No, Cat, This Is Not The Litter Box

Hackaday.io user [peterquinn] has encountered a problem with his recently unruly cat peeing under the dining table. Recognizing that the household cat’s natural enemy is the spray bottle, he built an automatic cat sprayer to deter her antics.

The build is clear-cut: an Arduino Uno clone for a brain, an MG995 servo, PIR sensor, spray bottle, and assorted electronics components. [peterquinn] attached the servo to the spray bottle with a hose clamp — ensuring that the zero position is pointing at the trigger — and running a piece of cabling around the trigger that the servo will tug on. Adding a capacitor proved necessary after frying the first Uno clone, as the servo powering up would cause the Uno to reset.

The code is set up to trigger the servo — spraying the cat twice — once the PIR detects the cat for more than ten seconds. After toying with a few options, [peterquinn] is using a 9V, 2A power supply that works just fine. For now, he hopes the auto-sprayer should do the trick. If it somehow doesn’t work, [peterquinn] has mused that a drastic upgrade to the vacuum may be necessary.

39 thoughts on “No, Cat, This Is Not The Litter Box

  1. Nice. I’d give it a shot with a can of compressed air. No mess! There’s a product out there called Ssscat which is actually pretty effective. This build is cheaper and cleverer.

    1. This! Peeing outside the box isn’t something cats do willingly. Odds are something is wrong with your kitty or something has changed significantly in his environment that’s stressing him out. But the first stop is the vet to be sure. Then A/B testing what’s pissing him off after he’s confirmed to have a clean bill of health.

      1. Agreed totally. Could also have been the type of cleaning product used on the table making the cat think it stinks in a certain way. Hell of a lot simpler a fix than building this!
        He needs more lemon pledge.

    2. Bring cat to vet
      Do not clean litter box with citrus or they wont use litter box
      If vet says she is good no issues….place cat on patio to live..
      No patio….. put cat outside

  2. It likely won’t work however, unless he’s gotten rid of the smell of the cat wee (and that includes it down to the level that the cat can smell it, not just him (and it’s an annoying smell as cat wee contains proteins which stink)). However, the biggest issue with this hack is that that the spray bottle appears to work, because they cat doesn’t know where it’s come from. The moment they realise what the bottle under the table is doing, they’ll just avoid it.

    Also, if your cat has just started weeing in an odd place with no obvious reason, take them to the vets. Cats will hide any kind of illness/weakness as much as they can, but weeing in the wrong place can be a tell tale sign that something is wrong.

  3. I know what I’d do,…..(get out the .22), but I’m a dog person. Guess I’ve just had way to many bad experiences with cats, and the horrible things they’ve done.

    1. Exactly. We all love to over-engineer solutions to problems, since that’s what we do! But the real fix is just to not have cats indoors. Unless, of course, you already have the brain parasite. Then, it’s too late. :P

      Cats are not indoor animals, full stop. Dogs, maybe 50/50.

      1. “Cats are not indoor animals”

        What?! Cats are far more housable than dogs. If you have a healthy one that doesn’t eat until they throw up, you can overfill their food and water bowl and leave them home alone for like 2 days. Can’t do that with a dog…

        1. Cats are useful in barns, and I’ve had a few barn cats which were great pets and would follow me all over the farm. Just because they can be kept inside doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to keep their waste inside. They still track tiny bits of it everywhere.

          Dogs can be just as self sufficient outside with an automatic feeder and a dog door, if you want them inside to guard as well as outside. I love my pets, but all the fur and waste inside is disgusting.

      2. We have two cats.
        They are free to roam in or out. They have food out 24/7 and they graze. Having food always available reduces the anxious behaviour you see in some cats. They are at the correct weight.
        Both from the same litter.
        One has a preference for indoors and the other for outdoors. We do not have a litter box except for new years when they are locked in because fireworks, tho the outdoor one tends to destroy cat flaps so it needs barricading.

        The outdoor one will dissappear for days in the summer. The indoor one will go outside happily but no more than perhaps a hundred metres from the house. He’s always waiting for us to come home in the evening.
        CCTV has him sitting witiing in the drive about 10 mins before our due time. So he’s reading the clock in the kitchen is my bet.

        In winter he’s indoors most of the time except for toilet duty, because it’s cold.
        The outdoor one will curl up in flower day and have a sleep during a winter day, even if it’s raining or snowing.

        From our personal experience.
        Cats are indoor if they want to be. Or outdoor if that is their preference.
        But you can’t make them do either. Or they will kill you.

        You might question why the cat is doing this instead of scaring it away.
        Probably doing more harm to your pet than good. Training it not to do it there is not training it to stop doing it elsewhere !!
        Regardless having a bucket of shit/piss in your home that you leave hanging around is just frankly disgusting.

  4. It’s usually a sign of a UTI, especially in males. When a cat isn’t drinking enough water it can lead to UTI’s. Wet food along with dry is a must. Anytime your cat male or female goes potty everywhere but the catbox it’s a sign they are experiencing pressure plus pain.

  5. Neat design that reminds me of the misters (some with fans) for cooling when hot out. Instead of a water pump or an air pump to pressurize the container to spray water… this design is something I’ve not seen before even in the designed application. Interesting. Get’s me thinking of an interesting way to foliar feed too using a moisture or colormetric sensor on the plants.

  6. Hmm…no video, personal experience with that metal geared servo, the elevated position of the wire instead of near the fullest extent of the handle for best leverage and the amount of F to create a viable spray versus a measly dribble — has me doubt this.

      1. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/neuroskeptic/2016/02/20/myth-mind-altering-parasite-toxoplasma-gondii/#.Wp3jTXxOn_4

        “The idea of ‘behavioural’ toxoplasmosis has driven a huge amount of research and media interest. But in a new PLoS ONE paper, Duke University researchers Karen Sugden et al. suggest that there may be nothing to worry about after all. They report that toxoplasmosis is associated with essentially no behavioural abnormalities in humans.”

  7. Just going to leave this here…

    When I was much younger, I visited an amusement park and as is typical of such places, it was rife with T-Shirt selling kiosks. One T-Shirt in particular caught my eye and I’ve never forgotten it. Picture a light blue T-Shirt and on the front it displays the typical cute kitty picture with the caption, “I love cats” (awwww). Then on the back–the point of this post–it displayed, “… they make great dog food.” with the picture of a ravenous dog of some sort (arf arf, yum). Despite the T-Shirt, and if I wasn’t so allergic to cats, and didn’t feel like their servant, I might own one.

  8. Cat may be suffering from feline diabetes and/or arthritis. Make another small litter box and put next to pee mistakes. Take her to the vet too. Water spraying is behavioral conditioning and can not be a static station as they are too smart for that. You’d have to design a Roomba with a RFI tag cat tracking function and auto bottle sprayer. But fundamentally, either she is getting too lazy (or arthritic) to make it to the main litter box. Or you are cleaning the litter box with a chemical she can’t stand, like citrus. Cat’s pee on stuff they don’t like too. Their form of protest…

  9. Take the cat to a vet. When a cat pisses around the house it’s a clear sign it is stressed or ill. The reason could be as simple as the introduction of a new cat it doesn’t like or more serious factors, so you better ask to a specialist.

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