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 a DIY interactive feeder for our dogs.
First, we purchased the building materials:
- a 3-foot length of 1-1/4-inch PVC pipe
- 8 1-1/4-inch PVC caps
- PVC cement (optional)
Our interactive dog feeder was constructed using tools that many homes already have:
- a drill
- a 1/2-inch drill bit
- 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!