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jkelley9

I hate cat litter - check out my home DIY project

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So I'm pretty proud of myself on this one, and I'll start the story from the beginning! And yes, I'm completely aware of how absolutely ridiculous this is, and at some of my own decisions/thought processes in this whole ordeal. It's all under the ridiculous umbrella for sure.

We have 2 cats. 12 year old male, 3 year old female. They're buds.

Issue #1: My wife and I like cats, but when we moved into our new house they figured they would pee along the walls and in the corners of our carpeted upstairs unoccupied bedrooms. They have furniture in there; one's my wife's office fully furnished, the other is our guest bedroom fully furnished, and the 3rd is our workout room basically furnished. Those 3 rooms I guess don't see enough traffic to where they felt comfortable enough to just take a piss whenever they want... We asked the vet and the pet store people and they said the rule of thumb is the # of litter boxes in your home should be = (# cats) + 1 with the caveat of at least one per floor; while thinking to myself "omg there's a freaking FORMULA for this...?" But I'm an engineer, so I'll survive. Okay, so 3 cat litter boxes; 2 downstairs, 1 upstairs. Gotta figure this one out.

Issue #2: We have a dog that thinks cat turds are like Snicker's bars. Can't get enough of them. In reading around, supposedly it's not terrible for the dog but obviously not a desirable situation. The main problem I have is that when the dog eats them she goes from a "regular" dog (poop in the morning after breakfast, poop at night after dinner) to a "poop 3 times a day dog." So when we're not home she'll take a dump on the carpet. That sucks.

Summary: I have to come up with a way to put a minimum 3 litter boxes in the house that the cats are able to reach "comfortably" and the dog is UNABLE to reach. While also making it not so much of an eyesore to guests while at the SAME TIME reducing odor as much as possible (a big part of this for me). So much lol.

Intervention tactic #1: So we have a coat closet underneath our stairs that we only used to keep our vacuum cleaner, since we had a hallway coat closet and have a hall coat tree anyways. I figured hey, why not put in one of those cat flap doors big enough for the cats but too small for the dog?? So I cut out a hole in the door and put one in. Worked for 3+ months. Then the dog figured out she could squeeze in and gobble up a snack when we weren't home. Except she didn't account for me understanding that the rate of poop accumulation had diminished suspiciously, and I also caught her in there shortly after! 

Intervention tactic #1 part b: "Okay, I'll build a CALCULATED platform to go in there to elevate the litter boxes to where the cats can jump up there but the dog can't!" Lol. Yes, I had all sorts of variables like "okay the cats can jump on the counters but the dog cant... hmm okay I'll make it X tall... but they also need to have a little space to jump onto but not SO big as to where the dog can grab and throw herself up there (yes, that's a thing my dog is able to do. She's a freaking escape artist and acrobat)." So I built the platform. SUCCESS! Dog can't reach, but cats are using the.

So we put a cat box upstairs but I was really tired of the smell. Also, they were STILL peeing in the rooms! Also, the dog would get her snacks. We put the box on an old desk and she stayed off it for a couple months but then she figured it out (again) and every day after that she was eating them and making a mess to boot.

Intervention tactic #2: I saw where you could buy these end table things with a cutout with a litter box inside and it keep the smell down. I figured okay, well I want it in the hallway so it's not in a bedroom where it can get stagnant air and smell up the joint, so I bought one of those walmart storage bench looking things. I cut out the side and put a SMALLER cat door in it. Eureka! It worked! Cats could still fit and the dog seems uninterested. It's been 5+ months with this one and the dog hasn't messed with it yet. HOWEVER! The cats were still peeing in the rooms... "are you KITTEN ME?" (lol).

Okay so as most of you homeowners may already know, you can't just close the doors in your carpeted upstairs if you don't have return vent to the HVAC system in each room. It exerts positive pressure on those room and then you have a really messed up temperature profile in your upstairs which typically leads to added energy costs and strain on your system. Additionally, the cats had already peed in those rooms and that's a bitch to clean (as some of you cat owners probably already know). 

Intervention tactic #3 (the preparation): So I knew I needed to be able to close these rooms off to keep them out for good, and before I did the cleaning. Ain't nobody got time to clean and re-clean because they want to "re-mark" their territory (which was mainly what was happening, we think). So I could either install return vents in each room or I could go cheap and "undercut the doors." I figured screw it, the house is a cookie cutter house and has a decent ply carpet on it so I'll uncut the door so that the room has an outlet for the air to flow under the door back into the hallway back into the return vent. So I took the 3 doors down and sawed the bottoms off. Looks pretty good actually and actually solved some carpet dragging problems were were having with one of the doors (which was on my honey-do-list FOREVER).

