Better Litter Box

Make your own for about $10 and see for yourself — a super-simple project a teenager or handyperson can complete in 15 minutes.


Also see Going Outside the Litter Box? on this site


Photo of wide and narrow entry litter boxes

These are 18 gallon boxes, Rubbermaid, or Sterilite brand.

This one is larger and best for all grown cats

Larger 30 gallon litter box with grate and pad



Why Make a Box Like This?


The sidewall heights of typical boxes are too shallow for many cats.


1. Many kitties kick litter out of the box when they cover their deposits.


2. Some older or arthritic kitties don't always aim their streams down past the top lip of a shallow box.


3. You don't have to bend all the way to the floor to lift it.


4. This box is nearly impossible for even a 20-pound cat to tip over. Most shallow boxes flip easily with weight on the edge and even more so when using a lightweight load of litter.


5. Most boxes are too small.



It's an open secret among animal workers that a great many pet toys and products are made to appeal to people rather than the pet. I find this true of conventional litter pans and boxes. Most are ridiculous.





"So why not just use a covered litter box from the store?"


Good question, easy to answer.


Covered boxes cause many "going outside the box" problems. And it's easy to understand why. If you were kitty, you might avoid it also, unless your nose was dead or clogged.


Here's why.


Number of human nose sensorsNumber of kitty nose sensors


Take a look at this

Going Outside the Litter Box?





Here's How

Try this instead and see.
It's quick, easy, and inexpensive
Photo of box with lid and show for size comparison

This shows a flexible plastic storage box from a WalMart store. It holds 18 gallons (68 liters) according to the label. A man's sneaker is resting on the lid for a size comparison. You won't need the lid. This is suitable for kittens.


But even better is this 30 gallon size.

If you have a grown cat or several cats, the 30 gallon one is the right choice.

Label for 30 gallon box


Photo of box with paper template taped on

The 18 gallon box is really rectangular. (The photo makes it look like a trapezoid.) For older or heavier cats, you want to make an opening that is about 7 inches (18 cm) wide maximum. Cut a piece of paper 7 inches (18 cm) wide and tape it to the side of the box, centered, as shown here. This will be your template for marking the cuts, for cutting a wide slot out of the side of the box.




Photo of box showing cutting lines drawn on
With a marker and a ruler, draw vertical lines around the paper template. Draw a horizontal line 4 " (10 cm) from the bottom. Save the template for re-use if you're making more boxes.



Photo of box  and soldering gun cutter

The best way to cut the opening in the box is with a hot soldering gun. This one has a flat tip for cutting plastic, but any soldering gun tip will work fine. Cutting by melting the plastic assures you that the plastic won't develop any cracks along the cut, which can happen when sawing.


However, a saber saw (handheld jigsaw) or mini-hacksaw will work if you cut slowly with a fine-toothed blade. These boxes are made to be tough, but brace the plastic so that it doesn't shake back and forth as you cut.


If a crack occurs when you saw, you can repair it by covering it with a piece of clear package plastic wrapping tape on both sides. On the first box I ever made, I used a saber saw. It cracked so I taped it...and used for several years. It held up fine to washing and bleaching.

Photo of box with file for smoothing cut edges
You will want to take a file and smooth any sharp edges or points on the cuts you made. There are probably only one or two spots that need touching up.




"But isn't this rather high for a young kitten to climb or jump into?"

Yes. If you have kittens, make a different slot, such as the one shown here.


Photo of box with V taper entry for kittens and mother

They can walk in easily yet very little litter will be thrown outside the box. If mother is also using the box, the wider taper allows her easy entry also.


If all your cats are slender, make the doorway narrower than 7 inches. Vary the opening for your own family members.



Here is the 30 gallon box that I use, except for foster kittens.

I have 2 boxes for 6 grown kitties. It gives them plenty of room to move around and plenty of "tail wiggle" room. And it doesn't smell bad. Because we often cannot smell the odors in our own homes--we habituate to them--so occasionally ask a friend or relative when they come inside if they can smell "cats." Otherwise you may never know...

Larger 30 gallon litter box with grate and pad

The 30 gallon box is 31 inches wide, 17 inches tall.

The opening is 5 inches wide, and 5 1/2 inches from the floor. You'll notice that it is narrower than the one shown earlier. Many kitties today are obese because food is left out and some kitties will overeat, often out of boredom. Some are just natural gluttons. I do not "free feed" but rather feed measured portions at 7a.m and 7p.m. with a very small dose around noon, a "treat dose." My kitties are all kept at proper weight so should not become ill or die early from diabetes or other "plump" ailments.


I scoop the two boxes morning and evening. I dump the scoopings out back in a brush pit, and believe it or not, deer and crows and raccoons and eat much of it. So far, the bears have left it alone, unlike the clean bird food which has to be put inside at night.




I've tried many mats and methods for removing litter from kitties' feet when they step out of the box. All work to some degree but I've settled on these large brown 3M brand mats as the best. They are not inexpensive, but should last FOR years. I use them with the corn crumbles litter that I recommend on my "Near-Perfect" litter link.


And the kitties show no aversion to walking on them, as some cats do to Astroturf door mats, which also work well. And are expensive today in the largest size.


I shake the mats outside or over the box every other day. They can be rinsed with a hose also. One caution: both of mine had an nasty plastic smell in the store, and I am not a person who is sensitive to offensive odors at all. But these were strong--they stunk up the entire room--and were offensive, such as you'd expect only in a chemical factory. I hung the mats outside where breezes would blow across them and a week later, the odor was gone for all practical purposes. I found this inconvenience worth the trouble because of their final good results. Otherwise I would have returned them to the store.

They make a smaller size than this 24 x 36 inch one, and I don't recommend the smaller one. Kitties can leap over that one when they leave the box.


These mats are not perfect. I've yet to find one that prevents all litter tracking into the room. But they are the best I've found so far.


Remember to place your litter box away from kitty's food and water. Kitties don't like having their toilet adjacent to their food any more than you do.


Place your litterbox on the same floor of the house that kitty spends most of his time, especially if kitty is older. Climbing stairs isn't as easy when you're old.



If you have KITTENS — don't use clay clumping litters until they are older. You already know that. Best not to use sticky, greasy, clay clumping litter anyway, when you have a much better clumping choice, and one much less expensive, even when you change it all every week.




Regardless of what kind of litter or litter box you use, check out the




This is not a sales pitch; I don't sell litter or have any financial stake in this whatsoever, other than my own wallet. I'm just passing on what I discovered.


This discovery is a dream come true. It has no real negatives, except that if you live in a huge city it may not be easy for you to obtain unless you take a Saturday drive "in the country."


Costs about half of what conventional clumping litters cost and compares HIGHLY to the dollar-a-pound stuff.


click here to learn all about NEAR-PERFECT LITTER


animation of kitty running and snoozing


James D. Richardson

-Volunteer of the Year Award 2006
Chautauqua County Humane Society

-Supporting member since 1999
Cornell Feline Health Center



Please come back soon.


copyright 2006, 2012 james d.richardson


5214 Thumb Road, Dewittville, NY 14728



Jump Back to the Top of This Page