Until recently our cat box was set up in the guest bathroom. But that's when we learned that one of our dogs (cough cough Peezu) enjoys the taste of cat turd. It also meant a cat piss-smelling guest bathroom, and kitty litter assaulting our bare feet.
So, my husband Aaron and I decided that ultimately we'd love to get the cat to do his biz outside — where animals normally do their biz. But there were three substantial obstacles standing between us and this kick-ass plan:
- The cat had no way of getting outside on his own volition. Our options were to leave the sliding glass balcony door cracked open or entirely open, but this isn't ideal when you have two dogs who like to bark at things, or if you want to keep your apartment warm.
- Limited balcony space. My cat is fat. His litter boxes are large. The balcony is a small rectangle.
- We had to make sure that the cat box is positioned in such a way that ONLY the cat can have access so that there shall be no turd munching from the dog.
Here's how we finally worked it all out…
We purchased a modular patio pet door that is designed to fit into a sliding glass door track. It was pricey, that's for sure, but it's been totally worth it. And, since we're apartment dwellers, this doesn't affect the structural integrity of the building.
Since we have a cat whose freaking photo should be in the urban slang dictionary next to "'fraidy cat", we had to wait a few months for him to get comfortable with/learn how to go in and out of the flap.
But Diego getting used to it wasn't enough to convince us that this plan would work because our poop-eater dog is small enough to also fit through the flap. So as we trained Diego to go in and out (using lots of cat treats!) we also had to train the small dog to understand that the flap is off limits.
After both those things proved to be successful, we moved on to phase two which was finding a litter box.
As I stated, we needed to find a litter box that the cat could access, but the little dog couldn't. This took a year! But I finally found the the Clever Cat litter box! I saw a post about it on Boing Boing where they were touting the fact that the this design foils cats' attempts to kick litter out of the box and also that "…with their head sticking out of the hole. [The cat] Looked like they were piloting a spacecraft." Both those things are indeed AMAZING added bonuses, but the part that got me excited was that this way it's impossible for my dog to eat shit! Hazzah!
So I ordered one of these babies and cleared a space on the balcony for the box. It took about three days of acclimating the cat to the change.
Here are the steps that I recommend if you want to try this:
- Bring the cat's current litter box into the place you want to eventually put the Clever Cat litter box.
- Once they've used the bathroom successfully outside a couple times, transfer the old used litter (so that it still smells like them) into the Clever Cat and allow them to use it WITHOUT the lid. (Be sure to keep your dogs away from the open litter box if that's an issue.)
- Once they've used it without the lid (it took a day) put the lid on the Clever Cat and they'll figure it out — they're clever.
After two freaking years of scheming, we finally have a cat that goes to the bathroom outside, and a dog that doesn't eat any more cat poop!