Intervention tactic #3 (the cleaning): We had our whole family come stay with us for Thanksgiving this year, so we had to clean out the workout room and put another bed in there, which we had a 3rd mattress for at the time because just 2 weeks before, we upgraded our master bed. The problem was, the 2 rooms with guests smelled like PI$$. Literally. And it was bad. So I called the Chem-dry outfit to come out and use their SEVENTY FIVE DOLLAR PER GALLON PET PRODUCT (hoe... lee... crap that stuff is expensive). $350 later (minus tip) and things looked pretty clean. The smell was down at least through thanksgiving. One room is totally fine now. So that's good. The other, I still need to do some work. So I bought a gallon of "Nature's Miracle" "URINE DESTROYER." So... urine "destroyer." With a name like that it better effing work!

So like I said, the cats still wanted to go in those rooms even with that nifty storage bench thing that they did use. I think my cats are also just lazy as hell and if they're on the other side of the house they think it's a shorter distance to just go in the room and also, nobody will bother them (the dog). Also, you can still smell that storage bench thing a little. And I hate that smell. I'm sensitive to it.

Intervention tactic #4: I saw this cool thing online where someone did that cat flap door thing into the garage where they had a little pen area with a flip up top to use the litter box, and it kept the smell outside the living area. I considered doing that but the way my garage was, I didn't have space for even the most elaborate of setups. BUT! My office, which is a "finished room over garage" has the canopy ceiling thing and also has side attics on both sides. It also has great ventilation being at the edge of the roof line with the soffet vents. So I built a little enclosure out of 2x4s and cheap plywood, made a hole cutout the size of one of those cat flap things, and then put a cat flap in my office so they can go out and into there! Worked like a charm! No smell. Easy access for scooping. 

The LAST thing I need to figure out is a way to ventilate the downstairs closet litter room. I'm thinking of installing a raspberry pi with a small fan and piping it through the crawlspace. As you can already probably tell, I kind of enjoy projects like this as ridiculous as it sounds, I still kind of want to do it for fun lol.

So ends the epic tale of my journey to odor free, frustration free cat AND dog ownership (lol... as if they won't find another way to be a pain in the butt in the future).

Hope you enjoyed my ridiculous story. I'll post some pics of the setup for anybody that's interested. The whole thing works pretty great now lol.

Edited by jkelley9

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I share your disdain for cat litter. At Target right now purchasing more, only to eventually see its dust coat the basement surfaces.  

:mad:

I'll read this in all its glorious detail later to be sure. Well done on the thorough write-up!!

 

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This is a very sh!tty post. :-P

Here is something to consider.

I could see your dog following a cat in for his Tootsie Roll treat though. We have a shock collar like you would use for an invisible fence, but the transmitter is a small plastic disc (looks like a smoke detector) that can be put wherever you want to keep the pooch away from. You could mount one of those by each litter box and voila. The collar beeps before it shocks, so they learn very quickly that they are in the forbidden zone and turn around.

 

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Very nice!

We have the garage-entry way cat door flap thingy.  We put a raised dog cage in the garage with 2 littler boxes.  Our dog can get his head in there, but can't fit, so we are safe from him grabbing turds.  He loved them when he was a pup.  Our cats took a few days to get used to the sound of the flap, as it was magnetic.  But I love it.  No smell in the house, and easy access to clean.

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Saw this on Shark Tank.  Laughed, but then decided, what the hell, for $29 bucks or whatever, we'll give it a try.

It worked.  Took about 3 months, but our cat is completely potty trained!

http://www.citikitty.com/?gclid=CMzMva-zq9ECFRUlgQodXnwE7g

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14 minutes ago, David in FL said:

Saw this on Shark Tank.  Laughed, but then decided, what the hell, for $29 bucks or whatever, we'll give it a try.

It worked.  Took about 3 months, but our cat is completely potty trained!

http://www.citikitty.com/?gclid=CMzMva-zq9ECFRUlgQodXnwE7g

That is AWESOME!

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29 minutes ago, CarlSpackler said:

That is AWESOME!

The key is to not rush from one step to the next.  We actually had to back up once or twice, but patience and persistence paid off.  Very cool and absolutely worth the effort!

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15 minutes ago, David in FL said:

The key is to not rush from one step to the next.  We actually had to back up once or twice, but patience and persistence paid off.  Very cool and absolutely worth the effort!

I have to say, that thing is pretty cool. I can't believe I never encountered that product in my searches. Although I guess I came up with specific ideas in my head and then searched for those specific things. Oh well.

So, do you basically get home and flush all the toilets in the house? Do you not have any "splatter?" Our older cat is a really crappy aimer and basically pees sideways. It's annoying as crap when scooping because it doesn't clump properly on the side of the box :doh:You'll see in some of my pics I'll upload tonight that we have to get "high-sided" litter boxes because of this.

