OutdoorLitterbox.com

Debate the pros and cons of the various boxes and discuss other automated litter attendants here

OutdoorLitterbox.com

Postby dfs1 » Sat Apr 21, 2007 12:57 pm

I am the inventor and patentholder of The Outdoor Litterbox for Indoor Cats. I just couldn't stand having a litter box in the house anymore, but knew we did not want to let our cats out to go to the bathroom. So... how to get the box out of the house while keeping the cats safe? http://www.outdoorlitterbox.com

I came across your forum recently, and realize that my invention (if I'm fortunate enough to get it on store shelves) will compete with the self-scooping boxes. The reason we didn't want a self-scooper is... well... we didn't want the box in the house any longer and didn't want to have to devote so much "floor space" to our cats' litter needs.

Please check out the website. I would love to have the feedback of the people who come to this forum. You are all obviously cat lovers and choose to keep your cats indoors--which we feel very strongly about. The outdoor box works great and frees us from the box maintenance issues that I hear a lot of you talk about. We don't have anything to sell, yet, so this is just being posted in hopes of generating some conversation. Anyway... I would love your feedback.

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Postby abbeytoo » Sat Apr 21, 2007 5:22 pm

What's to stop the cat from using the box then hopping out and right over the fence into the street? Sounds like the cats will not be indoor only cats anymore. Do you build a room around this thing? Not scooping for an extended period of time doesn't sound practical. Most cats don't like dirty boxes no matter where they are placed.
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Postby dfs1 » Sat Apr 21, 2007 5:38 pm

The cat can't get out of the box... except to come back into the house. The box is ventilated, but the cat can't push the top off or anything. It's secure. Also, we don't recommend ignoring the box, of course... but you clearly can go longer between cleanings and the cats don't seem to mind in the least. We haven't seen instances of cats not wanting to use The Outdoor Litterbox because of lack of cleaning. I suppose that could happen--as with any box--but we haven't seen it.

Thanks for looking. I appreciate the input.
Last edited by dfs1 on Sun Apr 22, 2007 11:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby spaceshare » Sun Apr 22, 2007 3:57 am

Hmmm... Well, this looks like a solution for keeping litter box unpleasantness out of the house, decreasing litter tracking and odor, and as you point out at the website, not losing indoor space to a litter box. As Abbey indicates, however, the box still needs to be cleaned on a regular basis which is the purpose of the automatic litter boxes, i.e., to decrease the labor of maintaining a litter box for the cat (removing the deposits from the box, cleaning the litter box, etc.). Putting a litter box outdoors and connecting a tunnel to the house for the cat to access the box doesn't solve these unless the litter box you are developing could be expanded to house an automatic litter box. Going out of doors to scoop out the litter box might be a hassle as well, particularly in the middle of winter.... rain, snow, frost... The heat in the summer affecting the ammonia of the urine... creating a lot of odor... Have you ever been in an outhouse in the middle of a heat wave... particularly one that hasn't been cleaned in a while? And the flies being attracted to the odor from the vents... :D

Odor in the indoor litter box may actually help the human to remember to keep it clean!

Okay... just some thoughts...
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Postby dfs1 » Sun Apr 22, 2007 11:22 am

Thanks, Spaceshare. It's absolutely true: If you have an indoor cat, you are still going to have to deal with removing the waste at some point. The Outdoor Litterbox allows you to do it on a different scale so, in my book, more efficiently. There hasn't been any ammonia build-up problem, though. The box is ventilated well enough that that doesn't occur. There also have not been issues with flies being attracted... probably for the same reason. Also, since the ventilation holes are screened, insects can't get in even if they wanted to. It hasn't been a problem.

After you decide whether you want the box in the house or out of the house, it does pretty much come down to a question of maintenance. From what I've heard from other cat owners, and what I've been reading in here about maintaining the automatic litter boxes, they are at least as much work... but maybe that's a matter of opinion, I suppose (but coating the rakes with vegetable oil to try to prevent the gumming up people experience, for instance, doesn't sound like something I want to have to worry about!).

