It’s the cat’s ass: DIY top loading cat litter boxes!

I don’t know how long we’ve been dealing with cat box drama — essentially, the entire 9 years Mark and I and our respective cats have been co-habitating. Orville, our flame-point siamese, is VERY particular about how clean his box and surrounding area are. So much so that he will “exact revenge” upon us if we don’t keep his terlet pristine. And we were working with that. Until we introduced sweet Miz Biscuits the Orca Bear into our feline familia. She’s HUGE. Like almost 20 lbs. And she’s a bit messy. After she’s been in the loo, it looks like the desert after a sandstorm. And if we don’t sweep it up immediately, guess what happens? Oh yeah, Orville decides to use the litter-covered floor as his box. GROSS. And we were finding litter everywhere. In our bed. On the couch. This had to stop.

I’ve been wanting to try those top loading cat boxes for like, ever — have you seen the absolutely breathtakingly gorgeous boxes from Modkat? I mean, WOW. But I could never spend $180 on a cat box. No matter how gorgeous. Plus, I would need two, and I don’t think the generous curves of my zaftig gal would even be contained in one of those Modkat boxes. And the Clevercat box? Meh. It’s fine, but the design is so obviously simple, I figured I could just DIY a much more attractive version for less.

So I did. I bought two 18-gallon plastic storage containers with lids (about $7.50 each). I decided I liked the idea of using the lid to trap the spare litter crumbs, so I bought 2 feet of grey stair-tread carpet($4) to adhere to the lid with some carpet adhesive double stick tape. My total material cost for TWO boxes was less than $25 — a fraction of any of my store bought options.
I used a dinner plate as my template for the hole on the lid — make sure you place it towards one side of the lid rather than the center so the cats have a platform to jump up on. I also traced the hole on the carpet backing when I traced my piece to affix to the top. Once I cut out my carpet and the hole on the lid, it was just as simple as popping the adhesive on the back of the carpet, pressing firmly on the lid, and trimming it out with some decorative duct tape to make sure everything is secure.

I’m pleased to report the gatos are utilizing their new lavatories regularly and without fuss. And the litter has been staying in the box! Happy cat parents = happy cats. Hooray!

–The Baroness

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  1. I knew someone could come up with a cuter (and cheaper) version of this! I love the green, almost festive and chic. Have they each chosen their own box? Or does Orville share?

    • Oh — they seem to be sharing as far as I can tell — but I’ve been catching Biscuits napping on top of them lately!

    • I had an automatic. It would have woerkd well with just one cat. It was a Litter Maid. However, I have 7(8 at that time) who all preferred to use the automatic litter box over their regular boxes. It was quite a thrill for them to see the stools being hoisted into the litter tray. They were all fascinated with the process. They had that thing going day and night until one day I smelled some smoke coming from my utility room. The automatic litter box was slightly smoking. I noticed that all my very large cats were around this thing and the motor was making a humming sound trying to hoist a very large stool into the litter tray.It just burned out after the constant use. Maybe they each should have had their own? I think with all the activity from my large well fed kitties, it was too much for the poor motor. Next time, I will look for one with a Brigs and Stratton motor!:) But Litter maid is a good one for just one kitty. It would be ideal for him. It is a good product. Just not intended for the large group I have. They have since been reduced to using the regular boxes and all the excitement has died down. The party is over for my kitties!

      • That’s a funny story!! LOve it!

      • My cat Bug would go running to the box when she heard motor. She watched and stayed about 15-30 mins just to make sure it didn’t go again. She would go ahead and pee then leave only to have it start all over again. She finally started ignoring it.

  2. Excellent! Nothing like cutting the cost of an overpriced “IKEA” design down to 25$ and some contentment with your own personal execution of a clever poo-bin.

  3. we can’t get carpet for that amount feet? everywhere we go is 5ft and higher, where did you get your grey stair-tread carpet?

    • You could use the carpet mats you put on the floor of cars. They should work and be right about the exact size needed.

    • You can also buy carpet tiles. Or cut up an inexpensive kitchen mat – anything low pile should work, I’d think.

    • Cindy, In California, OSH sells it by the foot…I would imagine maybe Lowes and HomeDepot might too but have never looked. Also, many carpet companies will sell their out-dated Carpet samples that the different carpet companies send them to display – normally for just a couple of dollars. They make great mats for doors and have many other places in home and car that they can be used. They would be great for the tops of the litter boxes like this too!

    • Go to your local dollar store and buy a cheap mat or two. You can cut them to the size you need.

    • They should have a remanent bin or they sell it off the roll at Home Depot/Lowes. Carpet stores may give you a retired sample piece. They are pretty easy to get. Worse case go to a Bed Bath Beyond, use their coupons & purchase a throw rug.

