How to build a Feline Pine self-cleaning litter box

Picture of How to build a Feline Pine self-cleaning litter box
Make Feline Pine cat litter last even longer with a litter box specifically designed for it.

Cut down on sawdust, tracking, and save pellets.
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Step 1: You Will Need


Two litter box pans

 -  They need to be the same size on the perimeter, but one needs to be shallower than the other.  I used my old litter box as the bottom and bought another at the store.  Bring it in with you to test.

Drill and 11/64 sized bit

-  I took one pellet to the hardware store and measured this size to be the perfect size.

Ruler and pen

-  For measuring and marking the holes on the top pan.

Step 2: Measure The Holes

Picture of Measure The Holes
Flip the top pan over and space 6, 3 1/2 inch squares evenly on the surface.  They don't have to be perfect, just use this as a guide when drilling.

In each square, draw a grid spaced 1/4 inch apart. 

Where the lines intersect, you will drill a hole.


If you are using an existing litter pan, disinfect before measuring.

Step 3: Drill Holes

Picture of Drill Holes
This part can be daunting.  Try to guess which square was my last.

Again, your holes don't have to be perfect, but having many holes will allow all the sawdust to sift out effectively.


This will create a lot of debris, have a vacuum close by.

Step 4: How To Use

Picture of How To Use
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Place the top pan onto the bottom pan and fill with a bag of Feline Pine or store brand pine litter. 

In the bottom pan, place a handful of pellets.  This will absorb and urine that might fall through the top pan.

When cleaning, first scoop out any feces. 

To help sift out the sawdust, stir the pellets thoroughly, the sawdust will naturally fall to the bottom while the good pellets will rise to the top. 

Bags of litter will last much longer because there is virtually no wasted pellets. 
jewel4603 years ago
I looked at the petstore and online, and I can't find any two litter boxes with a similar perimeter and different depths. Does anyone have any brand or store recommendations for where I can find it?


Wouldn't it work to put spacers between two pans the same size? Something plastic (no rust, no absorption). Maybe PVC plumbing connectors or slices of pipe?

gonzo5680 (author)  jewel4602 years ago
I bought mine at a big brand store (petco or petsmart). Smaller store might be able to help you out and order one for you though.
gonzo5680 (author) 4 years ago
You're right, it works in reverse compared to other sifting litter pans. Instead of sifting the good litter through the holes, this pan sifts the bad "sawdust" litter through the holes, leaving the good litter and feces that can be scooped out. To answer your other questions, the pine pellets are compressed sawdust and will start to come apart when wet. I like this litter better than corn because it is less dusty and cats don't track it as much. Thanks for the comment!
Great idea, however doesn't solve the problem of removing feces because the pine pellets won't go through a regular sized scoop.

I use the stove pellets, and the "scooper" is a pair of plastic salad servers that look like scissors, like these. They work pretty well and let loose pellets fall off/out.

my bad, saw the size of the holes on your scoop. Where did you get it?
gonzo5680 (author)  Phoghat2 years ago
I got my scooper before I built the box, but here is one from petco that is cheap and looks to have some wide slots. Tinker L makes a good point of just widening the slots of your current scoop.
Anne-MarieM2 months ago

Thank you. I have been looking for this for a while. I have been using modified version of what you have, but not as practical because I could never find something with holes small enough. I never thought of doing the holes myself.

dee8213 months ago

I was scrolling through google looking for something, when I came across your post. I use Feline Pine and have for some time now. My female seems to use "the box" a lot now that she is inside more. I scoop out the waste, including the wet pine. I LOVE this idea. The only issue I would have is, females have so much ammonia in their urine, and she goes so much, I don't know if this would actually work or just clog the drilled holes! hahahaha I'm looking for any way to stop all of the pine waste though. It's worth a shot. Thanks for the share! God bless.

lurbanski8 months ago


Question for you... i was wondering.. The litter box that I currently have is one with a lid so that my kids and dog stay out of it... very similar to the picture below... do you think it would work to drill the holes in the litter box itself since the lid fits and put a container with no holes under it .. it wouldn't need to be real deep right?

litter box.jpg
vafnord3 years ago
I am torn between putting the effort into making a really great catbox, and spending that energy to just train the cats to use the toilet instead.
gonzo5680 (author)  vafnord2 years ago
Toilet training was my first choice but I didn't have a spare toilet in the house to dedicate solely to the cat. One day....
Tinker L4 years ago
It's not really a clumping product. The urine breaks down the pellets into sawdust and that is what falls through. I loved FP but the price was more than I wanted to pay. I can buy a 40# bag of stove pellets for under $5 (just compressed wood without additives) and toss in a shake of baking soda. There's a product that looks the same and is made for horse stalls (Dry Den or something like that) and has an odor fighter in it that's about $6 or $7 for 40#. Neither one smells as great as FP, but they've got my vote for second best and most practical.
gonzo5680 (author)  Tinker L2 years ago
Main reason I switched to this type of litter was how cheap you can get wood stove pellets. Two 40 pound bags will last me about a year and a half. Problem is, it's harder to find wood stove pellets in cities, gotta make trip out to the farm lands every once in a while.
RustyRoller3 years ago
Most places that sell the "alternative" litters also have the scoops with much larger openings. In fact, I think I got one free when I tried one of the litters.
mommydono4 years ago
Interesting approach - the reverse of usual sifting litterboxes. I've used feline pine before can't remember why I stopped, but I remember I liked how well it neutralized the urine odor. Looks like this would work really well.
Very nice instructable, thank you for posting it!

Feline pine used to make a clumping type litter (it was sawdust like) that would work w/ regular sifting type litter boxes.
Tinker L4 years ago
So sorry! I forgot to rave about your design!!! Masterful!
@Phoghat - get one of the plastic scoopers and cut out every other "tine".
caseyst4 years ago
That is so clever!! Anybody that hasn't discovered Feline Pine is really missing out - love that "new house" smell it has, not to mention the fact that it's the best deodorizing litter ever - can't smell a thing with FP! This is going to be my project for the weekend, and you can bet my drill holes are going to look a *lot* like the ones you did last... =^..^=
Batness4 years ago
So much easier than the scoop I have, which stirs up "dust" particles and I dislike that a LOT. Now I just have to find another litter pan similar in size!
scoochmaroo4 years ago
I've only ever used the corn-based litter, never the pine litter. Does the pine turn into sawdust once it's been used? Is that how it it works its way through the holes? My initial impression was that the clean litter would sift through to the bottom, leaving the waste on top, like most clumping litter. But this seems to work in reverse?