LITTER BOX: A SPACE ODYSSEY

One of the most unique challenges a New York City cat-owner faces is the question of where to put the litter box.  Mudrooms, basements and laundry rooms often used to stash the necessary monstrosity are not part of our vernacular. According to my highly unscientific guesstimates, the average litter box takes up 3 cubic feet of precious floor space. In this town we’re talking $40/month worth of prime real estate.

An uncovered litter pan was out of the question – no one needs to be exposed to that. But to have standard-issue primary-color-plastic poop box as the focal point in my apartment is to me, akin to having kids and falling prey to elastic waistband jeans and comfortable shoes. I refuse to admit publicly – or perhaps more importantly to myself– that I have resigned myself to a apartment life defined by cats. I wanted to be the cat-owner equivalent of the MILF.

My apartment should announce itself to friends, family and suitors with a resounding,  “Hello, an independent sophisticated woman lives here “ rather than “Meeeooowwwww, welcome to Casa Cat”.

A litter “solution” wish list was compiled:

  • Compact
  • Discrete
  • Aesthetically Acceptable (at the very least not an eyesore)
  • Guy-friendly (not a turn off)
  • Affordable

The laptop was fired up, and my search began.

Um, Your Plant is Moving

cat planter as kitty litter boxAt first pass the “planter” solution seemed promising.  Discrete: check. Aesthetically Acceptable: check (a plant might even enhance the apartment’s appearance). Compact: check (took up more air spacethan floor space). Affordable: check.

All that remained was the question of “Guy Friendly.” I closed my eyes and imagined the scene unfolding.

The lights were dimmed and I was on the sofa with a yet-to-be discovered handsome charming gentlemen in his late 30s-early 40s exchanging witty banter while sipping a lovely earthy-yet-not-too-tannic Malbec. I flip my hair back over my shoulder, giggling at something clever he’s said, when suddenly a scratching sound lifts over the conversation. It stops.  Then starts again. I act as though I’ve heard nothing. Suddenly, from the corner of the room, a cat emerges from the base of a seemingly innocuous plant…

planter litter box for cats

Don't mind me...

Surely we wouldn’t be able to ignore the absurdity of this situation. It would require some sort of pithy comment “Oh that Kip, he’s always been interested in botany.” Definite potential here to make me look nuttier than I already am.

Next!

Litter Cabinetry

 

furniture that doubles as cat litter boxDiscrete: yes.  Aesthetically Acceptable: debatable. Compact: no.  Affordable: $200-$300, so not exactly a bargain. Guy Friendly: debatable.

There was a shocking large array of litter “cabinets” from which to choose, in every imaginable 70s wood finish.  But in a city where coffee tables double as dining tables, where living rooms and bedrooms are one and the same, a cat sure as hell wasn’t getting a dedicated piece of furniture.  Plus, it ranked up there with the planter on the potential awkwardness scale.

The person who thinks Dutch Clogs as décor is appropriate is NOT equipped to pick the litter box. Even the cat’s embarrassed.

Welcome to the Dollhouse

Discrete: NOT.  Aesthetically acceptable: NOT. Compact: NOT.  Affordable: check. Guy Friendly?  Instead of a cat, he might think I have a small child. Could that work to my advantage? A cat might seem like nothing after that prospect of a child. Or he might just think I like playing with dolls or have infantilized my cat. Guy Friendly: NOT!

cardboard litter box cover

Let’s say you could even get a Frank Gehry or Philip Stark model, my money’s on the cat refusing to go inside. The only image with a cat anywhere near one of these is the one posted, and as far as I’m convinced that could be photo-shopped.  Check out the front-step perspective drawing on the brownstone model.

brownstone litter box

iLitter

Discrete: check. Aesthetically Acceptable: check +.  Compact: check.  Affordable: $180 isn’t a steal, but seems worth it. Guy Friendly: check (he might not even notice it, thinking it was a modern looking wastebasket or shredder).

modern colorful litter boxes

Modkat Litter Boxes

modern wastebaskets that look like litter boxes

Wastebaskets

shredder, wastebasket or litter box?

