66% or better

Hack your litter box


Cat poo stinks.  We all know it. Those of us who have cats, though frequently amazed at the sheer magnitude of stench our cuddly friends are capable of, do little to remedy the situation.  Sure, sometimes we buy the fancier kitty litter or the special food.  [agraham999] decided to be a little more proactive.  He built an automated exhaust system for the litter box. He wasn’t content to just rig a fan blowing to an exhaust vent either, he hooked it up to an automation system and a motion detector.  The total cost for the project was $80, not including the mac mini that serves as the brains.

Be sure to read through the comments for some very in depth discussion about power usage and solar conversions.

[via Boing Boing Gadgets]

Comments

  1. Finally a suitable use for a Mac.

  2. Dude, you’d think this would be more economically done with an arduino. Dedicating a whole computer to activating a fan when tripped by a motion sensor? Hmmmm….

  3. gerbalism says:

    I wouldn’t even trust it with that.

  4. dave says:

    I agree. The whole reason cat litter exists is so that cats can draw a pentagram and summon that poo up from hell. Personally, I cut a hole in the wall and installed a cat door which leads to a garage mounted plywood box with a plexiglass top (for light). Inside the box is one of those automatic litter boxes, which rakes the poo out of the litter box into a storage container mounted underneath the plywood garage box. This works a lot better than the old automatic litter box, but it STILL requires occasional cleaning.

  5. mike says:

    I don’t know about anyone else here, but that thing would scare the crap out of my cat (no pun intended) if she saw that on top of her litter box. Something a little more discreet would probably be better.

  6. RJ says:

    I know this isn’t always a popular suggestion, but cats fed raw diets have much smaller and much (MUCH!) less-foul smelling poo. Cats are obligate carnivores, and one of the reasons for the smell of their droppings is frankly that their GI tracts can’t digest the corn and wheat that make up the majority of most cat foods.

    True, it’s a non-trivial expenditure and time sink to buy scraps from your butcher, so a good middle ground for a lot of people is to buy high quality, grain-free dry kibble like that produced by Nature’s Variety and Taste of the Wild.

    Both approaches have worked wonderfully for me, and they may serve to be easier and cheaper than the clever, interesting, but perhaps point-missing hack above. Good job to the builder for finding a solution that works for them, though! = )

  7. Jehan says:

    pretty neat, but i would use something a bit more simple than a dedicated laptop- like an arduino
    or maybe one of those small, self contained battery powered computers

  8. fartface says:

    Wow a non hack. this could have been done with $3.00 in parts.

    Does anyone have an article on using a supercomputer to
    make the doorbell sound when the doorbell is pressed?

  9. SleighBoy says:

    @ rj: You are correct sir!

    On a side note, using the pine litters is very nice (the pellet type that is non-clumping) is great at killing odors. And if paying approx $1/pound for pine marketed as cat litter is too expensive, go to a feed store (providing you live where you can go to one) and buy pine animal bedding, it is the same thing except you can buy about 35 pounds of it for $5! :)

  10. Mr Foo says:

    I can’t believe nobody has made the obvious “motion detector” gag yet.

  11. chuck says:

    Could somebody add heat coils to raise the temperature beyond that of hell, b/c that’s where all cats belong.

  12. Mike says:

    Would it be too obvious to let your cat shit outside- it’ll even bury it itself.

  13. Letting your cat shit outside is extremely irresponsible. Cat shit is very hazardous to pregnant women.

  14. Haegin says:

    @Michael Kirkland:
    So what are these pregnant women doing with the buried cat shit?

  15. mike says:

    I could let my cat poop outside, but I live in a 4th floor apartment and do not have a balcony. Taking my kitty out whenever she has to go would probably piss off my neighbors too.

  16. 1eye says:

    Why would one need a motion-activated fan?

    Cat poo smells bad over the entire period of time it’s in the box

    and the cat is moving in the box for only a small part of that time.

  17. anon says:

    That’s kinda like saying, oh, this brand-new car is only $9000 without the engine.

  18. chr0n1c says:

    you won’t catch me paying $9,000 for a car with no engine?

  19. dan says:

    unless it’s a kia.

