Cage Comforters: Sewing for Furry Friends
Did you know that animal shelters often use small quilts or blankets (called cage comforters) in the animals’ cages to provide a soft bed and a sense of security? It’s a great way to use up leftover pieces of fabric and batting and make something to help our furry friends at the shelters. It’s kinda funny how I learned about this project…
So I actually made it into the gym last week after I dropped my kids at school, and when I turned on the tv on my treadmill, guess who was there? Nancy Zieman! I LOVE Nancy. At the end of her show, she interviewed someone (sorry, I forget the name) at an animal shelter who was asking sewists to make these adorable little cage comforters for the cats and puppies.
Evidently, these mini-quilts and blankets provide comfort and security for the animals and go with them when they are adopted to make for an easier transition in a new home.
I got these sewing instructions from the ‘Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals’ website, but you might want to call your local animal shelter to see if they want a certain size. When I called my local SPCA the volunteer coordinator was THRILLED that I wanted to bring some over. I’m going to get some help making a few more before I go.
The Mayor’s Alliance website suggests an approximate finished size of 12” x 18” or 14” x 20”.
Here’s the instructions:
Construction: Feel free to try your own method, but “pillowcase-style” often works best:
Cut two pieces of material to use as top and bottom of the outside of the comforter.
Place the two pieces of fabric one on top of the other.
Make sure the “wrong” side of both pieces of fabric are facing out.
Sew 3 sides together.
Turn inside out so that the “right” side of fabric is facing out.
Insert a bit of cotton batting or fluffy material.
Fold over and sew the fourth seam.
Secure the poly fill by sewing an inner seam (like quilting) around all 4 sides and/or sewing a middle seam with the machine (this is so that the filling doesn’t bunch up when washed).
As you can see from the picture above, mine are super simple. I started with 13”x20” pieces of fabric and after following steps 1-6 above, I tucked my remaining edges inside…
And then stitched the opening closed 1/4” from the edge. Then I quilted a rectangle around the blanket, about 1 1/2” from the edge.
This cage comforter took only about 5 minutes to make, so I added a funny tag. I was careful to stitch all around the edges so no little claws get caught on it.
Then I let our dog Indy test it out for me. It passed! If you live in the greater Melbourne, Florida area, you can drop cage comforters off at the Brevard SPCA location in the Melbourne Mall.
Have you ever done this before? Does your local shelter take them too? Let me know in the comments.
Disclosure: some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting SewCanShe when you shop! All of the opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. 🙂
I’m new to my area and have a stop at the local no-kill shelter on my agenda. Showing up with ‘cage comforters’ may be just the ticket! Thanks for the post and the awareness about shelter animal needs!
Great idea! Will definitely call my local shelter and get their cage sizes. Thanks!
LOVE your post!!! Animals need quilts too:)
Your thoughtfulness is well appreciated at the animal shelter. I’ve donated gently used towels, blankets anything soft and cuddly and the shelter is always so happy. You’ve inspired me to whip up some of these so I can use up some of my fabric scraps.
This is cute and simple. Never would of thought of this. Thanks for the post.
Love this Caroline! Thanks for sharing, pinned! Hope to make some of these in the future for our local shelters.
You know, I just posted that I had a ton of old towels to get rid of and someone else suggested the humane society. Think I’ll spend some time doing this and using the towels as batting, since they’re kind of bleach stained and ugly, so they’ll be able to go home with the animals and will have longer use.
My 12 year old grand daughter told me all she wanted for her birthday was old towels, blankets etc to give to her animal shelter in Chapel Hill, NC. Her mom took it one step further as they were having a huge neighborhood yard sale. She sent out an e-mail offering to purchase any of these from folks who were selling in the neighborhood sale. She ended up with dozens of donated items. Just huge stacks! It was amazing! So now I have a new project she and I can do together. I am so excited! Thank you for sharing this with us. Judith owner Katz ‘N Kwilts.
