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!


  1. Cute and an excellent idea! love it!!

  2. Any problems with the pan buckling under the weight of the kitty litter when you lift it up to sift?

  3. That has happened to me a couple times if I've forgotten to empty it for longer than a day...I just try to hold it steady... it's never actually dumped anything out, it's just that when I first pick it up it acts like it wants to bend. I think this would work better with plastic bins if you could find some that nested perfectly with no space in between. They'd be sturdier and easier to maneuver.

  4. My first thought was, cool idea. Then, KITTENS!!! After it was, Oh, look at that guy with the beard...he's a kitty daddy...and then I started over again. LOL

  5. Actual litter boxes might sit closer together than standard storage bins. Just get three and follow the same process, though the drill would probably definitely be needed for the holes, just rasp the plastic bits to get rid of the rough edges.

    1. Just tried this myself with actual litter boxes, and they don't even come remotely close to eachother, definitely stick to the lasagna tins.

  6. I have found a almost exact design that has already made over 1 million dollars profit on

  7. How does this work, now that your cats (and their output) are bigger? We have four cats, five boxes, but they seem to choose just 1-3 boxes to all pee in... and we end up with huge clumps stuck to the bottom of the pans. (Can basically only use two types of litter due to allergies and cat prefferences.)

    1. Well, it worked fine while we used it. Not long after this the kitties became more destructive and wanted to be outside more often, so they became indoor/outdoor cats and after that they rarely, if ever, used the litter box again. Sadly, we lost both of our kitties not long after that. Bob was hit by a car and Leon disappeared one day. I sure do miss them and if I had it to do over again, they would have stayed inside cats. Sorry I couldn't be more helpful.

    2. Mine are indoor. I've got two adults and as they grew a regular or even jumbo litter pan wasn't big enough. We got one of those black vinyl rectangle tube from lowes and they use that. How would you make a sifter for one that measures 2.5 foot by 2 foot? (grin)

    3. Not really sure unless you could find nesting pans that size. I didn't have luck with plastic pans because they didn't fit snugly enough together at the bottom if that makes sense. Sorry I couldn't be more helpful!

  8. I love this idea. I currently have just a basic large plastic litter box. They nestle quite I am going to get 3 new trays and try this. Will need to use a drill so it doesn't crack them when making holes...also I have sitting in a larger plastic box without lid but higher sides to catch most of litter when the cats get a little carried away when covering their poo.

  9. Sorry, didn't mean to give you more stuff to figure when you did such a great job on the article and pictures in the first place. Just woke up and sanity hasn't set in yet. I'm the one that ought to figure out how to do that. I guess I'm just weird because one of my rotten cats refuses to cover up his poo. (grin)