Introduction: "Hide-in-plain-sight" Cat Litterbox

Picture of "Hide-in-plain-sight" Cat Litterbox

Build a cat litterbox that can be placed anywhere in your home.

Once you have the concept down, you'll need to go shopping for materials. We found the kind of storage cabinet we wanted for this project, took measurements at the store, then went hunting for a plastic container to serve as a litter tray. An inverted wire storage drawer served as an entrance/exit deck. We also needed four 1" L-brackets.

Step 1: Measure and Cut Ingress / Egress

Picture of Measure and Cut Ingress / Egress

You'll need to figure out where you want to put your exit door. I chose the panel facing away from a clear line of sight. Once cut, I tacked in .25" weatherstripping tape.

Step 2: Extra Hardware

Picture of Extra Hardware

This bit you will have to figure out on the fly, depending on your materials. After measuring the litter tray, I installed two L brackets on one end and a 4" shelf at the door. This ensures a snug fit and keeps the litter canopy from shifting.

Step 3: The Litter Canopy Cage

Picture of The Litter Canopy Cage

Invert the wire basket and mark where you want kitty to enter and leave the litter tray. Your entrance should be on the opposite side from the main entrance to the cabinet. The rationale for this is as your cat exits the box, excess sand from the tray drops through the cage and back into the tray. This helps cut down on messes outside the cabinet.

Use cutters to snip away cage wires where you've marked. Be sure to carefully file/grind any edges!

Step 4: Final Assembly

Picture of Final Assembly

You'll need to make some adjustments depending on your materials. You don't want the canopy to move! I bolted it to the shelf on one side and to the L brackets on the other.

Be sure the litter tray can easily slide out for scooping and cleaning.

Hmmm. Looking at this photo, I may yet add another shelf at the entrance for the cats.

Step 5: Placement

Picture of Placement

In the house. Sophie approves.

We got a cabinet that locks. This is useful because it prevents the cats from coming out the front and getting excess sand on the floor. If your cabinet doesn't lock, Baby Cabinet Locks work well.

I can't speak for your cats, but we have two that use this box. With regular scooping / cleaning of the tray, odor hasn't been a problem.

That's it! My first instructable. Let me know what you think! :)


Smil3yfacee (author)2015-06-26

What is the tool that you use to make the opening & exit? If you can provide the link that will be great!

Deety (author)2008-05-11

Quick comment for LiaLinda re: vinegar... Not sure why it works but vinegar DOES neutralize the smell of urine. If it is something you can toss in the washer- add ½ cup white vinegar to the load and wash as normal. When it is done, the smell of cat urine is gone! No problem with putting it through the drier too(as long as garment is driable). Believe me- this is years worth of doing such!

RoBear613 (author)Deety2014-03-17

Vinegar is an Acid while Urine (a source of ammonia) is a Basic. Two different ends of the pH spectrum.

Lyn4428 (author)Deety2011-04-05

I agree with Deety, Vinegar works! I don't think it masks the smell of urine, it really does get rid of it....I also clean out the cat box with some vinegar...makes for a nice litter box. :-)

sedona007 (author)Deety2009-06-17

vinegar attacks the bacteria that causes the odor. I've used vinegar many a times and yes it works : )

platypusymphony (author)2010-02-07

Dogs like to eat cat feces because cats leave a lot of protein in their poo - its generally a sign that your dog isn't getting enough protein in their regular food.  While some dogs seem to develop a taste for kitty granola bars, you can often get them to stop eating them by switching to a higher protein dog food.

Even dogs that get *plenty* of protein like to dig for buried treasure. We know people who feed raw diets (pure protein, pretty much) and have to barricade their litterboxes out of their reach. LOL

droodle (author)2010-03-11

where did you find the cabinet? i'm having trouble finding a deep enough one that's inexpensive.

Interesting but not what I was expecting. :) I thought that you had come up with the ultimate hiding place for stuff. Something along the lines of those fake power points or can safes. If I was searching for something small and important, the kitty litter tray would be the absolute last place I would look.

