September 08, 2020

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Custom Cat Ball or Cat Canoe

We get asked pretty frequently about having a Cat Canoe® or Cat Ball® cat bed made in your own fabric. This is something we can do, it is just not our main focus so it usually takes some prep around here before we can do the cutting. Here are the general details on custom projects.

You provide the fabrics. Once someone had leftover drapery yardage from her custom drapes and we made a Cat Ball® out of that, it must have been fun to have a cat bed that coordinated with the living room! Usually the client just wants fabrics that we don’t have and she has them shipped directly to us.

What fabrics can be used?

We recommend cottons from the quilting market, and that you select higher quality stuff. High quality fabrics cost more and they are worth it.

  • We cannot use bulky fabrics and do not recommend heavy fabrics. A 5-6 oz denim can work, but a 10 oz or heavier denim can cause the bed to droop.
  • We recommend fabrics that do not have large expanses of white or light-colored fabric as the foam and seam allowances are likely to shadow through.
  • A printed pattern helps to hide anything that sticks to the bed (like cat fur and dust bunnies).

Here are examples of a light color fabrics that worked well. The fabric is not transparent (look for higher quality quilting cottons) and any time there is a tight printed pattern it is harder to see anything shadowing from behind.

Examples of our designer cat beds made with light color fabrics that work wellNot all light color fabrics work well for our cat bed designs, and here are examples of two that did work well

What happens next?

Make your plan. The Cat Ball® has three elements, the shell, lining, and bias tape. You can use one, two or three different fabrics. Make your plan and send us your direction. We can help you with decisions if you want pointers.

  • Source your fabric and ship it to us.
  • If you are ordering from a fabric seller you can have them ship directly to us. I’ll let you know when it arrives.
  • We pre-wash and custom cat bed dry fabrics before cutting.
  • Lead times for custom beds is around 2 weeks after we receive the fabric, depending on the time of year, so I need to know if you have a deadline.

The Cat Ball® cat bed

We can make three different sizes of Cat Ball® cat beds:

Standard Cat Ball® cat bed – This the size you see in our catalog, we suggest it for pets to about 18 pounds.

The mini Cat Ball® cat bed – This smaller bed is about the right size for kitties to about 8-9 pounds. It is a great size for kittens and foster kittens, who will try to climb it, and will launch themselves onto it. The smaller panels are less likely to collapse and the bed tends to kind of throw the kittens off, which is entertaining. This bed uses about as much fabric as the standard size and it is more difficult to make.  We are not currently manufacturing this size in bulk; we are only currently making them custom.

A 15 pound cat crammed inside a mini size Cat Ball® cat bed

Retro demonstrates how 15 pounds of cat fits into the mini size Cat Ball® cat bed

The jumbo Cat Ball® cat bed – If you have a 25-pound cat or two 12 pounders who always sleep together, this is the size to consider. The diameter is slightly larger, and the shape is elongated. We are not currently manufacturing this size in bulk; we are only currently making them custom. This bed is also best washed in a front loader.

See this chart for fabric yardage needs. Online fabric sellers often require minimum fabric cuts of 0.5 or 1 yard so you may need to round up, never round down.  If your fabric has a grid, plaid, or any large visual element that will need to be lined up and matched then you may need more fabric; please contact me.

Chart for fabric needed to make all sizes of custom Cat Ball® cat beds

Custom Cat Canoe® modern cat bed

We make the Cat Canoe in two sizes.

Standard Cat Canoe® – This bed is long and narrow; I was thinking of cats who like shoe boxes when I was developing the pattern. We suggest this size for cats to about 18 pounds.

Jumbo Cat Canoe® - This bed is the same length, but the bottom is about 50% wider and the sides are higher.

Fabric requirements for the standard size Cat Canoe® and jumbo size Cat Canoe®

Cat Canoe® fabric considerations

As with the Cat Ball®, light color fabrics are a potential issue. You also need to verify the width, if the fabric is under 44/45” then you need to provide at least 1.5 yards if I’m making two beds or one bed with the same fabric for shell and lining.

This is a pair of jumbo Cat Canoe® beds and the yellow bed is a great example of a fabric design that has a large expanse of light color fabrics that will sometimes shadow through. These are Andover fabrics, and are high quality, and there was no shadowing.

