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!

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

  1. I did this. Love it! Great inexpensive idea. I altered it a bit to suit my needs. I made the opening large and just as high off the ground as my original litter pan was. We recently had problems with Jinxi pottying everywhere but her litter box. We got her on track, but she favors her box in our second bathroom that my daughter uses along with guests. I wanted something discreet but Jinxi friendly. So the hole is bigger. I will wait to put the lid on it until after she is use to it. I also used tin snips to cut it. Worked great! I tried drilling holes in it every inch as a cutting line to keep it from cracking, but that just made it look funny. Didn’t help at all. Oh well. Great idea! Thank you so much!

  2. I love this idea
    what is the dimensions of the opening? how high from floor to opening, and how wide would you suggest it should be?
    large tall siamese and quite a digger …

  3. I have had cats all my life and cannot believe (1) how perfect this is and (2) that it never occurred to me to do this!! Just did it last night, cut a hole in the lid instead of the side, and my two cats love it. One is too big for the regular litter boxes so his bum would often hang over the edge – and, well, things ended up on the floor. No more! Thanks for the guide!

  4. I found this site and instructions last year. I have two large cats (Siberian and Maine Coon mixes). They would contort themselves to use the extra large litter box I bought for them. They love the storage box. Thank you for taking the time to share.
    Connie

  5. Great idea. If I could make suggestion that could help as well. Buy a separate lid and drill, or punch holes in it to act as a “strainer”. Might be easier than scooping. Love the container idea. 🙂

  6. Purchase two bin w/one lid and Johnny Cat reusable litter pellets. Draw out a grid on the bottom of one bin and drill/melt smaller diameter holes than the pellets, and use the second lidless bin for urine collection. You can use plastic manufacturing pellets like the ones used for urine collection by veterinarians. Cut a hole in the top of the lid and you’ve got the bestest cat litter box.

  7. Thanks for savings us lots of $$$. One tip – around the rough cut edge of the entrance hole, slit open a length of old garden hose and slip over the cut edge of the box. Kitty paws are nice & safe! This also works great for saw blades and axes – keeps them sharp, but protected when not in use.

  8. Does anyone know if there would be a way to line this type of box?I would love to have this but I am a big fan of liners so I don’t have to scrub the box
    Thanks

  9. Re: liners. why not use plastic kitchen garbage bags or black leaf bags — get thickness you think you need.

  10. I tried this, but the cat can still pee all the way to the top and it leaks out still! She is amazingly awful. Any other suggestions?

  11. You could put the “hole” in the lid. I did this and the cats loved getting in the hole from the top plus less kitty litter escaped the box. You have to make sure the hole is big enough.

  12. I tried this and it works great. I used a knife to start the cut after tracing an erasable outline. Then, my heavy duty kitchen scissors to cut out the shape. When I was finished I used an emery board to smooth the edges then lighter flame to get rid of any excess stuff (Be careful not to stay in one spot too long! The result is amazing – one smooth edged box, no mess, no fuss! THANKS SO MUCH TO THE ORIGINAL POSTER:)

    To Marah1115- try the lid idea, works great!

  13. We did this but using a cardboard box… not sure why we didn’t think about using a plastic storage bin. Great idea!

  14. What a fantastic idea. I have Maine Coons and it is hard to find a box big enough for these huge kitties. I am in the process of moving, so I already have a bunch of tubs around. You can get them for $5-$7 at Walmart. A lot cheaper than a litter box.

  15. I tried this just last weekend before seeing this pet project and thought I had invented the perfect solution! I didn’t think about cutting a hole in the side, though. I’ve been dealing with a stand up pee-er for years and nothing has worked until now! Guess I will start reading the newsletter a little more closely!

  16. I tried this method just last weekend before seeing your pet project and thought I had invented the perfect solution! I didn’t think about cutting a hole in the side, though. I’ve been dealing with a stand up pee-er for years and nothing has worked until now! Guess I will start reading the newsletter a little more closely!

  17. I use one almost identical to that. I have 7 cats. There are 5 other litter boxes and they all like that one the best. It’s tall enough for them with the lid on so they don’t have to duck down. The only difference with mine is that, a cat behaviorist came to our house because we were having issues. She said that the box was a good idea but she said that if the lid was going to be left on, there should be at least four holes, about 3″ in diameter, cut in the top to vent the amonia smell. It really helped a lot. There is no strong amonia oder coming from the box when you remove the lid to clean it.
    Diane

  18. My sister and Ihave been using totes for litter boxes quite a while now. I use the top door entry for my cat because I have a small dog that loves to “snack”. Having the doorway high on the side helped with this until fido learned to just jump in and chow down! The top door remedied fido’s snack time! LOL!

