Litter Box Solutions

Recently, a reader e-mailed to ask a question no one had ever asked me before. The question was, how did I handle/cope with having a litter box in the house? What a great question!

Back In The Day:
When we bought this house 20 years ago, one of the things I liked most was it had a basement with an unfinished section, perfect for hiding the litter box. My last house didn’t have a basement and we spent a lot of time maneuvering around the litter box in our bathroom.

So, right after we moved in, I had a kitty door installed in the door at the top of the basement stairs and a kitty door installed into the door that led into the unfinished part of the basement. We had three kitties when we moved here, a mama kitty and her two sons. They lived to be 16, 17, and 18 years old, and their litter boxes were always in the basement. So, when I adopted Max about 10 years ago, I placed his litter box in the basement, too. I’ve always been fortunate to have kitties who were great about using their litter boxes and didn’t have accidents in other areas of the house.

Hyperthyroidism:
A year or so ago, I noticed Max seemed to be losing some weight and was acting anxious a lot. Sometimes when I stood up to leave the room, he would run over and kind of bite my pants leg, or my ankle if I was wearing shorts. I’d never had a cat do anything like that and it was totally NOT like him.

I googled his behavior and found it could be a sign of hyperthyroidism. I immediately took him to the vet, they did blood work, and it turned out he did have hyperthyroidism. Now he takes medicine once a day and his behavior and thyroid levels are back to normal. No more anxious kitty when I start to leave the room.

During the blood work process, we discovered Max was having some kidney issues, so I moved his litter box from the basement to the bathroom upstairs. I was afraid he was not going often enough because I so rarely saw him going downstairs once I began paying more attention after the blood work. I’m not crazy about having the litter box upstairs because litter sometimes gets tracked into other rooms. When it was in the basement, litter rarely made it up the basement stairs to the main level or second story, another great reason for putting it in the basement. But, Max’s health is way more important than dealing with a little litter from time to time.

Max’s Litter Box:
I placed Max’s litter box inside a closet in the Master bath. I just leave the door cracked for access. Having it upstairs works well for him since he and I spend a good bit of the day upstairs in the office. I feel like he isn’t “holding it” all day now, which I became suspicious he was doing before.

One Solution:
Personally, I prefer the litter box as far away from the daily living spaces as possible…unfinished basements are perfect for that. Then you don’t have to deal with the sights, sounds or odors. If a home doesn’t have a basement, normally the next best place is a bathroom, laundry room or mud room. I don’t recommend having it in a carpeted area just in case an accident might happen outside the box.

I’ve been in homes where folks have placed the litter box in the bathtub of a little-used bathroom. That helps a bit with keeping the litter corralled. Max is too old now for jumping over into tubs, but that might be a good spot if you have a bathroom that’s never used and have younger cats who can still jump nice and high.

On Home Tours:
I’ve been on home tours where during the process of a renovation/addition to the home, the homeowners actually created a special place for the litter box, sometimes making use of what would have been dead space in a wall. They had a special entry created just for the kitty to go in and out. I’ve even seen a litter box hidden away inside the bottom of a window seat with access for kitty, of course.

What’s out there to buy, these days?
I decided to do a little research to see if there was anything being made/sold to help deal with the litter box dilemma. I was so surprised by all the “furniture” solutions I found, so I thought I’d share them with you in case you have a kitty and are looking for answers for coping with the litter box.

Check out this amazing kitty box at Ikea Hackers. It looks just like a nice entry bench. The box is hidden behind the door and the entrance is inside where you see the kitty.

This one at Target is one of my favorites. I like the bead board look, although the reviews were not so great. Apparently, it works just fine if you use a litter box that has a lid, thus ensuring your cat doesn’t miss the box.

This cute rattan one is available at The Cat Furniture Superstore.

 

This one from The Refined Feline is a pretty sleek solution.

 

There’s this one from Pet’s Best Products. So many clever ways to hide the litter box! 🙂

 

Here’s another really cute bench-style solution from the Designer Catbox. This would be great in a back entry/mudroom, wouldn’t it?

 

Judy, thanks for reminding me about the robotic litter boxes that will actually “scoop” your kitties litter box for you. It’s my understanding these do a pretty good job, although they do have to be replaced eventually. Do you have one of these and if so, does it work well?

 

Here’s another intriguing robotic litter solution from Liter-Robot.

