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Cat owners love to spoil their pets, and why wouldn’t they? These cuddly companions with big personalities won’t make you feel guilty for streaming eight Netflix episodes in a row or judge you for skipping your morning run. In fact, there aren’t many downsides to caring for such an independent animal, but keeping—and cleaning—a smelly litter box tops the short list.
Dana, the all-star DIY-er behind House*Tweaking and owner of a Maine Coon kitten, knows the struggle well. Her initial litter box setup on the floor next to the dryer was much too accessible to her curious toddler, plus the odor practically overpowered the scent of fresh laundry. When researching how to make her own litter box solution, she found that most existing DIY plans required buying and converting new dressers and other furniture. Determined to make it work with what she had, Dana settled on starting with a tall Ikea Pax wardrobe that stood nestled into the corner of her entryway.
Compared to building a cabinet from scratch, converting the Pax was a pain-free process. Dana’s wardrobe already had all of the ideal features for a litter box cover: double doors for easy access when it came time to clean up, storage space for litter and toys, and a modern design that complemented the rest of her decor. All she needed to do was empty out the bottom shelf where the box would sit and add a pet door.
Adjustable shelving made it easy enough to raise or even remove the divider in order to accommodate a cat’s height. Then, using a measuring tape and a jigsaw, Dana carefully cut out a hole just large enough to fit a flap door. But the flap isn’t altogether necessary: If you don’t want to shell out for a pet door, simply sand the edges of the cut-out to remove any splinters and leave it uncovered for your cat to come and go. Door or no door, an entryway bench pulled up to the cabinet serves well to discreetly hide the litter box entrance from view.
The pet door Dana picked up on Amazon cost about $20, but shopping her home for everything else she needed meant money zero dollars wasted on new or used furniture to convert into a litter box cover. Secondhand, similar cabinets cost at least $30, and new shelving units would set Dana back $100 or more—all of which are still cheaper options than a ready-made box cover from an online retailer. Better yet, the custom enclosure reduces odor and keeps litter in the box instead of scattered all over the floor. As much as you love the prospect of not having to see or smell cat turds ever again, your cat might be the biggest fan of the litter box upgrade: Dana says her cat Cheetah “took to it right away,” and prefers the privacy of her custom bathroom to the old, open setup by the appliances.
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