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!

183 Replies to “DIY: Make Your Own Cat Litter Box”

  1. Love the litter box – now to make my own for our stan-up peeing princess, Trink! Thanks.

  2. Yes, I use the Rubbermaid boxes too. They are easy to wash. Litter pans are way too expensive for what they are. Thanks.

  3. I am SO happy with the box I made and can’t believe now, how much I’ve spent on litter boxes over the years. And best of all, the cats like it.

    I’m going to make a top entry one out of a harder plastic bin. I’ll write a post about it and how it went.

  4. Thank you for this! I was just searching the web for plastic tubs & sizes to do something like this because all the new litter boxes I have just purchased do not contain the mess from my standup kitties. Thank you for the solution & the How To and I will donate the new litter boxes to the local shelter!

  5. I’m so glad you’ve found this helpful! I am so much happier with my DIY litterbox and the cats are too. And it was SO easy.

  6. Thanks for the reminder of how easy this is to make. Also, you mention using the translucent bins – I’m betting that using them might preclude problems with a cat’s not wanting to enter a dark closed-in space. We’re going to start with that idea. Thanks again.

  7. Will study the litter box making and materials and see if I can make one also will tell my Son Steve who has two cats and see how we make out. No problems so far with anybody standing to widdle, but who knows. My cats prefer no lid and I can see if there is any problems with them pooping or widdling. Jan

  8. I Made a box for my 2 dwarf rabbits ( richelieu and Coke) yes that is there names… gonna try it out tonight

  9. It still ticks me off that my wife and I paid 69.99 for that “patented perfected piddle place that no cat can ignore” just to watch our cat look at us with a sneer and pee standing up against the wall anyway!!! ( I think she read the “made in china” label. We really did know better, but sometimes you will try anything)
    The 32 gallon Rubbermaid box has worked great for us. We cut the hole in the side so our cat is forced to turn once she enters the box and this has been a real floor and wall saver.. No problems, and our home once again smells like home sweet home..

  10. David, that’s great! So glad it’s worked for you. I just cleaned one of ours and was tickled with how easy it was to deal with. No crevices to try to get clean and no mechanical parts that can’t get wet. And I could just set it out in the sun to let the ultraviolet light do its thing.

  11. This is a great idea, thanks so much for sharing. I’m thinking about going out to wal-mart to get one and try it tonight. I think it will solve all my problems.

  12. Glad to see your blog. We have just acquired what I consider to be a large bact (almost 12 lbs). We have a covered litter box, which on her first visit, we realized that it just wasn’t going to work. We took the cover off and it still doesn’t work well.
    Couldn’t find a bigger litter box so I told my husband that I could probably find some kind of storage box that might work. Now thanks to your idea, I have the perfect solution. Thank you, so much

  13. This is the pet suppliers worst nightmare but cat owner’s savior! All of our litterboxes have been replaced with versions of these. They can be covered without causing the odor to build up inside. I prefer the hole in lid variety as it cuts down on tracking but we have a cat who won’t jump in from the top so we have side entrances too. We have one in a bathroom and if you buy a smaller tub you can cut the whole in the narrow end and fit the tub between the toilet and the wall. If you don’t have a fussy kitty no hole is necessary at all so no work required. Even my 13 lb cat can use this one. Cleaning is so much easier because you can tip the tub from side to side to release the large clumps from sticking to the bottom.

  14. HI! I did it and I love it! My problem was that I have a small dog that use to go in the regular catbox and have ”lunch”.So I made a litterbox but the oppening is on top of the box.It’s a good solution if you have small children too!
    Thank you!

  15. I read about this suggestion first from another website ( The author coined the term, “elevator-butt pee’er.” Finally, someone described what I thought was a totally unique problem for me. I was so thrilled about what I read that I searched the internet for other sites that mention this wonderful solution (storage bins as litter boxes). I have an extra-large cat – 18.5 lbs to be exact. No, he’s not overweight. My vet says, “He’s just a big guy!” I was tearing my hair out watching him urinate in his old litterbox – he starts out squatting and then slowly lifts his butt until the stream is over the top of the box and all over my unfinished wood floor and wall (hence, elevator-butt pee’er)! The tallest litterbox I could find was simply not tall enough. I tried a “jumbo” covered litterbox, but he is much too big for it and i imagine that over time he would get tired of having to crouch down to use it. The solution was a 30 gallon rubbermaid storage bin, about 16.5 inches tall on all sides. I bought an inexpensive serated utility knife at home depot (that is capable of cutting pvc pipe), and it was very easy to cut an entrance in the side. I decided it was better to not use the lid at all. I was so pleased to watch him use his new bathroom, and the urine stays INSIDE the box! Granted, he still lifts his rear when he urinates, but I’m fine with that. As long as it stays in the box!

  16. Thanks for the post I was just thinking of making one using a container but kept denying my cat would use it but after see this post I know it’ll work out just fine….btw do you have any suggestions to making a cat gym I made a home made bed which I am going to post later but my creative senses want to venture further….so just let me know at the email above thanks…..

