handicapped-accessible litter box ideas!
March 29, 2009 6:27 PM   Subscribe

my 19-year-old 3-legged cat is finally getting too stiff to use a regular litter box. what can i use instead?

our miraculous, elderly kitty is finally feeling her age and the loss of a hind leg (that happened 10 years ago), and is having some difficulty accessing a normal-height litter box. we've made a little platform stair for her out of two side-by-side phone books to give her a little boost, but she's still having trouble. she's otherwise healthy, amazingly--this is clearly just an accessibility issue.

i'm thinking the best thing for her would be to find some kind of large jellyroll pan and use that. the sides of a jellyroll pan are only about an inch high, though, and may not actually be able to contain the litter (we would probably have to use less and scoop more regardless).

short of building something out of wood, can anyone think of an existing pan or containment device that is about two feet long, a foot and a half wide, and about 3 inches deep that we could repurpose as a litter pan? disposable/flimsy is okay--she is 19; she is unlikely to outlive the practicality of whatever solution we come up with.

posted by thinkingwoman to Pets & Animals (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I have seen litter boxes that have three high sides and one low side. I will try to find an example... But I have seen them at PetSmart.
posted by amro at 6:36 PM on March 29, 2009

Would this work, or is it still too high?
posted by amro at 6:37 PM on March 29, 2009

I think this may work

Cut down and file down the sides (sharp edges after cutting) of your standard sized litter box, or if you think she needs more room with the reduced wall size, go to target and buy one of their storage bins that can slide under a bed and do the same thing. You can generally cut them with a utility knife or tin/aviation snips pretty easily. This lets you adjust the height/area of the litter box, and will let you put one or two inside of each other for litter containment.

They make litter boxes that fit in to corners with 2 hogh sides and a "low" side that is just a bit lower than standard litterbox rim height.

The last alternative is a buddha dome, which has a ramp in to the litter area.
posted by iamabot at 6:42 PM on March 29, 2009

Would it work to find something that could be used as a ramp on the outside? (The height of the walls from the inside can be managed by adding more litter)
posted by winston at 6:42 PM on March 29, 2009

You could also just use the top to one of those large rubbermaid containers. It's a little deeper than a jellyroll pan but more accessible than a step up. Put a non-skid mat underneath it, or attach some kind of grip to the bottom.
posted by barnone at 6:45 PM on March 29, 2009

For my disabled kitty, I cut down the edge of the litterbox (like iamabot describes) so it was easier for him to get in and out. Still, he sometimes didn't manage to climb all the way in the litterbox, leaving his rear end hanging over the edge. So I used "puppy training pads" (like these) underneath the entrance to the litterbox. This arrangement worked well for many years!
posted by kittydelsol at 7:10 PM on March 29, 2009

Try this idea from handicappedpets.com. Incidentally, I started subscribing to their e-newsletter after my kitty became a tripod too, and though not every issue has something relevant to me it's encouraging just to read how creative and loving people can be for their disabled pets. Best to you and your miracle girl.
posted by melissa may at 7:14 PM on March 29, 2009

Here's what I used - it's called a "utility bin," I think.

It has three high sides and one low end, and my cat seems to like it. I haven't had a problem with him missing the litter area, but sometimes he kicks litter out while covering up - just don't fill it quite as high as you would in a regular litter box.
posted by HopperFan at 7:17 PM on March 29, 2009

Would something like one of these ferret litter boxes work?
posted by dilettante at 7:21 PM on March 29, 2009

Could it be that she's not so much worried about getting in, as stepping up and out again? Maybe the phone book stairs outside, but fill the pan to the top with sand, so she's actually sitting at the level of the rim. You'd have to sweep the floor around the pan more, obviously, but that isn't that difficult.
posted by ctmf at 10:12 PM on March 29, 2009

You know how cases of bottled water, juice & pop etc, come with the bottles standing in a cardboard tray, with a sheet of thick shrink wrap holding it all together?
Slide the bottles out of the tray, without puncturing the shrink wrap.
Push the shrink wrap down so you have a cardboard tray with a tube of shrink wrap around it, one layer in the tray, one layer under the tray.
Then fill the tray with litter.
The plastic shrink wrap makes the cardboard waterproof, it's shallow & should be easy to enter, and the whole thing's disposable (or dump out the litter & recycle the cardboard for even more brownie points). I had these all over my house a few years ago when I had kittens- it was amazingly convenient.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 10:58 PM on March 29, 2009

I've used wee-wee pads for similar situations - basically flat square diaper type things that you secure to the floor with a frame.

They're for puppies (who don't have the same inclination to bury), but cats can figure out what they're for and if they can get over their desire to bury (read: scratch) they're just about perfect, so long as you're willing to change them constantly.
posted by MesoFilter at 11:05 PM on March 29, 2009

A cookie sheet.
posted by watercarrier at 2:40 AM on March 30, 2009

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