Asked on Feb 02, 2014

Recycling Cat Food Cans

by Barbara
We now live in a rural area with no trash pickup. I am separating our trash and doing what I can to compost, feed the chickens, burn or store to take to the dump. I am working on buying less food in containers that will require disposal. Do you have any ideas on what I can do with cat food cans? I can use the lids as garden markers. The cans are too small to start seeds in. (I start a lot of seeds and use larger containers/flats).
  31 answers
  • Lindsay Jackson Lindsay Jackson on Feb 03, 2014
    Are they the 'short/flat' tuna-like cans or regular-size/tall cans? We used to turn the 'short/flat' ones into 'buddy-burners' by cutting a length of corrugated cardboard box the 'height' of the can, rolling it into a spiral and fitting inside the can, then poured melted wax over the cardboard/into the can, let it harden - instant 'burner' for cooking if the power is out/on a camping trip. The taller/regular cans could be washed well and then covered with fabric and trim or contact paper/leftover wallpaper/etc, and used to hold pens/pencils, etc. That's off the top of my head; if I think of anything else I'll post here again ;)
    • See 1 previous
    • Barbara Barbara on Feb 03, 2014
      @Lindsay Jackson Thanks Lindsay. These are the short cans. Good idea and have plenty of cardboard boxes to use.
  • Connie Mar Connie Mar on Feb 03, 2014
    You can eliminate the cans by fixing homemade cat food. Either raw meat, or cooked in a slow cooker. Make sure to add supplements to avoid deficiencies. We feed our cats frozen raw (thawed to room temp), dehydrated/freeze dried raw (re-hydrated), or home cooked and only have cans in the pantry for emergencies. Or, if there's a town "nearby" that recycles cans, you could collect all cans (human & pet food) and make a trip now & then.
    • GardenGypsy GardenGypsy on Feb 03, 2014
      @Connie Mar Re Barbara is feeding Chickens composting maybe there is no time to home cook cat food?
  • Jessica C Jessica C on Feb 03, 2014
    I have seen small cans used vertically and screwed into a piece of plywood. You can fill the cans with suet or peanut butter for the birds. They love it!
    • See 1 previous
    • Barbara Barbara on Feb 03, 2014
      @Jessica C I just got another idea...I have bamboo here. I've seen mason bee houses made with pieces of bamboo set in frames. If they are native to this area, I could make bee houses. Thanks for getting my mind thinking in that direction!
  • Lara Nunes Lara Nunes on Feb 03, 2014
    @Barbara go to and look to the right and click on Recycling Search you will find many location or possible answers to your questions about cat food cans .
  • DLynne DLynne on Feb 03, 2014
    I'm saving tuna cans, and the cat food cans about that size would work too I bet. Old glass lantern chimneys fit in them sort of and I'm sure a lot of candle glasses, vases or even drinking glasses, would fit too. You can get these really cheap at thrift stores if you don't already have some. The idea is to paint the can and nail it to a 1/2 wide dowel rod that's any length you want. Nail another long nail in the other end of the dowel rod and then cut off the head so you can use it as a stake. Place a votive or small pillar candle inside and cover with the glass chimney to use it outdoors for accent lighting. You could do a similar thing with the tall cans, but this time fill them with water, freeze, then while frozen punch any pattern of your choice into the can. Let the water melt and you have a punched candle holder, which you could also nail to a rod or tie a wire hanger around the top so you can hang it, or just sit it on a surface to let the light shine through.
  • Lara Nunes Lara Nunes on Feb 03, 2014
    You are welcome @Barbara there is another place many of you can checkout too. TerraCycle offers national programs (Brigades®) to collect previously non-recyclable or hard to recycle waste. While some programs have a cost, most of our Brigades offer free shipping as well as a donation for each piece of garbage that you collect. Sign up to collect one or more of the waste streams listed, or find out more about how the Brigade programs work.
  • Bernice H Bernice H on Feb 03, 2014
    My 2 cents?? Love the fur baby. sooo beautiful! HOw old is she?
    • See 1 previous
    • Barbara Barbara on Feb 03, 2014
      @Barbara (and the turkey is Pippi and she's 5 yrs old ;-) )
  • Stephen Mitchell Stephen Mitchell on Feb 04, 2014
    Flip the cans upside down. And set veggies like tomatoes and peppers on them to keep me off the ground. I use bottoms of two liters flipped upside down, like soft side up, cut part down, and the tops 2/3rd of two liters for mini greenhouses
  • Felicity Woodruffe Felicity Woodruffe on Feb 04, 2014
    fill with cement push a tea light candle in and leave to set, these can now be used outdoors or in conservatories or out buildings or you can make concrete or cement slabs set the tins into the slabs like stepping stones and repeat the steps for tea lights set into the concrete slabs these can then be used along the edges of a path to light the way at dusk
  • Mary Rotchford Mary Rotchford on Feb 04, 2014
