Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Secret Cat House

Our sunroom renovation has officially begun.

Step #1: Get rid of this:



Any indoor cat owners in the house? I know you feel my pain.

This litterbox situation has been a seemingly unresolvable issue from day one. We don't have a traditional laundry room (which I assume would be the most common place to keep it), and we nixed the garage idea due to safety concerns (cats + cars = bad news).

This meant we had to find a place for it inside. In the beginning we kept it in the most unused, unseen place in the house: the guest bathroom (in the bathtub hidden behind the shower curtain). Of course, this was not a good long term solution.

When it got cooler outside, we relocated her to the sunroom which seemed to be a better solution, but still only temporary.

We had tossed around the idea of some sort of external box that she could access through the house. This would not only eliminate the ugly plastic box out in the open, but the smell seeping into the room as well (let's face it... cat waste is foul).

After trying to find a premade box, we realized our dimensions were too specific and we had to custom build it.

So I measured and sketched out a plan:



And we headed to Home Depot to grab our supplies: 1/2" and 3/4" MDF, roof shingles, cat door, litter pan, liquid nails, and spray foam (we had the rest at home). Total cost came to around $75.

We had the square pieces of wood cut to size, and we cut the angled sides with a jigsaw at home (we made the roof angled for easy water runoff.)

Here is the construction process, demonstrated in pictures:








Woohoo, it fits!



Once everything was screwed together, we gave it a few coats of paint for extra wood protection (and also to make it prettier).




As the paint was drying, we got started on the roof.

We picked up a couple sample shingles for $2 each, which was just the right amount for this project.


A couple nails on the edges was all it took.

Once in place, we trimmed off the excess (this stuff cuts like butter):






And our box was done!

The next step was fabricating a door (along with a kitty door inside of that).

We used the kitty door template and traced the hole...


and Brad cut it out with a jigsaw:



Ok, so it wasn't the straightest cut... but it would be hidden so it was good enough. (Maybe I'll try cutting next time).

Back inside, we measured our opening and used the jigsaw to cut a hole in the sunroom wall.



Ta-da!

Stop laughing at our vertical blinds... Brad doesn't want to part with them yet for some reason.


Outside, we wiggled our box into place...



And used bricks to set it flat and level against the house.



For a waterproof seal, we applied weather stripping around the opening and drilled long screws from the inside to secure it to the house. Brad also applied caulk and foam all the way around the outside. I think it's safe to say nothing is getting into this box!

I know... this line isn't straight either.... luckily it's hidden also!


Perfect fit!



The last step was drilling the door into place. We used simple white self closing hinges, so the door pulls shut on its own. No knob or latch needed.


And finally, I touched up the screws with white paint to make everything blend in so it's as low profile as possible.


Sidenote: We don't anticipate it getting too hot in there because it's in a shady area and has the roof shingles for extra protection—but if we determine it's uncomfortable for her, and/or the smell seeps into the room, we're going to install a computer fan into the back of the box to keep it circulated.


And that, my friends, is our solution to a stinky cat situation. I'm so happy we actually pulled this thing off. Even though it's far from perfect, I am proud of our efforts and feel like we are becoming better DIY'ers. And I think my former-carpenter dad would be proud.

I think Susie digs her new room (and privacy). She's already pooped in it a few times.




Now we can start focusing on the big stuff. There's a drywaller and electrician coming on Thursday to rip out our sagging ceiling and add some fresh new drywall. We plan to install recessed lighting and in-ceiling speakers, which will finally make the room inhabitable. Then it's new tile flooring!


Let the fun times begin...





21 comments:

  1. How does this keep the smell out of your house? There are no vents or anything in it, right?

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    1. Erica -- There are no vents yet. I just added a sidenote to the post that I meant to publish originally about installing a fan in the back. We're going to play it by ear right now and see how it does with the smell. If the smell becomes an issue, we will definitely add the fan.

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  2. What a clever idea! I HATE having to have a litter pan! The smell is HORRIBLE! May have to implement your idea! :)

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  3. Great idea. To cut down on the stink, add baking soda (or the pet safe powder rug freshners) to the litter. When you scoop, make sure you stir the litter up well. That lets the clay absorb the moisture - and that is where the real stink comes from - the ammonia in the urine.

    There's a product called "Odo-ban" (I buy it at Sam's) that is a safe natural cleaner. We'd spritz the pans with it when we changed them.

    I used to breed show cats and have had plenty of litter pans. People were always surprised at how many we had since there was no 'cat smell'.

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  4. What a smart idea and a cute kitty! I think it looks nice too.

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  5. I hope Susie knows how lucky she is!!

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  6. This is genius. It won't work for my house, but makes me want to be creative. Thanks for posting!

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  7. this is great I want one and I don't even have a cat! J/J!

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  8. I've been thinking of doing something like this in our house as even though we have a laundry, it's not really big enough for the litterboxes (we've got 2 cats). So thanks for posting this, the way you've done it looks great!

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  9. There is no way I would cut a hole in my house so my cat could go to the toilet. Very strange :O) but like my friend always says everyone is different :O) Michelle x

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    1. Yeah all those people who install pet doors so their animals can use the bathroom are very very strange. I would never do that.

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    2. The panels in the sunroom are replaceable. It isn't like we cut a hole in the side of our house. Second, there isn't a hole there anymore. There's a door.

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  10. I admire your meticulousity... (Is that even a word?:)). To spend so much time on a small project like this! You must be a perfectionist:) Awesome job!

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  11. I have often wondered about doing something like this. I'll be interested to know how how it works out for you long term. Have you tried the new Breeze litter system? The litter is in a pellet form, but in the lower tray there is a pad that collects all the urine. There is so much less mess and smell. Best purchase I ever made!!

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  12. Oh, that is so cool! I wish I could have the litterbox hidden like that. Unfortunately one of my cats is not the brightest and one is too skittish, so I can only have litterboxes with no doors, ahhh...

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  13. This looks like my "Inky!" The one with bladder issues (stress related-I might add!) We have 3 inside cats (4 if you count the one who has her own room!) and when Ink was sick-the vet said--one more box than cats--oh dear God-where to put another box! I loved the pieces of furniture to disguise a cat box-you know, they look like endtables? Hubby is handy---so we have 4 now! No one has ever come in and recognized them or suspected that's where the box is! Hmm...maybe I need to do a post on that for my cat lover followers! Love your idea-but we're up on pilings so they'd really be hanging out there! lol! Thanks for sharing! Blessings, Sharon

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  14. I think this was a great idea! The kitty picture is my favorite though!! :) Eris and I are very inspired by your blogs and all the diy stuff. We cant wait to get into a house and do projects! Great job on all your stuff!

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  15. This the smartest way I've ever seen a litter box hidden!

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