Shredders

Here it was, the ipod of litter boxes. I was in love! Sleek, shiny, sexy almost, and available in array of colors.  It even came with “rooftop access” and who doesn’t want that. The cat enters the litter box via the “rooftop”, does his business, and then re-emerges back up through the top. In theory the “deck” area allows for excess litter caught in his paws to fall back into the receptacle rather than be tracked throughout the home.

Thinking I’d finally found “the” one, I shared it with a few friends for approvals. They promptly reminded me that I have one rather rotund cat. Even if he fit through the opening, would he be able to hoist himself up-and-out unassisted? I checked the FAQ section of the website and my fear was confirmed. This was not an obese-friendly litter solution. Bummer.

Take Us to Your Leader or Beam Me Up Scottie

I was losing hope. Would I have to resort to the romper-room version of litter boxes out of desperation? But as I clicked on the last fateful link, there it was – - LITTER ROBOT. Or as my friend Nancy refers to it – the spaceship. While it came up short on “discrete”, “compact” and “affordable”, I found the sphere and simple lines aesthetically pleasing.

The spaceship litter box

Guy Friendly?  A guy did not have to be a cat lover to appreciate the machinery involved.The cat enters the “globe” to do his business, triggering a sensor that begins a 7- minute “countdown”.  At t-minus-7-minutes, the globe rotates and poop is separated and sent out through “waste portals” into a plastic bag I merely had to switch out every few days without coming into contact with fecal matter or litter.

This robot-spaceship combination was sure to mesmerize even the most hardened cat-adverse male. It came complete with a “control panel”.  And it was made in the USA to boot, so I was bolstering the economy and I felt somehow supporting the troops (it must have been the flag).

Mission Accomplished

Cat using litter robot

Beam me up Scottie

Hitting “confirm” on my purchase I felt victorious. I had found a litter solution that didn’t hide the fact I had cats. In fact, it pretty much put the matter front-and-center given the Litter Robot would only fit in the front room and was impossible to conceal. But I didn’t care, I wasn’t ashamed of it, it sent theright message. I was a proud, sophisticated cat-owner who could have both cats, a sense of self, and good taste.

Now if only it had lasers…..

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56 Responses to LITTER BOX: A SPACE ODYSSEY

  1. Joyce says:

    Hilarious. The planter is just weird. And the country and city homes, granted, it’s a buyer’s market but who designed these things? As for the brownstone, what about “high rise syndrome” that kept me from adopting several caged critters. I don’t see bars on any of the windows and only one fire escape.
    I have to wonder, however, is the inventor of these eyesores filthy (pun intended) rich?

  2. Pam says:

    Now, you are just scaring me. Although, my cat loves her big ole pink box with pink lid, I have to admit, it is indeed hidden next to my washer in the laundry room. Nice choice – good thought process! Although I kinda like the moving plant – now there’s a conversation piece, although a tacky one! I have always wondered what the living-area-space challenged did with their litter boxes. Thanks for solving that mystery!

  3. E says:

    Finally someone has shed some light on the role of the kitty litter in the modern dating ritual. These details matter.

    The globe is an advancement in poop removal that will no doubt titillate a bachelor as he heads to your couch. The only thing more attractive to men might be a globe with a built in grill.

  4. oldcatsrule says:

    This post is hilarious! My guys are so low-tech and prefer the joy of kicking and tracking litter and the robo-box doesn’t seem designed for that. However, your cat is cool with it so that’s all that matters.

    Plus, I don’t have to worry about guys or dating, so aesthetics and guy appeal is less of an issue.

