DIY crafts for shelter animals

Many animal shelters don’t allow kids to volunteer, so DIY crafts are a purrrfect way to involve them in rescue efforts.

So you want to help animals but don’t know where to begin? Look no further than your closet or craft drawer! July 21st is National Craft for Your Local Shelters Day. No matter how old you are, this is a pawfect time to get your family involved in helping pets in shelters. Here are some simple and fun crafts that are kid- and rescue pet-approved!

1. DIY t-shirt dog toys

Who doesn’t have old t-shirts laying around? This craft is my absolute favorite because it gives old t-shirts a new life!

Step 1: Cut shirts into strips.

Step 2: Braid, twist, and knot (you can get creative with this part).

Step 3: Knot the ends or tie together at both ends to make a loop!


  • Use contrasting colors to add a colorful twist to these toys!
  • Cut thicker strips when making toys for larger dogs.
  • Have a friend or parent help tie knots at the end.

2. DIY blankets and bandanas

Maybe you have old fabric lying around or like to cruise the sales at your local fabric store. Put unused material to good use by creating blankets and bandanas for shelter pets. If you are a beginner when it comes to sewing, check out Blankets for Paws!

The Founder is Olivia, a compassionate 13-year-old who loves helping animals. She has combined her love of crafting and animal rescue to make soft, fleecy blankets and bandanas for her local shelter. Her YouTube channel features tutorials on how to make blankets and use a sewing machine. Olivia has gained national attention and has had people donate fabric from all around the country.

3. DIY treats

Following in her big sister’s footsteps, Sophie has started Treats for Paws! She whips up delicious DIY dog treats in the kitchen.

Peanut butter cookie dog treats

  • 2 ½ cups of coconut flour
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of peanut butter (make sure it is xylitol free)
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder

Combine ingredients and spoon onto a cookie sheet. Bake at 350˚ F for 11 minutes and let cool before serving!

4. Kitty condos

DIY kitty condos made from recycled cardboard boxes are always a hit at shelters, where overcrowding and few places to hide can be stressful for cats. All you need for this craft is a box, t-shirt, and rubber bands. Wrap the t-shirt around the box, and tie the sleeve holes with rubber bands. Use a box cutter or scissors — kids, this part should be done by a parent! — to cut a hole in the box where the t-shirt neck is.

Optional: Use hot glue to decorate the box with cat toys, flowers, and tassles.

Beyond these suggestions, there are tons of crafts you can make for shelter animals. You just have to think outside the box!


Erica Callais Falbaum is the Founder and CEO of PEP! The Pet Education Project. She is leading a revolution in pet care for generations Y and Z. She has educated and inspired more than 500,000 kids worldwide to be responsible pet owners and animal heroes. She is owned by 6 fur children, including her 3 cats: Delilah, a feisty tortie, Cousteau, a diabetic panther cat, and Pris a sassy mainecoon mix.