Once he works out how to open the fridge door we're doomed
October 12, 2009 12:42 PM   Subscribe

Kitchen trash cans that can withstand a crafty and dextrous cat?

One of our indoor-only ex-shelter cats is on a special diet due to digestive issues (most likely caused by garbage-eating while he was living on the streets). He is also unfortunately intelligent.

He insists that he is starving (he's not), and is very resourceful about getting into any food he can - opening cupboards and boxes and even once managing to chew through the thick metallic-seeming plastic bags dry cat food comes in.

His latest target is the kitchen trash can.

Our first trash can was a swing-top 20 gallon plastic bin. He would knock it over and then go to town. I lowered the center of gravity by putting stuff at the bottom under the bag so he couldn't knock it over, but then he discovered that he could make a standing leap from the floor into the trash can, gorge on leftovers, and than make a standing leap back out. Our current can is a step-on pedal-bin, which he can't knock over but has somehow managed to get into. I'm considering setting up a camera.

We don't have much money for trial-and-error with new trash cans, and every time he gets into the trash it ruins whatever health progress we'd made on the special diet.

Please, give me the best smart-cat-proof trash cans you have found, especially those that can stand up to a genius cat whose free midnight snacks have stopped and his gullible sidekick.

P.S. We live in an apartment and can't fix anything to the walls, and there's no door on the kitchen so we can't shut them out.
posted by alex.dudley to Home & Garden (24 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Put it in a cupboard with a child proof lock?
posted by teg at 12:48 PM on October 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Just get an old-fashioned, lift-lid steel or aluminium can. It has the most stable base you can buy, has plenty of room for a phone book, and is pet proof. I can't remember what you call them in the US, but we call them ash cans over here. (We had one that was painted with flowers when I was growing up; the one we have now is just plain.)
posted by DarlingBri at 12:49 PM on October 12, 2009

They're not cheap, but I really like my Simple Human trash can. It's pretty pet-proof.
posted by Cogito at 12:52 PM on October 12, 2009

I agree with Cognito, our Siamese forced us to buy the Simple Human trash can. I'm still taking it out of his toy allowance ($100--who the hell buys a $100 trash can because of their damn cats?). Sigh.
posted by stormpooper at 1:01 PM on October 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have one of these in mocha, black, and gray (one for garbage, one for bottles, one for paper). I love them. I don't have pets, but I remember the reviews saying they were great for dogs, because they have a lock-able lid. Also, they don't slam shut. Also, they're inexpensive and easier to clean than metal trash cans. Also, they can roll.
posted by lorrer at 1:01 PM on October 12, 2009

If your current trash can has a flat lid and is fairly sturdy, try putting a weight on top - maybe a brick?
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:02 PM on October 12, 2009

Second Cogito. Kept my dogs from knocking it over and rummaging through trash. However, they still manage to grab anything that may be sticking out from beneath the lid.
posted by Roger Dodger at 1:03 PM on October 12, 2009

Thirding Cogito. Simplehuman trash cans combine the step opening with a locking lid - easily unlocked by adult humans, not so much by cats or children. If the price is a sticking point, they also come in cheaper plastic variants. We have this plastic one, and it is fantastic.
posted by Wavelet at 1:05 PM on October 12, 2009

I have the Simple Human trash can (and a completely disinterested cat) but I'm wondering if you might find this trick handy: we don't throw away a lot of food leftovers, but when we have them I first freeze them in a giant freezer bag and they only go in the trash as I'm taking it outside. We have a huge raccoon problem so I do my best to keep the trash food-free until the trucks are about to pick it up. Works well for us, might be a total pain for you, but something to consider. It's probably a lot harder for your cat to get into the freezer, and he's not going to want (or be able to smell) frozen food.
posted by annathea at 1:10 PM on October 12, 2009

Until it met a flat end on the pavement around the corner, we had a local garbage skunk, and we bought bungee cords to hook on the handles of our outdoor trash cans. Not attractive, but it's unlikely that there's a cat dextrous enough to remove them.

They're ugly, but they're $93 cheaper than the SimpleHuman can.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 1:11 PM on October 12, 2009

I actually keep my garbage can in the cupboard under the kitchen sink. Most sinks have enough room under them to at least keep a small garbage can, and mine is tall enough that my standard tall kitchen garbabe can fits under there.

You may not be able to put a lid on it, but the plus side is that your cat wouldn't be able to do a standing leap -- in order to get into it he'd have to a) open the door, b) climb up the side of the can, and c) squeeze through the gap between the underside of the sink and the top of the can, and presumably all of that would take enough time and make enough noise that he could be stopped before he actually got in.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:11 PM on October 12, 2009

My dog displayed very similar behavior. ALWAYS hungry. Acted as if I didn't feed him. I thought his behavior was because he had been starving when I found him. My solution was to put the trash in the garage. It was only discovered years later that he in fact had an underactive thyroid. The vet put him on meds and his behavior changed overnight. The trash can even returned to the kitchen.
posted by itsamonkeytree at 1:14 PM on October 12, 2009

I actually keep my garbage can in the cupboard under the kitchen sink. Most sinks have enough room under them to at least keep a small garbage can, and mine is tall enough that my standard tall kitchen garbabe can fits under there.

