Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Smelly Kitty Litter Box - Part 1

If you're like us, finding a place to keep litter boxes is always a challenge. It's no fun having an exposed litter box out in the middle of a room, so in apartments I'd always stored it in my bathroom. Which isn't so fun either... getting out of the shower and stepping on litter...yuck! So we definitely wanted to find a clever way to conceal the litter box in our new house. There's a lot of tutorials and ikea hacks out there for concealing a litter box in furniture, but we couldn't find any that would work for us.

So we came up with the idea of turning a chest into a litter box container, and then adding a cushion to the top to use a sitting area. That is, assuming it doesn't smell...

Step 1
Determine the size of the entrance hole. You can do this a few different ways- if you are going to buy one of those pet doors and install it, just cut the size specified by the company. We decided to make our own flap with vinyl and frame the hole with metal flashing or wood trim. So we used a medium sized pet door as a guide, which said the opening was 8.5" x 11.5," which we decided to round to 8.5" x 11" for simplicity. So we centered and taped down a piece of paper as a guide. If you are making a different sized hole, just measure and draw out your rectangle.

Step 2
Cutting out the entrance hole. We drilled a hole in each corner using the largest drill bit we had on hand, which was 3/16"[check]. This ended up being too small and we had to continue widening the hole enough for the jigsaw blade to fit in. Disclaimer- Always use caution (& common sense) when using power tools, and be sure to wear safety gear to avoid injury! We used a wood blade meant to cut through 3/4" wood for the jigsaw, and followed the outline of the paper. Depending on the layout of the chest and where you placed the hole, you might run into the same problem we did- the jigsaw has safety 'rails' (not sure what they are really called...) around the perimeter of the blade, so when we got towards the bottom of our hole, we didn't have enough space to cut along our line. So we had to change blades to a longer all purpose blade and very carefully balance the jigsaw on the trim of the chest. Note- I wouldn't suggest doing this, but since we'd already dug our hole.... In the future I'll pay more attention to where we place holes before starting. Live and learn.....Anyway, everything turned out for the best and we got the piece of wood out.

Step 3
Figure out what to use a litter box. We wanted to use the biggest size litter box possible for the chest (20 lb Maine Coon, remember?) So I headed over to Family Dollar and found a good sized pink storage container for $10, which fits pretty perfectly width-wise and is still a decent length to give them room to move around. It has high sides so we had to cut a rectangle out of it so they can get in (A plus to the high sides is that litter won't get kicked out quite as much). We started out using the jigsaw to make the cut, since the plastic is so thick, but bad idea! You can't really get a stable base, so the plastic was getting pulled up and down with the blade instead of cutting, so we just ended up using a knife blade (which is what Greg is using to cut with in the picture, I promise).

Step 4
Set up litter box for cats! That was all we had time for in one night, so be on the look-out for future posts to complete the litter box. We'll be adding a flap to the hole, and trim around the hole, and likely add some hanging storage for the litter box scoop, and maybe a place for some air freshner :) Then the final project will be adding a cushion to the top, for additional seating, or a place for some kitty naps :)

Overall, the cats seem happy with it. We're leaving the top open for a few days so they will explore it without feeling trapped. And since the hole we cut out doesn't have any trim yet, we covered it with duck tape for now to prevent any splinters to the cats. Check out them exploring! (which of course happened within a few seconds of setting up since they are such nosy creatures)

Psst! Check out the update to this post!


  1. Please post an update!

    How is this working for you? I like your idea and using an old cedar chest seems like it would help with odor.


    1. Definitely! I've been meaning to get on an update of how we finished it off. It works great though! There's basically no smell at all, and ours are great about dealing with litter box changes!


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