The time may come when you need to set up an emergency litter box. Perhaps you just rescued a kitten who is staying in your bathroom overnight, or you may suddenly need to travel with your cat. Maybe you can’t get your hands on an actual litter box, or you don’t have room for a full-size box. In cases like this, there are some quick solutions to DIY an appropriate litter solution that will work for both you and your cat. Look around for things you already have on hand, or try to find items that you can get easily and inexpensively. Depending on the situation, you may find that creating a disposable litter box is easier than a more permanent solution, as you may not be able to thoroughly clean a temporary box, especially if you’re traveling.

Cardboard boxes

The easiest thing to get your hands on is a cardboard box. You may have to cut down the sides or make an opening so your cat can easily walk in and out, but that’s not hard to do. Carefully use a utility knife to trim the sides or, better yet, find a flat box with low sides, like the kind canned cat food comes in.

When using regular cardboard for a litter box, line the box with something waterproof. Even though you’ll be filling the box with litter, liquid will still reach the bottom of the box, and you don’t want it to seep through. Simply line the box with a plastic trash bag or if you have puppy pads on hand, fold or cut one to cover the entire bottom of the box before adding litter. When using a trash bag, tie the bag closed with the used litter inside and toss the whole thing, then re-line the box with a new bag and fresh litter as needed.

Litter substitutes

If you don’t have access to actual cat litter, there are some quick-and-easy alternatives that will work in a pinch. Litter allows cats to dig and bury their waste to mask their scent from predators. Actual cat litter also provides odor control and clumping, but the ability to dig and bury is most important to make your cat feel comfortable using the box. Sand can work, but shredded paper may be your best bet.

If you have access to clean sawdust or wood shavings, these can serve as a litter replacement as well. If you find yourself in need of a quick litter solution, don’t worry. There are lots of easy, inexpensive alternatives. Just think outside the (litter) box!

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Plastic and metal containers

For a more water-resistant, quick solution, use a foil baking tray, usually available at most grocery and dollar stores. These are inexpensive and have low sides for easy access. Or look in the kitchen section for a small, shallow, plastic bin, like a dishpan or washbasin. These are often smaller than a regular litter box, which can be helpful if you’re traveling and tight on space.

Pre-made disposable litter boxes

Always have emergency litter boxes on hand. If you’re not the DIY type, here are some great disposable litter boxes you can purchase, and these are all also biodegradable.

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KittySift Disposable sifting litter box so no scoop is required! $19.99.

10-Second Litter Box Easy-to-assemble cardboard litter box that folds closed for convenient disposal. $37.99.

EcoPetBox Lightweight, disposable litter box made from biodegradable recycled paper that is coated to prevent leaking. $14.99.

LitterOne An all-inclusive, biodegradable litter kit that includes a cardboard litter box, pine pellet litter, plus scoop and waste bags. Pellets turn to sawdust and fall through the slotted floor. $24.95.

PetSafe Disposable Litter Box Kit Pop-up cardboard litter box with privacy hood and elevated entrance. Includes cardboard scoops and crystal litter. Starts at $9.95.


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