One solution addresses certain concerns... and the other may address other concerns. I think if you tried The Outdoor Litterbox, you'd like it! Maybe we should offer "upgrade discounts/rebates" for people who have self-scoopers! Hmmmmm....

Thanks for the input and for taking a look at the site. Check back occasionally if you're interested in our progress.
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Postby Zanira » Tue Apr 24, 2007 5:38 am

The box looks very interesting. Those who do have to deal with extreme weather might balk, but if there was an easier way to clean... perhaps a litter tray on the bottom of the box that can be shaken up (like mining for gold... in an ironic sort of way) or something to that effect. The image on the site isn't fantastic, though your descriptions are well written. I would personally like to see more images - granted it's still in the development stage and I know you want to get it patented first, but as soon as possible. Otherwise people might disregard it and not look back for a while.

The solution to take the litterbox outside is novel. The tunnel could be feature some kind of litter mat functionality that traps litter to reduce tracking (maybe sloped down so it just goes back in the box?). Now, I wasn't sure but are there two ways out (or an option for one?). Escape is on the forefront of many cats minds and a second cat blocking the only means of egress could be a problem. I thought I read something about two flaps, but I wasn't sure if that was within one tunnel or two.
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Postby jhe » Tue Apr 24, 2007 8:08 am

I don't think this would work in cold climates. Not for my cat anyways. She has an outdoor pen but comes in to use the litter box.

But with it outdoors I think it should have a sieve tray to lift out to dump waste with, and maybe just let liquids drain through onto the ground. That would cut down on maintenance.
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Postby dfs1 » Tue Apr 24, 2007 9:37 am

There's only one way in and one way back into the house. No chance whatsoever for escape. The "second flap" you mention is optional and puts one flap at each end of the tunnel. But there's still nowhere to go but back into the house.

A couple of people have mentioned the cold weather being an impediment. I know they sell pet doors in colder climates, too. The Outdoor Litterbox actually insulates the door somewhat: the pet door "flap" isn't exposed to the outdoors and the tunnel and box act as a "buffer" or form of insulation.

The suggestion for a sieve is good. We considered putting a box with that feature into the Outdoor Litterbox but decided not to--at least at this point--because it was just easier to "scoop" (if you still want to call it that). Thanks for all the input and for taking a look at the site.
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Postby Zanira » Wed Apr 25, 2007 7:19 pm

Sorry, dfs1, but when I said "escape", I meant from the litterbox, not from the house. If there's a more aggresive cat picking on the timid or skittish cat, the latter might not want to use that litterbox if it means she can't get away from the former. Two tunnels to the house would fix that, but of course that also means two holes in your house.

Also, how is it insulated if it's well ventilated? Where is the ventilation? The top? The sides? All over? I don't completely understand how it doesn't get too cold for kitty.
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Postby dfs1 » Wed Apr 25, 2007 7:47 pm

The ventilation holes (screened) are near the top, underneath the "lip" of the lid and--in the finished version--down lower on the sides, too. I didn't mean to imply that the box is insulated to keep the cats warm. Someone was concerned that this box might not be good for colder climates. I was assuming they were concerned about pet doors, in general, and was saying that the box and tunnel are a barrier to the pet flap being exposed directly to the great outdoors. So... it's not insulated, exactly... but it does address some people's concerns about pet doors. The cats certainly do get cold in the winter but they actually seem to like it. They're all "bushed out" when they come back into the house. They don't mind the cold, at least not that I can tell. That's why they have fur coats, right?