I swear these cats have been the biggest challenge of my 2016 lol.

Now just to figure out how to vent that one room :-\

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1 hour ago, David in FL said:

Saw this on Shark Tank.  Laughed, but then decided, what the hell, for $29 bucks or whatever, we'll give it a try.

It worked.  Took about 3 months, but our cat is completely potty trained!

http://www.citikitty.com/?gclid=CMzMva-zq9ECFRUlgQodXnwE7g

David, Did you remove the litter box immediately that you were using?  We're there any prob;ems with them just going where the litter box used to be?  how long did you have to leave litter in the trainer?

@jkelley9 I too have 2 cats (12 and 8) and one dog (although she hasn't shown the propensity to eat the cat crap yet).  

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1 minute ago, jsgolfer said:

@jkelley9 I too have 2 cats (12 and 8) and one dog (although she hasn't shown the propensity to eat the cat crap yet).  

Ah, my friend! This is the challenge that makes all the others orders of magnitude more difficult and challenging to address! lol 

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Just now, jkelley9 said:

Ah, my friend! This is the challenge that makes all the others orders of magnitude more difficult and challenging to address! lol 

Although she does like to eat the cat food now and then.  :-O

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4 minutes ago, jkelley9 said:

Our older cat is a really crappy aimer and basically pees sideways.

This. I don't know which one of ours, but for a while I thought one (or both) was just messing me and peeing beside the litter box. I went to a high sided box, and that cut down 90% of that problem. The question is on that other 10%- is the damn cat TRYING to get over the side?! I can't for the life of me picture the angles needed for that!

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Just now, RandallT said:

This. I don't know which one of ours, but for a while I thought one (or both) was just messing me and peeing beside the litter box. I went to a high sided box, and that cut down 90% of that problem. The question is on that other 10%- is the damn cat TRYING to get over the side?! I can't for the life of me picture the angles needed for that!

HAHA this is the same exact situation for my wife and I. When we Fall cleaning we went to clean out the closet room for the cats so I took the litter boxes out and washed them while my wife cleaned the floor below where the cat had "missed" or whatever. 

The unusual thing was there was a spot of pee on the wall like 4 inches ABOVE the HIGH SIDED litter box??? :hmm: We literally were looking at each other in shock and doing that angle thing with the hand trying to figure out how it was physically possible lol. 

Cats are weird. And sometimes annoying.

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10 minutes ago, jkelley9 said:

HAHA this is the same exact situation for my wife and I. When we Fall cleaning we went to clean out the closet room for the cats so I took the litter boxes out and washed them while my wife cleaned the floor below where the cat had "missed" or whatever. 

The unusual thing was there was a spot of pee on the wall like 4 inches ABOVE the HIGH SIDED litter box??? :hmm: We literally were looking at each other in shock and doing that angle thing with the hand trying to figure out how it was physically possible lol. 

Cats are weird. And sometimes annoying.

I used a blue light to see where exactly where the cat was doing #1 and placed a thin wooden sheet against the wall to counter that but all it does is protect the wall, there's still the smell.

That is some work you did. All I managed to do was build a crappy cat tree and a scratching post.

For the fan, couldn't you get a wifi enabled outlet and control it from the smartphone? Assuming the wifi reception is ok.

I'm tempted to try the potty training but YouTube videos you see cats do this rubbing thing all over the toilet bowl after they finish. And I wonder if they'll start to use any toilet in the house.

Cats are weird - especially during crazy time, when the run all over chasing who knows what.

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Here's some pics, I didn't realize I could upload photos to the site directly.

Downstairs closet:

downstairs-closet (1).jpg

downstairs-closet (2).jpg

Upstairs hallway:

upstairs-hallway (1).jpg

upstairs-hallway (2).jpg

Upstairs side attic enclosure thing:

side-attic (3).jpg

side-attic (2).jpg

side-attic (1).jpg

side-attic (4).jpg

side-attic (5).jpg

side-attic (6).jpg

Edited by jkelley9

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2 minutes ago, jkelley9 said:

Here's some pics, I didn't realize I could upload photos to the site directly.

Downstairs closet:

downstairs-closet (1).jpg

downstairs-closet (2).jpg

Upstairs hallway:

upstairs-hallway (1).jpg

upstairs-hallway (2).jpg

Upstairs side attic enclosure thing:

side-attic (3).jpg

side-attic (2).jpg

side-attic (1).jpg

side-attic (4).jpg

side-attic (5).jpg

side-attic (6).jpg

Now that is a Man with some time on his hands.  :-P

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Note: This thread is 1303 days old. We appreciate that you found this thread instead of starting a new one, but if you plan to post here please make sure it's still relevant. If not, please start a new topic. Thank you!

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