  17. Hi Aroara, I sent you email, but also wanted to post a comment in case others are interested in making a cat tree.

    I’m glad the diy litter box post was useful. I have a few diy cat tree posts on

    And I’ll be posting more. Please let me now how your bed, litter box, and cat tree projects go.

  18. Thank you so much for the information! I have made my own litter box from a storage container and it works perfectly for my standing peeing cat. No more smelly carpet and mess to clean!

    Having said that, I have to disagree with the top entry litter box suggestion; I think that is a terrible design (especially for older cats) and I wouldn’t want my cats to have to jump down into their box. I wouldn’t want to have to enter my bathroom in that fashion!

  19. Well, I am thrilled also that my floors and walls have been saved but when I went to change the litter I could not pick it up. Wet litter is much heavier than dry litter. I dragged it out to the dumpster and tipped it over and it still was stuck. No amount of banging against the dumpster would release it. Finally got it emptied and washed out. I put a trash can bag at the bottom and hopefully will make this week’s cleaning alot easier. During the week I scoop and fully change on the weekend. Anyone have any ideas about this?

  20. Lynda,

    I’ve been doing this for some time now. After gettin the automatic and many other litter boxes, my problem is the process of emptying the litter. So now, I use the litter maid container LOL!.

    I didn’t even cut a hole in the side…cut one in the lid, but evenutally i even stopped using th lid.

    But to answer your question, I line the container with a glad trash bag. So now…the litter cleaning chore is simply removing the trash bag, replacing it with another and adding new litter.

    One thing also, is that clumping litter is heavier when spoiled then the cheap kind. I never noticed a difference in my cat with the expensive litter over the cheap stuff so now, it’s easy for me to just replace the entire continer after a week or so.

  21. I have done this project but leave the lid off…my cats like to stand when they poop…front paws on the side of box. I started using this b/c my male has started to stand when peeing… glad to see it is fairly common. He has been great with using the litter box.

  22. One or two of our female cats also stand while urinating. Needless to say, we experienced the same symptom – leakage from the seam. We always put plastic under the litter box, but the cleanup and the smell were both horrible. You have shared one of the best ideas for cats that I have ever heard! The day that I read this article, I went to that store with the bulls-eye logo and bought two bins for about $8 each and cut out the doors like you described. Our three cats liked the bins so much that they each had to try it immediately. Best of all, no urine leaking out of any seams! Thank you very much!

  23. Yay! My wonderful cat Badger is also an “elevator-butt pee’er.” (Ha! That term is so perfect) and now I have a cheap easy solution. Thank you so much for posting! I’m gonna check out your other DIY kitty options…

  24. Hi I was wondering is there away to put a liner in the box or how do you clean it out? What a excellent idea. Thanks

  25. And here I think I am the only one with a kitty standing up to pee! This looks like a great idea, will try it right away! Thanks 🙂

  26. We have limited space here so I had to use a 10 gallon one (the only place for the litter is in our small second bathroom). After cutting the hole, the big orange guy with some serious elevator butt problems went in and used it…he STILL managed to splash a few over the side but I’m hoping it was just him trying to go fast and get out of there since I was staring at him since he went. In any case, it’s still a few inches taller than my other one, and we will put the cap on when guests come over so it’s not immediately apparent that it is the cat’s bathroom, too. If I could guarantee no leaks, I might be able to put a second larger one under our open staircase without too much problem, I”m just leery as we just got new carpet. Anyway, thanks for the idea…love that I was able to try it for an investment of only $4 and hopefully will not be cleaning the tile floor every day.

  27. Forgot one more note, we plan on edging the cuts with some folded over duct tape, just because they are a little ragged after my knife work.

  28. I had to post a THANK YOU for this information. I didn’t know what to do…i actually saw my cat’s “elevator butt” in motion and had no idea how to fix the problem of her peeing in but also over the litterbox. This literally saved our relationship! Best “do it yourself” project EVER. Really!

  29. Doesn’t seem very complicated but let’s see how it goes 🙂
    After what you wrote it sure is waste of money to buy a litter box. Thanks for your effort!

  30. This works great! I made 5 top-entry boxes for my 5 cats, and all of them use the boxes perfectly! I desperately needed something to keep my beagle out of the litter boxes as he developed a taste for “kitty roca.” He’s not tall enough to put his head in the hole on the top and make it all the way down to where the “snacks” are. The dog is mad because the buffet is closed, but he’ll be happy when he realizes that I’ll start kissing him again!

  31. So much cheaper and just as (if not more) effective than the expensive models! That reminds me, I’ve also seen this done for cat houses – they doubled up the bins (so one smaller bin inside a larger bin), but insulation between the bins and sealed it so the cat can’t get sick from it, and then put a heating blanket inside. Works awesome for cats that live in the garage or basement in the winter.