    • T says:

      Thanks for the support! I’m new at this so comments are really encouraging and exciting! Love your blog! I adopted both my cats as adult cats (not old but not kittens). T

  5. Jen says:

    once again, Tamar – genius! and so well-written. yay you. xoxoxoj

  6. I quite liked the planter myself, but the Robospherepodcapsule is amazing. I saw a “pimp my Ikea” thing where they’d cut the side out of a bathroom under-sink cabinet that worked quite well, but probably not suitable for renters…

    Does your cat ever need more than 7 minutes? Has hilarity yet ensued?

    • tamcalinyc says:

      Hi John -
      The globe is supposed to “reset” if the cat is in there for more than 7 minutes. When i first got it the cats were super freaked out and Kip got up on his hind legs as if he wanted to be as “tall” as it! They were carefully check it out. Now all’s good though.
      Thanks for stopping by my blog! Hope you continue to enjoy it.
      T

  7. Meowm is LOL! She understand the concern of space as we live in a small apartment. Our litter box sits proudly in the kitchen area……in the space one might put a small table with a couple of chairs.

  8. The Crew says:

    Well hello Kip (and you too, Kip’s mother). Welcome to our cat blogging community. Stop over and see us some time.

    Your litter box, or should I say, litter globe, is very high tech. We, unfortunately, have to use your ordinary, everyday, run-of-the-mill box because Mom is too cheap to buy us a fancy one.

    George

  9. 7 minute countdown. Hmmmm. Sure hope kitty never gets constipated. :(

    But fortunately we kitties are pretty regular.

    Crystal, Cotton, Cyndi, Percy, Cameron & Rusty

    PS — We’d love to see what emergency contraption you would come up with if you had a dog. :)

    Buddy, Merci & Sam

    • Ihavecat says:

      I can’t believe i never replied i am so sorry! Thanks so much for visiting my blog! The timer does reset (at least it’s supposed to!) if the “occupant” hasn’t left the premises in 7 minutes!
      T

  10. The Meezers says:

    Hi Kip and KipsMom!!!

    that looks really cool. 1 minute to do business and 6 minutes to dig and scratch at the litter – that’s awesome!

  11. Abby says:

    Welcome Kip!
    IT was great to meet you and your Mom!
    We really enjoyed your blog.
    purrs
    Abby

  12. Glogirly says:

    I just found your blog today and I’m in love. I feel as though we are kindred spirits.

    I too have pondered and googled and googled and pondered countless litter box possibilities. I’ve also asked myself what could be so hard about good and simple design when it comes to these poop boxes. Once, I even came close to hiring a handyman to cut a hole in wall underneath a staircase so that I could add some simple trim and a flip door to create the perfect discreet litter getaway. I’m not sure if I was more apprehensive about explaining it to my husband or the handyman. Alas, it never happened.

    Ironically I found the iLitter online this morning. My cat Katie is lean and agile, but there is absolutely no way that she is ever going to jump down head first into a small contained environment. That’s just crazy.

    I look forward to stopping by your blog often.
    Glogirly
    (a Minneapolis girl with a precocious cat)

    • tamcalinyc says:

      Thanks so much for reading my blog! I can’t wait to read yours! I grew up in Minnesota, in a small town called Northfield. Burnsville was a BIG DEAL for us! LOL
      T

      • Glogirly says:

        Wow, small world!!!
        I went to high school in Burnsville! …also had friends that went to college in Northfield. My cat has a townhouse in downtown Minneapolis now that my husband and I share with her.

        PS – my first job was at the Burnsville Center. Sears Junior Bazaar…yeah, baby!

  13. Fin says:

    Hi! Saw your note over at the CB and headed right over. Loved the description of the planter, discreet no. my parents cut a hole in our laundry room cabinet. Drop by anytime and say Hi.

    I think I will read a bit more while I’m here. Kick up my paws.

