Smaller home, three cats, a need for litterboxes. HALP.
May 22, 2014 1:34 PM   Subscribe

Moving from a two bedroom house to a two bedroom apartment in late June with three cats. We need clever litterbox hacks for our furry friends!

I know that we are supposed to have a litter box for each cat, plus one extra, but honestly, we cannot hack that system in our future new place. So small home dwellers with cats, how do you hide/maintain multiple boxes in a space of 950 square feet?

Given the layout of our new digs, we can put a box in the bathroom--but not the current monstrous covered behemoth in our house bathroom--one in the office study, and maybe one in the living room? Are there any affordable interesting and easy to keep up litterboxes out there on the Internets?

And because there are always cat pics: Drusilla, my 16 year old tortie, Moxie Parker, aka Chubby Cat, and Picasso, who is a total chill dude (and something of an escape artist).

We all thank you in advance, Hive Mind.
posted by Kitteh to Pets & Animals (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
We have one of these, cat box furniture.

Right now it's in the kitchen and infuriatingly, it's going unused!

We put an open box in the laundry room and the cats have abandoned the beautiful furniture for the one in there. I mean, no activity at all!

My advice is find two places where the boxes can be unobtrusive, and see where you are. If you start to see poops on the kitchen floor, get one of these cat box side tables, for the living room and commit to scooping frequently.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:38 PM on May 22, 2014

We got an old chest out of our attic and drilled a cat-sized door on one side. The litter box goes inside and no one ever knows that it's there. You can put down some astroturf or similar material on the bottom of the chest to catch the litter when they get out of the box. If you search "litter box diy" or somesuch on Pinterest you can find other examples of what I'm talking about. In your situation I would get a longish chest, make doors on both ends, and put in two boxes.
posted by chaiminda at 1:41 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

We have four cats but only two litter boxes, in a similarly small space. It just takes commitment -- meaning, if I smell even a hint of poop I'm in there checking to see and scooping it out. The boxes are changed entirely every 5 days or so. Not tons of fun, but doable.
posted by BlahLaLa at 1:55 PM on May 22, 2014

We deal with this by having one litterbox for two cats. I scoop once a day. It's fine. Unless your cats are finicky (and maybe they are!) you should be able to get away with two boxes.

I've mentioned this before, but our litterbox is a DIY top-entry: big Rubbermaid bin with a hole cut in the lid. It really cuts down on the tracked litter (great for tiny apartment living), and the cats seem to like pooping with their heads sticking out the top.
posted by baby beluga at 2:02 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

My wife is extremely sensitive to litter smell - maybe more than the cat. We use clumping litter & a Litter Genie, which makes frequent scooping so painless that we actually do it every time we pass the box. The catbox looks & smells clean & the litter genie seems to do an amazing job of containing the odor.
posted by mr vino at 2:16 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

I had three cats in 700 sqft, with just 2 jumbo sized litterboxes. Worked fine, but my 3 cats are pretty close as a kitty mom & 2 adult kittens. Now that i'm in a larger place I have 3 litter boxes, but they don't even use the one in the basement. In my new place, I've put the boxes in hall closets and installed cat flaps, but thats not going to work if you're renting obviously.

Eventually I'm going to try the Litter Robot or the Purina Breeze system, but I'm worried i'll set off a stream of inappropriate peeing from the furrballs given what i've got works.
posted by cgg at 2:31 PM on May 22, 2014

We recently moved from a large house with a basement Litter Robot to a tiny apartment. We ditched the robot as we found it to be huge and messy.

My cats are currently being spoiled at my parents house, but I set them up with a Tidy Cats Breeze system and a litter genie. My parents were not cat people going into this arrangement, so I knew I needed an easy and non-smelly solution. This has proven to be a very good choice. It isn't the cheapest setup, but I really can't smell it, unless the poop has been left unscooped. The pee pads get changed out about once a week, and that's with two cats using one box. I think it will transition well once we finally move the cats over to this apartment (aside from not really having space for any litter box).

