DIY: Hidden Cat Litter Box

There is nothing worse for cat owners than having to figure out how to deal with your beloved kitty's shit. Thankfully in these modern times when someone has figured out how to make and sell pretty much everything you can imagine, there's a whole new market out there for products designed to hide cat shit and the boxes it goes in. But even though pet furniture has come a very long way, hiding litter boxes is still an expensive venture. An average side table that opens to hide a litter box may cost $100.00-$200.00. And on top of the cost, it's freaking ugly! 

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This one is $150.00! Come on now!

Beyond the expense and general un-attractiveness is the customization factor. Many of the hidden litter box units you can buy online are designed for the bathrooms or living rooms. What I really needed was a unit that could go in the kitchen, as my bathrooms are tiny and I really cannot abide a cat box in the living room. So I knew that if I wanted to avoid staring at cat turds while cooking dinner, I'd be looking at a DIY project. 

...To Pinterest! 

The basic component of a hidden cat box is a cabinet, dresser, or other medium-scale storage piece. Be it old...

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...or new.

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The other elements are a cat-sized opening, an open area inside to put the actual litter pan in, and some sort of modification that allows the entire unit to be opened for cleaning purposes.

What I discovered as I begin planning the DIY was the difficulty in finding a piece of furniture that would both suit the needs of the litter box as well as something that could work in the kitchen.

I finally found a workable solution with the IKEA Fullen bathroom sink base. 

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At $30.00, it wasn't so expensive that if I totally screwed up the project I wouldn't curl into a ball and cry myself to sleep.

Because it's a sink base it actually did not come with a top, so I'd have to find a solution for that. I'd also need to address the entrance for the cat as well. Most of the IKEA hacks involves adding a cat door traditionally used to allow access into/out of exterior doors. I personally found these prohibitively expensive and one of the big reasons why I never tackled this project sooner. At $40.00 a pop, these just don't make sense to me. Plus my cat Sailor simply cannot stand the annoying plastic flaps they always come with. So no flaps.

Without flaps it's pretty much just a hole in the side of the cabinet. I knew I could do that. But had to finish it? Then finally I saw this image on Pinterest:

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Someone with way too much time on their hands builds a very elaborate mini door that led to a cat box hidden inside a wall. This is amazing. Obviously not exactly what I need but nonetheless an inspiration. What I realized is that I could use a picture frame to literally "frame" the cat opening on the cabinet. Five minutes later, I found the perfect frame. 

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Sorry, vintage paint-by-number horsey. You'll find a new home soon. Plenty of space for all 15 pounds of him. 

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Next I unboxed the IKEA cabinet and spent some time trying to figure out which panel I would cut. Then I traced the frame, and got to work with the jigsaw, making sure to drill pilot holes in the corners first so I wouldn't get the saw blade stuck. 

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I used the sanding bit of my Dremel to clean up the rough edges.

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And put it together. It's actually upside down in the photo below.

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I made a few modifications to the build, mostly to get rid of the interior shelf and to accommodate for a 10 inch hole in the side. It is still structurally sound, however. The cabinet originally came with tiny, wimpy plastic handle things. I found a pair of shiny nickel handles in a box of junk left over from another project. 

Once it was built, I could finally take a really good measure for how big the top needed to be. Then it was off to Home Depot, my home away from home, to get a piece of wood cut to size. 

I picked an 18" x 48" piece of laminated pine for the top and had it cut down to 16" x 24". The whole piece of wood was about $15.00. 

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And no they still would not let me use the awesome saw. One day my dreams will come true... 

Back at home, I attached the wood to the top using 1 1/2" corner braces.

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...and stained the wood.  

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Next I added the picture frame. It worked perfectly! All I did was use a little bit of construction adhesive and taped it down while it dried.

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I chose to put casters on instead of the regular legs that came with the cabinet because I wanted it to be lower to the ground. I also wanted to be able to move it around as much as possible to clean it.

Some may argue that now it's too low to get any real use as a functioning countertop, but that's okay with me. It's true function is really just a dressed up cat box. I wanted to make it as comfortable and convenient as possible for Sailor to use so he wouldn't go to the bathroom on the floor instead. Any added storage on the top is a bonus. 

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All done! 

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I love how the wood top matches the shelving already in the kitchen. It's warm, cottage-y and just pretty.

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Because it was originally meant to be a sink cabinet, the back is completely open. This makes ventilation a no-brainer. And the height inside makes it easy for Sailor to get in and out.

After taking these pics, I traded the oversized original cat pan I had with the smaller one that fit a little bit better. 

This morning I got up early, inspired to turn the top of the cabinet into a fun coffee bar for my Keurig.  

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I added nails for litter-related storage to the inside as well. I also plan on adding thin pieces of wood trim to cover the rough cut opening. 

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I am really loving this thing.  And so far? No poop on the floor. That's the best part.

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Total project cost: 

IKEA sink base: $30.00

IKEA casters: $10.00

18" x 48" laminated pine board: $15.00

1 1/2" corner braces: $2.00

Knobs: Already had

Picture frame: Already had

Stain/poly combo: Already had

$57.00 is a very small price to pay to not have to look at cat poop while preparing my eggs in the morning. It's the little things that make life worth living, I say.