events and promotions.

Living in the country, we shop at Tractor Supply often for outdoor purchases but they also sell a wide selection of pet products including premium pet foods. Beyond the pet section, though, they have all kinds of supplies for livestock, farm and ranch needs, and outdoor living–including materials you can use to make handy products for your own favorite shelter.

As part of a BlogPaws campaign to create DIY products for shelters, we received a $25 Tractor Supply gift card to shop for materials to create products for our local shelter. The tough part was making a final decision. We first went on the Tractor Supply website and searched their inventory for ideas. We finally settled upon making interactive feeders and toys using water-grade PVC pipes and fittings.

As our regular readers know, John built our home and he’s always working on new projects, from a catio to, just this past week, putting new windows in the bathroom. He’s very handy with tools and has great carpentry and plumbing skills, so I turned to him for advice (and help!) in making these DIY items.

Our first stop was our local Tractor Supply store where we bought the raw materials:

  • a 3-foot length of 1-1/4-inch PVC pipe
  • 8 1-1/4-inch PVC caps
  • PVC cement (optional)

They’re made using tools that many homes already have:

  • a drill
  • a 1/2-inch drill bit
  • sandpaper
  • a rat-tail file (or you could wrap sandpaper around a screwdriver)
  • a vise (optional)

With our 3-foot length of PVC, we made four feeders: two one-foot lengths and two six-inch lengths for small dogs and cats:

Measuring and Marking


Putting the PVC pipe in the vise, John first measured and marked the pipe. It’s easier to do all the measuring, marking and drilling BEFORE cutting the pipe into smaller lengths.

Since we wanted both cat and dog feeders, we made 6-inch and 12-inch feeders, marking with a Sharpie pen directly on the PVC where the cuts would be made, as well as where the holes would be drilled.


To make the drilling easier, John first drilled pilot holes in the PVC using a small standard bit then used a 1/2-inch paddle bit to drill holes. In case the shelter was using larger sized kibble, he made one feeder with 3/4-inch holes.



The next step was to cut the PVC into lengths.

Sanding and Deburring


Drilling into the PVC can produce ragged edges so the next step was sanding and deburring or removing the jagged bits around each hole. John used a grinding bit on his drill to knock off the larger pieces and then followed with sandpaper; you could also just use sandpaper.

To smooth inside the holes, John used a rat-tail file; if you don’t have one, just wrap a piece of sandpaper around a screwdriver and sand inside the holes.


Once all the parts are cut and sanded, put the PVC lengths and caps into the dishwasher for cleaning (or wash in hot, soapy water by hand). Use a baby bottle brush to clean inside the PVC tube. Allow all pieces to dry completely.


Next, John used the PVC caps to seal the ends of each feeder. These caps fit tightly; we didn’t have to use the PVC cement we had purchased. If the caps don’t fit tightly, you’ll need to cement one end of the pipe, leaving the other end unglued for filling and cleaning. An alternative is to drill directly through the cap and PVC and thread sisal twine through the hole, tying it off to keep the cap in place.

Using the Feeder

Next it was time to put the feeders to the test. We put small kibble in one of the short feeders and in one of the long feeders.

We put small jingle bells in the other short feeder to create a fun cat toy that keeps the bells safely out of reach of the cat. (And it’s great for dog-cat households!)


Next we turned the feeders loose on our testing crew:


Our DIY project testers gave the feeders and the toy a big paws up! We’re looking forward to donating the feeders to our local shelter on our next monthly donation run. Be sure to visit your local Tractor Supply for the PAW in-store event on September 20 and see what items you could purchase for your local shelter!

For More Information

This post is sponsored by Tractor Supply Company and the Pet Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Tractor Supply Company and their Pet Appreciation Week, but DogTipper only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Tractor Supply Company, Inc. is not responsible for the content of this article.

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About Paris Permenter & John Bigley

Paris Permenter and John Bigley are the award-winning authors of over 30 pet and travel books as well as the founders and publishers of CatTipper and DogTipper.

  • annstaub

    Such a cool idea! Amazing what you can do with a little bit of PVC pipe.

  • M. K. Clinton

    This is a great idea. I need to get hubby to make one of these for Bentley. Great job! ☺

  • Awesome idea!!! I am going to have my husband make one for the girls!! Thanks so much!

  • missmollysays

    This is great and it looks so easy to make! My dogs get bored in the house when we can’t get outside because of weather and this would be great to keep them busy!


    good info