It's super nice to not have litter tracking everywhere. Our basement always looked like a litter bomb had exploded. Our cats transitioned to the bigger pellets without any trouble, though ymmv.
posted by another zebra at 2:35 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

For the sake of your guests I do not recommend putting one in the living room.
posted by radioamy at 3:08 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

I only have the one cat, but a shoebox sided apartment. What I do is use one of those storage containers with a hole cut into the lid. Kitty uses it and hops out, which helps to cut down on the amount of litter tracked around the place, while the lid helps to contain the odour. Baking soda, of course, is also helpful. I also found this pooper scooper that helps with speed, it looks something like the one in the link. The lack of cross bars makes the process faster.
Kitty Scoop

If you decide to do this, keep in mind you need to start off without a lid on for your cats to grow accustomed and to cut a hole as big in diameter as the largest cat.
posted by Trifling at 4:15 PM on May 22, 2014

I've got four cats in 1000 square feet - I'm less smell sensitive than many, and my cats haven't been finickey so far, so I just use enormous, open boxes with a whole lot of litter. The large grout mixing pan from Home Depot holds about 120 lbs of litter comfortably. And Ikea has a nice, translucent plastic storage container that will hold 60 with sides high enough to prevent too much stray litter.
posted by wotsac at 4:35 PM on May 22, 2014

The Litter Robot, as linked by jamaro, changed my life for several months until my cat got stuck in it once(he's just big and dumb and old, and he just thought he was stuck...not the robot's fault) and now totally refuses to poop in it. But, if your cats are smarter than mine, it is seriously the best thing.
posted by sawdustbear at 4:40 PM on May 22, 2014

It's going to depend a lot on what your cats are like now and what configuration they're using. Do they use a hooded box now? Are they finicky about not going after someone else has used it? How many boxes do they currently share?

We have a female who would rather go on the floor than use the box after the boys, and a boy that has kidney issues and therefore pees like a horse. Hated...HATED the litter robot, plus the female wouldn't use it. Really liked the Breeze but because of the kidney issues, the pad couldn't manage the amount of urine out put. Honestly, if I could do it again I'd try one of these for all three to share but after spending $350 on the Robot (which got put curbside after less than a year), I can't bring myself to spend that much again.

Even with these issues, we've largely managed 3 cats with 2 boxes. I admit I'm not great at keeping them as clean as they should be, so I'm currently using the Omega rolling box ~ it's so easy to clean, there's no excuse not to do it every day.
posted by kattyann at 7:20 PM on May 22, 2014

Response by poster: Concerning kattyann's comment above to clarify:

We currently have four boxes in our house (not Future Apartment). Two are downstairs and are open boxes. The boy uses those exclusively. I think maybe Moxie Parker does upon occasion. The third is one of those igloo looking ones. Moxie Parker is the only kitty that uses this. The last is a massive hooded box in our upstairs bathroom. AFAIK, this is the ONLY litterbox my Old Lady Cat will use. Moxie Parker uses it too. It is the one box that we really have to keep an eye on because Old Lady Cat may or may not have some slight kidney issues in her dotage.

I need to have at least one really good box in the Future Bathroom for Old Lady Cat. She's not going to share or go where the others have gone. As for the other two, they'll use the ones she doesn't.
posted by Kitteh at 7:33 PM on May 22, 2014

We also made a literbox based off of some of the ikea-hackers ones. I think it's been used about 20 times over 6 months. It's infuriating to have to keep checking it. One the plus side, one of our boys loves sleeping/hiding in it.

Instead, you said that you can't use your current monster litter box? What we did was take the door off of one of our bathroom cabinets, taped plastic around the base and walls of the cabinet (because sometimes things go out of the litterbox), and then bought the largest plastic storage container that with a bit of cutting would fit into this space. We kept the sides/back as tall as we could, and cut an entrance in the front. Voila, monster amount of space for a litter box despite a potential lack of floor space.

We've got four cats, but only two litter boxes (not counting the mostly unused one); the way that this works is we clean them 2-3x a day.
posted by nobeagle at 7:36 AM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding the Tidy Cat Breeze for odor control: the pee pads do a great job, and the pellets don't track anywhere near as bad as litter did.

We still have to put puppy pads on the floor in front of the boxes because our older cat likes to perch on the end of the box while doing her business and doesn't aim very well.
posted by telophase at 9:55 AM on May 23, 2014

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