Welcome to your furbaby's new private bathroom. Easy to clean, easy to access, and easy on the eyes!
Keep your cat's litter box away from toddlers, and other pets (such as dogs, who may like to eat it! Blegh.)
Bad back? No problem! No more bending over a stinky litter box, now it's at a comfortable height to clean.
This project was inspired by two other instructables, and I'd like to give credit where credit is due. Without those two, my own project would never have come to pass. Much thanks to them!
The first is garymunson for his No-Stoop Cat Litter Box
And the second is cchen4's Hidden Litter Box With De-Littering Cat Walk
Step 1: Plan Your Design & Do the Math
You'll probably want to also do several versions when drawing out your plan. Especially if you plan on changing my design much. If you're observant you'll notice that the walkway wound up on the opposite side to my plans.
Also, rulers are your friend.
Step 2: Obtain/Gather Materials
There's a lot of materials for this project. Most of which you can find at your local hardware store, but a couple of items that you can't; I've listed where I found those ones below, but you might be able to locate them elsewhere depending on your own location.
I didn't snap pictures of everything regarding supplies, and there's a chance I forgot to mention a few that I did in fact use, but I'm sure you can figure out or sub out those with whatever you have.
1. 2x2s: However high you want the unit, times 4, (for the 4 legs.)
2. Sheets of plywood: Make sure you go with your measurements and get ones big enough for the side walls. You can pick whatever thickness you want, bearing in mind that the thinner the boards, the lighter the unit will be, but also the less stability it will have.. aaand you might have to add additional pieces like I wound up doing, to give it more stability and so your screws aren't poking out the sides. I bought the cheapest plywood I could find which resulted in also having to buy an electric sander. Which brings me to...
3. Power tools: I used a standard drill, random orbital sander, and jigsaw. But if you have better tools for the job, by all means, use them!
4. Hand tools: Hammer, hand saw, xacto knife, screwdriver(s), staple gun.
5. Painting supplies: brushes, plastic or sheets, paint of course, both primer and external high gloss, in whatever colour you want.
Note: I started with spray paint then realized what an awful mistake that was due to the mess and fact that it didn't really offer the sealing quality in the various gaps that brush-on type does, so I switched.
6. Litter pan: I bought the stainless steel pan at a restaurant supply store. It's meant to be used in buffet tables and you can also purchase them online. Though FYI, of the sites I found, most you could only order in bulk, or they were actually more expensive after shipping, than in store. I still suggest it over the plastic ones, as it won't hold onto the smells like the plastic ones do, and it will also be easier to clean simply because used litter (even wet) won't stick to it like it does to plastic. .. I know how everyone loves repeatedly trying to scrape out the pungent cat pee filled clumps of litter which persistently stick to the pan, but for those who don't, stainless steel is the way to go and not even that much more expensive!
7. Walkway Grate: This is actually just a small kitchen shelf for putting cups or whatnot on. Dollar store for the win!
8. Misc: Dust mask, sandpaper, screws (determine what sizes you need based on what thickness plywood you get), wood glue, wood filler (sandable and paintable type), clamps/vice, heavy pet-proof screen, hinges - if you get the same type I got, also purchase some weather-proofing strip because there will be a gap in the door that litter will escape from if it's not covered. Alternatively you can get the type for cupboard doors which seal flush and leave no gaps.
Step 3: Mark, Label, and Cut Wood to Size
Little did I know, this would be the easiest part, even though I did it all with a handsaw.
It's pretty straightforward to work off your design if you've already done the drafts on paper and worked out the measurements. Just measure, mark with a pencil (or whatever writing utensil you want) and cut!
Step 4: Sand, Sand, and Then Do Some More Sanding!
Make super cheap ugly wood look pretty!
This is time consuming, but oh-so-worth it.
Step 5: Dry Fit
Now that all your pieces are cut out and sanded, put it all together!
Note: Don't use glue at this stage, because you'll be taking it all apart a couple more times first before that final assembly.
Also note: This will take longer than you think. Especially if you fit it together wrong and put a whole bunch of extra holes in it that you didn't need, and then have to fill those holes, then sand them, then put new holes, like I did.. heh.
Step 6: Carve Out Litter Pan Grooves
This step is optional and was a happy accident which was the result of fitting my pieces together wrong the first time and trying to adjust for it instead of backtracking to see where I went wrong.
The grooves create a better fit, and allows the wood side to actually sit over top of the edges of the pan, which will ensure that litter won't wind up below the pan, making cleaning the unit that much easier!
1. Place the pan into the box and trace lines along the top edges all the way around (I didn't include the door, but I suppose you could do that too!) Take it apart.
2. Etch those lines in the side pieces and back piece, using the xacto knife. This will have to be done repeatedly, going over the same lines until they're deep enough to pry out.