  19. Two BIG boy cats (Norwegian Forest and Maine Coon. One of them is standing to pee and OH -Phew! I bought the large bin and put lid on floor,placed litter box on it. Cuthole in end of bin and turned upside down to cover all. Proboem was: One of the boys ispeeing over the side yet! LOVE YOUR IDEA. HUBBIE IS ON WAY TO WALMART FOR NEW BIN TO MAKE THIS NEW ONE! THANKS

  20. We have 5 now (down from 8, when 5 kittens were left orphaned in our yard when some animal killed their mom in 7/08–and we adopted some of them out), and got some clear 64-gallon storage bins and fill them at least 1/3 of the way (because a couple of them like to jump on the edge first before they jump clear in the pan) so it doesn’t tip. They don’t throw too much out, and they can see in to see if somebody else is already in there!

  21. I just want to say thanks for the DIY Cat Litter Box. Just made one from an 11 gallon container for my cat today. It’s far more spacious on the inside. The best thing I like about this litter box is that pee doesn’t leak on the garage floor like the pet store kind. These boxes attach and detach half way along the side which has a gap, so when the cat pees it leaks through the gap. Now with DIY, I can just simply clean the interior without dealing with the urine leakage. Making the litter box was fairly simple. The container was around $9. I cut a door with a box cutter about 5 1/2″ from the bottom, enough depth for the litter. I made the door width shaped kind of like a trapezoid, best explained, narrower at the top, 7″, and wider towards the bottom, 8 1/2″, because of the container’s shape this works. Door height is 8 1/2″. Plenty of door for kitty to walk through. Thanks again for this great idea. It’s spacious and makes clean up a little easier.

  22. I’m so glad to hear this works for your cats. I did have this idea as well, because I too am dealing with a cat that stands up to pee and the standard hooded litter boxes leak. I did get one of those award-winning design CleverCat boxes, but my cats did not favor using it.

    But one reason I didn’t think those Rubbermaid tubs would work is the tub floors are not flat. They have raised centers for greater strength. That’s the one feature I thought would interfere when scooping clumps.

    I take it you haven’t had a problem scooping even though the tub floors are uneven? About how many inches deep do you fill your box?

  23. I made these boxes a couple of years ago when my older (sick) cat began standing to pee, as well. I hadn’t discovered this site then, and thought I was extremely clever (haha!)

    However, when I made them, I tried cutting the openings with a sheetrock knife (aka box cutter) and the plastic split and cracked a lot. The edges were very jagged. I covered the cut edges with duct tape, so there was no danger for kitty – but it wasn’t very attractive.

    As I used them, I discovered that the raised bottom, or maybe it’s better described as the channel around the edge, was sometimes tricky to clean out the clumped litter.

    I wanted to make new ones, but found it impossible to find tubs with flat bottoms. I finally found some tubs with flatter bottoms, and the channel around the edges was wider and more shallow than my original tubs. This should prove easier to clean. Make sure container is nice and high … that was the hardest part for me, finding one that would allow cats to stand without issue.

    This time, after drawing my cut lines with a marker, I used a small drill bit and drilled a series of small holes very close together all along the lines. This created a sort of perforation, and made it very easy to run the blade along and cut out the opening. The plastic did not crack or splinter at all. The edges weren’t sharp, but were still a little rough. So I took some ¼” clear tubing (purchased at a local hardware store) and slit it to cover over the edges. Worked like a charm and has a much neater appearance. I took pictures, but I don’t find a way to upload them to this site …?

    I now have young, healthy cats, but will always use this type of litter box. They’re so easy to clean, they keep any extra litter and mess off the floor, and I think kitties really like the extra space.

  24. Love all the comments! Thank you very helpful. I did have one idea myself but someone else has probably already thought of it…so my question is has anyone tried installing a Cat door on one of these homemade litter boxes. They look very finished and my cats are use to the privacy of the door. Thanks in advance if anyone has any suggestions!

  25. Love this post. I don’t think enough people realize how much cats hate small litter boxes. If they last as long as you say so, I’m making one for my cat!

  26. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I was going crazy cleaning inside and out of the cat box plus the floor! Brilliant idea!!

  27. My son-in-law devised this same system several years ago but never posted it. Thanks for letting the world know about this fabulous idea.
    I bought several large containers and just leave the lids off. I have 8 cats, several are very, very large, and they appreciate the openness that accommodates their height. The large size also helps me cut down the scooping frequency, particularly if I don’t get around to scooping all of them daily.

  28. I just found your idea today for a litter box for a high peeing cat. What a great idea. About a month ago I attempted my own version of a litter box for my high peeing cat (who doesn’t like a covered box) and came up with something similar to yours. I posted a video on You Tube today (google “high peeing cat”) for anyone interested in how to make the box.

  29. YET ANOTHER HOT LITTLE TIP: Here’s how to add a privacy curtain to the opening of these boxes if the opening has been cut on the SIDE of the box (e.g. not for top-opening boxes!)….
    1) Cut a piece of an old plastic shower curtain & size it about about 2″ longer & wider than the actual size of your box’s opening.
    2) Hot-glue ONLY THE TOP EDGE of the plastic curtain to the OUTSIDE OF THE BOX & ABOVE THE TOP OF THE OPENING.
    3) Put your line of hot-glue about 1/2″ to 1″ above the top edge of the opening but be sure to affix the curtain so it is hanging on the OUTSIDE of the box.
    4) Make sure that you do NOT glue either the sides or bottom of the curtain.
    5) When finished, the curtain should be just wide enough to cover the opening with at least 1 extra inch on each side of the opening & be sure that it hangs only about 1″ to 1.5″ below the bottom of the opening.