(veering off-topic, but...) Interesting thought - There's a story about Steven Biko (late South African Anti-Apartheid activist from the Bad Old Days) once escaping arrest because, just as the secret police were bursting through the door, his wife quickly slipped the smallish packet containing all the papers containgin incriminating evidence into the back of their baby's diaper. She then stood by, holding the baby and looking as innocent as she could manage, while the police turned the house upside down searching for just those incriminating papers. (The story I heard did not comment on anything else the diaper might have contained, or what condition said papers were in upon their retreival.) But a cat-&-litter-box combo is much handier to maintain and keep around than a baby-in-diapers setup (although both have rewards and advantages well beyond their home-hiding-place potential :). You'd need an air- &-liquid-tight container, small enough not to interfere with kitty's normal cat box useage, and perhaps glued/taped/fused to the cat box floor... ...hmm...'s something to think about, at the very least.

sojakai (author)Gorfram2010-03-10

Except that most people will overturn or look under the litter box. They might not be looking for something when they do it, but it makes an annoying mess to clean up. Our cat is still a little squeamish of new people in the house after our break-in about 7 years ago.

A >>>well<<< sealed container and maybe something to absorb ammonia and moisture will be critical, to avoid corrosion due to ammonia.  I've seen gold-plated screws turn green a while after a tomcat, um, anointed some surplus electronics...

lol i was thinking that aswell

Technophile (author)2010-01-04

Great instructable!  I agree on using a fine mesh such as hardware cloth (heavy wire mesh, available with 1/4" openings).

I've got five cats, and have read that I should provide multiple litter boxes to reduce kitty territorial conflicts.  Has anyone done a litter-box cabinet with multiple levels?  Will multiple boxes in the same place work well, or do I need to put single boxes in widely spaced locations?  Thanks!

popproject (author)2009-09-09

Just a thought, might cats find the wire mesh uncomfortable on their feet? seems like a great way to keep litter in the box. but, if my prissy-sissy-spoiled cat doesn't like the wire on her feet then i'll be cleaning her "business" off of the floor. anyone have any insight on sensitive cat paws?

pokemon2539 (author)popproject2009-12-12

umm try a piece of wood that fits the drawer, or some plastic?

day.v (author)2009-09-08

One thing that may add to this design would to put the litter tray on a shelf with drawer slides. They sell heavy duty sets for kitchen cabinets at Lowes and Home Depot. Keeps you from having to break your back to get it out for cleaning.

~Sasquatch~ (author)2009-09-05

Ummmm...No dis-respect here - Just a question? Why not teach the cats to use the crapper like you do?? My 2 girls are indoor/outdoor cats, but they know how use the toilet! They have their own "designated" toilet down in my basement... (My Siamese is a little too light to work the flush lever, I admit!) There's no shortage of good advice on this on the 'Net - Mebbe some-one with experience could post an instructible?

deepelemgirl (author)2009-07-22

Can someone please explain to me the purpose of the wire on top? I can't figure out why lowering the hole in the wood to be level with the top of the plastic litter box wouldn't work and be even easier to put together.

The wire on top is so the cats have to walk over it when getting out, so that any litter that is stuck on their paws will fall back into the litterbox. This helps the litter not get all over the floor! :)

sedona007 (author)2009-06-17

In response to the vinegar, the vinegar attacks the bacteria that causes odor in pet urine so I could see where the vinegar poured onto paper towels would work. I poured vinegar on carpet where my dog had urinated and it worked...

Oroka (author)2009-04-11

I love this idea. Little project AND hides the litter! I like the shelf Stuffman added to his cabinet for storing kitty items. Such a area could also be turned into a little cat house the cat can chill out and keep an eye on things. I will definitely need a lock as I have a 2 year old son... he usually leaves the litter alone, but there are 'incidents'.

TEXACA (author)2008-04-24

hello, nice Instructable... something like this could also be built into existing cabinets, like in a workshop area, or mud-room. As far as kitty "smells", I have found that the majority of smells in a litter box are due to urine. I neutralize the urine by soaking old towels with Vinegar, placing them at the bottom of the litter-box, cover the towels with thick paper towels or several layers of newspaper. Also, drenched with Vinegar, and I pour litter on top of the paper/towel material...the vinegar neutralizes the Ph in the urine. No SMELLS, its urually the container that smells at the great.. --- Alfredo ps: the layer of paper keeps the litter material from away from the towels, after you dump out the material you just throw-away the paper material, resoak the towels in Vinegar. I usually keep two separate sets of towels, while one is used in the box, the other set is soaking in water/vinegar solution...

LiaLinda (author)TEXACA2008-04-25

You said, "vinegar neutralizes the PH in urine". I'm sorry to tell you that urine, which is uric acid, cannot be neutralized by vinegar, another acid. To neutralize an acid you would need it's chemical opposite - a base / alkali.

