Condo Utility Closet & Hallway

Yes, This Really Is A Post About A Cat Litter Box

If you have a cat (or two, or three), then you know what an irritation the litter box can be, especially when it comes to finding a place to store it. It needs to be out of the way so that guests in your home aren’t greeted with a litter box front-and-center, but it can’t be so far out of the way that it becomes a chore to clean it out every day.

I know that lots of cat owners absolutely hate having to clean out the litter box each day, and have opted for the automatic litter boxes. I’ve tried that, and frankly, I hated it. I learned that it’s not the cleaning out the litter box that I hate. What I hate more is the fact that my cats get in there to do their business, scratch around for a minute or so, and fling cat litter outside of the box.

The situation is irritating for anyone with a cat, but consider that my little condo is only 834 square feet. I don’t really have any unused space or out-of-the-way place like a utility room. No matter where I put it, after one use there was always cat litter around the box from my cats’ enthusiastic scratching.

The situation became such a frustration for me that I came incredibly close to plunking down $180 for a ModKat top-entry litter box, and for me to consider paying that kind of money for a litter box, you know I was desperate!


 

As it turns out, spending that money on that litter box would have been a huge waste for my cats. I ended up purchasing this one at a fraction of the cost from Petsmart…


 

My plan was to build some sort of decorative, highly lacquered box (similar to the ModKat box in appearance) around it once my cats got used to their new top-entry box. The problem? They never got used to their top-entry box. As long as the lid was off, they were just fine with it. But as soon as I put the lid on, they would find somewhere else to do their business. Talk about frustrating!!!

So my idea of having a high-sided, contained litter box with a decorative box around it tucked away in the corner somewhere quickly died, and I was left with what amounted to an ugly plastic storage box with no lid, filled with cat litter sitting in my office. Not exactly what I had envisioned.

So when I started working on my utility closet in my hallway, I was determined to find some way to incorporate the litter box into that closet. I had originally intended to use one of the smaller cabinets to tuck away a regular sized litter box and cut a hole in the door for access. Of course, that meant a return to the litter-flinging days, and I would be constantly cleaning up cat litter that they had flung out of the box into the cabinet. I just couldn’t stand the thought.

Then one day, it occurred to me that their current high-sided litter box would fit perfectly into lower section of the large cabinet. So before I painted that cabinet door, I did a little surgery on it by cutting a hole and trimming it out with small decorative moulding. You may have noticed it in this picture…


 

After the door was re-installed, I gave them a couple of weeks to explore the cabinet, and get used to going in and out of the hole. One of my cats was particularly fond of the cabinet. I think she may have even slept in there at night.

When they were used to it, it was time to move the litter box in. Of course, they wouldn’t be able to jump over the high side anymore, so I first had to do a little surgery on the litter box. After cleaning the box really well with soap and water (I promise, it’s clean!!), I started by marking off an entry into the box.


 

Then I used my jigsaw to cut away the plastic. I had never cut plastic with a jigsaw before, and really had no idea what to expect. I was pleased to find that it cut really easily.


 

It did leave some pretty jagged edges…


 

…but those came off really easily with some sandpaper.

With the new entry opened up, it was time to test it out. I was thrilled because as soon as I placed the box into the cabinet, my cat Peeve came over and started exploring.


 

It didn’t take her long at all to feel comfortable with her new loo, so I filled it with cat litter and she immediately got in there and started digging around.


 

(Don’t worry…I didn’t catch her “in action”. She was just exploring and digging.) 😀

So it looks like this idea might actually be a success. She even stayed in there when I closed the cabinet door.

From the outside, it still looks like this…


 

I know…not exactly a pretty look. But I’ll give them a couple of weeks to get used to the new location, and then I’ll cover the hole with a little curtain so that the litter box can’t be seen so easily.

At least that’s the plan. I’m hoping that I won’t have another lid situation, where they’re fine using it as long as the hole is wide open, but as soon as a curtain is on, they move to more open areas. Here’s hoping that they enjoy their new kitty loo, and that they’ll appreciate me classing up the joint with a little curtain in a week or so.

Oh, another great thing about this plan…it keeps the dog out! I know that’s gross, but if you have a dog and a cat, then I’m sure you’ve experienced at least once your dog emerging from the litter box area with a snout covered in cat litter. Talk about disgusting!!! Hopefully those days are in the past now.

So are you a cat owner? Is the litter box a frustration for you as well? Or have you found a solution in your home that brings peace to both kitty and to you? I’d love to know!