  14. Hello! I came to say “Hi” after seeing your name on CB. And I loved you descriptions…NICE!

    All those litter boxes..hmm..I didn’t know they all existed. I may need to get my human Tommy to REALLY take a look at what could jazz up our ‘experience.’ :)

    Noir

  15. We saw your blog on the CB and came by to visit. We’ll come back again! Welcome to the CB!!

    Sniffie and the Florida Furkids

  16. Karen Jo says:

    Hilarious post. I kind of like the plant myself. Your description of a possible outcome had me LOLing like mad. I love your high-tech solution.

  17. Goldie says:

    Those are some fancy!!! Wow! My favorite spot will always be the tomato patch!

  18. Freya says:

    Wow! You like cats, AND you must be really rich too! :-)

  19. brandi says:

    I too live in Minneapolis like Glogirly. I have been searching for ever for a litter box that was smell free and easy to care for. You might just have something there! But my cat is 16 and has always used an open litterbox. I think I am stuck.
    brandi’s mom, Carol

  20. Angela says:

    I’m about to make the final decision on getting one of these spaceships for my cat as well. I forgot about the monthly payment thing. That would save me from having to pay for everything all at once on my credit card. Thanks for the reminder.

    What made you decide to get the beige? Why not the recycle eco-gray or the real spacey black? Just curious.

    • tamcalinyc says:

      Hello, honestly, I think at the time I thought it would be less obvious? Not sure the eco-gray was available….in retrospect, a darker color might be better b/c when the ball rotates it can leave “track” marks which i have to windex off.
      I hope you like it as much as I do! let me know and thanks for following the blog!
      T

      • Irena says:

        When I got my Robot it was available in beige and black. I decided to get the beige because then I could see the dirt and “trackmarks” and would thus clean them up. We tend to forget about dirt that we don’t see and so it builds up and gets to be really gross. This way I clean it up as soon as I see it and before it becomes really nasty. I have 3 cats and 1 does not use a covered box. There is a testimonial on the LR site on how to get an “old curmudgeon cat” to use it and I am going to try that, it sure would make life a lot easier instead of still having to mess around with scooping etc just because I have a stubborn cat.
        I see a lot of people refer to the Robot as a spaceship. To me it looks like a cement mixer, especially when it does its thing.
        I put Saran wrap over the control panel because sometimes one of my cats gets runny stools and barely makes into the Robot, dribbling all over. That can mean nasty stuff running into the panel and ruining the circuit board. Even that newfangled lip would not solve that problem. My very low-tech solution keeps it from happening. Wen it gets messy I can just slide the Saran wrap off and put a new piece there.
        The cheapest 13-gallon trashbags are just fine for the drawer. Once a week I take it out, go around the place and empty all the trash baskets into the same bag, voila! get it all done in one fell swoop.
        Love your blog. I’m so un-techie that I have never even looked at anyon’s blog, wasn’t sure just what it was. Seems it’s sort of like a journal that people used to keep, way back when people still wrote with pens and ink and were taught penmanship in school (have you seen the handwriting of some people? Some of them can’t even write, only print, they are so used to keyboards).

  21. thren says:

    I’m about to get one of these. I live in San Francisco and have NO space and FOUR cats. I realize this already makes me psychotic, so I have nothing to lose by adding a plastic space-looking capsule to the mix. I would like to have a social life someday, and a Litter Robot seems less embarrassing than the alternative.

    • tamcalinyc says:

      I agree! Make sure to take advantage of $20 off promo code Tamar20! Personally, I don’t love their litter bags so I wouldn’t recommend getting them. A much better alternative are larger kitchen trash bag or even better i have found, Glad I think makes these flat white plastic “squares’ that fit perfectly.
      Also, i would highly recommend the LItter RObot “lip” and “Guard” to minimize litter being kicked out of the globe.
      Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
      Tamar

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  23. Julie says:

    Thanks for all the info. I have learned more from your blog than I did from the website itself as far as actual use. I have really been struggling on whether to purchase one of these spaceships because they are sooo expensive. Today is my birthday and thought this would be a great birthday present for myself but was still doubting. I’m really glad I found your comment on the website and followed it to your blog. Your blog was very funny by the way but true to the life of a single person. You have helped to finalize my decision. I too will soon be a proud owner of a spaceship. I’m hoping my 4 cats will enjoy it as much as I will. I really hate the litter box chore and the smell. The comment on the color was very helpful since I was also struggling with which would go better in my small house. Now I know the darker colors will work best for me. Thank you sooooooooo much!!!

