Because hauling kitty litter is a young person's game
October 4, 2021 3:46 PM   Subscribe

Is there a US based delivery service for kitty litter? Absorbent snowflakes within!

My mom is nearly 70, lives on the second floor of her apartment complex--she feels safer there than living on the ground floor--and she is about to have major colorectal surgery before the end of the year.

The healing process will be long, painful, and I want to do my part from my home in Canada. One of these figuring out how to get litter delivered to her door.

I understand that there is no mail delivery to her apartment, and I believe that packages are left at the office. Are there litter delivery services that will bring it to her front door, regardless? And if so, would they allow payment from a Canadian account?

TIA, y'all.
posted by Kitteh to Pets & Animals (19 answers total)
I know that the grocery delivery services will (or at least would) bring groceries inside. Maybe try InstaCart (which might very well deliver from pet stores as well as groceries) plus whatever delivery service her local grocery store might have. The local, same day services are more likely to delivery to the actual door than the shipping services.
posted by metahawk at 3:49 PM on October 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

This feels like a job for TaskRabbit and the like? "Purchase litter, deliver it inside" type of task.
posted by BlahLaLa at 3:57 PM on October 4, 2021 [6 favorites]

First, I would check any local pet stores - I have a local chain nearby that will bring 35lb bags of dog food to my door for $5 extra (the guy who came wouldn't accept a tip, and I'm pretty sure he would have brought it inside for me if it wasn't a pandemic), and it's probably a way that local shops try to compete with the big chains.

Other options might be Instacart, Postmates, grocery store or drugstore delivery (this has been heavily outsourced to Instacart in a lot of the US though). Yes these services have serious labor issues, and if you use them you should try to get your mom a $100 stack of $5 bills (my husband knows our one nearby ATM that will do this, but he's also gone in and talked to a person in the bank) so she can tip generously off the books, but they do come to the door and you can ask them to knock and wait for someone to answer (so the tip can be handed over, but don't mention it in the app comments) instead of ding-dong ditching it on the doormat. Where I live PetSmart is on Instacart.

Dumpling is an alternative to the above services, positioning itself as "more ethical" than the gig services. They're also a little more flexible, if you or your mom needed to add on additional things she needed.

A different option would be to just hire someone to specifically do this for you, and it might be worth doing that so that you can add on additional things you might need to arrange to have done as well as check on your mom. You'd want someone bonded and insured, like a personal assistant, or a house- or pet-sitter, and in fact you might consider specifically hiring a pet-sitter/walker to bring litter (and pet food!) and scoop the box (and take that to outside trash) and also be someone who's showing up every 2-3 days to make sure your mom is answering the door and generally doing okay.

I would assume you could use a North American bank debit card with Instacart or similar. I pay my petsitter via paypal or venmo.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:07 PM on October 4, 2021 [7 favorites]

I'd just call a few local pet food stores.
posted by sebastienbailard at 4:07 PM on October 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I feel the pain of the situation; carrying cat litter up 2 flights of stairs is the bane of my existence and i'm 25 or so years younger, and not undergoing any surgery! This is exactly why over the last few years several lightweight cat litter brands have emerged on the market. As an alternative, cat litter doesn't go bad. If need be she might be able to stock up with several months supply before surgery?
posted by cgg at 4:10 PM on October 4, 2021 [6 favorites]

If it gets delivered to the office of her complex, could you call the office and tip the office worker or handyman a 10 spot to bring it to her apartment?

How does she get it there now? Could she start stockpiling bags in advance of her surgery?
posted by AugustWest at 4:20 PM on October 4, 2021

I live in a building where deliveries are routinely left in the garage. I get it. BUT, if I were your Mom, the greatest gift would be if you were to hire her a GoFor for her recovery. Someone she could call on to bring the cat litter upstairs or go get her some bandaids or juice or whatever she needs. You might find someone on Task Rabbit OR better, yet, Pay/promise them xxx hours ahead of time and let her then dispatch as needed.

You might just google Senior In Home Care in xxx - where, of course, xxx is your Mom's town.