As for the predicament of two cats trying to use a litter box at the same time... we haven't had problems with that, but I suppose it could happen. Maybe a little squirt gun aimed at that aggressive cat might take care of it! Thanks again for the comments and the good feedback.
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Re: OutdoorLitterbox.com

Postby katwalker » Sun Jun 24, 2007 5:31 am

Well, it's certainly something that's never been done before! I'm not quite clear on how the litter box is supported when in a window. So, in other words, how do you use this if you don't have any windows that are at ground level? The tube part also seems extraneouos. Your design reminds me of this - http://www.catsplay.com/bci535741.php3 - only yours is a litterbox version. I think just having a flap like in the window box in the link is more practical than having a tube.

Re: other's temperature concerns... Although cats who have been indoors all their lives may be picky, I've not really known cold weather to be a problem for cats. I mean, when's the last time you found a cat frozen to death? Foxes, wolves, bobcats, etc. deal quite well with cold, and I can't see a cat physically having a problem with being in the cold for a minute while releaving itself. I do have to agree, though, that the box would stink like crazy in places where it gets hot and humid.

Here's my big question, though: given that the box is ventilated at the top, how does rain affect litterbox usage? I can see that it would cause lumps in clumping litter, and some cats (read: spoiled indoor cats - :D ) may not want to use it if water is coming in from the top. Maybe it needs some sort of roof or tarp that sits a few inches over the top to prevent large amounts of rain from coming in?
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Re: OutdoorLitterbox.com

Postby dfs1 » Sun Jun 24, 2007 8:18 am

We found that attaching the box directly to the residence did not allow it to ventilate quite as well, so the tunnel design was included in the patent application. The tunnel also allows it to be set down on the ground or on a table, since not every residence is going to be the same height above grade. I should say, though, that the design does allow it to be attached directly to the exterior of a residence (without the tunnel) if desired... but we think this isn't going to be the preferred installation. Time will tell.

On the weather resistance: No rain gets in at all. The ventilation holes in the pictured version are under the "eaves" created by the top of the box extending out over the sides. The final version will have additional ventilation holes (similarly protected) a little lower on the sides. No rain whatsoever will be able to get in (as long as the rain follows the typical laws of gravity!).

Thanks for the comments. A lot of people from this site seem to have checked it out and I've heard from some "off line," too. The response has been encouraging. I think cat lovers are always looking for a better solution to this problem. I'll post developments on my site if people want to follow our progress. Getting something from the page to the store shelves is challenging!
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Re: OutdoorLitterbox.com

Postby LikeItOrNot » Fri Jul 06, 2007 4:08 am

Interesting idea but I see more cons with it then the benefit of the air ventilation and no smell.

- It's outside. I wonder how many cats would crawl in it and lay there looking out it like a window. Gross.
- Cat urine smell might attract tom cats, racoons, hounds and other animals. Even if they're "fixed".
- Doesn't look like there's any advantage to cleaning it... Huge pain for large cat households. At least add some kind of sifter thing that would let you catch all the clumps and pull out a tray to dump it and keep the clean litter in it. Something quick and easy.
- I wouldn't want to go outside in the freezing rain or snow to change the box which would mean cats throwing a fit over the dirty box and going elsewhere in the house.
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Re: OutdoorLitterbox.com

Postby dfs1 » Fri Jul 06, 2007 9:00 am

Thanks for writing... even if so skeptically!

The box has not turned into a "lounge" in any installations I'm aware of and we haven't seen the attraction of any unwanted "critters." It's also likely to be opaque (rather than see-through) in the final version. The best option is for it to be "fogged" so plenty of light gets in but cats can't see out.

As for your critique on cleaning: Maybe if/when you see them in action, you'll see that this works and is a vast improvement to having a box in the house. My own house is a multi-cat household precisely because of the invention, so I think you'll be surprised at how much easier it makes caring for the box. Combining it with an automated scoop or a screener/sifter is something we have considered and continue to leave on the table as a possible option.

Thanks for the input.

David
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Re: OutdoorLitterbox.com

Postby Ozzy&Cher » Thu Oct 18, 2007 10:46 am

I think it's the start of a great idea. Is it easy to clean?
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