I was driving to work one morning, thinking about things as is my habit, when I realized I hadn’t written about my litter boxes.

I may have mentioned that I think of odd things while driving.

I am unusually proud of my litter boxes, because I made them myself. Granted, it wasn’t that hard, but still – I made them.

Back when I just had Simon, I had a standard box you can find at any Sprawlmart or pet store – it resembled a large dishpan. I got one of the “deluxe” models with a cover, to cut down on the smell. (This was back when I was living in my camper.) Then the kittens came along and it was very clear, after cleaning out the box three times a day, that I was going to have to do something else.

But what?

I already had the largest litter box available (they just didn’t make litter boxes any bigger) and the lack of space meant I couldn’t just buy another one. I was stumped until I realized that while they didn’t make litter boxes bigger, they did make larger plastic containers.

No, I'm not going to post pictures of my litter boxes. Sicko.

I ventured out to Sprawlmart’s storage section and found the perfect solution – a thirty gallon storage tote. Five (very careful) minutes with a sharp knife and there was a seven inch square hole in one end about eight inches from the bottom. Why seven inches? Because that’s how wide the handles are. I filled it with litter, it took most of a twenty-eight pound bucket, and then popped the lid on, congratulating myself on a job well done.

And now the cost breakdown

  • A regular far-too-small-for-anything-other-than-a-single-kitten  litter box, around ten dollars or so.
  • A fancy “extra-large” covered model, like the one I had, can go for twenty-five or so.
  • The even fancier self-cleaning models cost over a hundred, but that’s really overkill in my opinion.
  • The thirty gallon tote, which can accommodate two cats at the same time, cost me less than nine dollars.

This is quite a savings, in more ways than one.

When I cut the hole in the end, I measured the depth of the old box and added an inch or so, making the tote slightly deeper than a standard litter box. It’s not much and the cats have no trouble getting in and out, but that inch or so spread out over the entire box really increased the volume of litter I’m able to use. Most litter boxes are no more than about six or seven inches deep and you never fill it to the top, that’s just a recipe for getting litter everywhere.

Even the “extra-large” boxes are barely big enough for one cat; Simon had a hard time turning around in his, the small amount of litter in the bottom made it lightweight and prone to rocking back and forth when “in use,” and the top popped off constantly.  The larger footprint and heavier weight of the tote makes it much more stable. This is especially nice, since all three of my furry darlings like to dig during their private time. Sometimes I think they just go in and dig for fun.

Keeping all of this in mind, when it became clear that Simon was going to have to be put in a permanent time-out the protect Nikki, I didn’t buy a regular litter box; I bought a tote. I didn’t need one quite as big as the thirty gallon job, so I got a slightly smaller eighteen gallon one, which is perfect for one cat. It cost me a little over five dollars. I do have one standard litter box, I bought it to use when Simon hurt his shoulder and I had to keep him caged for a month, the tote was too big to fit in the cage. It was very messy, with litter getting everywhere, and I was glad to put it away when Simon’s shoulder healed.

If you’re thinking about getting a cat or currently have a cat or cats and you are fed up with too-small litter boxes, go get yourself a tote. Since they are fairly air-tight, it’s a good idea to leave the lid off from time to time to help the ammonia evaporate. I leave the lids off of mine about once a week and give the litter a good stir every time I clean it out to help things along.

Bonus tip!

While there is very little litter kicked out of the totes since the sides are so high, there will be some as the cats go in and out. Putting a mat down in front of the opening solves this problem nicely.You can buy an expensive one for at least ten dollars, if not more…

Aww... it's kinda cute.

Or you can be smart and get a rubber doormat.

I find the kind with the little pegs works the best.

The doormats I use both came from Family Dollar and cost three bucks a piece. They do both say “WELCOME” instead of being cute little paw shapes, but it’s not like the cats care about that sort of thing. The cats walk over the mat and the little rubber feet knock the litter off their feet, even Fearless’ fuzzy clodhoppers.

Her fuzzy, fuzzy feet.

They reduce the amount of litter getting tracked through the house down to almost nothing and I don’t have to comb litter out of Fearless’ foot-fur every night. (Yes, I’ve done that. It’s not nearly as much fun as it sounds.)

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