 

If you have kitties who live indoors full time, I’d love to know your secrets for coping with the litter box. Do you have a favorite kitty litter? Please share any tricks or solutions you’ve found for hiding the necessary, but not-so-appealing litter box.




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Comments

  1. Mariebop says:

    We have a third floor loft that we only use for storage. So, we put the litter boxes on the landing at the bottom of the stairs…

    They are on carpet. Petsmart has mats that you can put under or next to the litter box to reduce tracking litter around the house. The only tracking we have is into the guest bath and little down the hall. No biggie. We just vacuum it up. Our bedroom is down the hall so we don't smell it. Not sure about guests who sleep in the guest room across the hall. 😛

  2. I struggle with the litter box dilemma; my cat is now 15 and moving the litter box now would not be a good idea, but I hate where it is on the stair landing 🙁

    Lisa from Recaptured Charm has come up with a great solution for her kitty's spot. http://www.recapturedcharm.com/search/label/Cabinet%20to%20Litterbox

  3. Amanda S. says:

    I have a one cat household and live in a small carriage house apartment. The only option is to put the box in the bathroom. I go with a two piece lidded box so it cuts down on litter being tossed out, and have a small doormat under it so litter is brushed off her paws when exiting.

    My kitty also was diagnosed with Hyperthyroidism a few years ago. We did the cream in the ears for about a year, but I decided to take the plunge and have the radioactive iodine treatment done because she is still fairly young and the thyroid issue was causing cardiac problems. It was pricey, but she came home with a clean bill of health and no more hyperthyroidism.

    I'm hoping to be moving into my own home next month and am weighing where I might place the litter box. Bathroom is too narrow. It will probably end up in the office, but I scoop once or twice a day and never have an odor problem. I find clumping litter and daily scooping eliminate any odor.

  4. AverettLadyNana says:

    I had no idea such litter box covers existed!!! All my past cats would use a covered litter box. One of the two cats we now have would adjust as he always used a covered box while here but the last fellow to move in would go outside the covered box so I had to take cover off and then he'll use it just fine.

    I have it in a bathroom only I use and keep bath mats around it to catch the litter off their feet. But if anything every happens to only goes in open box or outside…I'm getting one of these pretty covers!!!

  5. Valerie (Favorite Stops Along the Way) says:

    I had no idea there sere such cute litterboxes. I just wanted to share that we got a Maine Conn Cat last year, and the breeder told us to get wood pellets to use for his litterbox. Yes, the same ones used as animal bedding, or in a pellet stove. They are without additives, and work great. We have never had any odor. ( okay, maybe once, when my son went way too long before changing the litter). It sits in my son's bathroom, and no one would ever know that we have a cat in the house. They are inexpensive when bought at a feed store, in a huge bag.

  6. Susan (Between Naps on the Porch) says:

    Thanks for all the great ideas everyone! Great info!

  7. I have two delightful boy kittys and sadly no basemet, so the litter tray is in with the washer and dryer. I use the Littermaid system. It is not perfect, but definelty helps with smell and there is definetly less clean up for me. The company is great and has replaced our box for free when it had problems. I also have a mat by the box that filters a lot of the litter from their paws. But I have the best thing, a husband that likes to vacum!

  8. Susan (Between Naps on the Porch) says:

    Judy, thanks for the reminder of those! You are indeed a lucky lady…a husband who likes to vacuum!
    Definitely a keeper!

  9. Beware though that some cats are so offended by the ammonia fumes that collect in enclosed litter boxes that he may begin to use the floor nearby.

  10. I have been lucky that our cat is indoor/outdoor and will scratch at the backdoor to go out. We do keep a litter box in the unfinished portion of the basement..accessed through a kitty door for the times that we are not home.

    We are currently remodeling our basement and have purchased 5 panel hardwwod doors which hubby says he will not cut a kitty door into… so we have been trying out new spots for the litter box… none make me as happy as the basement. (our cat is about 15 and goes with the flow no problem moving food or litterpans)
    I will keep trying new spots.. but maybe the solution is one of those fancy hidden furniture pieces??

