January 16, 2020

TUTORIAL: How to Make a Pet Feeding Station

The post with the photo of my "pet feeding station" was so popular that I decided to do a quick tutorial on how I made it so that it has a post all of its own. It's very simple, really, so there isn't a lot to share. But here goes...


  • Book shelf (make sure it's a very sturdy one made with real wood and not particle board--I bought mine for $10 from a secondhand store. It seemed to be handmade, and it's VERY heavy)
  • jigsaw
  • oil-based primer
  • oil-based paint (I used Sherwin Williams in "Carnival" and "Aviary Blue")
  • paint brushes
  • metal dog/cat bowls, whatever size you'd like
  • contact paper to decorate the back if you'd like
  • silicone caulk
  • Kreg pockethole jig, if you have one (here it is on Amazon- affiliate link)

This is the bookshelf I used. I found it super cheap at a secondhand store. It's extremely solid and heavy, which is what you need for a project like this.

First, decide where you want your pet bowls to be. I wanted two on the bottom for my dog's bowls and two on the top--one for the cat food and the other for the cats to climb through (so they could jump to the lower shelf and then climb through to the top--it didn't work out that way, so I'd just cut one on top.) The water for the cats is elsewhere.

After realizing the cats weren't going to use the second hole, I filled it in and covered it over with a piece of carpet that I nailed in place. Sometimes I sprinkle catnip on the carpet, and they like to scratch it with their claws. Bonus!

(I should probably paint it, but you can't see it unless you're on the floor.)

When you make the cuts for the bowls to fit in, you want to make SURE that the holes are smaller than the lip of the bowls (you don't want the bowls to fall right through). To do this, you can turn the bowl over and draw a pencil line around the lip of the bowl (tracing it) and then find a round container that is slightly smaller than that diameter (I'd allow about 3/4" to 1" space between the outer circle and inner circle).

Trace the smaller circle inside of the larger one. You will ignore the larger circle, and the smaller one is the pencil diameter you will follow to cut. (I did mine backwards, tracing a smaller circle and then cutting a bigger one--but that is more difficult, so don't do that!) Using a large drill bit, drill a pilot hole near the edge of the inner circle (on the inside of the circle, careful not to cut outside the line).

Then, using the jigsaw, place the blade through the pilot hole and carefully cut along the circumference of the inner circle you traced.

One you cut the circumference, the circular piece will come out easily, and you'll have a perfect hole. Set the cat bowl in it to make sure that it goes down as far as you want. (You'll notice my dog bowls go all the way down, but the cat bowl sticks up a little to make more room on the shelf underneath. I used a slightly smaller hole for the cat bowl.) Repeat for a second hole on the top, if you want one.

Now it's time to remove the shelf that you want to lower. Just look where it's attached and unscrew it to take it out (mine had a few thin piece of wood underneath it holding it in place, so I removed those).

Do the same process to cut holes in the bottom shelf--although this time, you'll want to cut two--one for food and one for water for the dog. (You could probably do that for the cats on top, too, but there wasn't much space on mine to do that.)

To replace the shelf in a lower position, I just lowered it to where I wanted it to be, using a level to make sure it was level all the way across, and traced lines where it needed to be. Then I put a few screws into it from the outside (I didn't have my Kreg pockethole jig at the time, or I would have used that!)

Now you'll have a shelf with two holes that should allow the dog dishes to sit inside them with a lip over the top. And the top shelf will have one (or two) holes for the cats. It'll look like the photo above.

Next, prepare to paint--set down some plastic sheeting so you don't get paint on the floor. Use primer to paint over the entire shelf. The primer should dry fairly quickly. After that, paint it whatever color you wish (I used the blue on the outside and orange on the inside.) The paint will take 24 hours to dry--minimum. I'd put on a second coat then, and give it another day or two.

When the paint is dry, measure the back areas of the book shelf between the shelves to see what sizes of contact paper you need. Cut the contact paper to size, and carefully peel off the backing and put it into place. (This is tricky! I had to peel it off several times and reposition it.)

Once the contact paper is in place, you'll want to seal all of the inside edges with clear silicone caulk. The reason for this is because dogs are sloppy and get water everywhere. You don't want the water to seep into the cracks and rot the wood. The oil-based paint works well for keeping water from damaging the wood, but I would still use the caulk.

I later added a little shelf about halfway up the side of the bookshelf for my cats to jump onto in order to get to the top without having to jump so high (they're pretty lazy!).

To do this, take a rectangular piece of wood about the width of the bookshelf. Find something round to trace, where the diameter is roughly the width of the rectangular piece of wood. You'll lay the round piece over the rectangle at the end and trace just half of it with pencil (the purpose of this is just to round the edge of the ledge instead of having sharp rectangular corners. I used the jigsaw to do this. You could always freehand it to round the corners as well.

To attach the ledge to the side of the bookcase, I screwed two scrap pieces of wood onto the side, a little lower than where I wanted the ledge (I used these for support). I added the ledge on top and screwed it into the scrap wood as well as into the bookshelf to be extra sturdy. Here is a picture from underneath:

 As you can see, I used a Kreg pockethole jig to make pocket holes for the screws. You could also place screws from the inside of the shelf into the wood on the outside for the ledge.

Once the ledge is secure, then either paint it or cover it with contact paper. I chose to use contact paper.

If you have room, you could add a couple of hooks for dog leashes or whatnot; I had a hook at the top of mine, but I removed it when I added the ledge for the cats.

Overall, I love how this turned out! It's kind of quirky (which is totally my style) and it's super convenient for the pets. Now the dog can't get into the cat food (the cats have water elsewhere) and I have a shelf for their treats, catnip, food, etc.

It was super easy (and cheap!) to make :)

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