This is why you would use Baking soda (an alkali) on a Bee sting (which is acidic), and you would use vinegar (an acid) on a wasp sting (which is alkali).

In other words, you would be wayyy better off putting a layer of baking soda (an alkali) down under the kitty litter... and since the feline sense of smell is 30 times greater than our own, I'm sure kitty would be much, much happier without it's nose being stung from vinegar (the poor cat!).

While on the topic of pet urine, to get rid of urine smells altogether (ie. the dog / cat keeps peeing where they shouldn't) or any organic stains at all (ie. food, blood, grass), try using a living enzyme, which will feed on the organic matter. Some enzyme products are considered "specialty items" and are over-priced, but one of the best & cheapest can be found in the laundry soap isle at most grocery stores -- a box of dry powder called Amaze (it's often used as a laundry booster). Just dissolve a little into a bucket of warm water (not hot - the enzyme will die), and rub a paste of Amaze powder directly into the stain too before leaving the garment to soak for 2 or 3 days. By day 3 the solution will start to smell bad due to enzymes dying off / the solution stops working. If the stain doesn't come out with some light rubbing with a finger nail brush under running water, then rinse out the garment and repeat the process. And if it's for a section of carpet, make sure to cover it with a damp towel and maybe add a layer of plastic over it so that it stays wet (it won't work if the enzyme dries out).

So, use an alkalyd or an enzyme on urine - not more acid, which is what urine is.

Purkinje (author)LiaLinda2008-08-03

Sorry to tell you. Cats don't excrete uric acid, they excrete nitrogen waste under the form of urea. You would be right to say that fish excrete uric acid or a chemical close to it, but mammals unlike fish use their bladder to store urine and storing uric acid would burn through the bladder. Now you are right to say that urine is acid and not alkali. This is because the kidneys excrete excess hydrogen (or acid, H+) into the urine. This extra hydrogen binds to the urea (which is alkali) and makes the urine mildly acid. The question of the smell of the cat urine is slightly more complex than a base-acid reaction. The origin behind the cat smell is a molecule named felinine. This molecule is in fact a carboxilic acid combined with an amine, a sulfuric group and an alcohol. Felinine breaks at the sulfuric group into 2 molecules, MMB (mercapto-methyl-butanol) is one of them that are volatile and propagate the smell from the cat urine. To add an acid underneath the litter makes sense. By adding an acid with a lower pKa than felinine's pKa you are neutralizing the amine and preventing felinine to work as an acid. This I think prevent felinine to break at the sulfur branch and prevent MMB formation.

qdogg (author)2008-05-16

Vinegar works because it is acedic and ammonia in cat urine is basic. They neutralize each other

mrsayao (author)2008-04-10

so the cat jumps into the hole @ the side of the cabinet and walks along the canopy and into the box?

SGAC (author)2008-04-10

Great instructable! Considering that prices for similar "refined Litterboxes" can go as high as $150, this is a more cost effective solution. I also enjoyed the variations people have incorporated so far.

qorlis (author)2008-01-18

This looks like a great solution for a problem we have. Along with two cats, we have a pug that seems to like dining on what the cats leave behind! The way you have the entrances to the cabinet and the litter box situated will deter his ability to snack on the cats' "leftovers". ;-)

EmmasGood (author)qorlis2008-02-08

I caught my dog snacking the other day and thought I was the only one with that problem. Thought I wasn't feeding him enough. Thank-you for your post. I'll be putting one of these together with a few minor changes within the next week or so. I think a strip of carpet across the bottom of the side door entry will help as well as an old wire oven rack running in the opposite direction of the baskets wire may be a little easier on my cats oh so delicate litte paws. Can you tell I'm still alittle mad at him for nibbling on cat 'leftovers'!

I can build it instead (author)2008-01-25

For cross circulation, adding a larger vent in back or sides covered with hole punched painted 'accent' sheet metal would help. Or maybe fit 1 or 2 heat vent grills with "litter box filters" fitted inside would help. Since wood and cardboard absorb orders, using a easy to wipe interior would be best. [maybe melamine panels] Another idea is to use a sliding drawer or put in a slide shelf for the litterbox to sit on which would make the box cleaning more "People" friendly.

Cool idea, I like!!

