Cool gel mats for pets

Hi, all!

I foster dogs and cats in Baton Rouge for several non-profit agencies.  Lately, I've had more than a few feral cats needing a temporary home.  I had an idea (inspired by something I saw online) to use the trunk from the crepe myrtle tree my boyfriend chopped down to "catify" the carport where they like to seek shelter at night.  Considering that I've never owned a power tool until now, I think it's coming together nicely so far (pics attached).  Please keep in mind that I'm no carpenter....
This is south Louisiana where the Summer temps are high and the humidity is even higher.  I can only imagine how awful that must be when you are sporting a full fur coat outside!  Here's where I need your help:  I want to make cool gel mats to fit the odd shaped green shelves you see attached to the walls.  I have been sewing for many decades, so making these "cool" cushions to fit is not a problem.  The problem is how to make the GEL that goes inside the mats that keeps the pet cool.  I'd rather not use any toxic chemicals, just in case one of them punctures the gel mat causing it to leak and then decides to drink the gel.  So, maybe there's a chemist out there, or just some intelligent individuals that  might have the answer to my problem?  Any and all suggestions are very much appreciated!

Thank you,

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Toga_Dan7 months ago

you might try unflavored gelatin in ziplock bags. Not sure if it will spoil. Perhaps a lot of salt will preserve it. Also not sure if rodents will wanna eat it.

Lbcaswell (author)  Toga_Dan7 months ago

Thank you! I think I will try this one. :)

iirc, gelatin can be made much more concentrated than by the directions.

Downunder35m7 months ago

Cool gel is overrate for the purpose of actual cooling if you ask me.
A warm cat and a pack fresh from the freezer won't mix unless the cat is desperate.
And once the temp is just right for the cat to consider a cool down there is little cooling capacity left.

Have you though about active cooling?
I know you should have enough swamp and water around but no clue if you are close enough to utilise it.
But I think if you could add some metal and tubing under your mats then water cooling might be perfect for the right temperature.

Lbcaswell (author)  Downunder35m7 months ago

Thanks for the suggestion! I wasn't considering a pack from the freezer, as I know those don't work. The mats that you can purchase from a retail store actually have some sort of a gel inside a plastic covering that stays cool, and the cats love it. I just don't know how to recreate this substance so that I can incorporate into the custom fitted mats to put on the irregularly shaped green shelves.

Yes, there are swamps all over here and I am close enough to access, but not sure what "active cooling" is or how the swamp water fits in? Can you educate me?

I don't think the metal tubing would work as the shelves are small and irregular curved shapes. I would somehow have to bend the metal piping to fit.

Hiya! Step 1 of this Instructable shows you how you can easily bend copper tubing using a screw, a 2x4, and a wooden dowel. Simple and effective, hope that helps!

Lbcaswell (author)  reginaann7 months ago

Thanks! If the gel doesn't work I will try this. :)

Toga_Dan7 months ago

maybe a mesh seat like lawn furniture uses? Breathable.

Toga_Dan Toga_Dan7 months ago

staple canvas over a wood frame. Either taut, or with a bit of sag like a hammock. with only a single layer of cloth, it should be cooler.

Lbcaswell (author)  Toga_Dan7 months ago

The pads would have to lay on the shelves, but I will definitely try your other suggestion about the gelatin. Thanks again!