Creative ways to curb cat clutter

I have two cats who are in the running for being the world’s most adorable kitties. (Okay, so I may be a little biased about this fact … but you have to admit that they’re at least a little cute sleeping in that photo?!) I love my two little fur balls and spoil them rotten, but I will admit that they come with a lot of stuff.

As I’ve discussed in the past, I subscribe to a mid-century modern/industrial design style in my home. My small house has hardwood floors and concrete and glass walls. There are virtually no knickknacks in my place, and cat accouterments are rare. Except for their litter box, food and water bowls, and collection of fur balls that have to be cleaned out of the corners every other day, it’s not obvious to people when they first come into my home that I even have cats.

Here are some of the ways that I hide their clutter:

  • Instead of a scratching post, I have a sisal rug on the floor of my office. Most scratching posts are covered in sisal, anyway, so it’s like a giant scratching mat for them.
  • Like a child, my cats have a toy box. The cats know that if they want to play with one of their toys that they can find it in their toy box. Once a week, I’ll walk through the house with a yard stick and fish out any toys that have been batted under dressers or cabinets and return them to the toy box. Also, throughout the course of the day, if I find an unused toy in the middle of the floor I’ll immediately toss it into the toy box.
  • My cats also have their own toiletry kit in the bathroom. I keep their nail trimmer, brush, and other grooming supplies in one labeled box in the bathroom storage area.

There are hundreds of ideas for keeping kitty clutter in check, but these are just a few that I employ in my home. I would love a well-ventilated kitty closet with a cat door to hide their litter box, but right now that is just a big wish. What do you do in your home to help keep pet items from becoming clutter?

30 Comments for “Creative ways to curb cat clutter”

  1. posted by Bill G on

    Your cats would truly be the most adorable only if they were the ones who returned their toys to the box!

  2. posted by Robin on

    I keep my litterbox in the bathtub of my guest bathroom. That shower never gets used, and behind the curtain it’s well-hidden and easy to access. I line the tub with plastic bags for easy cleanup of stray litter, and there’s plenty of storage for litter containers, scoops, bags, brushes, and anything else kitty-related. I am fortunate to have this extra bath!

  3. posted by Leslie on

    In the spirit of having less clutter, I have a small closet downstairs that I didn’t need, so I put the litter box inside and leave the door open. If we have company, the cats go upstairs and the closet door is closed. I also keep a diaper pail in the garage and put dirty litter in diaper bags that go into the pail. No stink in the house!

  4. posted by Tara on

    We have an ikea pantry closet (for the kitchen) it is 80″ high and 24″ wide x 24″ deep. We have one on either side of the fireplace for storage-but they could be used anywhere.
    The top has doors and so does the bottom (the middle is open for books). Inside the bottom section is the kitty litter box and we installed cat doors on the side of the cabinet for easy access. The cabinet also holds litter, scoop etc.
    It has been a life saver in a small apartment!

  5. posted by Kris on

    I’m digging that bathtub idea. We have an extra full bath and i could move the cat box into the tub instead of having it in a corner of the room.


  6. posted by dB on

    Or you could just get rid of the cat…

  7. posted by dizawndra on

    I love the bathtub idea, but I don’t have an extra one. I also don’t have a lot of space. I can’t stand rogue litter pellets on the floor. I have looked into some of the more stylish cabinets, but it seems like if they can step in, and then step out of a doorway, the mess stands to be the same. they need some sort of recessed hole…like a toilet. 🙂

  8. posted by Chloroform on

    Aside from putting the toys back into the box where we keep them and sweeping the floor of the laundry room (where the litterbox is stored) daily, there isn’t much to be done about the cat clutter. For me it’s just one of those battles it’s not worth it to fight.

  9. posted by Dan on

    I keep my litter box in what my roommates call the lil’ room. its like a little spare room with an angled ceiling that used to be a porn dungeon, now we use it to house all things cat.

  10. posted by Kris on

    @dB … you obviously don’t have pets. Which is probably a good thing.

  11. posted by Ryan on

    Anyone have any success in toilet training their cats? I am really toying with the idea, but have yet to find a good way to implement it.

  12. posted by John on

    If you really love your cats, please please please stop feeding them prepackaged food if you currently do so. Commercial pet food is literally killing our pets. After having my beloved dog die from organ failure related to commercial dog food, and doing much research, I’ve discovered that cats and dogs must not eat commercial food of any kind if they are to be healthy and live full lives. Even high-end commercial food does not emulate their natural diets whatsoever.I am now in the process of switching my kitty over to a raw diet. I urge everyone to research feeding their pets raw diets…and at the very least, cooked homemade food.