Thank you! I adopted a cat from Second Chance For Cats in E. Longmeadow MA. I also made 8 of these for them. Robin D
Just stumbled across this (looking for something else) and I wanted to share with you — I used my granddaughters too little flannel nightgown and made 2 of these for our kittens who are going to get spayed next Monday. I knew the flannel would feel nice and warm and also smell like home. I didn’t use batting (wish I had) but I backed with cotton chevron and left the ruffle (from the bottom of the nightgown) — turned out cute.
Our local shelter takes old towels, sheets and blankets etc – but unfortunately they cost too much to wash so once they have been used they are just thrown away as industrial waste :0(
I just got your email then browsed your page. My friend and I are trying to get money for blankets for animal shelters. I have a lot of scrap fabric and bits of batting, so this is awesome! Thanks so much, great idea! I plan to make a bunch today!
What a great idea. I know our animal shelter is always needing bedding . I’ll call our tomorrow . Thank you for sharing
I made 24 of them with fleexe I had in my craft room. No need for the batting then and it was nice and snuggly for them
Making some now. im using cotton on one side then fleece on the other with batting. I asked the community i live in for any left over fabric donations to make a mass amount so i can donate to more then one shelter and i have got some awesome donations! Thank-you for posting this! 😀
Hi – I love this idea. I made many of these and and I also made a few dozen which were just 2 pieces of fleece sewn together. I made cat size and larger ones to be dog size. My local shelter didn’t want batting because they said it takes too long to dry, but other rescues like the ones just like yours. I love being able to help rescue animals.
Love this idea! Do you work with Darci H. at the shelter? She is a good friend of mine and is always talking about the sanctuary 🙂 You all do a great service down there!
There is a fantastic group called "Wrapped in Love" or WIL for short. They are a fun animal loving Facebook group that offers support and suggestions for anyone wanting to make blankets for animals in rescues. You may want to look them up and join!
I love to make little "pillows" for the animals. I keep all my sewing scraps that are too small to use, fabrics, batting, even the pieces of thread, in a trash bag by my machine. I purchase towels at the resale shops, stitch together the sides and use these scraps for the stuffing. They appreciate whenever I bring them in.
I make pet accessories to sell at craft shows and have probably made thousands of these. I cut to the desired size plus 1/2" seam allowance. Layer 2 pieces of fleece or flannel right sides together, lay 1 piece of poly batting on top. Pin and sew using walking foot, remember to leave@ 5-6" opening for turning. Trim seams turn and topstitch. They wash and dry extremely well and are very hardy when made with good quality fabric. Remember that crates come in sizes ranging from very tiny to huge. I find that the huge ones are in great demand as they are not easy to come by. Check with the shelter. If you find foam mattress pads at the thrift stores, consider giving them a good wash and use as padding for the larger pads.
Thanks Marcy. These are great tips!
We are making stacks of these right now to be given away to animal adopters at a city-wide pet adoption even in January. We’ve used old mattress pads, old blankets, and even quilts as the padding, since new batting is expensive. I’m glad someone mentioned that large ones are in high demand, because we are making some 28X44". The ones with the thicker mattress tops inside are so darn cute and puffy. It is a great way to use up fabric you will never sew with. I had stash of sturdy fabric that I get at thrift stores or yard sales—now it is all gone! I try to secure the layers together with several lines of stitching through the center of the pad.
I just made 10 crate comforters are the Fredericksburg (VA) Regional SPCA. They were thrilled. Loved sewing them and so easy. Thanks for sharing.
I make these out of fleece so they dry quickly. It’s what our cat shelter prefers
Yes, our Sewing for Community Service group makes these for a dog & cat rescue center/hospital in our town. We use fleece with dogs & cats and paws on it and add a layer of batting which we quilt in the middle to hold the layers together, soooo cute !
I just made 2 of these- so quick and easy! I plan to make many more.
Using fabric scraps to fill a bed for the local shelter is very hard on their laundry equipment and doesn’t dry well at all. I volunteer at the shelter and do the laundry. Fleece blankets dry and wash better than cotton, and if you can combine with water resistant fabric (like PUL), that is the best combination for the shelter (at least at the one I volunteer for.)
