The WhyCat Rig: Some Essential Updates

Heh. “Rig.” My cat kit, if you will. I love when enthusiasts of some random esoteric hobby start talking about their “rig” or their “setup” or their “kit.” Well, this is my setup. Come peep it. (Is that how you say that? I am cool.)

Anyway, we’ve officially mooooved! For the last time, I hope. With that, I decided to fine-tune and refine my cat kit. Where before, I was satisfied with giant hooded cat boxes and intricately built litter-trapping mazes, I can now boast something a teeny bit more…classy.

(Aren’t cat people crazy?? We crazy. I love it.)

 

 

The New Litter Setup

I was turned on to sifting litter boxes by a friend of a coworker, who raved about the Breeze Litter Box System, pictured below:

It uses non-soluble pellets, made of silica gel and “zeolite,” which allow liquids to flow below into the waiting pad-lined tray, while solids remain in the pan, awaiting scooping. So far so good. Except I’m not a fan of having to constantly replenish the (pricey) pellets as they get stuck to poop and thrown out, or the even pricier packs of absorbent pads.

I read a lot of reviews that recommended using Feline Pine litter in place of the pellets and pads, which is what I ended up doing.

 

 

Here’s how it works:

The pine litter breaks down into sawdust when wet, which then gets filtered down into the tray. The sawdust also absorbs any extra urine when it’s in the tray, negating the need for special urine-pads. Win! Pine litter is also incredibly cheap, especially if you buy in bulk from your local farm-supply store (horse pellets, I believe is what they are).

My nightly litter scooping routine consists of picking out any poop clumps from the pan with a scoop (or special green salad tongs that I bought, I know, gross, but I specifically bought lime green so they would never be confused with my kitchen tongs), and stirring the pellets (well, more of a vigorous stir-fry) so all the sawdust gets sifted into the tray. Every other day, I empty the tray of damp sawdust into a designated trash can. It takes less than 2 minutes each time, and litter cleanup has gone from a dreaded, and I mean dreaded, dusty, stinky chore to a quick nightly task that I hardly think about anymore. Cross my heart and hope to die. I swear it’s not too good to be true.

 

The boxes, complete with green salad tongs and a Sita-Pippin butt sniffing session in full swing. (Btw, the cordless hand vacuum pictured is SO good and essential to any serious cat litter box rig. *Adjusts monocle*)

 

 

A few caveats:

If you don’t like the mild, barnyard-y scent of damp sawdust, this setup isn’t for you. It smells a bit like a hay bale after a summer rain. (I really should write for Yankee Candle.) I don’t mind it, and actually find it hugely preferable to being able to smell ammonic cat pee/turds, which the pine litter mostly neutralizes.

If you have a giant monster cat of the Bengal/Maine Coon/jungle variety, this setup likely isn’t for you either. The pans are quite small (my one complaint), and the white “scatter-guards” make them feel even smaller.

If your cat is larger than average AND kind of dumb (like my sweet, sweet Pips), more likely than not you’ll come home at least once a month to cat turds on the floor, just outside the pan. I saw him in action once, balancing precariously at the edge of the pan, as his poop bounced off the top of the scatter-guards and rolled away onto the floor. He then proceeded to try and bury the poop, which was not actually in the pan. Another time he peed so forcefully that the stream sprayed horizontally away from his bum, rather than downwards, and went trickling in a little waterfall down my white walls and collected in a pool on the floor. That was fun to clean up.

 

So, not a completely fool-proof solution on its own. To remedy this, I modified my pans by placing them into giant, clear storage bins ($6 at Walmart!) with added cutouts for easy cat entry and tray removal:

Current box setup, complete with cat turds and a nifty BAGGMUCK shoe tray ($3.99 at IKEA!) to contain stray pellets. Holler if you’re interested in a tutorial for the box cut-outs! I used a Dremel rotary tool with a cutting and sanding bit.

 

No more accidental outside-the-box pooping, and any future urine sprays will collect in the bin, not on my hardwood floors. Success, at last!

Oh, I almost forgot to mention—the litter tracking problem has been effectively ELIMINATED. No more crumblies embedded in rugs all over the house. No more litter dust on my couch and bed sheets. Once in a while, I’ll see a single stray pellet sitting somewhere in the hallway (batted by a playful kitty paw), but that’s about it. Life…will never be the same.

 

Got questions? I’m happy to answer.

 

 

 

The New Food Setup

One morning, as Pippin stretched out luxuriously on my pillow and yawned a great big kitty yawn, I noticed little black specks on his chin.

That’s feline acne y’all, and it’s caused by bacteria from food bowls getting rubbed into your kitty’s skin. Feline acne can be prevented by using strictly ceramic or stainless steel food bowls (No plastic! Evar!), and cleaning them religiously (I was lagging in the “religious cleaning” department).

 

I decided to go a step further and switch them over to “whisker-relief” bowls, which save them from the torment of having their whiskers over-stimulated. I know that sounds like ridiculous hogwash crazy cat-lady satire, but it’s actually a thing. It’s called whisker fatigue.

At the root of each of your cat’s whiskers are clusters of highly sensitive nerve endings, which help her “feel” her way through dark or cramped environments. They’re definitely not meant to be constantly prodded and squeezed. A traditional cat bowl forces your cat to plunge her extremely sensitive cheeks into a narrow, high-walled opening, which can make the neurotic little buggers even more stressed out. It’s also more likely than not the root of all those “haven’t finished my food bowl and am still demanding a refill” cat memes:

 

 

Do you feel bad for mocking them now? Do you?? You should feel bad.

 

Cats who skim the tops of their food bowls and show reluctance to finish the bits left in the corners are most likely aggravated by whisker fatigue. Furthermore, if you find that they like to kick, scoop, or drop their food outside the bowl, that’s another sure sign they’re uncomfortable with their dining experience. Hey, no one said cats were easy to please!

Rather than spring for those expensive, specialized “whisker-relief” bowls (like $20 a pop on Amazon), I use creme brulee dishes. They’re ceramic, sufficiently shallow, and cute to boot! Plus, they’re only $20 for 6! Multiply that by however many dozens of cats you have, and it’s still a sweet deal.

 

Shallow bowls are bound to be messier, and you’re more likely to find bits of food outside their bowls—but I find it’s a small price to pay for happier, healthier kitties. And besides, that’s what place mats are for!

There you have it! A near perfect cat litter rig (in my opinion) and repurposed, whisker-friendly food bowls for a bargain.

 

Stay tuned for more handy vertical space updates, coming…well, whenever I finish unpacking. :]

 

 

Forge on!

Customize your cat rig further with Some of My Favorite Cat DIYs.

See my guest post at I Have Cat on How to Entertain Your Cats Without Spending a Dime.

First time cat parent? Excel in all the cat things with my Cat Care Cheat Sheet.

 

 

 

 

 

(New content goes up about once a month!)

 

2 comments

  1. Karyn says:

    I love your site! I just spent the last hour reading, started with the batshit crazy article. You nailed it. One thing to add to the batshit crazy that my little monkey does is that he bites my feet when I get out of bed at 3am to pull him off of my now-shitty bedroom drapes.

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Hey Karyn, so glad you’re here! :]
      And HA! So adorable, yet terrifying. Pent-up kitty energy is a biiitch!

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