How to Build an Outdoor Cat Litter Box
Have you ever had a Eureka moment that produced not one great idea, but twins? That is what happened to me when I was pumping off oil from my fuel truck at work.
The top of the oil tank is basically a square cement box with a cut-off valve you can turn to keep the oil from escaping if the tank gets full. The inside of the box is covered with a 3-inch layer of Oil-Dri. My Eureka moment happened when I noticed some kitty leavings in the box.
So I checked the oil tank in front of the building, and the same thing had happened there. It occurred to me that these feral (wild) cats that roam the premises subsisting on mainly rodents have many hundreds of acres to do their business, but given a choice, they prefer to use a litter box! So it occurred to me that I could use this natural urge with my own three cats at home! Two ideas were born: build an outdoor litter box and use Oil-Dri.
Three Reasons a Cat Owner Needs an Outdoor Litter Box
After doing some research, I came to the conclusion that there are three very good reasons to build an outdoor litter box!
Reason #1: It takes the pressure off of your indoor litter box.
This is especially important when you have multiple cats. A dominant cat can keep the others from using a box, but it is hard for them to guard two litter boxes. And by having an outdoor litter box, you keep some or all of the odor and mess outside! It is healthier for your cat to be outside kicking up silica dust than inside in a confined area.
Reason #2: It reinforces the use of the litter box indoors.
Cats that become accustomed to using the outdoors exclusively, without a box, often don't know that they need a litter box indoors—and may forget where it is! This becomes very important when an outdoor cat is left indoors with three to four days' rations of food and water while you head out of town. If the cat always uses a litter box, however, then this shouldn't be a problem.
Another positive for having an outdoor litter box is that it consolidates the waste to one area of the yard. Even though cats will naturally try to scatter their leavings, often times the ground is too hard! This leaves their waste to be possibly eaten by the family dog . . . yuk!
Reason #3: It saves money.
A 33-lb bag of Oil-Dri is only $5.99 at Auto Zone and can be purchased cheaper at Wal-Mart or Sam's Club. Oil-Dri is basically non-clumping kitty litter. In fact, the company that makes Oil-Dri also produces kitty litter under the brands Cat's Pride and Johnny Cat.
It can be dustier though, so be careful to lay it down instead of pouring it out! Oil-Dri can also be mixed with a clumping kitty litter like Scoop Away for your indoor litter box. If you choose not to use Oil-Dri, however, you can still save over 40% on kitty litter by buying the biggest bag (30 lb+) at Wal-Mart.
Materials You'll Need
- (2) 8-foot 2x4s
- (1) 24x48 inch lattice
- (2) 8-foot 2x2s
- (8) 3-inch nails or screws
- (30) 1 1/2 finish nails
- (1) bag of Oil-Dri
Tools You'll Need
- claw hammer
- sledge hammer
- skill saw or hand saw
- tape measurer or yardstick
How to Build Your Own Outdoor Cat Litter Box
- Find a spot that is away from your house, but that you know your cat will use. If you see cat leavings that are more concentrated than other areas, this is most likely your cat's favorite spot!
- Construct a box by cutting the 8-foot 2x4s in half.
- Hammer or screw in two nails or screws in each corner.
- Place the box on the ground. Dig the ground under and around the box until only about an inch sticks out all around.
- Take the excess dirt and back-fill around the outside of the box.
- Cut the lattice to the length of the front of the box.
- Next cut the 2x2s to 36 inches long, and nail with 1 1/2 inch finish nails to the sides.
- Cut a 2x2 to fit across the top, and nail it to the lattice with 1 1/2 inch finish nails.
- Use the shovel to bury the legs of the lattice about 6 inches.
- Place 30 lbs of Oil-Dri in the box and level out.
- You now have your completed outdoor litter box!