    My mother-in-law collects these (cat food cans & even tuna cans) for making a outdoor Christmas trees (it seems to take a lot), not sure how she does it, but she seems to use a board shaped like a tree & penny nails to start a row of cans on the bottom working up. She also makes sure each can has a hole punched in for a Christmas light (I think she uses battery powered ones so she can put anywhere). With the right board you can make any shapes (eggs for Easter) & outdoor paint can pretty it up for daytime. Also these cans with a little melted fat poured in let harden make great birdfeeders.
    • Barbara Barbara on Feb 05, 2014
      @Mary Rotchford What a cute idea!! I like the Christmas tree. Will search for pictures!
  • Denise S. Denise S. on Feb 04, 2014
    I've been thinking of saving mine too. I will remove all the paper, wash them and let them weather then pour with candle wax add my wick and use them outdoors for candles!
  • Janis Lauer Janis Lauer on Feb 04, 2014
    Glad I followed this.......I have 8 cats so I have zillions of cans!!!! Thanks for the excellent recycling ideas.
  • Timeless Interiors Timeless Interiors on Feb 05, 2014 <---this is a great idea! also, I've seen people use them for individual pineapple upside down cakes :)
  • Meem Kaplan Meem Kaplan on Feb 05, 2014
    We have slugs here in the NW of US. I use them for beer slug traps, since I am VERY allergic to slug bait. They can be used over and over for this. I'm thinking the extras would be very good for outdoor lighting as suggested above. We have only one cat so there aren't that many. Now, the DOG food cans....hehehe. Dog food cans are magnetic and are recyclable and the kitty tins are aluminum and can be recycled with the pop/beer cans.
    • Barbara Barbara on Feb 05, 2014
      @Meem Kaplan Slug traps...great idea! I have a huge garden now and will need a zillion of them. :D
  • Theresa Powell Theresa Powell on Nov 13, 2014
    The pop off metal lids can be painted and the edges covered and different designs or pictures panted/secured in the middle for Christmas ornaments.
  • Theresa Powell Theresa Powell on Nov 13, 2014
    You could also loosen top soil and put several of then open side down in the soil to use as pavers.
  • Jeanne Koors Jeanne Koors on Dec 13, 2014
    Wind chimes?
  • any kind of outdoor ornaments and you won't be heartbroken if stolen
  • Rosie Walsh Rosie Walsh on Jan 13, 2015
    @Barbara I use them in the gardens and lawn to measure rainfull/output from the sprinklers.
  • Arlene Gateley Moseley Arlene Gateley Moseley on Feb 08, 2015
    How about emergency candles. You can recycle dryer lint, cardboard boxes and paraffin or old candles or cooking oil. You can google this, and a YouTube video of an emergency candles should show you how.
    • Robin Sewell Robin Sewell on Feb 11, 2015
      I remember making these candles in grade school as a kid in the seventies: )
  • Mcgypsy9 Mcgypsy9 on Feb 11, 2015
    Hi Barbara! Just my 2 cents here...You can also get some tin cutters and cut the tops off and cut the bottoms out of them (discard) and use the tin from the sides (that would be under the paper label) for many things. One that comes to mind is to use a pen or whatever and write on them, making labels for your vegetables or use cutters (like paper punches) in different shapes and cut out tin shapes for different things. Just some thoughts... OH and here is another version of the tin can Christmas Tree :
  • Kate Schleinkofer Kate Schleinkofer on Feb 11, 2015
    I'm working on a project now to make legs for an outdoor table. Will let you know how this progresses and turns out
  • Cheryl Grolle Cheryl Grolle on Jul 10, 2015
    You can use a couple to make oriole feeders to fill with grape jelly if they are the 3 pz. size & mount them on a shepard's hook. Great to use for crafts to separate items.
  • Smk1442994 Smk1442994 on Nov 11, 2015
    You can make lovely garden lanterns out of them for yourself & as gifts. Type into google......, tuna can garden lanterns. I have made several from cat food tins, tuna fish tins & salmon tins. Your kitty is beautiful, by the way, and a great cat house.
  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Dec 17, 2015
    I just found this here on Hometalk, and have pinned it to Pinterest
  • SylviaAgarus SylviaAgarus on Jun 06, 2016
    I'm having the same dilema. A neighbor gave us a lot of drinks in cans and I would love to re-use them for something nice and funcional.
  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Feb 03, 2023

    They can be used by filling with Concrete or sand and pebbles and sinking into the ground where you want a path or a feature.

  • Mogie Mogie on Feb 05, 2023

    I run them thru the dishwasher to clean them and then hubby takes them out to his workshop and uses them for storage. Sorts different sized bolts and stuff into them.

  • Use them to sort pieces while crafting or for mixing small amounts of paint.

  • Mogie Mogie on Aug 12, 2023

    Cat food cans are the perfect size for a desk drawer, where they can hold things like paperclips, pushpins or spare change. You could also use them in your medicine cabinet for bobby pins, barrettes and hairbands.

  • Deb K Deb K on Sep 20, 2023

    Hi Barbara, you could make little tealite type candles with them.