What a wonderful idea. Our local shelters ask for blankets. I have a lot of fleece and sheeting that I need a use for, here in Melbourne, Australia.
Whereever did you get that darling tag???
What a wonderful idea, off to the sewing machine and then the SPCA, see if they want them. If not they will be the right size for premmies but will have to do a bit more tweaking
Thank you so much for this – I know from experience with my cat that having something from the shelter come with us made it easier for her transition. I am going to talk to my vet to see if they could use these especially in ICU.
This is awesome. What an inspiring idea. I know my local kitty adoption centre would appreciate these. Thanks for sharing!
I am cleaning up the stash – some pieces are treasures but so small. And I found your post!
1. We all love Nancy!
2. I have a dog named Indie! (from a shelter in Indiana and looks a little like your dog!)
3. Thanks for doing this. We also work with a Husky rescue and recently took in a pregnant Mom who gifted us with 9 puppies. Each pup gets a small blanket that smells like Mom to take with when they get their Fur Ever Home.
I’m going to try this today.
Let you know how it goes.
The ones I get done are going to Corvallis Oregon to where my son works at a veterinarian hospital.
Thanks for posting the “ how to”.
After viewing "It’s Sew Easy" and your demonstration of the dog pad and collar you gave the inspiration to sew again after 5 years. I have 2 closets full of fabrics and notions along with cabinets in the garage full of sewing stuff. I plan to use some of this stash to make pads to donate to the local shelter in Henderson NV. I also have a Bijon Frise who will be quite fashionable wearing the collar. Thank you, Melia
This makes me so happy! Thanks for telling me. Wishing you much joy on your new sewing journey. ❤️
I would LOVE to have a fabric stash like you have!!❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
This is an awesome idea! I have a room full of fabric and batting that I acquired when my mother-in-law passed away. Finally I have something I can do with it! Thanks so much for the post
I love to make these out of soft fabric for an orginization called "Forgotten Cats".
I use to live in Melbourne and got a lot of senior rescue kitties from them. Lost to many homes and roofs from hurricanes, now I’m in cold Michigan and love it. This is a great idea for my favorite rescue place here thank you.
I have been using my practice free motion pieces for kennel quilts for some time now, the rescues love it! I haven’t actually made ones like this though, so I will definitely have to try….thank you for thinking of the furry little orphans!
I belong to a group called The Quilt Pattern Magazine (TQPM) team that makes these small quilts for shelters in need. We get notification when there is a disaster or hoarding situation where there is an influx of cats to shelters. For example this year there have been so many floods and fires and tornados that some of the shelters have had to send all of the animals to sister shelters and they are overwhelmed with caring for all of them. The organization that we help is Petfinder. Also, just a tip- you can also include your batting in your stack of fabric before you sew it and then turn it right side out and topstitch 1/8” in to secure the opening and secure the batting inside. It saves a step of putting the batting inside and then another step to secure it. I would encourage all readers to check the organization out and join. It uses up fabric that you have left over from projects or fabric you just want to get rid of without feeling guilty 😂
Thanks for shining a light on this need. ❤️
I, too, have seen many Kennel Quilts for them. I live in Wisconsin, and the postage got too expensive for me, so now I donate them locally. I did mail about 80 to California and 60 to another state.
I made a bunch of these after hurricanes and were requested by animal shelters. They requested everything used to make them to be 100% cotton. These were the perfect size to practice free motion quilting. Animals can’t tell if you messed up.
I have a stack of squares sitting by my sewing machine just for this reason. I practice my quilting before working on a big project on the squares and then I make them into kennel quilts. Although I’m pretty sure the animals don’t care I use a lot of cute cat and dog fabrics and my hope is that it helps them get adopted and to feel loved. Thank you for the post!
A group of us make "Cat Pillows" for the local animal shelter. We stuff them with fabric and batting scraps. We cut two pieces of 14 inches (approximately, depending on the fabric available for the squares / rectangles). We bring several empty ones to each quilt retreat to be stuffed. I keep a little bin on each sewing table for scraps.