  4. Cindy, Menard’s (big box hardware store) sells it by the foot.

  5. Hi! Thank you so much for the fabulous idea! I went right out today and bought the supplies for making this project! I bought some stair tread carpet at Lowes. Since I just made one box, I only needed one linear foot (the roll is three feet wide). I made a template for cutting my carpet, cutting a hole in the top first, then tracing around the lid and the hole. I think carpet tape is now my favorite craft item!

  6. Love, love, love! With five furry kids this is a definite diy that will be done tomorrow. Thanks

  7. I love this idea, but do the cats have to enter the box from the top? If so, did they do ok with that?

    • Cats have no problem popping into holes – ever watch them playing on a cat tree/playhouse? Being a “top-loader” litter box, the litter will fall off their feet on the top of the lid for the most part, keeping floor clean up to a distinct minimum.

      I cannot wait to make this, the litter under my barefeet makes me crazy!

      HeartKeepers Pet Care Services

  8. Is the duct tape put over and under the ends of the carpet, or just flat sticking to the top? Was this tricky to do? Cant wait to make them…my girls have my bathroom floor littered with wet, black litter…ugh!

  9. This is perfect for my new tiny home! I was concerned about the space my litter box was going to need

  10. I would love some recommendations for the litter you use. I have not been pleased with the odor control of the ones I have tried. How often do you scoop out your boxes?

  11. Creative idea! My cat is very picky with her litter box in general. I have to clean it out often or she’ll leave me a mess somewhere else! Do any of you find that the cat does not like the top entrance? Does your cat seam cramped? I am thinking that A bigger plastic bin may solve the problem.

    Is there any way I may add this to my blog at Please let me know if that would be permisable.

    Thanks so much,

  12. Did you use an exacto knife to cut through the bin top?

  13. Did you cut the hole in the lid with a utility knife?

  14. They hv to get on top to go right drop into hole in hen u just pop off the top lid to change litter right?

  15. Virginia Arsenault

    Yes. This probably is an obvious question, but where do the cats stand when the attending to the toilet? They don’t have to dig around in the kitty litter before doing their duty? They can just tell it’s there and aim appropriately?
    I have three cats, all very large. One of them stands in the center of the cat box and is so large that he drops his kitty offerings on the floor just next to the box.
    If this works, you could be my new best friend!

  16. Hi. Great idea!
    But, do the cats have to go into the box or do they just hover over the hole?
    Thanks 🙂

  17. Do u use a certain type of liner bag in these boxes or
    just small trash bags?

  18. what did you use to cut out the whole? a box cutter?

  19. Love this idea! Can’t wait to make it!

  20. Nice. Do cats use them naturally as they use an ordinary box. They seem to know immediatly what it is used for.
    Do they need to be educated to its use? How to start with that?

  21. Brilliant product you came up with!!! I am building one tomorrow.

  22. I have GOT to try this. I have 4 ladies and they do make a mess on the floor just getting in and out of a box with higher sides. It’s like they have a contest to see who can spread it the farthest. This should be the answer to a lot of extra clean up.

  23. I’m going to try this. My cat is a big cat. M
    He misses the pan and sprays the wall sometimes. I’m thinking this will keep all the mess in the box. Crossing my fingers he likes it. I’m to try a clear container so the light filters in. The bonus will be my sneaky chihuahua won’t be able to get in it! Thanks for the pin!

  24. What did you use to cut the hole in the lid? I love your idea! Thank you so much.

  25. I have used a low bin for a litter box for years. It has been a good idea. Your idea is great! Our chocolate point is large,17 pounds, and the store litter boxes were just too small for him. We also have to try to keep the dogs out of it because some of them can get through the kitty door. This will be great! Making one soon! Thanks for the idea.

  26. I’m new to cat ownership so this may be a stupid question, but does the cat really use an 18 gallon litterbox? That isn’t too tall for the cats to get into?

  27. So…does the cat sit in the edge of jump into it?

  28. Will it bother the cats, being in the closed area when scratching the litter, creating a cloud of dust? Just considering their lungs!

  29. Awesome idea, have to make one. I have 5 cats that share 1 lg box, there is always litter on the floor, if i dont sweep it up nobody does. Cant stand to walk into the utility room with litter on floor.

  30. What did you use to cut the storage box? I’ve tried cutting them…not easy at all.

  31. where would I find one of those containers? I live in the UK and we dont have cool stuff like you guys in the US lol

  32. I have a 20lber as well. The cat doesn’t flip the box when they jump on the top? Or are you putting alot of litter in there to weigh it down?

  33. Genius. I have five felines at the moment, and the regular box is just not doing the job, plus the dogs like to ‘snack’ out of it. I just bought the tote, will be working on getting some carpet for the top (wonderful addition, BTW), and in a day or so I should have a new litter box with a lot fewer issues. Thanks!

  34. If you stacked two bins together, drilling several holes in the bottom of one bin, you could make a sifting liter box. Just a thought.

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