Home Life on the Road Bus Projects

Bus Renovations: A Cat’s Purrrfect RV Litter Box

An advantage of having a cat rule your life instead of a dog, is the we don’t use the euphemism of ‘lets go for a walk’ to really mean ‘I need to pee or poop all over things’.

We cats are much more civilized.

We do our business in a box full of sand and don’t have to wait for the humans to get off their lazy butts to take us outside. We’re calm when our humans go do human things for the day – we’re pretty content just taking a nap, shredding whatever important papers they left out, figuring out how to blast music out the speakers, and pooping when we want.

And then we have our humans trained to keep our potties clean for us.

But we do like our privacy. Sharing an RV with any number of humans doesn’t always leave room for places to keep the litter box without our business becoming stinky performance art.

My Litter Box History

Two humans and a cat, in a little egg? Who's idea was this???

Two humans and a cat, in a little egg? Who’s idea was this???

When I adopted Chris & Cherie in 2008, we lived in a super small 17′ travel trailer.

We kept a hooded litter box in the wet bathroom (the human’s shower was also the sink area) with the door always propped open so I could open it myself.

That meant for them to use their litter box, mine often became a footrest. And they had to move it out of the bathroom to shower. It also meant if I kicked litter out of the box (which, of course, I’d *never* do), it risked clogging up the shower drain.

Apparently, a lot of RVing kitties poop in the shower. It’s a common RVing setup. Others have created cat chambers similar to what I have now (perhaps under dinettes, in cabinets or even with access tunnels to a basement bay), or found inventive solutions under the entry steps.

When we got the bus, Chris & Cherie were so excited to finally have their own dedicated shower that they decided to not share with me.

Instead, when we were stopped, my (now un-hooded) box got put under the steering wheel, and had to be moved before driving. Despite tying a curtain to the wheel to give me privacy – that pretty much meant my powder room was right at the top of the steps and all those litter box smells were not a welcome greeting.

Suffice it to say, it was supposed to be a temporary solution that turned into 4 years, but at least it encouraged more frequent cleaning.

 

Checking out the progress on my cat room construction.

Checking out the progress on my cat room construction.

It also turned out to be a really bad idea, because litter would end up spilling down in the throttle pedal area, and actually caused our bus to not be able to accelerate one day! (It *WASN’T my fault.. remember, I don’t kick litter out of my box. Ahem.)

 

I had always had my eyes on this door in the hallway. It was perfectly cat height, and right across the hall from the human’s potty room. It seemed like a perfect place, but it held the hot water heater.

Humans seem to like hot water.

Chris and Cherie always told me that they had plans to turn that cabinet into my very own powder room.

And summer 2015 was finally my time!

My New Kitty Room

The new cat room hatch door.

The new cat room hatch door.

Removing the hot water heater and replacing it with something else in a bus bay (don’t ask me the details.. I don’t care about this obsession with hot water) would mean the exterior hatch vent door would need to be replaced with something.

Since the bus was being repainted, it only made sense to also proceed with the cat powder room plans so that something could be painted at the same time.

With the hot water heater gone, that left a perfect sized room for my own private girl room.

The floor was lined with wooven vinyl floors (fancy!) for easy cleaning.

Since the room is not too far from the new fridge vent access, Chris ran a piece of aluminum tubing from the room, behind the dresser drawers in the compartment above and to the roof. He then installed a small silent computer fan at the top (my humans told me it has minimal power draw, and runs all the time). This creates enough pressure for a chimney effect, which means all the fumes go right out the top of the bus.

The folks at the shop told me I probably have the very first ever cat poop vent fan installed in an RV!

Cherie and Chris picked up a Lift N Sift litterbox, that is supposed to be easier to clean. It’s not turned out that way, so we use it as a standard pan. But more importantly, it was only 14″ wide – so narrow enough to fit in the room AND be able to come out the new exterior hatch for cleaning.

A hole was cut into the cabinet door, giving me easy access in and out.

We then installed a motion activated rechargeable battery powered light to give me just the right amount of illumination, and for the humans to do their cleaning by.

To top off the design, I picked out some nifty strickers on Redbubble.com to decorate the inside. Do you like them?

How’s it Working Out?

This didn't turn out to be all the practical.

This didn’t turn out to be all the practical.

While the fantasy was a litter box that could be cleaned from the outside, it hasn’t worked out that way. The hatch opens to the top and is awkward to keep open while fiddling with the box – but a brace of some sort would probably fix that.

The humans seem to prefer cleaning on the inside anyway..  where they don’t have to worry about wind, rain and having the neighbors see how well trained they.

Overall, I really love my new room! I can poop in privacy, get some alone time, admire my idol Nyan Cat and namesake Kiki…  and no one smells what I’m up to. And the litter stays in the room, which has greatly reducing tracking it around the bus.

Oh, and of course no more humans blaming ME for the bus not moving.

This is how they clean my box now (more often please!)

This is how they clean my box now (more often please!)

The only problem is, sometimes the humans forget to clean as often because ‘out of smell out of mind’.

I’m pretty adaptable, but they push me to my limits sometimes. I might need to set them a reminder on their calendar.

So there you have it – how to properly pamper your feline royalty and make them feel like the RV is their home too.

After all.. it is all about the cat.

More of my Witty Cat Perspectives:

3 Tips for RVing & Camping with Humans

Creating a Pet Leash Hook on an RV

Finally – a Bus Project for Cats!

I am the Ultimate Accessory!

For the master list of all the 2015 Bus Renovations:

Summer 2015 Bus Renovations Tour & Project List

 

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30 Comments - Still Plenty of Room for Yours!