Two custom fabric Cat Canoe® pet beds, made in jumbo sizeTwo custom fabric Cat Canoe® pet beds, made in the jumbo size

If your fabric has a large design that needs to be laid out carefully to make the bed look good then it will take more fabric and I won’t be able to cut two beds from one yard. This custom bed is a good example, I used more than the usual amount of fabric so I could lay the bold pattern out carefully. This bed used 1 yard of shell fabric.

This custom Cat Canoe® bed was made with a neat cat fabric that required careful layout and planning

If your fabric is 44/45” wide, there isn’t a pattern that requires a fussy layout like the cats shown above, and you do not mind that one of the bottom panels is cut on the bias, then one yard of fabric can be used to make two Cat Canoe® beds, or as you see in this photo, one yard of tomatoes and one yard of pickles  were used to make a pair of coordinating beds.

Pair of coordinating Cat Canoe® beds made with funny tomatoes/pickles fabrics

Pair of coordinating Cat Canoe® beds made with funny tomatoes/pickles fabrics

Common Fabric Shopping Questions

Where is the studio? Need to check on shipping rates? We are located in the Seattle, Washington area and the shipping zip code is 98008.

What if I have 54” or 60” fabric? Well, is it too heavy to make a Cat Ball®? Fabrics that are 54” wide are likely to be draperies which are usually OK, or upholsteries, which are too heavy. These cat beds can’t be made with heavy and bulky fabrics. Fabrics at 60” are more likely to be bottom weights and are potentially too heavy. Fabrics close to quilting cotton weight work well for this bed. Buy the same yardage as you see in the chart; round up if the fabric is under 45” wide.

Can I use fabric I already have? Yes, you bet. Let me know if you have already washed and dried it. If you don’t have quite the yardage in the chart let’s talk as there may be a solution.

What if I want stripes, plaids, or fabrics with large design elements?  We can work with such designs, but it may take more fabric. This Cat Ball® was made with an artist designed astronaut cat fabric that was sourced from Spoonflower and I compared the measurement of the design elements to the Cat Ball® pattern before advising my client on how much fabric to purchase. Spoonflower fabrics are expensive, but the cat design is so large that I knew it would look better if I was fussy about how I laid it out and cut it, so I wanted some extra. We found a cotton quilting fabric to line the bed, which costs around $10/ yd less than the Spoonflower fabric did.

Custom fabric Cat Ball® cat bed made with a large astronaut cat fabric, printed by SpoonflowerCustom fabric Cat Ball® cat bed made with a large astronaut cat fabric, printed by Spoonflower

Below is a custom Cat Canoe® that was also made with a Spoonflower printed fabric. I carefully considered this large design before cutting, and we saved money by using a quilting cotton from a fabric store for the lining. This bed was made with 1 yard of Spoonflower printed fabric.

Custom Cat Canoe® made with an artist designed Wizard of Oz inspired fabric that was printed by SpoonflowerCustom Cat Canoe® made with an artist designed Wizard of Oz inspired fabric that was printed by Spoonflower

This custom fabric Cat Canoe® uses a nice quilting cotton that was purchased at a fabric store and I needed to lay the pattern pieces out carefully to make the bed look nice. This bed used a yard of shell and a yard of lining.

Custom Cat Canoe® modern cat bed made with a fun cat fabric that the customer providedCustom Cat Canoe® modern cat bed made with a fun cat fabric that the customer provided

I recommend buying coordinating fabrics – Many online fabric stores show their fabrics by collection and this makes it easier to buy several fabrics that were designed to coordinate, both in the print theme and in the colors. Buying fabrics from a collection is the best way to get textiles that look great together when you are shopping from a computer.

This is a custom jumbo size Cat Ball® that was made with coordinating, artist-designed fabrics from a collection posted on Spoonflower. The artist had these prints available in different colorways.

Custom fabric Cat Ball® cat bed made in jumbo sizeBronson’s exercise theme Cat Ball. This bed is jumbo size

Have I answered your questions about making custom cat beds? Don’t hesitate to contact us if you still have questions. I’ll update the blog post if your question will be helpful to others.


Jennifer Boaro
Jennifer Boaro

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