  11. Anonymous says:

    We have a "little used" bathroom, but it is only a half bath. I took one of the cabinet doors off and tucked the litter box behind the other door. It looks odd, but it was the best solution. I would love to have a kitty door installed into the side of the cabinet. Until moving into this house, I have always had them in the garage with access via kitty door. However, the house I'm in now……. (embarrassed to admit this) we have always had a field mice problem in the garage when they harvest hay in the field across the street and I don't want them bringing any into the house. I swear the next time I build a house, there will be a special 6×6 room for the litter box, complete with deep sink and drain in the floor.

  12. red.neck chic says:

    I love this post! I have a cat that will come in from the yard… the biggest kitty litter box EVER… just to use his little one in the laundry room.

    Good grief I love being owned by that cat.

    ;-D I'm off to check out some of the great "boxes"!!!

    robelyn

  13. Susan (Between Naps on the Porch) says:

    Anon…I like your idea! Boy, would that make maintenance easy! 🙂

  14. Susan (Between Naps on the Porch) says:

    Robelyn…that is too funny! They do own us, don't they. lol

  15. Donna Hollingsworth says:

    I have indoor only cats and have to deal with litter quite often. The best litter I have found is Fresh Step clumping litter. It really minimizes odor until I get time to scoop poop!

  16. Duchess of Lanier says:

    Great post and responses!
    Our house is boring and not cute: laundry room, astroturf type mat in front, but something no one here has mentioned: ALL-CRYSTAL type litter. Yes it's expensive, but have tried the mix crystal/regular and not as good. Love this litter, if one can love litter 😉 Seriously, it lasts forever like about a month, we don't scoop (gasp!), no odor, just dump the whole mess of it and pour in new bag. Whoever thought of crystal litter- brilliant!

  17. Terry @ La Bella Vie says:

    Hi Susan,

    I can't believe this, I was actually thinking the other day someone should do a post on litter box systems because we have a great solution in our house for two indoor sister kitties…
    Are you going to do an MM maybe on yours, that would so fun to link up with 🙂
    Terry

  18. My employer has had the automatic litter box for years and just bought a new one. He loves it and so do his cats.

  19. I had never even thought to find a pretty solution to the litter box. Mine is in the middle of the little used basement family room. There is carpet, but I just vacuum often around it. BTW, the advertisement under this post is showing a Cat Genie that sort of looks like a toilet. Sorta cute.

  20. Heaven's Walk says:

    Believe it or not, I have a "kitty room" upstairs. lol! It's an extra bedroom that we don't use for anything but extra storage, so the kitty food and boxes are in there. Out of the way, convenient, and they have a quiet place to kick back. 🙂

    xoxo laurie

  21. Jane @ Jane's Junk and Treasures says:

    I had NO idea there were so many fancy cat boxes!!!

    I keep mine in the mud room closet.

  22. Jane@Cottage at the Crossroads says:

    Thanks for doing a post about this smelly problem. I have 2 indoor cats. The only place I have for the litter box is on the back porch. I disguised it by putting it under a table with a fabric skirt. Trouble is, everybody comes to our back door. Sometimes it is a little smelly. The best litter I've tried is Arm & Hammer's Double Duty. I may investigate the crystal litter that another commenter raved about. When we renovate, I'll definitely plan where the litter box will go to eliminate any odor.

  23. Mama Zen says:

    I had no idea that there were so many options!

  24. We have three indoor kitties and they have their own bathroom in the unfinished basement (ugly and old and not used by humans). Their litterbox is there and my wonderful husband takes care of it. We use Fresh Step multicat. We bought a HUGE storage container (the kind that slide under a bed) because we have three cats. We still have tracking problems, but when you have cats that's just one in a long list of many things(cat prints, fur and >yuck< hairballs!

    Gotta love 'em though! We wouldn't be without!!!

  25. Since our house is on a hill, our garage is under one end of the house with a small closet to house the water heater. One wall of my office is above the garage. My husband put a kitty door on my office wall, thats opens next to the ceiling in the little closet. He then built carpeted steps in the closet down to the litter box. The carpet catches all the stray litter. We use an extremely large storage tub with an opening cut in one side since we had two cats until last year. The little staircase also provides a hiding place for Punkin my scaredy cat when a strange comes into the house.

  26. The Polka Dot Closet says:

    I love my robotic litter box!!! I have 2 big cats and only empty the holding pan twice a week. I had my first pan for 6 years and when it broke last month I ran around to 3 Targets to replace it immediately. You will never smell litter or scoop again. I also see a huge difference in litter and have found Scoop Away as top of the line for clumping and odors. Now that I have commented I have to go back and see what everyone else said.

