Litter box for disabled cats?
March 18, 2013 9:30 PM   Subscribe

Diabetic cat has trouble with traditional litter boxes. What are some alternatives?

Mr. Mornie and I have several kitties in our house. Two are young, one is an elderly lady, and one is a middle-aged gentleman cat. The middle aged cat (Osiris) was recently diagnosed with diabetes, and since starting insulin therapy, he has become a lot healthier and happier. He used to weigh over twenty pounds, but now he's down to a lean twelve. He lets us test his blood like a champ, and though he's ten, he's still able to keep up with the younger crowd.

The only issue we're having with him is that his gait, typical of diabetic cats, is preventing him from successfully using a typical litter box. For example, he walks with half of his back legs (from his little cat knee to the paw) on the ground. A 2 to 3" clearance to get into the box is just too much for Osiris. He tries to go in the box, but he just can't quite make it in.

So, what alternatives are there for the bathroom needs of a cat with mobility issues?
posted by mornie_alantie to Pets & Animals (12 answers total)
A ramp into the box? Would he be able to get out once he's in?
posted by Youremyworld at 9:47 PM on March 18, 2013

Ah, the woes of the handicapped cat.

When this was an issue for me, after hunting without success, my dad just took a regular litter box, cut a big hole in the front, and filed down the rough sharp edges. We kept a rain boot tray underneath to catch the inevitable litter spillage. It was messy sometimes, but not nearly as messy as him peeing all over the floor NEAR the box!

I just did some searching now, and while there seems to be some prototypes out there and a lot of discussion, there's no solutions available beyond what I've suggested....
posted by skittleys at 9:48 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding a ramp. You'll want to get a bigger box, though, and put a ramp both inside the box and out--so that they do this: /|\, where | is the wall of the litter box and the virgules are ramps. I'd suggest buying one of those under-bed storage boxes and putting a removable ramp (for easier cleaning) in half of it, as well as a ramp leading into the box.
posted by MeghanC at 10:19 PM on March 18, 2013

This may not be an ideal solution for you (it wasn't for me), but I trained my litter box impaired cat to use puppy pads. She only needs a half of one to be satisfied. The problem comes that the other cat learned to use them, too, and I may never train him out of it.

But if you're sticking with litter boxes, the bigger the better! And there are some that come designed with ramps up to them, like igloo style and the like.
posted by faethverity at 10:37 PM on March 18, 2013

Building off Faethverity, maybe using a full sheet cake pan (the really huge ones) with a puppy pad and a bit of litter over the puppy pad to ease the transition. Put the whole mess in an under the bed box with either ramps or a cut out for access.

Where are the kitty pictures? How can we possibly give advice without seeing the kitties?
posted by PorcineWithMe at 4:39 AM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

I made a litter box by buying the most enormous Tupperware-type storage container I could find, and cutting a doorway in it. I got mine at Ikea, but other places have them. Just cut your doorway very low.
posted by MexicanYenta at 6:05 AM on March 19, 2013

When I had a cat with similar issues, I used a large cookie pan (the ones that are rectangular and have a 3/4-1" lip) and normal litter. I put the litter-box cover that we'd been using over it (it was an integrated, plastic deep pan with matching lid). Cat was fine with it.

The puppy pads under the litter sound like a great idea, as cat piss is apparently made partially of aqua rega and corrodes the pan fairly quickly.
posted by kjs3 at 7:07 AM on March 19, 2013

You can also find giant trays at stores like Home Depot, for going underneath washing machines. They're rugged plastic and are about 2 inches deep. We had good success with our obsessive kitty with that. We lined ours with giant puppy pads.
posted by clone boulevard at 7:24 AM on March 19, 2013

I used the giant washing machine plastic thing from Home Depot. I also used a small dog litter box with a puppy pad like this one, as well as the "Breeze" system with the pads and ceramic nubs. Everything got modified with ramps, to ensure easy entry and exit.
posted by answergrape at 7:37 AM on March 19, 2013

Another source of cheap, giant trays are the galvanized metal ones intended to catch drips during oil changes. They're shallow, but about 24 x 36 inches.
posted by carmicha at 9:34 AM on March 19, 2013

I have a disabled cat with cerebellar hypoplasia. He doesn't walk so well and tends to drag his hind legs behind him (see Boo Boo in action here; you can also partially see the litterbox I made for him in that video). I got a big Tupperware container at Target for $8 and cut a big hole out of the side with a box cutter. It's low enough for him to flop into and out of the box. He uses the box lying down, so it's big enough for him to lie down and turn around without getting too messy. You can cut the hole as low and wide as you like, just make sure to sand down the edges and/or cover them with some duct tape as they can be a little sharp. Boo Boo loves his box and is a champ at using it, and my other two cats also seem to prefer using it over their fancy Clevercat box.
posted by Fuego at 2:10 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Puppy pads can usually be found cheap at the dollar store, too. I put them around the box to catch the pee my arthritic cat can't always get in the box.
posted by vickyverky at 3:23 PM on March 19, 2013

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