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28 Comments

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Beth
    February 28, 2012 at 8:31 am

    Great Idea! I might just have to try it. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Candace Shives
    February 28, 2012 at 8:51 am

    My cat uses this same litter box, with no problem. I have it tucked in a hallway corner next to a bookcase. I hadn’t ever thought about trying to disguise it, but that is a great idea! Do you have suggestions as to what you might have done to the outside if you hadn’t placed yours in the cabinet?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Ashley @ First Home Dreams
    February 28, 2012 at 10:15 am

    I ended up buying one of those gigantic covered “no scoop” cat litter contraptions with a flappy door for $30. I also bought one of those little mats for in front of it to catch any litter that make me attached to her feet when she exits. It’s not a pretty solution by ANY means, but it’s better than cat litter EVERYWHERE!

    Your solution is much more elegant.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Julie
    February 28, 2012 at 11:00 am

    I’ve always had cats in my house and I HATED the liter box in the house for all the same reasons that you did.

    I decided to put mine in my garage and I put a small cat door flap on the interior door that leads to the garage. That keeps it all out of the house, the smell, the mess, everything. Also the door is too small for the dogs to go through so it keeps them from digging in the cat box as well!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    terrillr
    February 28, 2012 at 11:01 am

    We also have dealt with this issue. Years ago, we tried keeping a typical litter box in the unused bathtub, attempting to keep the dog out and litter contained/easy to clean up. Didn’t work. The dog (a small Maltese) could jump over anything back then. Next up was the expensive automatic cleaners… 2 – both broke after about a month! Third try was the box you have with lid. Worked like a charm, except for the litter on the feet when getting out. But, in the bathtub (unused by people), I could hose it down the drain. We were on septic, so I didn’t worry about the city sewer system/clogging, etc. After we moved, I was lucky enough to have a utility room. Wanting to contain the litter, I got a storage tub for the high sides, but I still have litter all over the floor. I have’t figured out a good solution yet (and don’t have an unussed bathtub!).

    I’m eager to hear how this works out for you and your fur babies. I’m curious if the cut box allows the litter to be scattered out to the hallway. Please be sure to update after they have had a chance to try the new system. WE don’t care if you have two posts about cat litter! 😀

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Katie @ Wildwood Creek
    February 28, 2012 at 11:21 am

    I like the idea of hiding the box in a cabinet. Keep us updated on how this works. The litter box is a necessary evil.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Jennifer
    February 28, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    Great idea. Go you! I have had issues with our kitten that we’ve had for almost a year. She will only do the litter box in certain places……and none of them are in a place that I would like for it to be. Right now it’s in the basement, on the carpet near the stairs. Out around where my kids play. Awesome.

    I am thinking about building some kind of enclosure for it. You have given me some inspiration for it! Keep us posted.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Tater
    February 28, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    We’re not big fans of the cat box either (but live in the opposite situation, 3 nosy dogs and one cat). We had been using a covered cat box but wanted something more hidden in our less-than-800-square-foot rented townhouse with almost zero built in storage. Our hide-out took the form of an Ikea hacked storage bench/window seat. Since the attached blog post the cat has adapted to the box (turns out we thought she had only used it once in a few days but was going on the same spot repeatedly… Weird at!), and it is soon making its way into the cabinet, and soon after that the door will be closed and it’ll be just like her old cat box, but hidden!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Tater
    February 28, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    You can see our take on hiding our cat box from 3 nosy dogs in an even smaller place than yours! Since the post the cat is liking it a lot better and it seems as though our dreams of a hidden cat box will soon come true 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Tater
    February 28, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    We understand your trials in hiding the box! Our project wasn’t perfect smooth sailing, either 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Tater
    February 28, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    So sorry, it kept showing me an error for posting so I was trying to make it shorter! You can delete all those!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Deborah
    February 28, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    I actually have my little box in a very similar spot. We have an odd cabinet under our breakfast bar. It’s the only one on that side and all the way against the wall?!?! So I removed the door and shelves and lined it with her litter box carpet. It’s out of the way but still easy to get to for cleaning. I still have to deal with some scattered littler, but I like the tote with cut out end idea! Hmmm I wonder if I have an unused tote around somewhere?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kaththee
    February 28, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    This is a great idea! It sure is a good idea you didn’t spend all that money on the cool looking red one. We put the litter box in the garage and put a little kitty door for her to access it. I worried about her getting hit by one of the cars. At first whenever I pulled up and found her in the garage I would stop the car at the entry of the garage door and get out and put her in the house and lock the kitty door safely. It was a lot of trouble but worth it not to have a litter box in my house. Eventually though, she just started running into the house when she saw me coming. Now she runs into the house before I can open the garage door. We all have to solve this problem our own way. No pet is the same. No house lays out the same but this worked for us. I love what you did though. Someone should invent something that attaches to the house but vents outside.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    [email protected] this load bearing
    February 28, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    I love this idea and I hope your kitties do too! I also did a post on a litter box enclosure, which I haven’t gotten around to building yet, but the things we do for our pets!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    JessicaCRB
    February 28, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    I’m actually working on a “Kitty Cabinet” from an inspiration board I saw on pinterest from a curbside rescue cabinet I found…I just have to work up the courage to use power tools INSIDE my apartment!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Suzy @ Worthing Court
    February 29, 2012 at 7:01 am