Truckee (author)2008-01-18

While I love the idea of a covert cat-box. I have a feeling a number of people might easily 'set it and forget it' Perhaps one could mod it with an alarm system that gets triggered when ammonia levels reach a certain level. My cats have a 'cat-box is too full' alarm system built it. It's called using the floor instead.

jillykillroy (author)Truckee2008-01-24

i think that alarm system comes as a standard feature on most feline models, lol.

LiaLinda (author)2008-01-23

I bought mine at a dollar store. It's a margarine container with holes in the lid, covered by a piece of sticky paper that you peel off. Inside is some waxy, spongy stuff.

membrane (author)2008-01-21

On the ramp you might want to use some plywood or particle board etc and cover it with some short carpet or a rubber mat like a welcome mat. It would avoid the possibility Matthew mentioned of a kitten as getting it's foot caught and also would provide a surface for them to clean their paws on after using the box.

MatthewMetcalf (author)2008-01-18

Please be very careful if you have a small kitty. When I was a youngster I built a ramp for my cat out of similar material and his back paw became trapped between the wires and broke his leg. I was very sad to lose that cat. I would recommend anyone with smaller cats use something over the top of the basket. Hardware cloth like someone recommended would be good.

Very Keri (author)MatthewMetcalf2008-01-21

well there's nothing you can do about what happened when you were a kid, but for future reference, i have met some very happy 3 legged and 2 legged pets. (the kind that are supposed to have 4 legs, obviously) If you can't afford a certain procedure for your pet, there are a few people (some have their own rescue organizations ) out there that would be happy to take that pet off your hands and get it the care it needs in lieu of having it put down. thank you for the warning, though.

stuffman (author)MatthewMetcalf2008-01-19

Dude, you put your cat down for a broken leg? That's hardcore. :0D

MatthewMetcalf (author)stuffman2008-01-20

Well like I said I was like 10 years old at the time. Not everyone's family can afford expensive medical care for their pets. And if I remember right the vet said that if we had gotten the leg set and put in a cast there was really no chance it would heal back properly. Something about the way it had broke.

stuffman (author)MatthewMetcalf2008-01-20

Crap. Sorry dude, now I feel bad.

Kiribub (author)MatthewMetcalf2008-01-20

That's really, really sad. :(

stuffman (author)2008-01-19

Great Instructable. Looks like you blurred out the manufacturer of the locking cabinet though, and my girlfriend and I went to Ikea, Wal-Mart, Big Lots and Lowes today to no avail. Can you please give the manufacturer/model number of this cabinet? If you could give me the Height/Width/Depth of the cabinet too, that would be great. This instructable is the first that has had such a great girlfriend acceptance factor that when I showed her she grabbed her car keys and said, "Okay, let's go get the parts!" I would say that you have a winner. Thanks for the great idea.

stuffman (author)stuffman2008-01-20

Okay, ours is done. Here are some pics (we had to stray a bit from yours, seems you got the last office depot cabinet in existence.) Thanks again for the great idea! Shawn

Kiribub (author)stuffman2008-01-20

I didn't know if Instructables had a policy regarding manufacturer's logos in pictures. The plastic bin and cabinet were purchased at Office Depot; the wire rack and L-brackets were at Lowes. The Office Depot model # is 62055DP, SKU #225-320. The bin is a "Split-Lid File Box," item # 271-240 (I think). The wire lid, from Lowes, is ClosetMaid item 08590.

beccane (author)2008-01-17

I never seem to understand how these instructables work. Please explain: The cat enters through a very high up hole in the cabinet , and once inside steps onto the top of the inverted wire drawer? How does the cat get to the litter box itself? And at what point does it exit on top of the wire drawer again? Your pics all seem to show the drawer on top of the litter box with no way to get underneath it. I'm very confused.

beccane (author)beccane2008-01-18

One thing that's not clear is that apparently you need to cut out part of the wire drawer to make an entrance to the litter below. That needs to be spelled out.

Kiribub (author)beccane2008-01-18

I see what you mean. I've edited step #3. Thank you for the suggestion.

btcarnovale (author)beccane2008-01-18

The cat is never in contact with the litter. Just stands on the screen and all the excretions drop through.

beccane (author)btcarnovale2008-01-18

That's what I thought but then other postings make it seem not the case. See the exchange between Kirbub and Macmortiz Jan 14 where she says the cat steps down into the box and that it's possible but unlikely that the cat would go above the cage. Also everyone is suggesting different types of wire mesh and even fake grass for the top of the basket which would keep excretions from dropping through. What do you think?

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