    Carol

  27. Witch of Stitches says:

    I never, ever has an odor problem because we scoop the box whenever it has been used – I check throughout the day. Also, I use an safe and natural enzyme spray that eliminates urine odors. And, of course, we change the box regularly. I have been in beautiful, immaculate homes where they don't scoop the poop out of the box – of course, there's an odor. You won't leave your toilet un-flushed! The key to no odor is a clean box – the kitty will be much happier too.

  28. Anonymous says:

    My childhood friend told me about the Breeze litter system. I have two cats that both have asthma so I used corn litter for years. We have hardwood floors all over the main house and litter was always everywhere–even with vacuuming and broom and dust panning often each day. My two seems to believe in digging to China as part of their exercise in making Mom work hard. The Breeze litter system is wonderful–the box has a bottom drawer with "pee pad" insert to catch the liquid waste. The main box has a sifter apparatus that holds the litter pellets on the top. The solid waste can be scooped away. The pellets escape but no more grit everywhere and the pellets are easy to spot! The system is sometimes hard to find as are the refills I hear but I have had no trouble finding supplies. It is a bit pricey but I love the changes it made in litter-tending. My youngest kitty adapted to the change quickly and she was the one I worried about–the 14 year old took a few weeks to decide he would follow along but now things are great and Mom is happier. I keep several boxes–two in a guest bath in a stall shower area and one in the laundry room/back entry and one in the basement bath. With an older diabetic kitty, I want his life to be easy!

  29. Carol E. in AZ says:

    Hi,

    We have 3 Feline children and have one huge catbox. They are all very well trained and only once or twice have they "missed".

    My favorite litter is "Scoop Away". Really tones down the smell and is very easy to clean. Only disadvantage is we have tile and the litter tracks down the hall. I did find a solution for that though, and place a kitchen rug just as they come out of the laundry room. Works great!

  30. Fairfield House says:

    We have two Siamese cats — Puter & Mishka. They have their own room which was originally a small utility towards the back of the house. Last year I decided to invest in the automatic kitty box pictured above. I cannot imagine NOT having it. Not only does it do all the 'scooping' but there is absolutely NO odor. I highly recommend these to everyone who has indoor cats.

  31. Eileen @ Cottage Beach House says:

    We had a litter box in the garage and had a kitty door drilled into our door leading from the family room to the garage. That kept it easily accessable to kitty but out of any main living area. Funny thing is we got really lucky and our kitty Snowflake, preferred to go outside by using the doggie door we had cut out for our Cocker Spaniel. Snowflake completely stopped using the box and opted to just go out. Now after 14 years later kitty is still going outside somewhere in the mulch,but always stays close to home, and I never have to deal with a yukky litter box.

  32. Allison Shops says:

    I had DH install a pet door for the cats in our last home, so they could go to the basement to do their business. In our new home, it was tucked in the corner of our main level laundry room – but I hated the litter dust!
    The perfect solution was introduced to me by my dear son. His GF was moving in with him and three cats was one too many, so they drove to AL from Chicago with one of his. DS told me about the Breeze litter box system. It uses dust-free (really!) pellets. They say one package of pellets a month, but I use two since my cats like to dig. There is a tray underneath for a pad where the urine goes. DD2 switched also, as well as numerous friends that have visited our homes. We order through Amazon's automatic system (cost less this way) and it really is less than regular cat litter as well. You change the pad X times a week, depending on how many cats you have. 1 time = 1 cat. 2 times = 2 cats, etc.
    Sorry so long, but I love sharing about this cat litter system!

    Allison
    Atticmag

  33. Susan (Between Naps on the Porch) says:

    Allison, I need to check it out. I've never heard of that kind! Thanks for sharing this.

  34. We, too, did the cat door to the basement trick until our cat got too old to handle all those trips up/down stairs. Thanks for all the nice furniture options for hiding the box.

  35. Katherine says:

    I saw this system [http://litter-garage.com/]and loved the idea. My husband I and were able to make our own by installing a cat/doggie door out to the garage through a wall in our laundry room. We put the litter box inside a pet crate we were no longer using. Best thing we've ever done!

    You can see it here:
    http://theloftinblog.blogspot.com/2010/05/adventures-in-handyman-ness.html

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