Thursday, June 27, 2013

DIY Litter Box

We all know it's a part of life... everyone does it, all creatures, big and small, but that doesn't make it pleasant and certainly doesn't make it smell any better.  That's right, folks, I'm talking about poo.  And those two kitties of ours are like little poop factories.

How many of you out there despise dealing with a litter box?  I mean, is there really anyone who enjoys dealing with kitty litter?  I think not.  That scoop is so gross, and you have to go in there, stirring up all those disgusting smells, digging for buried treasure, i mean turds...ick.  Then you have to try and find a place to put them where they won't smell up your entire's just nasty business.

Well, I came up with an idea for a self-sifting litter box that negates the need for a pooper scooper.  It makes kitty litter a little simpler...still not very pleasant... but simpler.  My idea was to have three nesting trays with holes punched in different spots on all three trays (so that none overlapped) so when all three trays were stacked it would make a solid bottom where no kitty litter could escape.  However, when only one tray is lifted, the litter is able to sift through to the next layer, leaving behind the clumps which you can simply toss in the trash.  Then you simply take the empty pan and rotate it to the bottom of the stack, so you have a continuously rotating litter pan system, free of scoops.

I've seen similar self-sifting styles but there's only 1 sifting pan and 2 solid pans so you have to sift your litter, then empty the clean remaining litter into a new pan, then put the sifting pan back in, then transfer the clean litter back in to that pan... just seems like a lot of extra, unnecessary trouble that could be easily remedied.  Plus, those models are between $20-$30.  Way too much for a plastic tub that holds poo.

Here's how we did it, Two Broke Bruces style:

I started out shopping for plastic containers but soon realized that those wouldn't work because they don't sit flush with one another due to their shape.  I almost gave up until I walked through the kitchen aisle and saw those throw-away tin lasagna pans.  Those sit flush to one another, were super cheap, and I figured they'd be easier to punch holes through anyway.

Then, I purchased an inexpensive plastic bin with high sides and a lid to put the tins in so that when the cats scratch and dig, the litter doesn't fly out all over the floor.

We started by laying out a grid pattern that would be divisible by 3 so that we'd have an equal number of holes in each pan, color coordinating them so that no pan would have holes drilled in the same place.

We then punched small holes in the top/guide pan, with the pan to be drilled underneath.  These holes were small enough that no litter could fall through, it just gave us a guide so we'd know where to punch the bigger holes. 

Next, Daniel matched up a drill bit to the same size hole as our pooper scooper and started drilling bigger holes in our pre-punched pans.

That made the edges a little ragged, and I didn't want our little kitties scratching around in there and getting cut feet, so we found that the hole punch worked better.  It pushed the tin out toward the bottom so the surface where they'll be standing is nice and smooth and all the jagged edges are on the bottom where it won't matter.

Once we had all the holes punched, we did a test to make sure that: A) the holes were big enough for all the kitty litter to sift through; and B) that when two pans were stacked together the kitty litter would not escape.

Bob was very interested in this part and actually jumped in to take full advantage of his shiny new loo... We had to transplant him to the old one so we could finish the project.


The next step was cutting a little kitty door in the plastic bin so we could keep the lid on and it would be like a little enclosed 'outhouse' for the kitties.  It also makes it a lot easier to move.  Daniel simply drew a door on the side with a sharpie and then used his multi-tool to cut the opening.

Ta da!

The kitties were very interested in our progress.  They took right to it, investigating every inch of it once it was all finished.

The next day we tried it out after the kitties had been using it all day, and it actually works really well.  Bye-bye pooper-scooper!  It's just like panning for gold, except in this case, instead of getting shiny gold nuggets, you just end up with a pile of crap.  Tee hee hee!  I crack myself up...

Simply throw the clumps in the trash and place the newly emptied pan on the bottom of your stack and start the whole process over again... a self-sifting, rotating system for under $10.00!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Bob & Leon

Hello everyone, I'd like you to meet the two newest additions to our little broke family:  Bob & Leon.  Or I could call them Cautious and Curious.  (Leon is very skittish and cautious, while Bob is into everything and wants all the attention) We have never considered ourselves 'cat people' but since getting these guys we are totally smitten with these kittens!  [Ha!  I made a rhyme!]  Anyway, we decided we needed a cat because we were having problems with mice and we also have squirrels, rabbits, and chipmunks outside that eat all my flowers (arrg...). 

After more investigating we decided we couldn't just get one cat because it would need a friend to play with.  We went back and forth trying to decide and then Daniel's sister called us one day and said that she had a friend with 2 kitties who needed a home.  That sealed the deal.  She brought them down and they've been entertaining us ever since.  



 How did we come up with those excellent names, you ask?  Well, Daniel liked Leon because it was like Leo/Lion and Leon's look and personality is like a little wild cat stalking around and hiding in the shadows before he pounces on his prey.  I think he'll be the hunter.  It was a little harder coming up with the second name, we went through a few before we settled on Bob.  I was thinking of actual cat breed names and I thought of a bobcat... and so that's where that originated.  But then I noticed the coolest thing.  Bob's markings actually say "BOB" so it seemed it was meant to be.  It was like he was born with his name printed on his side.   

Here's a better picture where you can see  how his side spells out "BOB":

It's a lot more noticeable in person.

The original plan was to have them outside but the day we got them we had horrible thunderstorms with torrential rains that lasted for about a week.  We didn't have anywhere dry outside where they could stay, and they were so little and cute, so we kept them in their cage in the laundry room for a few days and would let them out to play when we got home.  They hated going back in the cage after getting to play (understandably) and would cry and cry, so I felt bad and started letting them pretty much have the run of the house while we were at work.  (Yes, I realize this means that they have officially trained me to do exactly what they want.)

 Getting very sleepy...

Sleepy kitties

Hungry kitties

Unless you look at their faces, they're hard to tell apart because their markings are so similar.  

Once they get big enough for shots and flea/tick medicine, (and big enough not to get carried away by hawks) we're gonna try to get them used to being outside.  They've already gotten noticeably bigger in the last week.  We've let them hang out with us outside a few times but they're still pretty wary of the great outdoors and don't like to stray too far from the front door.

This is Bob, he jumped up and managed to claw his way halfway up the door mewing loudly as if to say, "LET ME BACK IN!  I DON'T LIKE IT OUT HERE!  THERE'S NO PILLOW!  AND NO AIR CONDITIONING!"

Once they were out there for a few minutes, they got over their fear and started exploring.

They were glad to come back inside and be lazy kitties.

They're getting much more destructive adventurous the bigger they get and I noticed last night that they've managed to claw my curtains to shreds and tear up the dining room chairs with their little kittie claws (grrr).  It's hard to be mad at them since they're so cute and cuddly, but I think I'll be happier once they're bigger and they can live outside and start (as Daniel likes to say) unleashing carnage on our mouse population.  AND we won't have to deal with emptying a litter box... I most definitely won't miss that.  

They certainly have distinct personalities and they have managed to become a part of our family right from the very beginning.  They're so fun to watch as they pounce and tackle each other.  We spend lots of nights just sitting around watching them play because they can be so hilarious.  (I know, sounds exciting, right?)  

Could we be turning into crazy cat people?