    • Ihavecat says:

      Julie – I’m sorry i never replied to your post – i enjoyed reading it though. Curious if you ended up getting your own “spaceship”?! Glad you found the post helpful!
      T

  24. Sharon says:

    LOL! We have five cats and fortunately don’t live in the city!! But, that being said, floor space and appearance is still an issue. We have six, yes six, litter boxes in different places, including the garage. Litter clean up is a real challenge and chore that takes place several times a day. Now, did I mention all the scooping???? We have looked at all the mentioned boxes you covered here, except the “space ship”! My husband has always lusted to be an astronaut, so I am thinking he might go for this design. Bless you! I am heading for the website now, and I start working on my sales pitch to my husband.

    • Ihavecat says:

      Hi Sharon! Thanks for visiting and I hope you end up with your own “spaceship”! You will have to tell me all about it. Wow, yes, 6 litter boxes makes for a lot of scooping! I don’t miss that at all! I can’t wait to check out your site to learn about your clan!
      T

  25. Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! I have never thought this much about cat poop. I have two dogs and a yard here in Texas – plenty of room. I absolutely love the planter box. Why didn’t I think of that? Cute, in a weird way. Thanks for introducing me to all these nifty pooper inventions. Funny!

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  30. Keep shopping!
    You must not have found my award winning product:
    THE OUT OF SIGHT LITTER BOX
    http://www.outofsightlitterbox.com

    It only takes up 20 by 24 inches of floor space.
    But is does so much more than all the other “cabinets” that only hide the litter, our cabinet STOPS litter tracking!

    It is easy to scoop, litter pan is on a raised second shelf, and if you own a dog too, it keeps dogs (and small kids) out of the litter pan!

  31. Nathalie says:

    Thanks for your blog…I’m glad I found one about the Robot Cat Litter. I’m wondering how messy the Cat litter gets overtime..do you need to clean the plastic up very often? What about the smell..does the plastic gets very smelly?

    • I HAVE CAT says:

      I haven’t had any problem with the LITTER ROBOT. I should probably clean the “globe” more than I do, but I haven’t had a problem with smell. I know some people are more sensitive to the smell of the rubber, but I really don’t notice it at all. And it’s easy to clean. Just hose it down or stick it in the tub!
      Thanks for visiting I HAVE CAT and for taking the time to leave a message. hope you visit us on FB too!
      http://www.facebook.com/
      Tamar

  32. Teri Warren says:

    I had a similar problem living within the confines of 400sq ft. There was no where to put a litter box much less an additional piece of furnishing to accommodate.
    I ended up using the bottom shelf area of a built-in linen cabinet. It was deep enough to allow head room (no pun intended) and to allow for enough litter for two fur babies. The only problem resulting from this location was due to the fact that I was using clay litter.
    I can’t begin to tell you how bad the dust accumulation was for that area and the whole 400 sq ft for that matter.
    I’ve since changed litter brands and added a nifty little curtain for their privacy and mine.

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  34. slybargain says:

    I’ve tried all sorts of litter boxes as well and finally, after many years, settled on the litter robot. It’s quite a beast of a litter box and it took my cats a little bit of time to adjust, but now I’m in love. It is such an easier process cleaning out the trash drawer than scooping litter and having to inhale all the ammonia. I wrote about my experience here as well: http://www.slybargain.com/cat-litter-box-automatic-litter-robot/ – glad to find a fellow LR lover!

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