I have been making shelter pads for a couple decades. I recently discovered that the kittens go crazy for fake fur. So that’s what I’m doing at the moment
When fleece is on sale, I buy enough to make blankets for shelters. About 1 yard or less, fold it over onto itself, round out the corners, top stitch around, leave an opening, pull it through, close the opening and continue to top stitch around again. Done. It gives me so much pleasure. And yes, my dog has a few and so does my daughter’s dog.
What a great idea! When we adopted our kitty from the shelter, the only place he had to sleep was his litter box. He was a tiny little kitten and his little paws went through the holes in the cage. As a result, it took us FOREVER to litter train him. I am going to see if that shelter would like these!
I think the idea of cutting up your older cotton sheets for top and bottom and a towel for batting would be ideal. The pet hair just shakes off the sheet material, and easier to wash and dry. And repurposing always appeals to me. Great suggestion Carole! Thanks!
I use old pillowcases. Sew 3 pieces of Velcro, cut to 4", to each end of a pillow case. Be sure to only sew it to the outside of 1 side of the open end and through both sides of the sewn end. . Also sew 2 pieces inside the open end ( to close the opening). I then cut a piece of 1" foam to the width and half of the length of the case.. Place the foam into the case and fold the case in half. Seal the velcro. The foam can be removed and the case washed. Rinse the foam and allow to dry then reinsert it into the case. It too is quick, but, not as quick as yours.
A few months ago I started saving my really small scraps instead of throwing them in the garbage. I have quite a bit saved. I’ll use them for the stuffing. I’ll call our shelter to see the size they need. Thank you💗
Thank you for this. We just adopted two dogs that our daughter-in-law is a trustee of. I want to make some of these for the Rescue group.
I am a cat person and made a couple of these pads for the Humane Society here in town. Even made little pouches of catnip for them. Never thought of making them for dogs, but here I go and I will make them with more padding for dogs at the animal shelter. Great ideas. Please give me more ideas so I can help.
Thank you, Cal Abriola
Thank you for the pattern & instructions! Made one for a puppy shower gift. It’s adorable! I also get together with a few ladies for charity sewing once a month. I’ll be making a lot more of these for donation to our shelters, our next project is pet pads & beds. Thank you!
I have been making these while I am in Stay At Home because of the virus. My son took a whole bag that I made to our local shelter and they were very thankful. I am now in the process of making more. Anything I can do to help with our furry friends, I do.
Just saw Nancy’s program, I think the woman is with a Milwaukee, WI animal shelter. Great segment – She makes these about 3.5 inches thick, like the top picture with cat curled up on it. The comforter stays with the animal, even when going to its permanent home. So the shelter goes through quite a few of these.
As you noted, every location has different requirements so call first. My shelter uses hammock style beds for cats so corner ties are important. They prefer towels for dogs. I have used fabric scraps for pillow and pet bed filling and found it imdoes not wash well and takes too long to dry. Again, ask locally for their preferences and thank you for helping!
HA! I just got myself a new comforter and set the old one aside to make these from the pre quilted cotton fabric. It’s the sizes I needed! Thank you! Already put a call into my local cat rescue. I can let you know what they say when I deliver.
A few of us from our quilt guild have made several of these for our local shelter and a few Vets. Since we have lots of fabric scraps that’s is the stuffing that we have used for them .
I have not made any of the kitty blankets, but I do take dog beds that are made pillowcase style and stuffed with scraps that I get from quilters in our community. Now I can add kitty beds to the list. How much batting did you put in. One lady commented that hers was 3.5 inches thick. That seems like a lot of batting.
This is such a nice idea and a great way to use up fabrics that no longer inspire you! You can also use your off-cuts of batting from other projects zig-zagged together -“frankenbatting”. We quilters love to minimize waste!
I make these for our shelter in Ontario Canada. They love donations – these beds and towels are always welcome. Check with yours, they may have other needs as well that someone who does not sew can help with including laundry soap.
Just finished reading the blog about pet blankets. I too have been donating puppy quilts to shelters in Massachusetts in memory of my daughter’s love for animals.