  32. I have tried using the storage container for litterboxes. They definitely work however the bottoms are not smooth and make scooping harder. Plus they do require more litter which does make the boxes too heavy. My solution was to put a litterbox inside the storage box…uses less litter and more scoopable. This also provides extra tray to catch flying litter. It is easier to change a smaller litterbox but the storage container provides the higher walls for my “elevated butt pee’er”.

  33. I made a similar litter box a while ago, but I cut a hole in the lid instead of the side of the box. Cutting a hole in the lid works great if you have toddlers or dogs in the house that might try to get into the litter (ewww!) I got the idea from one I saw in a magazine ($30!) but I knew I could make it myself. The cats simply jump on the lid and then go inside. It reduced litter tracking too, which was a nice bonus 🙂

  34. Hi:

    Came across your posting and wanted to reply. I actually thought
    of this a year or so ago and have done the same thing with very good results. I have larger cats so their behinds were sticking out of the other litterbox. Two tips:
    1. I used the transparent box and while cutting the hole it chipped
    all the way leaving jagged edges. These can cut the cat.
    2. I put the hole on the SIDE of the box. Picture the cat standing in the box. They stand lengthwise and dig throwing litter to the back and front. By putting the hole on the side it helps keep litter inside the box.

  35. If you have to use a clear tote (my cats prefer the dark for doing their business, but not all do), get some clear packing tape and outline where you want to cut the door… cut right through the tape and it should keep the clear tub from cracking.

  36. Thanks for this great idea! I witnessed in horror as my Peanut urinated without squatting, sending a jet stream of urine right behind her and onto my carpet. It amazes me that after all these years, manufacturers still don’t make quite the right product. I will be buying a very large box tomorrow — my Smokey is a big boy and needs his space. Thanks again!

  37. Since litter box liners don’t fit in there – do you wash it out with soap and water?

  38. Allison, I do clean it with soap & water and then set it in the sun to dry, since ultra0violet light is good at zapping things like odors.

    For people having trouble emptying the boxes because they’re heavy—I use whatever is on hand that I’ll later throw away or recycle (yogurt container, etc.) to scoop out enough litter to lighten the box & then I pour the rest into a trash bag. Any cat litter we dispose of has to be double bagged.

  39. I have been thinking of doing this since finding out my carpet is being ruined by my now one year old female cat. I watched her, she stands and uses the back right corner, (no matter how I turn the litter pan)and the urine goes right over the side. I use a tray (from a dog crate) under the pan (a HUGE litter pan, BTW)and towels now, but the clean-up every day is awful.

    The problem I see with the containers. The clear one will split if you cut it, the rubbermaid one has rivets or indentions on the bottom which would make cleaning the clumps out of the litter (I use clumping even…) a very tough job as it would get stuck inside these “indentions”. Any suggestions, PLEASE, I am desperate because the smell and daily cleaning under the a pan is a huge chore.

  40. Ok, I have bought the storage bin, but I have a question: How far from the bottom of the bin do you cut the hole for the cat to get in? Not so high they can’t get in, but not so low that I have litter and “other things” on the floor.
    Karen: I feel your pain. My female pees over the side, and I have newspaper and paper towels stuffed all around and it’s a stinky disgusting wet nightmare to clean up. Hopefully this bin idea will remedy the problem.

  41. I have 6 cats, 2 of them very large. My 3 litter boxes were in a large storage closet/room. I got so tired of cat litter dust all over everything. I decided to try making this letter box. I bought a 32 gal. and a 35 gal. sterlite tote from Wal-Mart. I cut the holes with a utility knife, which worked well. I made the holes in the sides, not the ends, as they just fit better in the room sideways. My cats have already checked them out, and so far, so good! In know this will cut down on the dust in my house! I hate dusting! Such an easy, inexpensive cat box! Genious!

  42. Forgot to let you know – I cut the hole 5″ from the bottom. On the smaller tote, I made the hole 10″ wide. On the larger tote, I made the hole 12″ wide. Hole this helps. I also used one jug of Tiday Cat Small spaces litter per tote. I could not find a clear tote that was tall enough.

  43. How much litter does it take to fill one of these bins? I want to make these for my cats ASAP! 🙂

  44. Alleluia! I’m running out today to get a storage container and try this. I have two big toms and one or both of them has been “thinking outside of the box”. We have a large, lidded and rather expensive box, but there’s leakage through the seam, and I’m tired of constantly finding a stinky mess. And your solution is so simple–thank you!

  45. Well, I bought the container, just like the one pictured. It was actually very easy to cut with a box knife. It took quite a bit of litter to fill it initially, but that’s expected because it’s a lot bigger than the “big” box she had before.
    She got in. I held my breath. She did the elevator butt thing, starting as a squat and eventually standing up. She sprayed up the side of the box: BUT NOT OVER!! In fact several inches below the top. LOVE it. my only complaint is the bottom not being flat makes it a bit harder to scoop. The hardest part of the whole thing was taking the old litter box (full of litter) to the trash. I had to get rid of all the old litter due to an illness one of our cats died from a few months ago (fortunately, it’s rare). Anyway, so far I love it. No more paper towels and newspapers everywhere. Thanks!

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