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!

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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.

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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!

111 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.

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