    I’m so glad you shared this with us, Krist! My daughter has a persnickety cat when it comes to her litter box and is looking for a way to hide it in her new laundry room.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    christine kellogg
    February 29, 2012 at 7:41 am

    We have the exact same box….so nice! Great idea! I would have never thought if cutting out an opening 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    tammy fowler
    February 29, 2012 at 9:36 am

    great idea. I use very tall litter boxes. I do not have a problem with it being slung all over, but coming off on floor from paws. Now if anyone can figure that out that would be great. so tired of cleaning litter on floor. (thought of toilet training and then would not have that problem with litter, just how to train them to flush. lol)

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Deborah H
    February 29, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Wonderful solution! I look forward to an update once the curtain is installed.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Shannon
    March 1, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    I like your solution to this. I’m planning to do something similar in my apartment. I have an alcove that I’d like to turn into a linen closet, but a part of the bottom half will be devoted to hiding the cat box. I currently have the Pet Washroom from Petco (scored it for $10 at a thrift shop…cleaned the he** out of it of course!) and it’s in the alcove with a curtain in front. The downside to the PW is there isn’t enough room for a mat to catch the litter…also it never did stop my dog. Ick!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kim T
    March 3, 2012 at 8:34 am

    I love this idea Kristi! About a year ago I started using the cat litter system I found at Petsmart called Breeze. The litter is clay that i scoop everyday and it has slot in the bottom and a pull out drawer that basically is a puppy pad that I change once a week. It is amazing! No smell no litter tracked all over from kitty’s paws. I will never go back to regular litter.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Louise Lampard
    June 21, 2012 at 12:47 am

    hi Kristi! Like your ‘surgery’!! It’s truly fantastic to see and manage the stuff easily. I hope it’ll keep us to avoid the weird situation of waste. Thanks for sharing your cool idea what is also a good sign of beauty!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    tracy
    May 10, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    Nicer to look at, does keep litter more contained – but much harder to clean because its higher, and the ones I purchased have a little trough in bottom that is harder to clean also….

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Brenna
    November 17, 2015 at 12:51 am

    Hey! Just a thought, your cat may not of liked the closed litter box because lack of light, so be careful with the curtains, maybe add a small motion detection light in their for them 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Mary Ozan
    December 20, 2017 at 9:58 pm

    I have several cats. One has the habit of laying in wait for when one would exit the covered box. My solution was to use clear boxes instead of solid colored ones. This way all cats see each other all the time.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Karen Goebel
    January 9, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    I’m curious, did this solution work out long term? I’m remodeling a bathroom and considering adding a built-In area to house a litter box. I’m afraid of wasting money if my cat won’t use it.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Kristi
      January 9, 2018 at 2:49 pm

      It did work long term. I’m doing it again in my current home with a different design. You can click here to see it. I had a design issue and had to redo some stuff (unrelated to the cat litter box section), but I should have this cabinet finished this week.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Ann Smith
    October 26, 2018 at 10:20 am

    When we added an Island into our kitchen, I extended it by 18″ and made a “pet center”.
    The top 12″ of the “cabinet” is where I store all food, treats, brushes and meds behind a door. the bottom 27″ x 17.5″ is an exposed opening.
    I also bought a tall storage box. I left the handle rim on and cut a hole from under the handle to 5″ from the bottom. I fill the bottom 2″ with litter and the 3″ jump out seems to be dislodging the cat litter mostly back into the box! I also cut slots in the top and threaded a dryer sheet through it. My cat LOVES it and no longer “sprays” at the seam of normal covered cat boxes.

    Once your cat is used to the storage container cat box… You could always put it inside a coffee table, bar, nightstand or end table. Bead board paneling is as easy to add at trim.

    I used a lighter to “melt” the ragged edges of my opening.

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