Help me build the absolute best litter box setup.
March 20, 2019 10:11 AM   Subscribe

I would like to own the absolute best litter box setup for my 3 awesome cats who are forced to deal with a time-strapped overworked human servant.

I am willing to throw money at this problem if it works within the following constraints:

* as low maintenance as possible. I am a bad kitteh owner and am not the greatest at litter box management. My cats are pretty tolerant, but my nose is not.
* I need 3 of everything (3 cats, 3 litter boxes). I am willing to throw money at the problem, but 3 $600 litter robots is a little much.
* space isn't a concern (each litter box currently has it's own dedicated closet)
* would prefer larger boxes, preferably without hood but not a deal breaker
* there is no power available to the aforementioned closets (so again no litter robots, etc)
* open to any type of litter, as long as it's relatively dust free.
* toilet training is not an option
* strong preference to things purchasable in Canada, including any sort of refills, etc. Online strongly preferred, Amazon ideal, Petsmart acceptable. But if you're not sure please suggest anyway; I do make my way to Seattle on occasion.

Cat obsessed mefites, can you help me build the best litter box situation for both my fuzzbutts and their lazy human? Sifting litter boxes? Disposables? Magic litter box fairies who come in the night and clean? Open to all suggestions, even those that involve thinking a little outside the (litter)box! Me and most importantly the cats thank you in advance.

Cat Tax: 1/3 of black cat fuzzbutts.
posted by cgg to Pets & Animals (12 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
As far as litter, I can highly recommend Dr. Elsey's Ultra Litter. It forms hard clumps that don't crumble nearly as badly as the other brands I've tried, which means the remaining litter stays cleaner.
posted by Lexica at 10:21 AM on March 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

What works for us (one Feline Overlord, two human servants) is a very large litterbox in a closet, with Cat's Pride litter. We've used Dr. Elsey's (as Lexica recommends) and I didn't find much of a difference in clumping. We find it's very low dust (important, as dry air and dust gives the Overlord occasional asthma-like coughing fits).

I keep the box with 3-4" of litter in it, scoop it weekly, and the Overlord has been happy with that for over a decade.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 10:29 AM on March 20, 2019

I have 6 cats and am cleaning up cat litter all the time. I have 6 of these Arm and Hammer Sifting Boxes. To clean the box, you pick up the top box, pour everything into the sifter, and then lift the sifter up and all of the poop is on the sifter and you just dispose of it as you normally would. Then you put it back together with the box that has litter in it on top. This has decreased my cat litter scooping time exponentially. You can "scoop" each box in a couple of minutes. The most time I spend is scraping any stuck stuff off. The box is a little smaller than I'd like, but the cats don't seem to mind it much. Plus, it's a very cheap investment if that doesn't end up working for you (or if you want to get more of them later). I found mine at Walmart.

I'd also recommend getting a metal cat litter scoop. Having something that isn't bendy just makes the job easier.
posted by possibilityleft at 10:51 AM on March 20, 2019

My current method is probably not the gold standard, but just as some things to look at: I have three boxes. They each have a Litter Genie. That means that there's a much lower barrier to my cleaning the boxes individually daily without needing to worry about finding a bag, doing all the boxes at the same time, whatever.

I really, really like the jumbo disposable boxes, as an apartment dweller; my cats just shredded liners and washing the boxes regularly was not going to happen. Whole box just goes out once a month, and I can usually fit all three into a single garbage bag to carry them out. I'm not sure about Canadian availability, but having these shipped to me through a monthly subscription from Chewy helped that process a lot; I know it's time to do it when the new ones arrive. Generally, get as much stuff auto-shipped to you for this as possible.

The Tidy Cats unscented lightweight litter both clumps better than I expected and lowers barriers to my changing out boxes and taking out the Litter Genie contents; I hadn't really thought about how the lightweight litter was going to make all of those things lighter, not just hauling the litter home. It might be dustier, but honestly I don't find it that bad, compared to cheaper litters that produce a cloud I completely can't breathe in when changing boxes. Again, not sure about Canada here, but worth looking at if it's available, if the weight issue is something that makes this hard for you to keep up. Since everything I do has to be carried to a dumpster down the block eventually, it helped me.

