Cat Rackin’

Do you have any pets?  We have beaucoup des animaux.  Five, right now, although technically Tallulah is my sister’s cat… but we love her like she’s ours.  I’m not complaining, I’m not (although I COULD), I only bring it up to mention that having a dog and four cats in one household is kinda tricky.  You have to devise little things like litter boxes that your cats can get to but your pups can’t… And then there is figuring out the food situation.

What do people normally do here, I mean– I know of no mass-market gizmo to magically help you feed your cats and dogs easily without feeding both your cats and dogs cat food.  ‘Cause I know, if there is cat food laying around, my dog is going to eat it, Rosie prefers it to her food.  I don’t know if it’s that it tastes better to her, or if it’s different and that’s enough, but cat food left on the floor= catty kitties demanding more food, and a dog that’s had yet another kitty pellet binge.

I’ve heard people say in these situations they feed the cat on a table, but blech, I cannot do this.  Oh, no no no no no.  My kitties are not allowed on the kitchen counter (bath counter is another story), and they aren’t allowed on tables where we eat.  I wish I had this kind of control over other surfaces in the house, but somehow I’ve only taught them to respect these food-eating spaces.  Whatever.

When we took in Rose almost 9 years ago, we were aware of the fact that she was already full-sized, and we took advantage of her short legs.  (My sister’s dog– Fontaine– has legs twice as long and is trickier to deal with in this situation.)  The cat food dispenser got stuck up on the upper shelf of a short baking rack, and that was fine, mostly.  I say ‘mostly’ because the shelf below it with the cookbooks became riddled with stray bits of stale cat food, and were subject to being nudged off of the shelf by curious canine noses.  Yay, cookbook avalanche!  And I don’t even want to *talk about* the occasional incident of a cat yarfing on one of my precious cookbooks.  “Not my vintage JOY OF COOKING!!  NOOOOOO!”

When we moved, we just set it up like it had always been.  But now all of our animals are getting older, for instance my orange and white feline, Oz, will be sixteen this week.  Yes, that’s people-years.  It takes him a moment to jump up to the soft spongy bed, so this rack is kind of like a cruel joke seeing that it holds his food source.  In the last few weeks I got to looking at our setup, and it was time for an upgrade.  Or at least a streamlining of the current (effective) solution.

Remember I Haven't Wallpapered Yet

Remember I Haven’t Wallpapered Yet

The first thing I did was I had my husband reconfigure the shelves a little.  Simply switching the shelf that the cat food was on wouldn’t have worked, the dog could get to it where that lower shelf was.   In the reconfigure, I had him tighten the area between the top wooden plank and the upper shelf, so that the space is more like six inches.  Cookbooks tucked up there are now perfectly safe from the cat food detritus but are actually a little bit *more* accessible than they were previously.  The lower shelf was then raised to be out of the dog zone but still lower (and easier on my old guy’s bod) access for the cats.

Nasty Rack Over Toilet

Nasty Rack Over Toilet

While working on this setup, I noticed that the shelf was pretty icky.  Oh sure, I’d swiped it with a wet rag every so often, but it needed serious scrubbing.  Those magic erasers, I tell you!  They may actually be magic.  A little bit of my blue dawn/ vinegar/ H2O spray and one of those babies, and it was crazy-shiny in no time.  I also cleaned up the heavily worn wooden piece (rescued by my husband from a heavy vintage desk that had hit the curbside for pickup) that the cats use to comfortably stand/ eat/ nap on.

I was still kind of disgruntled though, the top shelf was entirely occupied by the toaster oven and the coffee maker, and it felt incredibly inefficient as a station.  I’m kind of tied to the area because of the location of the outlet, so I decided to ponder it a little further.  A couple of days later, I’m taking a few boxes in to store for my yard sale pile and I notice that nasty old piece I’d taken apart from the master bathroom.  It was pretty gross.  But then I was reminded of how easy it was to clean up the other one with the magic eraser (no they’re not paying me, but I wouldn’t be adverse to gushing about this product for money), so I decided to try it.  Boy howdy, ya’ll!  Ahmahzing!  It cleaned up so well that I was no longer worried about it being near my food.

All The Pet Foods In One Wee Area

All The Pet Foods In One Wee Area

I opted to use only the top segment, which is two wire shelves, and I simply placed it on top of my existing wire baker’s rack, moving the toaster oven up one level.  It is absolutely *perfectly* sized for my toaster, and because both top and bottom are that silvery chrome, it all looks so cohesive, very by accident– but in a great way.

