DIY: Make Your Own Cat Litter Box

This post is one that gets a lot of comments and I’m tickled so many people have found it useful.  We’ve had our DIY litter boxes for at least 2 yrs. now.  We still love them—as much as you can love a litter box.  And they’re still in great shape.  Yea!

rbbrlitterboxtop.jpg

About a month ago, one of our two cats started peeing while standing up in their litter box. We were using a LitterMaid litter box at the time. My feelings about the LitterMaid were mixed. I appreciated not having to scoop the box all the time, but emptying the collection bin was a pain and cleaning the box was a real hassle. And while I was glad the cats always had a clean box to use, I really didn’t like that even after a couple of years, Sage would still come from another room to whack the rake when she heard it moving and often when Raven finished using the box, she’d come flying out of it lest the “monster” get her. Plus, scooping the litter boxes yourself is a good way to keep track of your cat’s health.

So first, I made an appointment with our vet to have the cats checked out since changes in urinary habits can be a sign of illness. And I bought a new litter box. The cats both got clean bills of health, but the stand-up peeing started happening more often. The new litter box leaked urine where the hood met the lid and made a smelly mess. I bought another litter box which had the hood sitting within the lip of the lower pan. Now the urine didn’t leak out of the box, but I had to clean the hood and the lip of the lower pan everyday. This was not working and we were out $60 on useless litter boxes.

It’s easy, cheap, and quick to make your own litter box. Here’s what you’ll need to make one yourself:

  • lidded, plastic container deep enough for your cat to stand in without touching the lid. I made a larger litter box using a Rubbermaid Roughneck Storage Box, Large, 25 gal, 28.8 x 19.7 x 16.5 in, which cost between $10-$12 from Fred Meyer. You can find these lidded storage boxes at thrift stores & stores like Target, Walmart, Lowes, etc.
  • permanent marker

Using a Sharpie, I drew freehand what would be the opening. Keep in mind that you’ll want the opening high if you have a cat that pees standing up. They’ll be less likely to pee with their rear-end hanging out the door. I put the opening at the narrow end of the box because that’s what our cats are used to and I think they’re less likely to pee out the door that way. Then I carefully cut out the opening with a utility knife. (Another option would be to cut the opening in the lid so that it looked something like this litter box by Clevercat.)

That’s all it takes! Fill the box with cat litter and replace lid for a covered litter box or leave it off if your cats prefer. Here are some thumbnails of how mine turned out.

rbbrlitterbox1.jpg rbbrlitterbox2.jpg

rbbrlitterbox3.jpg rbbrlitterbox4.jpg

I don’t think I’ll ever buy another litter box. I love that the lid is flat. It makes it easier to store it when I scoop the box—I just lean it against the wall. And when the lid is in place on top of the box, it provides a level area to store the scoop, bags, and cat litter. It has good handles so it’s easy to move. It’s big, so the cats are happy. The sides are high so there’s nothing to clean up if they pee standing up. You can get them in a few different colors. If you have the tools to cut harder plastic, you can get transparent storage bins. And it’s so much cheaper than buying litter boxes from a store!

136 thoughts on “DIY: Make Your Own Cat Litter Box

  1. i like the idea but how would you empty it to change the liter especially when it is heavy after you put the liter in

  2. Cindy, what I do is scoop out litter with a large empty yogurt container until it’s light enough for me to pour the rest out. Hope this helps!

  3. I have a storage tote for my cat. I just recently bought a discount trunk, cut a hole in the side and put the tote in there. So far shes doing fine except she still goes over the top sometimes so I’m going to get a tote thats a little deeper.

  4. Thanks for the idea. I was searching on-line for something to hide the litter box since it’s in my living room but everything was really expensive. I think I might just put the old square litter box inside the plastic tote though. May be easier to clean instead of crapping up the entire tote box. Just gotta find me a dremmel!

  5. From Mexico, thanks so much for your suggestion! I’ve done 2 of them now and our cats are so happy, as us. Great DIY project.