  20. crust says:

    I use the older generation littermaid (the one that doesn’t
    have a built in fail-and-replace yearly drive train). But
    that alone is not enough to banish the cat crap demon. I
    use the worlds best/most expensive kitty litter that is made
    of corn or something and mix that with copious amounts of
    baking soda from Costco. All that and 9 years later the
    cat still does not like me. To clean it I use an entire
    trash bag to cover my hands so I don’t have to come in
    contact with it. But hey, my cat box doesn’t stink.

  21. Alan Graham says:

    The Mac Mini isn’t dedicated to the litter box…it runs the entire house 24/7…lights, security, fireplace, thermostat. I already had the home automation components so I just added it to the system. The same thing can be done with a motion detector and a timer from Smarthome. Costs under $100.

  22. Alan Graham says:

    oh…and it isn’t the poo as much as it is the ammonia smell of the urine. I use a special organic litter that while good for the environment, is not great with smell…no matter how often you clean it some of it always gets by.

  23. Ed3 says:

    @crust – Second the corn-based litter. Low dust, unscented,
    and scent reducing. Great stuff all around and works VERY
    well in LitterMaid automatic boxes.

    World’s Best Cat Litter – http://www.worldsbestcatlitter.com/Products/WBCL/default.aspx

    AFAIK, it’s only sold in pet shops. Don’t bother looking for
    it at Wal-Mart/Target.

    PetSmart sells a similar LitterMaid-branded product, but it’s
    twice the price per pound.

  24. Rob says:

    Funny I already have this setup except its with a window fan which will soon be upgraded to a 92mm PC fan to save power. It works great

  25. h3llphyre says:

    The corn based litter is great in theory, until put into use. I have four cats in my household, which belong to the misses. We tried the corn based litter and within 5 minutes of putting it in the freshly cleaned box, the cats all started to eat it. I recommended to the misses that I should “use” the litterbox first, to show them what to do. She didn’t find the humor in it. I’m looking at doing something similiar to this, except recirc’ing with an activated carbon filter. We’ll see how well it works. If that doesn’t work, I figure a cat door into the oven with a motion detector should fix the “problem”.

  26. anthony says:

    ewwww, they ate it….

  27. Nitori says:

    I would have just used a picaxe controller for the fan vs hooking it to a mac mini.
    I prefer to use a micro controller for such projects vs hooking everything directly to a PC.

  28. Nitori says:

    I done the same project some time ago but decided to just run the fan continuously since the cat poo stinks the entire time it’s in the litter box vs when the cat is in there.
    It only cost about $20 the biggest cost being the dryer duct the rest fan PSU etc I had on hand.
    Though I’m thinking on adding a a device that will spray odor ban or sprinkle baking soda onto the litter after the cat leaves.

    I guess I could go even farther make it self cleaning and it still would likely be under $80

  29. joe says:

    Boy, talk about using a hammer to smash a fly. Cheap motion detector switch + Cheap Vent Fan = <$40
    Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should.

  30. bob says:

    this has nothing to do with that but hers a google hack searchinurl:/view/index.shtml on google and it shows almost all webcams

  31. bob says:

    i meant to say:

    This has nothing to do with that,
    but here is a google hack search inurl:/view/index.shtml
    on google,
    and it shows almost all webcams

  32. wiggyfifes says:

    Those with the cheapo ideas must realize that if the fan comes on when the cat is in there it will scare it and it will then crap on your bed. Thus the need for something more sophisticated. Also the suggestions kind of pale against that fact that this guy didn’t posit the idea…he built it!

  33. yossi says:

    i can haz hax?

  34. Kaj says:

    I just finished building my version of this today… very simple though. I made an enclosure from cardboard (soon to be replaced with chloroplast) for a normal-sized computer fan to run off of a wall-wart. It is very quiet and runs continuously. Since I do not have access to a wall vent and I cannot cut a hole in the wall, it just recirculates the air through a double-layer activated charcoal filter.

  35. I just put 2 holes in a plastic bag, then put the cats back legs through it. Tie the bag snuggly around the midsection of the cat then gaffa tape. wola cat poo catcher, cheaper too.

  36. bob fairlane says:

    I found a way cheaper version on instructables. Someone used a covered catbox with a “doggy door” type flap, already commercially available, and used a computer fan and dryer hose. The little fan can run 24/7, no big deal.

  37. Liliana says:

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