There are some good slide-out things you can put in an undersink cabinet so that it's easier to pull out the drawer with a bin on it to put something like this on to make it easier for you.

I have a very heavy metal step-on pedal thing, pretty low to the ground, and I think if I put a brick on it at night it would be cat-proof.
posted by jessamyn at 1:23 PM on October 12, 2009

We have a very tiny trash can in the kitchen (on the counter) and take it out every day right after dinner. Of course, even with this system, your cat might get into it during dinner, but I thought I'd offer that idea in case it can be combined with something else. Bonus: more room in the kitchen, never any bad smells coming from the trash can.
posted by amtho at 1:23 PM on October 12, 2009

Nthing the Simple Human can. (nearly) Free starveling rescue dog, $100 trash can. Of course the previous (nearly) free rescue dog cost us a $4000 fence, so all in all, we're doing better this time around.
posted by sarajane at 1:24 PM on October 12, 2009

Oh - as a bonus, we can use those plastic grocery bags, or even produce bags, to line the kitchen trash basket.
posted by amtho at 1:24 PM on October 12, 2009

Check Bed, Bath, and Beyond for the Simple Human cans. I have the same one as everyone else and it was $40, not $100. Plus, if you're on their mailing list you get a "20% off one item!!!!!!1!!" coupons every other week.

Target makes a decent knockoff of the Simple Human cans, as well; they're not as heavy or sturdy, but maybe you can take a look in the store and see if they'd work.
posted by Juliet Banana at 1:33 PM on October 12, 2009

Definitely reccommending the under-sink combined with child-proof locks.

(You should probably not put a brick on top of anything, unless you really want to wake up to a squished kitty.)
posted by Sys Rq at 1:33 PM on October 12, 2009

This is my dog proof can. At first I was annoyed that I had to unsnap and lift the lid instead of just flinging trash through a swinging lid. But it's completely pet proof. I found mine at Wal-mart.
posted by saffry at 2:37 PM on October 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

I want to anti-recommend the child-proof locks teg suggests (sorry teg) -- as long as she was outside the cabinet, my last cat had no trouble pulling the door open just enough to undo them, but once she was into the cabinet, the doors would swing shut and she couldn't open them from the inside, so she was stuck in there with nothing to do but make a huge mess.

In the same vein, though, we did finally manage to make it work with the under-sink garbage -- our under-sink area had two doors, and I think what we did in the end was use a carabiner to latch the door handles to one another. Same idea as the child-proof locks, but with less opportunity for feline Houdini tricks. (Sadly, not as unobtrusive decor-wise.)
posted by dorque at 2:51 PM on October 12, 2009

Hi. My cat figured out to open the fridge at my old place (I got a child lock for that), but still can't quite knock down the simplehuman knockoff I got at Target. So, one vote for a target knockoffs.

Before the new trashcan, I just put my garbage in the cupboard, then used hairbands to hold the doors shut.
posted by dinty_moore at 3:50 PM on October 12, 2009

Before you spend money on buying a new trash bin, try booby-trapping your current bin by balancing a few empty soda or beer cans on top. Rinse cans, add a half dozen pennies, push tab to block opening. The noise that penny-filled cans make clattering off a surface often discourages cats from disturbing them a second time.

If that doesn't work: none of my cats or my 80# dog have figured out how to get into this bin design (get a knockoff, my Target one is going on 10 years).
posted by jamaro at 4:44 PM on October 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Another vote for the Simple Human can. It has a step-on pedal and the lid lays flat in the opening, so I can't imagine a cat being able to pry it open if they were even able to knock it over, which I also can't imagine because it's pretty heavy.
posted by LolaGeek at 6:25 PM on October 12, 2009

Could be behavior that's stemming from basic boredom or feeling *out of place* You didn't mention what kind of food he's on or what kind of condition he has - but he could be trying to find something tastier and more satisfying to eat in those cans that whatever is being offered isn't providing. He may not be starving for calories but he could be missing some nutrients. I'd do some searches on the *special vet diets* and get an education on the pros and cons.

Then I'd actually try to calm him down with some grooming, Rescue Remedy and the occasional organic catnip. I'd also integrate some play time for him to get him out of the dumpster diving mode and give him some alternative play places where he can jump in and out of. Then I'd put my trash cans under the sink in a cupboard or within a closed off section of the kitchen that can be opened and closed only by someone with oppositional thumbs. Good luck.
posted by watercarrier at 8:00 PM on October 12, 2009

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