3. Pry the strips out.
4. Sand the edges smooth.
Step 7: Carve Out Hinge Slots
I can't advise on how to install cupboard hinges, but they're likely easier than the gong show I went through; of carving out spaces (using the same method of carving out the grooves), screwing them to the door and unit to check for fit, taking the door back off, carving out more wood, then fitting it together again, thinking it works, only to move along, but then later discover that the door can't open properly, hence having to take wood filler and cover some of the gaps to move the hinge, let it dry, then sand it, then check the fit again. Luckily it worked the second time.
Step 8: Build Walkway
I didn't specifically take photos of this, but all I did was fit the shelf over two pieces of boards at either end, marked where to cut them, then cut them, sanded them, and drilled holes where they would be connected.
Dry fit it into the unit after assembling, to make sure it fits well and to line up all the holes.
Step 9: Figure Out Walkway Placement
Enlist the help of a friend, child, or pizza boxes to hold up the walkway while you secure it in place. Make sure it's not too far forward and blocking the door. I solved this by closing the door while I figured it out.
Step 10: Optional: Add Additional Pieces After the Fact
After realizing you picked too thin of plywood (or too long of screws?) then start measuring and cutting and sanding additional pieces to take care of this issue.
Glue the pieces down to add thickness with extra stability.
Step 11: Legs & Shelf
The guy at the hardware store was kind enough to saw the 2x2 into 4 equal parts for me. My original plan was actually supposed to be a bit taller, but due to the default length that the 2x2s came, I just decided to make it a couple inches shorter.
Using the smallest bit, I drilled straight down into the legs through the bottom of the box (which looks like the top of a table in this picture. This was also when I realized I might actually be building something useful!) Then I used the largest bit I had, and drilled just a fraction of the way down, in order to sink the screws flush with the top of the wood.
With 4 simple sticks surrounding the legs, I was able to prop a shelf on them for added overall stability. The sticks (or brackets if you want to get technical) were easy, just measure up from the bottom to make sure they're all the same height so the shelf is level.
Cutting holes out of the shelf for the legs was a bit trickier and I had to go back and trim extra to make it fit properly. I wanted it fairly tight or else it defeats the purpose of adding stability. So if you trim too far, it might eventually have some wobble.
Step 12: Test and Admire How Far You've Come
I was rather impressed with myself at this point.
My previous build attempts with cat furniture were absolutely loved by my cat (she's such a great sport!) but not so much by my boyfriend, since they weren't, lets say, as aesthetically pleasing as this was turning out to be.
Step 13: Windows!
I did a few different things to figure out how to fit the frame to the hole. Whatever way you decide to do is probably easier than the way(s) I did it, so I'm not offering any advice here. Seriously, you don't want to do it the way I did it. Ugh.
Step 14: Last Dry Fit
Before you start painting make sure everything fits together properly. You may want to mark spots. Otherwise you may take it all apart after this dry fit, start gluing and putting it back together what's supposed to be the final time, only to get partway done and then realize you've made a mistake and have to frantically take it apart before all the glue dries, then sand down the glued spots, then dry fit it again, then mark it after the fact to make sure you don't make that mistake again. I'm not saying I did that, but something to consider...
Step 15: Painting!
Advice from a professional says not to paint where you're going to glue. I guess glue doesn't like paint. So, like the intelligent person I am, I marked where NOT to paint, and didn't paint there. Or I used painters tape to seal it, when I was spray painting.
Step 16: Finishing the Windows
I held the frames in place with clamps to outline it, before securing the screen. I attached the screen with a staple gun, and finally glued the frame down on top of the screen, holding it in place with paint cans because my clamps wouldn't fit over the unit.
Step 17: Finish Any Remaining Loose Ends
Due to my too thin of plywood I had to eventually deal with those screws sticking out the other side of the door. I had some extra bits that were interesting shapes so I just whittled them down with the xacto knife into more likeable shapes, sanded them, and painted the outside, then fit them over the screws, gluing them in place.
Due to poor planning I had a gap in the door that spraying litter would have definitely gotten out through, so I had to get that sealed somehow without moving the door (which I'd already tried earlier and had made it impossible to open properly.) Cheap weatherproofing strip was the perfect answer!
Step 18: Extras
If you'd like to make a bathroom sign like I did, here are some of the images I selected before settling on the one I wanted.
I printed it out on heavy card stock at the size I wanted, cut it out with a xacto knife, traced it onto a piece of wood that was already cut to the size and shape of the sign, then gouged it out using the same method I did with the slots and hinges. The letters were the same. This does take a bit longer because you have to be more careful while cutting, both to not cut yourself, and to make sure you don't cut too far and ruin the design. But I think it was worth it!
If that's too much work you could always just use store bought stencils and a marker or spray paint!
Step 19: Pat Yourself on the Back for a Job Well Done
I'm really happy with how this turned out. But I'm also super excited for the next project.... Executive Feline Facilities.