  6. I love this idea! I have 2 huge Norwegian forest cats that make a huge mess. Nothing out there makes sense for them. I am going out today to do this! Thanks for thinking this up!

  7. Love the idea and have been in great need of a leak-proof litter box as my one male cat aims high. Just purchased the Rubbermaid 24 gal. high top which is 24″long 20″ high and about 17″ wide as my one guy doesn’t squat like my girl. Will let you know how this size works.

  8. Love love love this idea! I have a male cat that sprays over the sides of the pan and I had purchased a small hard plastic swimming pool at toys r us to put the pan inside for those overspays and had layered newspaper on the bottom for easier cleanup. I am going tomorrow to purchase a rubbermaid tub but will still set it inside the pool because that sure keeps tracked litter under control also and not on my floor. I have a basement and there is plenty of room for a small pool. This probably isnt a great suggestion if you don’t have the space for it.

  9. My vet suggested storage bins a few years ago and I can’t imagine spending money on a litter box. I have many cats, purchase totes on sale and can vary the opening placement to suit the location. The cats often lounge on the tops; for kittens, a smaller opening helped exclude the adults. They make great inexpensive dens as well. I just use an old serrated knife for the cuts.

  10. I love it!! I have lots of cats and they always create a mess with the litter! This will be really helpful! Great idea! =•.•=!

  11. Have used Rubbermaid Roughneck tubs for years now. Set them in washing machine pans (available at Lowes or Home Depot), to further ensure that any overflow would be caught. Lined pans with clear (no print) newsprint packing paper, available at Office Max or any moving/storage supply location. This year, had to cut the opening lower for my 13 yr old males. Before that 6″ from base was OK.

  12. Wow. Am going to try this, this weekend. Would really like a plastic flap door though as well. Will work something out.

  13. Like the idea, but the entry way is too high for a CH adult kitty. You need to make the hole closer to the bottom of the tote. You can’t put as much sand in, but it is easier for ch kitties to step into it. I like the pan inside the tote box idea. My ch kitty uses a litterbox if she is in a wire crate, but not when I let her out. Very frustrating. I put down washable puppy pads or mattress pads on the floor. The other problem i have is my non-ch cats will fill up her “special” litterbox, so it has to be emptied more often.

  14. Interesting. We made a insulated shelter using a tote. The kittens outside love it with their sheepskin bed inside. Totes are good for a lot of things!

  15. If you use “scoopable” litter, you rarely need to empty the entire thing. I made the opening in the longer side. Then I cut one long edge off the lid and slid the now-flat edge slightly under the litter box to serve as a “foyer” to catch litter that gets tracked out. Guess it would work the same if the opening is in the short side. Putting a plastic “grass” mat in the lid catches even more litter.

  16. OOPS! Just read on a vet’s site that you should NOT use the plastic “grass” mats in front of a cat box, because it is uncomfortable for the cat to walk on and may cause the cat to avoid the litter box. The vet recommended the Booda mat. A small piece of carpet could also work (though my cats sometimes urinate on small mats).

  17. Love this idea. I have 3 cats and 3 liter boxes. Funny my female will pee outside the box and poop inside the current liter boxes. I actually use pee pee pads for her because it was a losing battle. One of my boys likes to push all the liter around and it I usually end up with more liter out of the box than in the box. Additionally I have 2 dogs that like the “kitty …yuck” this idea might help keep the dogs out. Even though they are about the same size having a whole high would be good. I was thinking of getting either colored boxes or stickers/paint and have fun decorating it. Good idea for a home with children – they may have fun decorating the box. Thanks so much for sharing.

  18. I did this with plastic totes. I used the harder plastic and cut it with a jigsaw. Works great. But the next time I cut it, I’m going to take duct tape and outline where I want to cut it. Put the duct tape on the tote itself, not on the piece that you will be removing. The harder plastic cracks easy and the duct tape will prevent that.

  19. I went to Target, I got the 25 Gallon Sterilite container box, and I did it tonight. The babies love it, and it does everything you said it would do! Thank you for posting it!

