How to Make a DIY Litter Box

Litter boxes can be expensive, which is why many people have started making their own. If you want to save money but still have a great litter box for your cat, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to teach you how to make a DIY litter box.

How to Make a DIY Litter BoxThe gist of making a DIY litter box is this: Placing litter in a plastic storage bin. And if you're looking for a covered litter box, use a covered storage bin and cut a hole in it that your cat can fit through. Believe it or not, it’s really that simple.

What’s great about making your own litter box is that you can customize it to suit the needs of your cat and household. After we go over the instructions, we’ll go over a few variations that you can use depending on your needs.

How to Make a DIY Litter Box

Here’s everything you need to do if you want to make your own litter box. As you’ll soon see, it’s simple, easy, and cheap!

Step 1: Gather Supplies and Tools

The first thing you’ll need to do is get everything that you need to complete the project and have it ready.

To complete this project, you will need the following supplies and tools:

  • Plastic storage bin
  • Storage bin lid (optional)
  • Utility knife
  • Sandpaper
  • Measuring tape or ruler
  • Marker

The most important bit here is the storage bin that you use for your DIY litter box. When selecting a storage box, you’ll want one that holds at least 18-gallon (66 liters) of contents.

However, if you have large cats or multiple cats, a larger bin will be better. And generally speaking, bigger is better when it comes to the litter box. You can read more about that in our guide on choosing the right box for your cat.

Step 2: Measure and Draw Hole

Next, you’ll need to measure out and draw the hole you’re going to cut out from the box. The hole will allow your cat to enter and exit the litter box, so it’s important to make it large enough that your cat fits through comfortably.

For an average-sized cat, the hole should be 9 by 9 inches (23 by 23 cm). If you have a larger cat, then you’ll want to size up accordingly. Use your measuring tape or ruler to create the correct size and to center the hole.

As long as your cat is a healthy young adult, you can place the hole in the side of the box, about 6 inches (15 cm) from the ground. This allows them to easily step into the box but should keep most of the litter inside. Later we’ll discuss a couple more options for hole placement.

Step 3: Cut Out the Opening

Use your utility knife to carefully cut along the lines you created. If you’re using a container that has thick plastic which you can’t cut through with a knife, you may need to use a drill and a hacksaw or jigsaw.

Step 4: Clean Up the Opening

To avoid your kitty getting cut on any sharp edges that may have been left behind, you’ll want to use a bit of sandpaper to clean up the opening. Use your hand to feel the edges to ensure they’re smooth before you let your cat try it out.

Step 5: Decorate It

This is completely optional, but if you’re going to have the litter box in an area where people can see it, you might as well make it look nice. If you want to get really fancy, you can paint it. However, fun stickers, Washi tape stripes, or taped-on decorations typically work just as well.

If you’re going to use the lid, you can stack things on top of it for decoration. Just keep in mind that you have to move everything from the top every time you clean it, so don’t pile too many things on top.

Now all that’s left is to add the litter of your choice and to place it where you want it.

DIY Litter Box Options

By following these same directions, you can make several types of litter boxes that are suited for your cat’s needs. Here are a few of the things you can try along with some information on when you should consider using them.

Top-Entry Box

If you have a cat that’s notorious for scattering litter, you may want to try a top-entry litter box. These have high sides and force the cat to enter from the top. This keeps all the litter contained and prevents sprayers from getting urine everywhere.

To make a DIY top-entry box, you’ll want to place your hole in the lid which will then be locked into place on the storage bin. The hole should be the same size as it would be for a side entry: 9 by 9 inches (23 by 23 cm).

Low-Entry Box

Senior cats, kittens, and cats that have a hard time getting around will need a low-entry litter box. In this case, place the hole only 2 – 3 inches (5 – 7 cm) from the ground. This will allow these special kitties to get in and out of the litter box without having any problems.

The only issue with low-entry litter boxes is that they don’t keep litter in as well as high-sided options. For this reason, we recommend using a litter mat which will catch any stray litter and keep it from getting tracked all over your house.

Self-Cleaning Litter Box

I’ll bet you didn’t think you could make your own self-cleaning litter box. The truth is, you can. What you’ll need are two identical bins that can stack inside of each other. Then, drill a series of holes along one short side of each bin. The holes should come up no more than 3 inches (7 cm) from the bottom of the pan and need to be big enough that the clean litter can easily pass through them.

To set up the pan, stack the bins inside of each other so that the litter holes are on opposite sides. Add clumping cat litter, and let your cat do her thing.

When it’s time to clean it out, tilt the inner box so that all the litter gets sifted through the holes. The clean litter will pass through and you’ll be left with the clumps that can be discarded. Then, the bottom pan that has the clean litter can be placed inside to be the new inside litter box.

How much does it cost to build a DIY Litter Box

If you already have the tools and supplies, you may be able to make this for free. If not, you may find yourself spending around $20 for the plastic tote and about $5 for a utility knife.

When you compare the cost of this DIY project to how much you would pay for a large litter box. For that reason, we highly recommend trying out this project if you want to save money on cat litter boxes.

Examples of DIY litter boxes

Looking for more inspiration? We've got you covered (no pun intended). Here are some great DIY litter boxes which cat owners made and shared via Instagram.


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A post shared by Sandi Hausman Hutchinson (@three_monkeez) on


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A post shared by Michella Gissel Bukholt (@mgbukholt) on


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A post shared by Emma Stratton (@emmapaz18) on


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A post shared by Truffle & Button (@mushroom.kitties) on


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A post shared by Greysee, Sia & Friends (@drolleycats) on


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A post shared by Button? (@buttonthebunnyy) on

Now that you know how to make a DIY litter box, will you make one? We’d love to hear more about how you made a litter box for your cat or to answer any questions you might have about this project.