Animal rescue shelters must be built and furnished in a practical manner that allows for a sterile environment. That means steel and cement in most cases. Warmth and the comfort of something to snuggle into is invaluable to homeless animals like cats, dogs, and even birds. Shelters usually accept old towels and blankets for animal cages and will also welcome crocheted, knit or sewn items.
Beginners and students especially enjoy these fast, easy patterns. The best part about crafting for animals is the results don’t have to be perfect, fancy or color coordinated. They make awesome scrap or recycling projects too.
The measurements don’t have to be precise, but if you want to make a generic shelter blanket then 20-40″ works well for most dog and cat rescue shelters. You can also use baby blanket patterns or the smaller lap afghans for larger animals, like big dogs or horses.
There is a need for practical dog, cat and bird sweaters, especially in instances where the animal has to be shaved. Shaving happens often for severe fur matting and medical procedures. Many short hair breeds could also use the extra warmth. Stressed birds often pluck out their own feathers or lose their feathers for other reasons. You can also make dog booties to help protect injured or frost-bitten feet.
Those who enjoy making dishcloths and tea towels can put their favorite patterns to good use – shelters can always use cleaning supplies. Make sure they’re going to retain a good size and shape after being repeatedly washed in hot water, and avoid holey patterns.
Last but not least, sturdy, easily washed toys are always appreciated by shelters. Free knit, crochet, or sewing patterns for dog or cat toys are easy to find online and they’re usually quick projects.
If there is enough local need (unfortunately, there usually is) you may want to consider getting a group together for some fun and crafting for animal charities, or even start an online group.
Before you begin:
- Crafting materials should be tough and easy to wash & dry, such as acrylic yarn.
- Use solid, tight stitches that will hold up to wear, rough handling and frequent washing.
- Avoid patterns with holes as they’re not as comfortable or warm, and little paws can get tangled in them.
- Quilt batting and stuffing is usually discouraged as it can easily be ripped apart. According to The Snuggles Project, layers of recycled scrap material is preferred when stuffing is required.
- Call your local shelter and/or visit the Hugs for Homeless Animals Worldwide Shelter Directory to find out where your donations will be accepted.
We have gathered up some free knit, crochet and sewing patterns for various pet and shelter items to get you started:
The Snuggles Project – Knit, crochet and sewing patterns for ‘snuggles’ blankets, which are designed specifically for animal shelters.
Easy Aran Kitten Blanket for animal shelters.
Crochet a simple shelter cat blanket from Bev’s Country Cottage.
Knit a cat shelter bed from Molly Knits Sweaters.
Easy cat tunnel crochet pattern.
Several patterns for ferrets. cats, guinea pigs or other small animals, including crocheted tunnels, fleece toys and a crocheted ferret sweater.
Easy crocheted dog sweater free pattern.
Free pattern for an easy knitted large dog sweater (easily adapted for size)
Knit this one piece dog sweater (in small, medium or large) from Dog Gone Knit.
Free knitting pattern for intarsia ‘hearts and bones’ dog sweater.
Knit a cat sweater by Christine Landry.
PupPee Dog Diaper patterns to knit or crochet.
Knitting Pattern Central Pets – This is a directory with links to specific free knitting patterns for pets, including blankets, coats, sweaters, etc. Many of these patterns would be suitable for rescued animals.
Crochet Pattern Central Pets – This directory has links to specific free crochet patterns for pets.
Sew foot protectors / dog booties for rescued dog toes.
The Spruce Crafts has a Sew for Pets and Local Shelters page.
Ferret/cat hammock easy sewing pattern.
Knit this little bird sweater quickly and easily for rescued birds suffering from feather loss.
Crochet a swinging bridge for hamster cages.
Knit this easy guinea pig sweater for some of the many guinea pigs brought to shelters.
Well that should keep you busy for awhile! I’ll add more as I find them. We’d love to see your projects, hear about your experiences, or share your free pet pattern resources. Have you helped homeless animals today?
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