    Now here’s the sweet part — when your cat goes INTO the box, the curtain’s bottom edge is usually pushed inside so that it hangs up inside the box while they are doing their business. Because the curtain bottom is temporarily pulled INSIDE the box opening, it helps deflect flying litter or spray so it stays inside the box. This helps prevent the escape of any litter, turds, clumps, or urine spray, etc. from escaping out the opening while they are kicking & scratching! Once they EXIT, they will simply push their way back out under the bottom of the curtain & leave it once again hanging neatly back on the OUTSIDE the box. This little “trick” gives you & them some extra privacy & helps keep their litter & “business” from getting kicked out of the box onto your floor. Try it — trust me, you’ll LOVE it! 🙂

  30. okay question well i got this kitten about 2days ago and the owners didnt want the kitten and i dont have nothing so i have been using newpaper so he can do his business but i fear that wont work long and caned tuna to feed the lil guy but what im really asking if i dont have the money yet for litter what can i use for 4days? until i get the money for him…

  31. Excellent idea and If you buy the storage bins at your local hardware store, most of them would be glad to make the cuts to the bins with no charge and you don’t have to worry about having the right tools.

  32. Our male cat starting peeing next to the litter box seven years ago, after a week ICU stay and surgery for crystals in urine we brought him home to a “new” box…made of a storage container. He was near death when he was brought in(no symptoms, just seemed different). We moved the box, and put the homemade version in a large dog crate, he used it without fear and never went near the “old” box.
    We added three kitttens and while they will use the store bought box it’s that box that gets heavy use by all four.

  33. I found this type of box on ebay for alot with the hole on top. I was researching a better box to keep the dogs out of it and keep the litter in! I just bought a very large clear box but haven’t had the nerve to put the lid on yet. Still looking for a better (non-smelling) litter!

  34. I love this idea! I have a cat that sometimes gets too close to the edge of the litter box when he does his #2 job. Gets quite messy at times and I really don’t like washing the walls around the litter box anymore either. I’ve got a few extra totes lying around so I’m going to have to try this! Thankyou!

  35. We started using the tub…but added a a box inside (that had been encased in a big garbage bag). Now when it’s time to get replace the kitty litter, my daughter just pulls out the bag. Box comes out already in trash bag! She just puts in a new box & bag and refills. Easiest cleanup ever!

  36. I modified this a little, I found an under the bed storage box to fit inside of the large tote, I think it will be a lot easier for me to take that out and dump it then trying to dump the large tote, and once the smaller one is removed I can handle the larger one to hose it out easier also. I made one with a entry hole in the side and one with an entry hole on the end. I ended up using a 30 gal size for my larger tote and I think it was a 28 qt size for the inside. My box had to be a little on the large since I have a 24 lb Maine Coon. I found a large hunter green tote which looks somewhat decent in my home..

  37. I also made 2 large litter boxes our of 30 gallon totes. After struggling to cut the hole on the first on with an exacto knive, I wised up & used a soldering iron on the 2nd one. It was a breeze & left no jagged edges.

  38. I have a kitten I adopted as a stray at around 10 weeks old. I was using a deep dish pan but he is a well nourished tabby has has doubled in size in 2 months. The dish pan has become too small and he kicks litter EVERYWHERE. I am on a budget and was about to spring for a cheap yet large litter box for him when I decided to look up DIY litter boxes. I have many of the materials including the tubs and hose at my disposal and all the tools I need. This project may cost me nothing more than the beer I drink while putting it together :@). Thank you so much for making this web page and a comment section. Lots of great ideas for construction from EXPERIENCE! I don’t want to have to do it twice. May need 2 tubs b/c I want to do a top entrance just don’t know if Connor will take to it yet.

  39. Hey Sean & everyone else! I’m delighted this post has made so many people so happy. Funny how a litterbox can do that! I’ll add that I have an extra one so it’s always easy to change to a clean one. I wash the dirty on and let it sit out in the sun a few days to let those UV rays do their work. Thanks for all the comments. Y’all rock!

  40. This is brilliant!! I’ve gone through several different cat boxes because of my male cat standing while he pees. He never used to do that until the past year or so. I think as he gets older and bigger he’s just become lazy. 🙂 I made the box out of a 31 gallon tub. Works great!!

    Thank you for the great idea!!!

  41. What a great idea! Sure solved our problem. Picked the storage container up at Home Depot. Cut it out per the instructions, sanded the edges of the cut a bit to take any sharpness off and our cat loves it. I KNOW we do! NO MORE LEAKS!

  42. Thank you so much! My babies (Brandon, Daffy & Lilly) will be happy. Brandon my male cat is very large, poor girls had to smell the pee everytime. I couldn’t figure out what to do till I saw this website. Your a hero!!! Thank you so much!

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