Homemade Cat Litter Boxes — Easy And Effective

Litter boxes

Sometimes a “litter box problem” is just a litter BOX problem. Create a box, and you might solve it.

Our lovely orange DLH, Vernie, likes to spray. She usually stands to pee for no known medical reason and did this even when she was the only cat in our household. Due to the height of her hindquarters or perhaps pure skill, she can crest the sides of most litter boxes on the market.

Vernie needed a customized box, and luckily I remembered advice from Pam Johnson-Bennett in her book, Cat vs. Cat. Use a storage container, she suggests, and just cut a “u-shape” on one side as an entrance. Although Johnson-Bennett mentioned Sterilite containers, I could not find one in my town that met my height requirements. I bought Yaffa storage containers similar to this one instead, along with a pair of “tin cutters,” scary over-sized scissors recommended by a hardware store associate for cutting plastic. (I found a jagged knife designed for cutting plastic left an equally jagged edge. The tin cutters really were my best choice.)

Like Sterilite, Yaffa makes fairly sheer boxes, great in a multi-cat household according to Johnson-Bennett because transparency may reduce ambushes by other household members while one cat is using the box.

Sometimes hard plastic will randomly split during cutting, so I returned a few poorly-cut boxes to their storage identities by using strong tape. I noticed cutting about an inch on one side, then the other, seemed to minimize –- though not entirely eliminate –- the risk of these unwanted cracks.

I cut an inch from the top, then moved over about eight inches to begin cutting the other side of the opening. I then cut down one side completely, stopping about five inches from the bottom. Next, I cut all the way down the other side, moving to my horizontal, final cut at the end.

For a covered-box effect, I could have used the lids, but with the high sides I didn’t mind leaving the boxes open. An uncovered box seems to be a less-smelly experience for me and the kitties.

Not ready to hit the hardware store yet? Several ready-made boxes might suit shorter felines with Vernie’s “spraying” tendencies.

The Marchioro, a covered extra-large litter box and the Rubbermaid High-Sided Litter Box feature smooth surfaces which make scooping a breeze.

Another option is the Clevercat which offers top entry and high sides.

Certain infections may cause litter box problems. Before creating or selecting a solution for your cat’s situation, visit your vet to rule out any medical issues.

Photo: Candace Schilling

16 Responses to “Homemade Cat Litter Boxes — Easy And Effective”

  1. kathy says:

    Good idea! Now all I need is ideas for dog-proof litter boxes–one of our dogs is absolutely addicted to her “cat box candy bars”……

  2. Radcliff, Allie, Luna, & Ozzie says:

    Our Food Source made a litter box this way, for about the same reason. He used a fine hacksaw blade to do the vertical cuts. For the horizontal cut he used a sharp (new blade) utility knife, and just took several passes until the blade had cut through the plastic. Then he used fine sandpaper to smooth off the edges.

  3. LAHOMA says:

    SAVE YOURSELF SOME TIME AND EFFORT NEXT TIME JUST BUY THE BOX PUT LITTER IN IT AND SHOW THE CAT THE BOX. NO NEED TO CUT DOWN, CATS CAN JUMP IN AND OUT. PUT A SMALL RUG IN FRONT AND IT CATCHES THE LITTER IF ANY IS LEFT ON THIER FEET. I’VE BEEN USING THESE BOXES FOR YEARS BECAUSE I FOSTER CATS/KITTENS AND NEEDED LARGER LITTER BOXES. AND YES EVEN 3 MONTH OLD KITTENS CAN LEAP INTO THE BOX. NICE OF YOU TO SHARE, I’M SURE ALOT OF PEOPLE NEVER THOUGHT OF USING A STORAGE BOX. AS YOU SAID YOU CAN PUT THE TOP ON THEN CUT A HOLE IN TOP FOR A SOME WHAT COVERED BOX, THAT SHOULD HELP THE LADY THAT HAS THE DOG THAT LIKES LITTER BOX CANDY BARS. JUST MAKE THE WHOLE BIG ENOUGH FOR THE CAT TO JUMP IN AND OUT OF. HAVE A GREAT DAY.

  4. Chris says:

    When I was a kid, my parents made a litter box by cutting down a plastic trash can to about 1/2 height. That way the cat had to jump in and out of the litter box and the litter on his feet would fall back into the box as he jumped out.

  5. mikken says:

    This was the solution for my little old cat as well. She needs a low opening to get in, but high sides because her arthritis makes it tough to squat down when she pees.

