Spring Fever: 10 DIY cat projects

Ah, spring -- time for spring cleaning! Window-washing, mattress-turning, and of course tackling all those projects that seem a lot more fun and less forbidding when it's not snowy outside.

Hoping to rearrange your bathroom -- and hide the cat's bathroom? Need some new artwork for the kids' rooms? Sick of dropping good money on toy mice? We've collected 10 of our favorite DIY cat projects from around the web; you can start knitting, building, or writing algorithms this very weekend! Well, maybe not that last one.

Hide the litterbox in a closet
Cut down on odor issues – and increase your available bathroom floor space – by stashing the box in a closet. Just install a pet door in the closet door, and voila: Tiger has his own private w.c.

Give the box a shot of IKEA chic
We don't all have closet space to spare for the cat's private toileting needs – but if you live near an IKEA, maybe you can hide the box in plain sight. IKEAHackers.net contributor Romina and her husband turned IKEA's Besta storage bench/media unit into a nifty "Mad Men"-esque litterbox hutch, which doubles as an entryway mail stop in their apartment. We think it looks really cool…but we're not sure about the odor-control properties. So if, like us, you'll be keeping the catbox in the bathroom…

Make your own litterbox from a Rubbermaid container
It's not as elegant as the IKEA version, but it's pretty easy to make, very easy to clean, and the Pet Project DIY litterbox is perfect for cats who have a little trouble "hitting their marks." You can adjust the door height depending on your cat's needs, and leave the lid off if Fluffy dislikes a covered box.

From Shine's partners: Real Simple helps you keep a lid on lids in the kitchen

And while you're up, make your own litter

At first, the make-your-own-kitty-litter project sounded way too labor-intensive, but according to these instructions from Allie at TheGreenists.com, the process only takes 30-45 minutes – and nets you a 3-week supply of "toilet paper." And while it may take some time and effort, it doesn't require any particular skill. If you're concerned about the impact of commercial litter on your cat and/or the environment, AND you can't stay on top of the newspapers piling up in the recycling bin, presto – win-win solution.

Okay, enough about the litterbox. Let's talk architecture!

The Martha Stewart cardboard cat playhouse

We have some concerns about our own ability to complete such a playhouse – at least, one that looks like the Martha version, which of course is all clean, simple lines and squared-off corners. Plus, we didn't even know what a bone folder was until we read the instructions for the playhouse. (It's a tool used to create a crease in paper or cardboard. The more you know!) But the finished product looks super-cute, and it could make a good rainy-day project for pet-loving kids – as long as everyone's clear on the rules about the hot-glue gun.

The Catio Designs Guide

A "catio," in case you're not up on feline-lanai lingo, is a patio for your cat – but enclosed to keep Kitty safe from weather, dogs, and so on. The Catio Designs Guide is the perfect booklet for the cat owner who is both protective and ambitious; one catio looks more like a deluxe henhouse (the aptly-named "Luxor"), while another ("Windows on the World") attaches to the side of your house like a remora. "I don't want to have to file any permits – I just want to build the little single-window kind!" No worries; the CDG can help you with that. And even if you and your cat are content with a mere windowsill, we recommend reading the CDG sales page, which is hilarious. "Now You Don't Have To Be Frustrated By The Lack Of Authentic Catio Designs" – oh, thank goodness.

The Flo Control Project

We don't think you can replicate the Flo Control Project yourselves – but if anyone has any luck with it, please email or comment immediately! Mostly, we just enjoy that the architects of an image-recognition algorithm used a cat (Flo), a cat door, and the disallowed live animals the cat tried to bring IN through the cat door to test a theory about pattern recognition.

Moving on to more accessible crafts that you non-engineers can try at home…

Knitted olive cat toy

It's the internet; there is no shortage of super-cute patterns and crafts for cat toys out there. (The fastest one we've found: tie an old, holey sock in a knot; rub with catnip; enjoy the show.) But we love these little knitted olives, and it's exactly the size and claw-stickiness our cats tend to love. The crafters at Mary Jane, Midge & Mink may not have initially intended their wool "garnish" as cat toys, but once the olives are done, store them in a tub of nip for a couple of days, then watch your felines get shaken AND stirred.

Two-toned pet silhouette

Adriana Willsie uses a Great Dane in her instructions, but any pet will work; it's the perfect time of year to make some seasonal art featuring ducks or rabbits. Do a series in similar colors, or special-occasion gifts for friends with pets – the customizability of the color scheme is what makes this DIY project a perfect one for spring and new beginnings.

And last but not least, the travel-and-leisure department.

Suitcase pet bed

We love vintage suitcases…but we can't live without the newfangled wheels and locks, so our retro Samsonites end up collecting dust. Cats love to hop in a suitcase and "condense" your clothes, so why not give them their own jetsetting bed? This suitcase-bed recipe from Design*Sponge won their 2008 DIY contest, and it's very easy to set up; you can even skip a few steps, like the legs or customizing the pillow, if you want to. (Make sure you build the strap, though; you don't want the suitcase closing on the cat inadvertently.)

Recycled backpack/pet carrier

It can take some time to find useful info on Instructables.com, and not every project fits every skill level – but if you need a hands-free cat-carrier option, and you have an old backpack or bowling bag you were going to give to Goodwill, you might try this Instructable on converting bags to backpack carriers. If your cat is an escape artist, we'd recommend 1) picking the sewing option on the instructions, and 2) taking the pack for a few test "walks" inside before venturing out.

What's YOUR favorite DIY cat project? Any triumphs – or disasters? Planning to try any of these projects out over the weekend? Get your Martha on in the comments!

Copyright © 2012 Yahoo Inc.

Elsewhere on Shine Pets:
Spring Fever: Deskunking your pet
Vetstreet: Making peace between kittens and breakables
Why hairless cats may not solve your allergy problems