  13. posted by Bonnie on

    I live in a very very tiny studio, and there is no space for a litter box, so I trained my cat to do his thing in the toilet. Initially I brought a Litter Kwitter but then I realized that you can do the same thing very easily yourself with a spare toilet seat (with a deep lip) and some duct tape. I’ve had a lot of emails from peeps asking how I trained my kitty, so this is how I did it 😉

    In the beginning, wind duct tape completely underneath the spare toilet seat to cover it (covering any sticky bits so that your cat doesn’t get accidently waxed). Make sure you do it tightly so that there is not much give in the tape so that kitty feels secure when he jumps on it. Sprinkle litter over as normal and provide a step stool so that the cat can investigate the toilet without being on it, and can get onto it easily. Now pop the normal people lid up and put the spare lid on top of the bowl (this is why you want one with a rather deep lip so it doesn’t shift too much even through it’s not attached). Make sure that you always leave the door to the bathroom open, and accessible to the cat. (if you are lucky enough to have a 2nd bathroom, this makes everything a lot easier!) I have a very dark bathroom, so there is a nightlight permanently on in there.

    Learn to recogonize when your cat needs to go (for me it’s meowing and pawing at the ground, and then he walks to the bathroom). In the beginning you may need to follow your cat in and make sure he goes in the right place/pick him up and put him on the seat.

    Every time your cat jumps up on the seat, praise him and make a big fuss, give him a treat if he’s food orientated. After a few weeks (1 in my case) he will start to associate the toilet with going to the bathroom, and you can start reducing (very gradually) the amount of litter the cat is used to, til he is only using a light layer. Keep on scooping. Once he is comfortable with this, then you can start cutting away a thin strip in the duct tape to reveal the water underneath (start cutting from the back of the bowl, not the front to encourage correct seating position) – keep on using the litter. Bit by bit as your cat gets used to having a hole with water underneath, cut away more duct tape. You will scoop less and less and then not at all as he learns to aim for the water. Go very slowly (I cut away about 1/2 an inch to an inch every week) – the trick is to go so slowly that your cat never even notices the difference. At the end of it all (about 5 months for me) you will have a cat who is totally toilet trained 🙂

    Your kitty will have to be comfy with paper based flushable litter for this training method to work as at some stage, litter will fall into the bowl. Do not use clay based litter as you will have MAJOR problems with plumbing. Make sure you read the packaging carefully to make sure the litter you have is indeed flushable.

    Ensure you swap out the litter and wash the duct taped lid regularly as you would your usual litter tray.

    Do not rush your cat. If he gets freaked out the bad experience takes a lot longer to unlearn than if you were just a little more patient with him.

    Remember to praise your cat. In the beginning I had to camp out in the bathroom with him whenever he needed to go to encourage him to go in the right spot. However don’t encourage too much. My cat now meows to “show me” whenever he goes. And believe it or now, the phrase, “gotta go watch my cat pee” freaks some people out (I’ve no idea why :P)

  14. posted by Kris on

    @John … we did this for our dog who had arthritis and it went away completely. We’ve not done it for cats but have talked about it. I personally have researched and found a couple of brands that aren’t too bad for cats.

    @Bonine .. a friend recently trained her two cats to do this. It’s great. We have eight cats and while I don’t think I could train all of them, we may try to train the youngest three. great idea, really. Thanks for sharing how to do it.

  15. posted by Anna on

    I live in a very small house so the only place for the kitty litter to go is in the bathroom, but by using one of those covered kitty litter trays, and putting an old towel over the top, it remains unobtrusive. Kitty things like brushes, and bi-carb soda for the litter, go in a pretty little straw box on top of the litter cover.

    Re the comment about feeding your cat’s raw food, that’s fine but you just have to make sure you put certain chemicals in to prevent them going blind or developing respitory problems. There’s some good info about making your own cat food here –

  16. posted by CQ on

    I have three outdoor cats. They have a covered area on our back deck with all of the kitty toys. A few beds, food bowls, a scratching post (otherwise they use my cedar siding) and a few catnip toys. Their things are out of site out of mind for the most part.

