Saturday, November 22, 2014

Kitty Box: Contained

I am not a cat person. I like dogs, big, hulking, goofy dogs. But, when you're the kind of person who travels out of state once a month and likes to have some freedom and flexibility, big goofy dogs just aren't practical.  A lazy, autonomous cat is a much better fit for this point in my life. So, my rescued calico Barley and I have come to a pretty comfortable agreement about our living situation. We like each other enough that it works out. But, there is one thing about cats that has just always made my skin crawl: litter boxes.

I thought that living in Wisconsin with a big back yard Barley might learn to be a poop-outside kind of cat. But, alas, outdoors in Wisconsin is consistently either too buggy, too cold, or just too scary for my poor lovably dull-witted calico. So, the litter box is a burden I must bear.

Despite the fact that my house is more than twice the size of my Orange County apartment, there is still no good place for a litter box. It can't go in my room (too smelly), it can't go in the guest room (because I keep that closed up when no one is visiting), it certainly can't go in the kitchen (yuck), and I don't want it in the craft room because frankly, I'd rather Barley stay scared of that room as long as she can. So, the litter box has to go in the living room, where every guest will see and smell it. Ugh. I couldn't do that again.

While perusing SkyMall (there is always something you didn't know you needed in SkyMall) I saw this end table turned litter box for sale for just $100. It's a great idea, but I find this image oddly unsettling, and also, couldn't bring myself to encourage SkyMall's existence by paying them for something.
So, I decided, I would DIY my own. At this point, with a plan in mind, I started the slow process of preparing Barley for the transition. I placed her litter box in the footprint of the place where I would eventually have an end table and I started my search.

After much thrift shop scouring I found a funky mid-century end table with cabinet doors for $15. It was originally a sort of putrid shade of teak-green that I have never really appreciated. So, I gave it a quick sanding, staining, and sealing with wipe-on polyurethane. Then, brought the end table inside, opened up both doors, put down a "piddle pad" to protect the wood, and put the litter box in the cabinet. Barley wasn't so sure at first so I put her in the litter box for a minute. She hopped out almost immediately, but at least knew where it was.

After about a week of living with the cabinet doors open, I bravely removed the litter box, turned the cabinet on its side, sketched out a line and pulled out my jigsaw. I cut a kitty sized hole in the back of the cabinet and sanded the edge to make sure it was smooth. Admittedly, its not perfect, but for my first ever experience with a jigsaw, I call it a success.
Some other versions I have seen have a separator between the litter section and the door, but my cabinet wasn't quite big enough for that. I also saw some that stapled in a permanent plastic liner to protect the wood, but I decided that might end up more messy than helpful in the long run. So, I put down a clean piddle pad and put the litter box back in to give it a go. To my surprise, Barley figured out how to get in and out of the kitty door much faster than I expected. In just a few days I was able to close up the cabinet doors and she was happy enough to enter and exit through the hole in the back of the cabinet.
This has substantially cut down on the mess, smell, and noise (she used to just get in the litter box and fling litter around when I was trying to sleep) and as far as I can tell, Barley doesn't mind it.
If you've got to have a litter box, this is the only way to do it.

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