Introduction: Souped Up Cat/Bunny Litter Box W/ Handicapped Access
wood 1x2 (approximate) or whatever's in the scrap pile
6 or 8 wood toothpicks
5/8" round head wood screws
finishing nails or screws
Tools (this is my list - substitute for what you have.)
table saw - not necessary but very useful for cutting the groove. Make sure you have a push stick or 2. I bought the Sawstop table saw after a friend and veteran carpenter lost the tip of his finger. And this Hedgehog feather board is a nifty little invention too.
Utility knive - for cutting the box
tin snips - for cutting the box
Framing miter clamp - not necessary, but if you have one, you'll want to use it.
This is a fairly simple project to modify a standard litter box to lower the entrance for a handicapped pet. In our case, our rabbit Sylvester has a deteriorating hip and was finding it harder to get in and out of the litter box. This is the 2nd litter box I changed. The first one has the wood threshold, but not the top trim.
I work without plans and since the litter box you adapt may be of different sizes, I am providing no dimensions. Because this is for a rabbit who will chew all wood, I left it rough and unfinished. For a cat, it would look great if you sanded and varnished it.
Step 1: The Entry: Lowering the Threshold
Mark and cut the plastic litter box. The final height of the threshold should be a little higher than the litter you use. The height of the cut on the litter box should account for the additional height of the wood threshold. The width is fairly arbitrary. I drew and cut the sides parallel with the side of the box which is an obtuse angle, but they could just have easily been cut at a right angle to the bottom cut.
Step 2: Wood for Threshold and Sides
Cut a slot in the 1x2s with the table saw. (or router or narrow chisel) The slot should be relatively thin if possibly. The slot is halfway across the edge and about 1" in depth.
The threshold should be cut longer than the horizontal cutout, plus the widths of both side pieces. In my case, I left them a bit longer on each side to leave a 1/2" reveal.
Bevel the edges smooth with the tool of your choice such as a plane, rasp or sandpaper.
Next notch each end to slide over the side edge.
Step 3: Attaching Threshold and Sides
After sliding the threshold in place, measure and cut the 2 side pieces. If you match your angles, as I did, the wood will be trapezoidal. If the slot is snug, there is no need to secure this piece, as the side pieces will hold it in place.
Cut the side pieces to fit. I used wood pins made from toothpicks to secure these pieces.. Put them in place on the box and then drill through the slotted part of the pieces. Make sure you're drilling through the plastic so that the pins will hold securely.
To resize and shape the toothpick to fit, I use the drill bit slot and push down and that shaves off the square corners. I found a 3/32" bit and slot worked best for the toothpicks I have on hand. If you don't have a steel drill bit box, you could drill a hole in a thin piece of steel and that would work, or it would be simple enough to sand or whittle, but this hack made quick work of it.
Slide your toothpick dowels in and cut off flush. I try to minimize the use of steel fasteners for bunny projects where the bunny is liable to chew right through to the fastener leaving a sharp point or edge.
Step 4: Making the Top Trim
Measure and cut the back 1x2 with 45 degree miter cuts. The litter box has a slight curve on the back and sides. I made the length of the back to match the widest point of the side arcs.
The length of the side pieces was calculated by holding the back piece in place and measuring to the front of the plastic edge (where it meets the vertical wood piece. Cut them to 45 degrees.
Holding the mitered edges together with a clamp or two, I attached them with trim screws. Wood dowels would work, but the trim screws pulled them together nice and tight and I'm hoping the bunnies won't chew too much in these spots. If you round the corners like I did, make sure to put your fasteners back far enough so it won't interfere with the curve.
Drill holes through top litter box lip. I drilled 3 holes on each side which was more than I ended up using. Place the 3 sided wood frame on your work surface and place the inverted litter box on it. Screw 5/8" round headed screws in through the litter box lip and into the trim. One screw in the back and 2 on each side was enough.
Make the 2 front pieces the same way, cutting to fit. I used trim screws on the miters and toothpick dowels on the wood on wood front inside edges.
Step 5: In Conclusion
Voila - A happy bunny!
They do make low access litter boxes, but I wanted to use the boxes we already have. And isn't this much cooler?