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!


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!

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

  1. A fan from from the UK here. I made a litter tray with a porthole and a lid (optional).

    Using a dinner plate and a fine permanent marker (Sharpie) as a template, I drew a circle on the long side of a large, high-sided, clear polypropylene box. I used masking tape to stop the edge of the circle from cracking (which I removed when finished). After trying a number of tools, I found that large scissors worked best. I made a pilot hole in the centre of the circle using a bradawl (anything sharp and pointy will do), big enough to fit the scissor blades. Working from the centre out, I cut in straight lines, about 6mm (1/4″) all the way round, until I had lots of loose plastic strips. I was then able to cut out the circle more easily, one strip at a time.

    I smoothed the edges of the hole with fine sandpaper wrapped around a tube, then finished it off with flexible PVC edging to strengthen it (not essential, and no glue needed).

    I plan to put holes in the lid so that Puss (real name Penny) isn’t overwhelmed by the smell. For now, I’m leaving the lid off until Puss gets used to her new tray.

    Total cost: £6 (about $9) and blisters!

    Next challenge: find a way to reduce the litter trail!

  2. Brilliant !!

    Thank goodness I found your site. I’ve got a 17 year old male cat, who just recently started peeing with tail-end poking out of the little box (box has a tall hood). Fortunately, the litter box sits inside a long, low-sided plastic box (type used for those long gift wrapping paper rolls), so that urine collects inside this long box. Nevertheless, my clean-up work has doubled.

    I think that this 23-gal Rubbermaid tote solution should work. Thank you.

  3. The only problem with this solution is the bottom of the bins are not flat, they have “ridges” like others have mentioned, making it a pain in the ass to clean. Silty litter deposits get stuck in the inset corners. Obviously, you can’t use liners with this solution. Had anyone been able to find a flat-bottomed bin?

  4. The 30 gallon bins are great but have two problems, the bottoms are not flat and even making the door opening 6″ off the floor my big boy would still stand right inside the box and pee on the floor. I solved both problems! Inside the 30 gallon tote I put a regular flat kitty litter box. It fits perfectly width wise but is about 5″ shorter. I push it all the way to the front and keep a folded towel between the door and the smaller box. Now when my boy goes into the smaller box and pees towards the door it all goes on the towel which I change easily. No more washing rugs everyday. Woo Hoo!

  5. I gave up on the typical cat litter box and started using a big tub. I love it. No mess outside of the tub and with the lid the cats have privacy.

  6. I found mine don’t appreciate the dark so I put in a battery operated motion detector LED light, taping it to the top, so it comes on when they come in and goes off when they go out. Works great.

  7. I have been using storage totes for 7 years now and will never go back to a typical litter box. I use a clear Sterilite tote, the longest tallest that walmar* has, cost like $12.00ish. It does have the ridges in the bottom but I just scrape around the ridges then finish scooping.. I don’t mind the ridges after 7 years of using this tote I’m just use to it and my cats are Happy☺. I also do NOT put the lid on tote, they jump in. I thoroughly wash the tote with antibacterial soap and bleach every 3-4 weeks. I usually buy new totes every year.

  8. I use Sterlite clear storage boxes since they have minimal or no ridges on the bottom (66 gal that I found at Tarjay yesterday has none). I love this solution since it cuts down on the litter dust and gives my big Tom cat plenty of room. Wish I could find the first one I tried, about 85 gallons. It is a very comfortable size for large cats. Bonus: My tall dogs can’t “snack” from these litter boxes!

  9. Flat bottom boxes.. Really Useful Boxes brand have perfectly smooth bottoms and sides.. and are extremely strong with all the strengthening ribs on the outside only

  10. I recently started using a tote for a litter box but there seems to be a problem with urine leaking and being underneath the tote. Has anyone else experienced this? Any suggestions? Maybe a different brand of tote ? I am at a loss and going crazy with this!

  11. Sterilite makes a flat bottom box in a large size, we have been using it with an open top as one of our litter boxes for several years. It’s tall, so I have a step on the outside for our older cats. Don’t recall were it was purchased but believe it’s Sterilite’s “basic”, so look at the cheap storage boxes in the “big box” stores.

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