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  1. I have been searching the Internet for a real solution to the cat litter question. Thank you for the post. It’s beautiful, ingenuitive, and fun to read. Really. I REALLY appreciate this post

  2. Kiki… thank you for your blog post! My human is attempting to find ways to prevent my litter from accumulating under the gas pedal and brake. We live full time on a 2003 International Skoolie. I, of course, rule the roost and tolerate the two rat like dogs that accompany us.
    ~Dax

  3. We have always traveled with our catz. They accommodate our gypsy whims nicely. Our catz: Pippin and Rudolf “Rudy” Valentino, have worn harnesses and leashes for outside activity since they were babies. Here’s a note from Pip: “I like being outssside and wear a leash willingly on my ssstylish harnessss. The momz are too worried I’ll get run over or kill a million birds to let me loose. The mom’s sssolved the Box issssue by making a new door to match the other door under the kitchen sink and putting our boxsss inside. I’m a real big boy, so I put my front feet outside the door when I use the box. The other cabinetsss in our moving houssse are just too sssmall for me! Thanksss for the great article Kiki, you’re a peach.” Rudy says, “Hisssss, I’m napping!”
    Thanks for the fun post and for showing the cool box system y’all figured out.

  4. Wow! A fan and a light – high tech! I have some catwalk cages that attach to a small window of my house right now, so they can go outside but still be contained. They come in 4′ sections. I wonder if something like that could be temporarily configured to the outside hatch while you’re parked. Kiki doesn’t seem to mind the leash, but mine play dead when fitted with a harness.

  5. Great idea! What about a magnet on the outside to hold the latch of the outside door up so you could clean outside?

  6. I loved how you wrote from your cat’s perspective. My daughter has a Facebook page for my dog, and I find that just as humorous as your stories
    . We start full timing with Jake this fall. I would love to introduce him to your cat. They could share stories about their humans.

  7. My husband and I are gearing up to become full timers and the question of the cats litter box has come up more than once. Thus is great!!! I love reading your blogs!

  8. Read this post to Mr. C, and he immediately chimed in with some suggestions for his own “library”. Glad you mentioned about the outside access not working as planned. Opens up a more convenient option of building a couple of steps up to the boy’s bunk, which could house Mr. C’s commode and leave us with a full size electrical and hose bay. The boy prefers to clean from inside, anyway.

    Mr. C is ever so grateful for your sharing of wisdom, Kiki, and appreciates that his humans have another feline’s input to support his own.

  9. What a great article. I have always traveled with animals and making them happy is making you happy.

  10. Loved the post – but it’s the comments that made me smile the most – a window! I agree that natural light is always helpful to relax and “do ones’ business”. Maybe next remodel 🙂

  11. Kiki, I am so glad you have trained your humans so well that they have accommodated your toilet needs! What a great private powder room you now have and it is decorated so nicely! Enjoy your new digs. Denise and the two big dogs

  12. Cat box odors. Get your cat some better dry food as it will eliminate the odor issue. Most supermarket brands, Purina, Friskies, Whiskas and so on contain a lot of material your cat can’t digest properly, producing some very foul odors. The premium dry foods like Blue Wilderness are far more digestible, so instead of having to change litter constantly, (a large saving if you are using clumping litter), fairly offsets the additional cost. The cats tend to eat less of the premium foods, and are much healthier.

    We stumbled over this last summer when our 14 year old female cat developed hyperthyroidism, turns out that the amount of iodine in most of the dry foods is greatly in excess of what a cat can tolerate. Living in a 28 foot trailer with the catbox under our bed, we would wake up in the night to what smelled like an overturned rotten vegetable cart! Changing the food eliminated the odor issue.

    • Kiki actually has a diet of high end, grain free foods (a combo of wet and dry). And we actually don’t have much odor at all, but at the front of the entrance – even a little was an unpleasant greeting. But thanks for your advice, perhaps it will help others reading.

  13. LOVE this post but then again I am a crazy cat lady. And I loved how you built it in, fan and light and all! When I first heard about you working on this idea I wondered if there would be a ‘window to the world’ placed where the door lifts up to give kitty some viewing pleasure. I mean, don’t we all like a view? LOL…. in any case this is fantastic!! Thanks for sharing.

    • We actually did have ‘window’ on the wish list for the room (cuz, how fun would that be??) – but alas, just getting the hatch custom made as is was enough of a challenge.

  14. this is fantastic! i really love the design, and the fan. when we finally hit the road, my SO wants a similar setup and plans on installing some kind of exhaust fan too. i love the lip on the door to prevent extra litter tracking. (it’s not your fault, kiki. i know that stuff just flies out of the box on its own.)

    the “i heart lizards” sticker made me lol. fantastic!

  15. What a wonderful story, we (I’m Coco and my room mate over there Big Boy) will have to our humans to read this when they get home as they really need some help in this area.

  16. Your buddies The RVGeeks just published a video on the Hatchlift install that would help you with the door 🙂

    • We’ll have to have them come over and modify 🙂 Actually, what would have helped is the box being on a slide out shelf to hold it while cleaning. But in the end, it actually works out well the way it is.

  17. We’ve been on the road with our cat since July 31st…. in a pop up camper! My husband built an area under the sink for the litter box and seriously considered putting a fan in there to help with smells. (He might still at some point but his “camper to do” list is a mile long so not sure the priority on that one.

    We do have to clean the box immediately after Emmy uses it for, um, certain things. And litter is always getting everywhere. We sweep pretty regularly anyway (at least once a day) since it’s such a small space for 2 humans and a cat 🙂

  18. I also found the sifting litter box was not useful. There’s also a litter-catching rubber rug that can sit under the catbox to “catch” the litter our cat has on his paws as he exits his private “resting” chamber. It is 31 inches by 24. I found it at Costco. Might help with that obnoxious litter scatter.

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