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03 May

Pet stores are a rip-off

Subtitle: “Shopping for a cat-bed.”

Due to Baby-kitty being unhappy about not having a good “hidey hole” for when he’s feeling stressed out, I’ve been on the look-out for some kind of solution. His normal sleeping basket - a wicker basket I got for free out of a garbage can years ago - is great, and he loves it, but it’s too open. When I do loud housework or guests come over, he freaks out and desperately wants to get into the bedrooms to hide, which typically is a no-no. Baby is sweet and lovable if he trusts you, but he’s not exactly a brave or social cat.

Anyway, I thought to myself: “Self, maybe he’d like one of those cute, enclosed, tent-like kitty-beds, and maybe I’ll splurge and buy one.” So I go to a couple pet stores, and here’s what you’re typically going to find there:
photo photo

They’re cute and they’re fuzzy. But there’s some problems. One, they’re almost always too small - big enough for kittens or very small cats, but Baby is pretty long and tall and doesn’t always want to sleep in a tightly curled packed ball shape. Somewhere down the line, commercial pet-supply makers seem to have decided that all cats weigh 6 pounds and are tiny. Half of the cats I’ve owned have been over 12 pounds with giant paws and large bones. Or they were just fat. Tiny cat beds won’t work. A second issue I have with them is that while they claim to be washable, well, if you’re a cat owner, you know how much hair a cat can shed into fuzzy bedding in just a single day. Who’s going to brush-out and wash the thing every day? Not I. And at the end of a week, it’d be so full of hair it’d probably clog the washer. Hahaha. The third issue is that most of these pre-made cat beds cost $25, $35, $50 or more. For a little bit of sewed-together cloth and thin foam padding that you’re likely going to toss in several months, because it’s so infested with cat hair that you don’t want to deal with it anymore. It’s stupid.

So I muttered to myself: “Self, you knew it was unlikely you’d want to pay for these, so it’s back to making your own, cheap, cat bed thingy.” The first thing I did was look at the plastic, covered litter-pans. They’d be ideal, since they have lids, are easily cleanable, and already have a hole cut in them. But again, pet stores wanted $20 for smaller ones, or $25-30 for the ones I thought were the right size…and there were even these big, round, igloo shaped ones for $60. $60 for a plastic covered litter pan, that’s not even one of those electric auto-scooper ones. A rectangular, non-covered basic plastic litter tray costs $5-$7. I’m not paying an extra $20+ because it has a tall lid! It’s crazy! I refuse to pay!

So off to the hardware/home improvement places I went. I was looking for a rectangular storage bin with a lid. I figured I could cut a hole in it, put a layer of foam and a blanket inside, and I’d have a bed. However, while the prices were reasonable ($5-$10) most of the ones I found looked something like this:

While this 12-gallon storage bin would work (if it wasn’t clear plastic and had a solid lid cover), the problem is they’re too big, and we don’t have big rooms where a cat bed can have a large footprint and not be in the way. I looked for something smaller, but then the issue became that the storage bin wasn’t tall enough, or wide enough, or … sheesh, you’d think finding a plastic bin the right size for your kitty wouldn’t be that hard?

I gave up for a while. But then, this afternoon I spent some time emptying a few more boxes of books that were still unpacked from moving. The boxes were file-storage type cartons…cardboard with separate lids. They’re a nice size for packing paperback books and such and are fairly strong. I started tossing them to the side to be broken down later, then stared at them for a while. Now, I’ve made cat beds out of cardboard boxes before. Who hasn’t, right? And I had considered doing it again. But most of our moving boxes were too big for the purpose, or again, weren’t tall enough, or wide enough, etc. And they didn’t have separate lids, either. These file boxes were a little small…Baby wouldn’t be able to lie down stretched out fully or anything, but they were bigger than those expensive fuzzy covered cat beds from the pet stores, so he wouldn’t have to sleep completely curled up, either. They didn’t seem quite tall enough tho - with the lid on, Baby wouldn’t even be able to sit half-way up.

I pondered a while, and then re-raised the small flaps that are supposed to fold down inside the top of the box for strength, and taped the flaps together at the corners so they’d stay upright. I put the lid back on top, and now the box was 3 or 4 inches taller. I cut out a hole. Then I took an old foam mattress pad (I hang on to old ones for cat bedding), cut a piece out, and put it inside the box. Then covered the foam with a piece of blanket (I buy cheap $6 throw-blankets at the supermarket that I can cut 4-5 cat-bed size pieces from), and set it on the floor near Baby’s wicker basket. Baby, meanwhile, was lying in the basket the whole time, pretending to snooze but really watching me…and so I looked at him and said “Baby, I made a hidey-box for you.” Since Baby apparently understands English, he immediately climbed out of his basket, sniffed at the box for a second, and crawled right in. He hasn’t come out since, so I’d guess he likes it. If I felt like it, I could also cover the outside of the box in shelf paper or something to make it look a tad less ugly.


His wicker basket will remain in it’s spot, and this hidey-box can go anywhere I need it to go - the hallway probably - and he can run and dash into it if he feels scared or just feels like sleeping in it normally. It’s smallish but big enough for him, it’s easily replaceable, and most of all, it costs about $2-$3. I know that I am a very, very cheap person when it comes to many things (electronics is my one weakness…), and I know that inflation is ever a thorn in everyone’s side. But all I can say is, if you paid $25-$50+ for a kitty-bed at a pet store, you were totally ripped off. Don’t do it. Heck, you could even buy some cheap, 1/8″x4′x4′ wood panels at Home Depot for $5-$8 and build your own nice-looking cat-bed - or a litter box cover to surround a $7 litter tray - using only a hammer and some metal tacks. Pet owners, stop paying for all that pre-made stuff - retailers keep the prices at stupid levels, simply because you will pay. So stop it. Just stop it. :)

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