    I also have a dog, he is a small breed and has clothes, toys, and since he’s a terrier I have to groom him quite often. I actually purchased a rather expensive (with warranty) set of clippers and he and my husband share them. He also has a toy box and knows right where to get his toys when he wants to play. I would love to train him to return them when he’s done. 🙂

  17. posted by LolaGeek » Blog Archive » Linky Thursday - 11/15 on

    […] Creative ways to curb cat clutter: Article from […]

  18. posted by Nikki on

    Your cats are adorable! I like the idea of a special litter box closet, too. If you had one of those, you could store all of your cat things in there, like the cat food, litter, and grooming tools on shelves, since you’d have a lot of vertical space.

  19. posted by pyoiu on

    Hmm, the sisal rug is a great idea.

    Just make sure not to put the cat’s food and litter box in the same place — cats don’t like to use the litter box too close to where they eat (makes sense, I think) and they’ll start pooping elsewhere.

    As for food, I agree that 99% of cat food out there is awful and really unhealthy. I’ve found one brand that I (and my cat) love, Wellness, which makes both dry and canned food that are grain-free and the highest in protein out of any food I’ve found so far. Raw diets are good only if you’re using supplements (especially taurine). Otherwise they can get pretty sick.

  20. posted by dB on


    Actually I do have pets, just not cats…

    it was a joke

  21. posted by Kris on

    Ah, a joke. That’s the trouble with sarcasm on the Internet .. doesn’t translate. 😉

  22. posted by andi on

    another one using the spare tub… this house has small bathrooms and kitchen, so until we finish the basement, no other place, the tub it is… curtain hides it, less litter tracked. love the training idea but we’ve got our hands full training kids.

  23. posted by julie on

    We have a covered litter tray and have seated that inside a large rubbermaid container (almost bathtub sized, but not quite!) which has clear sides. The cats hop up and in, use the covered tray, can kick litter to their hearts’ content (which is a lot) and hardly track any into the room after hopping out. This system took years but it’s working well.

  24. posted by ronnie on

    is it safe to put bi carb soda in the kitty litter?

  25. posted by Sooz on

    I like the idea of putting the litter box into a spare bathtub (assuming one has an extra bathroom) BUT the issue for elderly or ill/weak cats is that they may not be able to GET TO the litter box over the literal hurdle that the tub represents.

    And if the cat tries to get over the edge of the tub to the litter box & doesn’t make it, it’s an awfully hard landing for an old or sick cat to fall on most surfaces in a bathroom.

  26. posted by Anita on

    I introduced a second kitten to my first kitten just 3 days ago, so right now their stuff is all over the place, trying to create a “safe space” for each of them and a common “neutral” area to play in and get to know each other, then gradually moving their stuff (like food bowls and litter pans) closer together. There’s really no uncluttered way of doing that. BUT! Under normal circumstances, it’s much, much neater.

    My only comment would be re: scratching post. The sisal mat is a great idea, (it saved my furniture as well), but a lot of cats prefer to scratch something vertical and tall enough that they can stretch out while scratching. If your cats like the mat, it’s perfect, but if some people try this and find their cats still prefer the side of the sofa, that might be why.

  27. posted by Tigger on

    I like the idea of a sisal mat. My cat has ruined my large area rug, and of course I can’t scold him. LOL

    I wonder if you found a nice spot for the sisal and used super velcro, if you could put it vertical. I’ve priced scratching posts (I like the ones with seats on them for the kitty) and they are not cheap.

    A question about the covered boxes… does the smell building up a little in them. My cat is real fussy to that. Is it hard to scoop and clean it? I understand that it’s removable, but doing that a few times a day, is it a pain?

  28. posted by Arlene on

    I have two cats and three litter boxes. I live in a relatively large house with three bathrooms and an unfinished basement, so the litter boxes haven’t really been an issue. I have the one on the main floor in the tub of the powder room (my powder room is really a full bath but the tub/shower never gets used. My cats are currently both young enough to get in and out with no problem and seem to like that box, but I, like a previous poster, have thought about what would happen when they get older and can’t jump as well.

    In my case I also have one box in the basement and on in one side of a Jack-N-Jill bathroom on the upper floor so they have a box on each floor.

    As far as scratching – I saw a neat solution on HGTV once. They wrapped a wooden stair post with sisal so the cat could scratch there and it didn’t look bad at all. Nothing like the truly ugly standing scratching posts. I have on but I put it behind a large chair I have in the corner of my great room next to the fire place so you can’t see it.

  29. posted by Leslie on

    @ Sooz and Arlene: Regarding cats getting older and not being able to jump, at that point you can get/build a ramp or steps for the cat to climb easily to the litter!

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