    It can be tough to find one with a smooth bottom, but once you do, it’s all good.

  6. Tanya says:

    but high sides because her arthritis makes it tough to squat down when she pees.
    ===
    Ohhhh, is THAT why my cat started to miss teh box. She was always diligent about peeing, but her last year, she didn’t “find it” so well.

    we just cleaned up after her, no biggie.

  7. KarlaSanDiego says:

    Yes! I agree with LAHOMA. I have been using large clear storage containers from Target for years. My kitties just jump in and out, no need to cut them if you don’t want to. There is barely any loose litter around their box. It’s great!

  8. NH says:

    What a nifty idea!

  9. FrannyMom says:

    Wow, and I thought my little hurricane refugee was the only cat that would ambush another cat using the box! We had to take the cover off our box because our little Francis Jeanne would wait until her big brother Dolan went inside, then hide around the corner and jump on him when he came back out. I definitely am going to experiment with the storage boxes. We have litter scattered everywhere in our house, with two cats and an unlidded box. Great post.

  10. Cathy says:

    I have used a modified storage container for several years and dealt with the jagged cut edges by putting duct tape on them. I use that and several other large regular litter boxes. The modified storage container is a favorite with a couple of my older cats. I also have some boxes with regular clumping litter and several with wood stove pellets which are cheap and just as good as Feline Pine.

  11. Nancy Freedman-Smith says:

    I have people who litter train pups and dogs make their own. It solves the problem of marking and near misses when they have to go in a box with tall sides.
    Nancy

  12. Crystal says:

    I recently relocated to a smallish older home (built in the 50’s) and needed to relocate the litterbox (formerly located in the laundry room which is now in the detached garage of the new place). With only one closet and a tiny bathroom, and three cats, my need was urgent and options few. Ultimately I removed a lower shelf in the hall linen closet, covered the floor with a trashbag-sealed with painters tape, covered that with an old towel (for easy washing as needed) and for the box, I purchased a round booda box from a local PetSupermarket. It’s a lidded round box which provides both walls and a larger space for the kitties to “go” in. The only issue I have is that the lid doesn’t attach-only sits atop the base. However, with a litter mat at the opening, which faces th right wall of the closet, the cats slink in, hang a left and go to the potty. Oh, and we don’t latch the door anymore for the closet, just push it slightly closed. They open it with their paws when they have to go. It’s great and no cutting. I strongly recommend the Booda. In better stores, they have lots of options, including some with ramps in for special needs kitties.

  13. Jerrie says:

    I use these too! I have a cat who will not squat. I don’t cut openings now because it takes too long and it’s hard to cut with shears. I also buy the long plastic blue container’s that Fleet Farm has which give them more room to turn around. These are great! I also have the high sided litter box from Petsmart. Nice too. It sure made life easier for me. Wish I would have done 15 yrs. ago. I wouldn’t have so much cat smell pee on the floors and walls in the basement from them not squating.

  14. Cathy says:

    Using the Ultimate Cat Litter box, cat owners will get the advantage of it being able to absorb liquids and odors instantly due to the fact that the liquid evaporates to leave odor trapped within. In the case of solids, they are rapidly dehydrated; thereby depriving them of their smell and the litter will stay dry and thus inhibits bacteria. Since there is no clumping, the need to throw away does not arise and one bag may last an average cat approximately one month.

  15. Jessie says:

    Note that any box with a lid (such as a booda) will still “leak” pee on the floor when a cat pees against the side of the box and it gets in between the lid and the bottom of the box, then leaks out. Very nasty if you don’t check for it every day and then find it by scent.

    Question: I have been trying for some time now to find a FLAT-bottomed storage container (otherwise clumps can get stuck in the grooves). Someone above recommended Fleet Farm, but I’m in North Carolina. Any suggestions on locations or brands to check?

  16. Vanessa says:

    I highly recommend the Clever Cat boxes if you can’t find flat bottomed containers to convert. After trying nearly ever box on the market and not being able to find the perfect box to cut down myself, we went with the Clever Cat boxes and our two 10 year old females (one being the offender that could pee over the sides of every box I have ever found) quickly adapted without any complaints. They have lasted very well, and have easy sides to clean. I have also found that the new litter box wipes really help make clean up a snap.

    One solution if kitties don’t like the top is to put step stool on one side of box, and leave the lids off (our friends did this for their kitty that was a little too tall to use box with lid on.


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