JOPLIN, Mo. —
One of the first things I bought for my first dog was a giant oversized chew rope that I found at my local pet store. I didn't really know a lot about what a dog would like to play with, but it looked like a lot of fun to me.
Within a week that toy was done with. My young pup had already chewed through the middle of the rope, and the frayed ends were already showing up throughout my apartment. I was shocked by how quickly a fairly expensive plaything could be used up.
Over the years, I have repeated that original mistake several times. While watching treat dispensers, chew toys, scratching posts and all manner of fun things fall by the wayside because of poor craftsmanship, I realized that I had basically fallen into an endless cycle of wasting money on things that my pets were destroying quickly.
That is what led me to start using fun things from around the house for my pets to play with.
When I had cats, I always balked at buying the bigger scratching posts and playgrounds. Some of these things can run more than $100, and I've found some of the craftsmanship to be shoddy at best. After I bought my first one and found that it lasted a little over a month, I began to look into what it would take to repair it on my own in lieu of buying a new one at a much higher cost.
Most of these posts consist of a scratching surface and some kind of toy attached to it. After taking apart the last scratching post I had, I looked into how it was put together and started to realize that even I could redo this.
I stripped the carpet-like texture and twine off of the post, and I was left with a giant dowel and small incline made of plywood. I visited my local carpet store and found remnants of a tightly knitted, low-height carpet that was usually used in mudrooms.
The texture was very rough, and I knew that I had hit pay dirt: This was the exact type of texture that my cat would love, and it was close enough to what was on the post before.
While looking at what was left over from the old scratching post, I realized that there weren't any nails or staples holding the carpet to the original post. My father pointed out the obvious, that the manufacturer used glue because of the dangers staples or nails would have posed to a cat.
After grabbing my mom's hot glue gun and going to town, I put the carpet down on the old post, and I was good to go. I trimmed some of the edges off of the carpet, and I made sure that there wasn't any wood showing. After grabbing some catnip and tossing it on the replaced carpet, my cat was immediately checking out his new toy.
The price to put this together was roughly $10, covering the costs of the carpet remnant and a few extra glue sticks for my mom's glue gun. While the dark brown carpet may not have been the nicest thing to look at, it sure beat going to my local pet store and having to reinvest a lot more money on the same thing I just made.
The moral of the story here is that a little bit of ingenuity goes a long way when trying to keep pets entertained. Always be on the lookout for what you can do to save yourself some money while still providing quality fun for your pets. Your wallet will thank you.
Contact Ryan Richardson about this column or other topic suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org or 417-627-7363.