Good luck!
posted by susandennis at 4:22 PM on October 4, 2021

Best answer: A Canadian podcast I listen to has Pretty Litter as an advertiser and their delivery service is one of their big selling points. (Free Delivery in the Contiguous US .) Another is that the litter is much lighter than traditional kitty litter. (A third is that it changes color to detect possible illnesses in your cat.) I haven’t used it myself (no cat), but the podcast co-host loves it. (And not just because she is paid to, she legitimately loves not leaving the house.)
posted by ejs at 4:23 PM on October 4, 2021

I mean sells litter, but it won't solve the problem on how to get the litter up the stairs.
posted by coffeecat at 4:49 PM on October 4, 2021

In my complex, Amazon (well, anything shipped with an Amazon partner courier), FedEx, and UPS deliver direct to my second-story front door; USPS (including Amazon shipped USPS, of course) goes to the office. Instacart folks deliver direct to my doorstep too. It might be worth trying all those options and see if any delivery carrier does to-door delivery.
posted by Alterscape at 5:07 PM on October 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

We get ours delivered via Walmart's delivery service, which just uses instacart or a similar service. For most of these you can specify how you would like the items delivered and (presumably) ask for them to be delivered to your door rather than somewhere else.

Lugging stuff up 2 flights is going to be a lot of work for anyone, but presumably if you are willing to tip an appropriate amount someone will be willing to do it.
posted by flug at 5:09 PM on October 4, 2021

Best answer: Does she have friends in the building? Instead of outsourcing this to the gig economy, why doesn't she ask her neighbors? Especially ones with pets, and extra-especially neighbors who have cats themselves. She should be able to pay them back immediately (via Venmo, for example), and might consider requesting an extra bag at first so that there's no risk of running out if her litter schedule and the helpful neighbor's aren't in sync.. Since it's not a lifetime commitment, people will probably be glad to help. Personally, I get a lot of meaning out of doing sweet things like this for the folks in my building, and it never adds more than a couple minutes to my errands.

If you do feel like technology's the best way to do this, would it be possible to add delivery instructions to the order that explicitly request it be brought upstairs to her apartment? (On preview: as flug suggests!) YMMV with this; when I lived in rural-ish Texas, the Amazon driver would go an extra two miles out to throw a package into the bushes over my locked gate (per my request); here in the Bay Area, I'm lucky if they don't leave it outdoors on the stoop of my multi-unit building for any random scoundrel to take.
posted by knucklebones at 5:12 PM on October 4, 2021 [3 favorites]

In addition to the other suggestions for getting a delivery person, if she's still using clay litter I would urge her to change to a non-clay version like sWheat Scoop or Hartz Multi-Cat Clumping Paper Litter. They weigh so much less and will be easier not just for the delivery person but for her (as I assume after they deliver it she still has to drag it around the house).
posted by Anonymous at 7:24 PM on October 4, 2021

Amazon Fresh delivers from Pet food express. You can put in a note in the deliver notes area that they have to bring it up to the door. No idea if they'd really do it though. But offering $10 tip may help, esp. if you explain about the mobility problem and it's on second floor.

It's also good for groceries from Amazon or Whole Foods.
posted by kschang at 8:38 PM on October 4, 2021

FWIW Instacart took my Irish credit card when I was setting up US orders to my parents' house. I was 99% sure it wasn't going to work because it asked for a billing ZIP code but I left that field blank and it's worked repeatedly since.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:23 AM on October 5, 2021

Best answer: Were I your mother (I’m less than 10 years younger than her), I wouldn’t want strangers coming into my house, especially when I was recovering from surgery. I would either stock up in advance, or find a service that will deliver to the door, and then leave some sort of wheeled cart outside my door for them to put it on, so that I could then wheel it into my apartment. But truthfully, stocking up in advance would be my preference.
posted by MexicanYenta at 3:14 AM on October 5, 2021 [2 favorites]

Gonna plug Tidy Cats free and clear *lightweight* litter. It weighs 1/4 if that of the density of regular litter. Works great. Lasts a long while. Light weight makes it easier for our cat to track it out of the box but otherwise it’s substantially similar to the heavier version of the same product, which we have used for years.
posted by spitbull at 6:15 AM on October 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Definitely stock up in advance as much as possible, and really I'd look for a helper on TaskRabbit who could do some tasks for her including this one.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:56 AM on October 5, 2021

Response by poster: Hi everyone!

Thanks so much for your lovely and thoughtful answers. My mom is friends with her neighbour downstairs--they swap catsitting duties as needed--and from what she has told me, Jen (the neighbour) has offered to take care of my mom's cat while she is recovering: coming up to feed her, change the litter, etc. I have asked my mom if Jen would be okay with me contacting her and asking if I could possibly give her some money for all the help she has offered.

I am currently in the US so I will stock my mom up on litter while I'm here. I agree with the posters that yes, it's probably not the best idea to have strangers come to her door, even with the benign intent of delivering litter.
posted by Kitteh at 5:53 AM on October 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

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