  20. I have been having the same problem with my cat peeing standing up and I am thrilled about this idea. It’s the perfect solution. Thank You so much for sharing your idea with the rest of us. Four thumbs up.

  21. Thank you so much!!!! While looking for a solution to the same issue that you had, a cat that nearly stands to pee and the resulting mess that it is causing with standard open litter boxes, I stumbled across your images on a google.com image search. This looks like the perfect solution and thank you so much for sharing. I look forward to doing this project this weekend.

  22. Why didn’t I think of this? My tall ,lazy cat Peed on the side of the box and it leaked out . this the best litter box in the world !

  23. One suggestion…cut the opening in the long side of the box. This will guide the cat to turn left or right when he/she enters, making it less likely for the cat to hang outside the opening. I’m doing this tonight!

  24. Wow, I have thought about using these for a long time, but wasn’t sure if the urine would really soak into the plastic. I suppose the black harder plastic bins are better than the more flexible light colored bins.

    I really like that this has handles also. I use hard corn based cat litter that is flushible (live on the 4th floor, so when it goes down it’s completely pulverized) and then I can just pick it back up to move it.

    It appears this could very easily have a wood box made around it so it’s less ugly (and could leave the plastic lid off, allowing for light to come in through the top “bench boards”. I’ll have to check out how much it would cost to use some cedar and give it that fresher smell. Plus there is plenty of room to use clip-on adhesive air fresheners inside.

  25. Another note: I have to use regular cat boxes inside my spare BATH TUB because about once a week, one cat will completely miss 100% of urine in the box. (Nerve of the jerk.) I can’t use those covers anymore, because same as you, there isn’t a single one that won’t leak urine our or cause a crystal urine moat.

    Thanks!!!

  26. Omg this is rhe best idea ever! I have 4 rescued cats, and 2 litter boxes. Have one of those clever cat top entry ones, and only one of the cats will use that. I have a regular box as well and alparently the 2 males are spraying high so the pee comes out where the lid meets the box…hence pee outside the box and nasty cleanup all the time.
    This idea is perfect. Will be similar to the clevercat box, which I happen to love but will have a side entry like the cats prefer. Just bought 2 to replace the existing boxes. Will keep the pee i side the box and cleanup will be so much easier.
    Also a hint to other cat owners…we have switched to arm and hammer corn cat litter. Omg this stuff is great! Cats love it, smells great (they use plants for deoderizing) and I add a little baking soda, and NO chemicals for cats to scratch in and lick off their paws.

  27. What a great idea! I have two girls and a larger litter box but lately been having a lot of issues with the urine going in between where the top meets the bottom and making a mess. So…This is on my honey to do list! Thank you! :)

  28. I also have a cat that pees standing up–she has just always done it. Like you, I also tried the lidded boxes and found them unsatisfactory. It’s time to get my cats new boxes, and this time I am definitely going to try your solution. I’m hoping my normally wacky cats will eventually let me keep the lid on.
    Thank you so much for the post!

  29. I have 2 large indoor cats so have a litterbox in lounge. I’m going to try making this as I’ve just had to return a covered litter box that I bought online as it was too small.
    Brilliant idea!

  30. Judy the Putty Tat has been driving us crazy since she started peeing standing up. I am constantly cleaning up the mess in, around and under her hooded litter box. I am going to make a litter box like your example tomorrow!

  31. Read on a post to heat the area with a hair drier would soften the plastic for cutting and put duct tape on the entrance as it will be sharp. This will keep them from getting injured.

  32. I built two of these with the Rubber Maid totes and now my female cat never pees outside the littler box.

    I hate the groves in the bottom of these totes, because it makes it harder to scoop the littler on the inside edges of the box. I bought some concrete crack sealer from Ace for $10 and used it to fill the inside of the box. The bottom is almost perfectly flat. Also, where you cut the door out can be a little sharp and uncomfortable for the cat. I bought a 6′ piece of 1/2″ pipe insulation for a $1.30 and cut out a piece to fit where the door was. It looks classy and keeps my gato from possibly getting injured on the sharper edges.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>