You are not a bad owner for struggling with this. Do the best you can, but you don't need to be an optimal caregiver to your cats to be miles better than no family at all.
posted by Sequence at 11:09 AM on March 20, 2019

In Canada.. I have two cats and use the luuup litter boxes. I have two of them, and they are just like the sifting method listed above except the sifting is built into the litter boxes. Watch the videos on the website to see the full magic in action. You do need litter that clumps pretty hard, I currently use odour buster which you can get at Petland and some other stores. With two cats this means that I change the litter once a week and have no odour in between. It’s a very good system!
posted by some chick at 12:45 PM on March 20, 2019

Also, if you have Amazon prime from you can get litter delivered on a schedule, which is pretty great. You can’t get the odour buster litter so I’m currently trying out some arm and Hammer odour reducing litter. No idea if it will be as good as the odour buster yet though!
posted by some chick at 12:46 PM on March 20, 2019

Pine Pellets have been the best litter box filler for us.
Smells like the Forest (seriously... it's wonderful), no tracking at all and very easy clean up.

Basically, you can easily filter the poop out and pee turns the pellets to sawdust. So you can go a few rounds without scooping if you really, really must.

You can also buy the pellets as "Stall Dry" wood pellets from Rona for $7 per 40lb bag which is EXCELLENT value especially for 3 cats.

I recommended these pine pellets to a friend with 3 cats who was at her wits end with litter box dramas, and she called me the next day absolutely RAVING about them... she didn't realize how stinky her other litter had been.
posted by JenThePro at 2:13 PM on March 20, 2019

After switching to crystal cat litter I've never looked back. No clumping, less dust, doesn't smell. Micro-crystals are even better because they track way less. For two cats I have 2 top-entry boxes that each get filled with 5lbs of crystals – that lasts a month. Since there are no clumps, we usually go two days between scooping, and it's easy to use a hand sifter for the solids. Give the crystals a quick stir and the liquids are taken care of. Solids go in a Litter Genie next to the boxes. Done in less than a minute. Monthly litter changes are easy because it's just 5lbs of crystals per box.
posted by homesickness at 2:18 PM on March 20, 2019

We have our two boxes in a large cardboard box (smaller than a fridge box but bigger than a chest freezer box). Lined it with remnant carpet. Litter Locker 2 is in the box as well.

We just switched to the sifter boxes, but I'm not sure about them yet. I clean them every day so maybe that part isn't right for your situation. We used to just use a big plastic bin but one of our cats is a senior and I think it was hard for him to get in and out.
posted by getawaysticks at 3:10 PM on March 20, 2019

* I need 3 of everything (3 cats, 3 litter boxes). I am willing to throw money at the problem, but 3 $600 litter robots is a little much.

I have one of the Litter Robot Open Air models, which I suspect is the one you're talking about. Out of curiosity, why do you think you'd need three?

My two cats (one of whom is a fluffy 15# Maine Coon) have shared their box for the last 3.5 years without issue. They both had their own boxes previously when we had regular litter boxes, but both seem to prefer sharing an always clean litter box like they do now.
posted by OntologicalPuppy at 5:14 AM on March 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Get a huge rubbermaid style plastic storage tub. Cut a hole in the side. Fill with litter. Done. If I had room in a basement I'd fill a kiddie pool with litter. Cats like space.
posted by agregoli at 6:34 AM on March 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

We found it's a lot easier to stay on top of scooping with a dedicated can right there. The Simple Human mini works well for us and keeps the worst stink in. We also found that bar mats are the best no-tracking solution (obviously stuff falls through, so not for carpet by themselves) as our cats shredded or peed on anything carpet or sponge-like. Also this zeolite odor eliminator is great for sprinkling in the box, can, or wherever for extra odor control. You don't need much and it really makes a difference for us. The litter we use is a blend of Dr. Elsey's and pine pellets because the pine helps with stink and the Elsey's is what our cats seem to prefer.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:35 AM on March 22, 2019

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