Pets, as any cat or dog owner knows, are part of the family. They can also be as needy and demanding as children, and often require creative solutions to keep them happy and well-fed. Cats, as I recently discovered, are particularly difficult to keep hydrated. I once had a cat that would prefer to splash her water all over the floor than drink it, leading to some soggy messes. I learned, through some frustrated Googling, that cats are finicky with their water (surprise!) and prefer it to be fresh and flowing, thus the popularity of automated water dispensers.
Issues like this, it turns out, can be great inspirations for designers and makers. William Visel, a father, cat owner, and hobbyist, saw some cat water dish designs on Thingiverse and decided to customize his own dish for his daughters’ two cats, Max and Ruby. It features an automated water dispenser, as well as each cat’s name.
“I imported the Nozzle design into Tinkercad, and then using the simple tools the site has, created a very basic dish that would fit my build platform,” Visel tells us. “I added the names of the cats for a little fun customization.”
He printed the dish with an Afinia H480 printer that he purchased for just $500 as a floor model from a going-out-of-business Radio Shack.
“They said it was broken,” Visel tells 3DPrint.com. “I cleaned the nozzle and it worked fine. I was pretty excited about that. When the filament dropped to $10 I bought everything they had left.”
Visel is an avid designer, printing everything from minion figurines to a print of his ailing mother. He has a lot of fun with his creations (a 3D printed bust of Yoda is one of my personal favorites from his Facebook gallery). He particularly likes creating prints of his daughters, turning them into fairies and Harry Potter characters. He wants to keep his daughters interested and involved in 3D print technology, which, judging from his Facebook page, has been a success.
“I am still a hobbyist,” Visel explained to 3DPrint.com. “I started out printing little figurines, toys, star trek, star wars ships, a cryptex. I made a few fun modifications to other uploaded prints (Barbie of Borg) was one of my first edits. I moved on to more useful items like shelves (for the 3d prints), key hooks, headphone holder and guitar mount. Then I found out how to use my Xbox Kinect to create 3d scans. This is where the fun started. I created 3d prints of my daughters, friends and family. I found it easy to manipulate the images with Microsoft’s 3d builder and Tinkercad.”
Printing his cat dish took about eight hours. When it was finished, he had a creation that was fun, attractive, and functional. Want to make one for your own cats? Visel’s open source design can be found on Tinkercad and Thingiverse. I know I’d like one for my own cat, who has been irritatingly whining and pawing at my leg as I write this. Time to freshen up her water.