Monday, March 2, 2015

Solving Litter Box Woes

Cat Box Furniture
My dear Mittens the kitten was adopted and moved in with us a month ago today. There was a bit of
excitement that delayed her adoption and I knew that she was going to be a challenging kitten.  I knew that she may cause some excitement in my home. And she has. The first problem I've had to address is the disgusting litter box problem.

Mittens, despite all of her extreme naughtiness, is great with the litter box.  There have been no accidents. And even though I have moved the box several times during this month - which is not something I wanted to do - she doesn't hesitate to use it. Thank goodness for that small favor!

The problem is the dog. Willy, my young dog, used the litter box as a snack buffet at the very first opportunity. There are two things I cannot stomach about being a cat owner. One is the cat walking on the counter where I prepare food (all I can imagine are dirty litter box footprints) and dogs snacking in the box. So Willy's sneakiness has to be the very first thing I address. 
Mittens and Willy getting acquainted

Small Living Limits Litter Box Placement

I live in very small apartment with little extra space. And no extra room or closet to turn into the "cat" room. All of my past options are not an option in this small space. 

  • Bedroom - In days gone by, I would use a baby gate and block one room off from the dogs, and place the litter box in that spare room. But I don't have that luxury here. 
  • Closet - Due to creative space-saving issues for my belongings, my bedroom closet doors are permanently open, so keeping the litter box in the closet, behind a partially open closet door is not an option either. 
  • Bathroom - My bathroom is barely big enough for me. Not an option.  

Litter Box in a Crate

Dog Crate with Side Door

On the first evening that Mittens was out of her crate and roaming the house, Willy was found in the crate helping himself.  We had transitioned Mittens slowly, letting her out of the crate for small periods of time and she was doing well settling in. I didn't want to move backwards by keeping her crated more in order to guard the litter box.  A very good friend suggested that I turn the crate so that the door opens from the top of the cage.

I did exactly that. I turned the crate so that the side door opened on the top side of the crate. Mittens, the spirited kitten, had no qualms about entering the crate and accessing the litter box through the top. Because it is a dog crate, it was solid and held her weight. I just placed a towel on top to protect her little feet. The crate kept the litter box safe from the dog. However, that left a large crate in the middle of my bedroom. A perfect way to break a toe in the middle of the night and a complete eyesore.  It was a fantastic temporary solution but clearly not a good permanent solution.

Cat Bathroom Furniture

Are you aware that furniture is made specifically for hiding a litter box? Until I had started looking for solutions I had not known this bit if information. There are very beautiful pieces of furniture than can be used to hide the litter box. I looked at them all.  The only problem with the pre-built furniture was that it all looked as though the entry hole for the cats would also be large enough for Willy's head. It seemed unlikely that the cabinets would be dog-proof.     

I also found a wonderful article, with step-by-step photographs, about building your own furniture to hide the litter box. So I had decided to make my own.  I planned on going to used furniture stores to find the perfect end table to re-purpose.
Cat Box Furniture in Brown or White

Thump Thump Thump

As the days passed and I was stubbing my toe on the crate in the middle of my tiny bedroom, I was waiting for the opportunity to go to the used furniture stores, and wondering who I'd borrow a saw from, I realized the answer was right before my eyes.  Thump, thump, as the kitten was playing in the aquarium stand and was batting the door open.  Our aquarium, sits on a stand that is backless, but wooden, with a hinged door. Viola, the perfect solution to the cat bathroom problem.  Mittens clearly already entered and exited this cabinet freely.
Bowfront Aquarium and Stand

I moved the empty Aqueon brand aquarium and stand (I haven't had fish in it since moving to this apartment) to the bedroom. I will be using the aquarium as a miniature seed starting greenhouse. The lid on it will keep that cat from spilling the tiny plants. The cabinet is backless, so she enters it easily but it is close enough to the wall that the dog can't get in. And the large front door of the cabinet makes cleaning the litter box easy. 

If you have a cat and are looking for a litter box solution, I highly recommend that you get a cat litter box piece of furniture. Whether you buy one or re-purpose an existing piece of furniture, it is a great way to store that litter box.  Now, on to solving the other Mittens issues!

Disclaimer: In affiliation with, Dawn Rae is a content writer who may earn compensation from the sale of these products - at no additional cost to you. 


  1. We keep our litter boxes in the bathrooms, and use latches to keep the doors open just enough to let cats in, but not enough for the dogs to fit through.

    --Purrs (and wags) from Life with Dogs and Cats

    1. That's a great idea. If I ever have a larger bathroom I will check into latches.

  2. What a fantastic solution to the litter box problem! And without an additional piece of furniture added to your small space.

    1. I was thrilled to think of it! Especially since I can use it for my plant starts too. You may remember how much I like growing my own tomatoes!

  3. Great idea! Let me know when you solve the cat on the counter thing!

    1. I will... but you may have to wait awhile! haha. I can't quite figure out how to keep her off the counter. I tried kindly removing her. I've tried making loud and scary noises. She's scared of nothing and just looks at me with contempt. haha.

  4. THAT'S GENIUS! We lucked out; the area under the stairs to our basement is now a master bathroom for King Richard! We (humans) store the vacumn and mop and bucket in there too. My husband put a door to the side of the stairs and panelled a wall with catflap under the stairs.

    1. Awesome!! I love the under-stairs and catflap solution. Love it!

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  6. so glad that something you had worked so well. talk about repurposing..

  7. What a perfect solution for the cat box you came up with, Dawn. Well done! For the cat on the kitchen shelf problem, there is an easy and cheap solution (at least one that worked well for us over many years of being cat owners). Get a little squirt gun and fill with water. Use it whenever Mittens jumps on the shelf. She will soon associate being squirted with water (which most cats hate) with the incorrect behavior and stop jumping up there. :-)

  8. Wow! What a fabulous solution to a common problem! I know how frustrating all of this must have been for you. I am so glad you found a livable solution for all.

  9. Great idea Dawn! I don't have cats anymore, my dogs won't let me. I used to and where to put the litter box was always a concern. I think you have found a wonderful solution!

  10. A creative solution, especially for people living in small spaces!