At this point I turned myself to the joy that is accessorizing and decor styling (seriously some of my favorite stuff in the whole world), and arranged my kitchen goodies so that it would be convenient to feed the animals and us humans breakfast, and hopefully look okay while doing that.  Yay!  It turned out great and we’ve been using it so happily.  It inspires me to hurry up and get my wallpaper hung in there, I’m on the verge of feeling secure in that task, but more on that in another post coming soon.

The dog food had previously been on whatever random dish of the moment I decided to pour it on, which then rested on a plasticy place mat.  The mat delineated the space for the food, but it did nothing to contain spills.  I replaced the random food dish with an full-time fix, an inexpensive plate from the dollar store– it has a gingham border with a cupcake at the center.  Cute.  The water bowl got switched out with a vintage pink melamine serving bowl, I went big since all of the animals use it.  To change out the mat, I went with a tin tray that I had purchased a while back at a thrift store and used for a time as a message/magnet board.   I really like it here because the time I’ve accidentally overpoured, the tray captured it and I didn’t have little balls of doggie millet rolling all over the fricken’ kitchen.  I also love the blue and aqua bands with the grey background, it helps tie the look together, I think.

And while replacing it with this tray, I had an idea.  I was thinking about how the food bags are ugly, but obviously a necessary evil.  They have to eat, little buggers.  But those bags are always-present, and they are always kind of icky.  The tin of the tray prompted me to think of those huge popcorn tins, and I decided the next time I saw one at a thrift shop I’d pick it up.  (Done!  I’m almost done with its transformation, as it wasn’t cute when I got it.)  We’ll see how well that does at keeping some food fresh, almost anything would look better.

For Human Breakfasts

For Human Breakfasts

For the upper shelf of the lower rack (confusing, I know, sorry), I rounded up four of these little pink cardboard buckets.  I’d bought five at the Target dollar spot around Christmas (now you’re *looking looking* and thinking, “Why is she using Christmas things out in August?”  I don’t think you SEE the holiday part of it, when you see it as part of the overall thing, your mind just reads it as “sweets.”  Trust me, it’s fine, okay?)  They had been in my cabinets holding baggies of bulk spices and clipped coupons.  The top circle is punched out, to use as a finger pull, and the ovals are chalkboard stickers (ahem, also Target dollar spot, months later) that I failed to write the contents on…  ah well.  These hold morning selections of fruit and grain bars, pop tarts, and packs of instant oatmeal.  (You can use the keurig, sans coffee pod, on the lower setting to make a super fast, hot oatmeal.  Just put your oats in the cup, not the machine!)  The storage boxes sit in front of my cookbooks, which is actually kinda great because it keeps the food all edged along the front, and the books keep them from floating off into never-nevershelf.  The oddball assortment of cups to the right, under the coffee maker, are sitting on an old fifties fridge tray– which is so perfectly ridged on the bottom, it seems to have been made for that spot.  These have worked out *great* here, as my Mom is a shortie and while she was staying with us, she could help herself to a cup of joe.  (The other mugs are all held in the veeeery upper shelf above glassware, so….)

The Trifecta Of Sugars

The Trifecta Of Sugars

Above it sits the Keurig; the trifecta of sugars (granulated, light brown, and confectioner’s) in their fun jars; my awesome vintage yellow melamine butter dish; and a cake plate with other breakfasty options.  There are spoons for your coffee or oatmealing, and straws, well, because I needed a good place to put them, really.  It has less to do with breakfast, if I’m being honest.

I cleaned my toaster oven– again, the magic eraser is magic– and it will just baaaarely allow me to plug it in right there.  Yay!  It works great.  Since this is something that I don’t allow the kid to use (especially unobserved!), I like having it back out of reach, he’s taller than the counters now.  At least he won’t get hurt on it.

And on the very top, we have more of my jarred supplies, flour, popcorn, coffee pods, tea selections in the mint caddy, and candy.  Don’t worry, I’ve rid the candy jar of any chocolate.  You don’t need to think about it anymore.

So overall, a task that was supposed to help my old kitty get to his food more easily really made me much more organized in the end.  And I think it looks great!  I cannot *wait* until I get the chutzpah and extra set of hands to allow me to wallpaper in here, its gonna look sweet!  Literally, as my wallpaper has cupcakes and candies all over it.  Yay!  The closer my kitchen gets to done, the better I feel.

What do you think?  How have you handled your pet food situation?  When you look at this, are the Christmas trees on the pink buckets all you see?  Stop it, you’re focusing on it!  Seriously, I like them….


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