Litter Sifter




I have three cats so keeping the litter box(es) clean can be a real chore. I bought one of those expensive self-cleaning litter machines but for the price I thought it could have been done simpler.

I have already made this for the two very large litter boxes I use. I recreated this in a smaller version for this instructable.

Step 1: Items Needed:

Wire mesh fencing -- I'm not sure exactly what this kind is called (rabbit fencing, perhaps) because it's been so long since I bought it. It is very stiff and has about 1/2 inch squares. Be very careful when opening the bundle as it is under pressure and kind of explodes open! I wouldn't recommend chicken wire as it is too flexible and the holes are too big to sift properly.

Litter box -- for this type of project you'd probably want to use something much bigger like an under-bed plastic storage case. The one I have is 2x3 feet. (not the one pictured)

Tape measure

Tin Snips


Step 2: Measure the Inside Bottom Dimensions

This is an older, spare litterbox, much smaller than the ones I originally did this project for.

Step 3: Measure and Cut the Mesh.

Add up to 24 inches to the inside bottom dimensions to allow for the sides. This extra will fold down to make 6-inch sides.

Cut the mesh. YOU WILL GET CUT HERE! Those little prongs are very sharp and you will invariably get scraped or cut. Be very careful!

Step 4: Shape for Cutting.

Turn the box over and shape the mesh to the bottom (length and width). This helps guide cutting out the corners in the next step.

Step 5: Cut Out the Corners.

These can be discarded.

Step 6: Begin to Shape the Box.

With the corners cut out, you can see where the extra 24 inches was added to form what will be the sides. 12 inches on each side.

Step 7: Bend the Sides Out and Down.

I used the edge of my workbench to keep a relatively straight edge. Again, be very careful here! You still have a lot of exposed sticking points.

Step 8: Check the Fit.

It's still a little big here, which is better than too small.

Step 9: Cut the Corners If Too Large.

You only need to snip a couple squares at the bottom if needed.

Step 10: Secure the Sharp Edges.

Bend back all the sharp edges. You only need an inch or so. You can see the previous extra corner snips I'd just made.

I used a wooden yardstick because it tends not to slip.

Step 11: Reshape the Mesh Box.

Place inside the litter box again to check the fit. All edges should be relatively rounded now. I suppose you could make the sides even higher, but you would be limited by the size of the original mesh roll. It just needs to be high enough to be higher than the litter so you can grab it.

Step 12: Fill the Box.

Put as much litter as you can into it. There should be enough space at the top for you to grab the mesh without touching the litter. If your cat is a bottom-scratcher, with more litter it is less likely that they would get to the mesh.

After many years, I've found that Scoop Away is the best for my purposes.

Step 13: Wait.

Eventually your little darling(s) will find and use the box.

Step 14: A Present for You!

Eventually you will be left with a gift. For Instructable purposes, I sifted after only two uses. With a larger litter box you can leave it quite a long time.

Step 15: Lift and Sift!

Dump the waste into your waste bin. I find that old Scoop Away canisters work great.

Step 16: Pour the Litter Into a Temporary Container.

Step 17: Replace the Mesh and Pour the Litter Back In.

With the three cats and the much larger litter box that I use, I only need to do this every few days.



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    34 Discussions


    12 years ago on Introduction

    I would do this if I wasn't so lazy, heh. We just have a system worked out in our apartment so that when my boyfriend or I go to the restroom, we have to clean the litter box while we're in there. That way the "gifts" don't add up. :P

    1 reply

    Reply 10 months ago

    That's a really awesome way to remember to clean the litter box, I might just have to steal that, lol.


    1 year ago

    I'm going to make this tomorrow. Looks like you used 1/2" hardware cloth. I'm going to use 1/4".


    2 years ago

    I have 4 cats. My husband hates to do the litter boxes so this would be great for him. We have to do our boxes everyday even though we have 6 of them. I couldn't imagine what we would find after 3 days. yuck. I wouldn't think it would be to healthy for the animal either. After all you flush every time you use the toilet, right????


    Reply 2 years ago

    Take your USB flash drives and put them into a (Tupperware) container with a lid. Now your USB drives, and your cat, is safe.

    This looks like a handy device, but wanted to share the info with you that clay cat litter is strip mined. 

    Since moving away from clay several years ago, I have purchased the wheat, the recycled newspaper, and now am very satisfied with a compressed pine shaving pellet litter. 

    With compressed pine litter,
    -The smells are all much less off-putting than it was with clay
    -It's absorbent
    -My cats seem to like it and don't get exposed to the dust that can hurt them
    -The price is right for what my conscience demands

    4 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Be careful that your cat isn't just using the pine cause it's the only thing available. I have a cat that gave herself a UTI from only using the box once a day because of the pine smell. Pine is actually poisonous to cats. The pine pellets are no longer poisonous due to the manufacturing method used gets rid of all the oils and whatnot that are poisonous. But the pine smell is still there, and can be off putting to cats who think that since they can smell the pine, they are in a poisonous environment.


    Reply 3 years ago

    the main problem about pine pellets is pellets are made from "mcc" material-a what's left when making pressed wood for cabinets etc....tons of chemicals including formaldehyde. do NOT use that stuff! Very poisonous. Especially for a small animal!


    Reply 3 years ago

    Thank you for this info.


    3 years ago on Introduction

    i was just thinking about making this and wondered if anyone else had tried it! is it still working out for you?


    7 years ago on Introduction

    the wire is called hardware cloth and it comes in 3 sizes. 1/2" 1/4" 1/8"


    12 years ago

    Looks good, do you have any advise on cat-vomit?

    1 reply

    Well the concept is good but not realistic for my cats who are stand up pee'ers. I always have to wipe down the wall that they peed on. Cleaning the wire would be a real problem in the winter. For me this would be too much work to keep clean. I have worked with this kind of wire you are right it will cut you.

    1 reply

    12 years ago

    this is a well made instructable, i would definitly try this if i wasnt gonna do the toilet thing again. i did my instructable on kitty toilet training. this would work for a first litter box though.... hmmmmm.... *contemplates hunting down the old litter box* thanks for the fabulous idea. :)