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Sponsored guest post by Jackie, Less Litter

It all started with one cat.

One evening, a big white, fluffy creature showed up at my door and demanded to be let in. I had no previous experience with cats, and I was a bit scared, but I let her in. She walked in like a realtor, inspecting every room in the house. She then settled on my sofa and gave me what I’ve come to understand as the “where is my dinner?” look. And before I knew it, she had adopted me.

I picked up some cat food and a plastic litter box. Litter boxes came in a variety of sizes, colors, and shapes but they were always made of plastic. I didn’t question much because it provided me with an immediate cheap solution. Up until that day, I had never even heard of the word “litter” or was aware that cats eliminate their waste in a box called a “litter box”. So I accepted plastic litter boxes just as they came until I found myself throwing away six litter boxes in less than a year just to keep the box hygienic and looking “fresh”.

The problems with plastic litter boxes

Plastic litter boxes are not designed to last forever. Cat urine is acidic and erodes plastic over time if it sits in the box too long. Bacteria from urine and stool can get trapped in scratches and scuff marks. Cats have more than 200 million odor sensors (humans have just 5 million,) and a box that may smell “just fine” to a human might smell offensive to discerning feline noses. Keep in mind that cats are much closer to the bottom of the box when they do their business than humans!

I felt irresponsible throwing away six plastic litter boxes every year. I wanted to do my part to reduce my negative environmental impact, but it was impossible to find sanitary and sustainable litter boxes. Plastic litter boxes go straight into a landfill. Was there anything more sustainable and durable?

The simple answer was – no. It surprised me to find that in the age of the ocean plastic crisis, electric cars, and increased environmental awareness, there still isn’t a litter box that’s made of sanitary, durable, plastic-free, and sustainable material. It made me feel even more uneasy when I pictured all six tossed plastic litter boxes located 1,000 miles off my beloved California coast, and that they will be sitting there for 20 to 500 years, depending on the type of plastic used. I decided to come up with a way to make a sustainable litter box.

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The right kind of stainless steel

I researched how toilets in homes, national parks and prison cells were made. All roads led me to stainless steel – but not just any kind of stainless steel. Medical-Grade/Marine-Grade stainless steel seemed to be the answer: the kind that could withstand feline urine pH, provide a clean environment for my cats, be accepted by veterinarians, and could be melted down to something useful at the end of its life.

I quickly learned that producing anything in steel was costly and complex. It was even harder to make in the U.S. because we don’t have the capacity and human skills to produce at a certain level in this country. This explained why it didn’t make economical sense for pet companies to make non-plastic litter boxes, but cats’ wellness and the environmental impact made sense for me, so I dug deeper.

In the early phase of vetting out manufacturers in China and getting the raw material certified by a Swiss organization (a certification that is required for Germany and other EU countries), I was met with an unexpected obstacle: the factories kept rejecting my idea of a Medical-Grade Stainless Steel litter box. Instead, they insisted that I produce a $8 low-grade stainless steel buffet tray, mark it up as a litter box and sell it on Amazon for $50 because that is “good enough for Americans”.

The Swiss organization which is the third-party certifier for raw material said I was wasting my time because “Americans doesn’t value high quality or even care to understand the difference in low and high-grade stainless steel”. They insisted that I’d make an “American version” with the low-grade steel (which is not accepted in German healthcare environments but is accepted in the US) and a “European version” with Medical-Grade steel. I never considered lowering my standards to make two different versions of the same product.

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About Less Litter

Less Litter is an independent company based in Laguna Beach, California. We are committed to sustainability and producing biologically-appropriate products for cats.

Limited time exclusive pre-order discount for Conscious Cat readers

For a limited time, get a 10% discount when you pre-order your Less Litter litter box. Use code consciousreader at checkout. Subscribe to the Less Litter mailing list for updates, and for a detailed explanation of our manufacturing process and cost.

For more information, please visit LessLitterEarth.com.

14 Comments on Less Litter: Curiosity Killed the Plastic With a Stainless Steel Litter Box

  1. I like the idea but my cat needs high sides all around. She doesn’t always turn around when she enters and she stands to pee.

  2. It’s too small! My senior girl has to be able to dig and cover. Which requires some moving around and a lot of moving litter around.

  3. I’ve agonized for years about disposing of plastic litter boxes too. I know stainless will work well (especially medical grade) because my last litter pan was a large stainless steamer pan, yep the same that you see at steam tables. To clean, I emptied the box first using a cup set aside for that purpose only. Once almost empty, it was easy to lift to dump remaining litter and then wash.

    I wanted to move the litter box to the bathroom but the steam pan was large so that to make the change work I got a new top entry box. Kitty likes it and readily adjusted. The box is a Japanese design from Chewy and is extremely attractive plastic.

    Since it’s new, it wouldn’t make sense to ditch it now but as soon as it reaches its’ retirement age, I will get one of these. To ensure I won’t forget I signed up for their emails. My kitty weighs just under 9 pounds and doesn’t seem to mind the round, smaller size of the top entry pan so it would seem many cats would not mind the size of this pan as long as it’s kept clean.

    With many thanks to Jackie at Less Litter for all her hard work getting this litter box off the ground–doubtless the last one we would ever need. How sad that during her inquiries so many thought Americans would settle for a lesser quality stainless than would other countries! BTW, over the years I’ve had low quality stainless kitchen sinks and high quality. There absolutely is a huge difference between the two! Another big thanks Jackie.

  4. I am in awe of the research she went to to produce this.
    And I like their explanation of the round size, how that work better for cats when they are turning around.d
    However, right now, I cannot afford it, although I know it is worth it. $235

  5. I love this litter box. I’ve been worried about plastics for a long time. But it weighs more
    than I can easily lift since the box needs cleaning and full litter replacement often.

  6. This actually is a great idea, even if it is more expensive than a plastic box. Currently, I use large, plastic storage bins as litter boxes because one of my cats is quite large and likes to urinate standing up. I’ve always considered these storage bins to be the best out of a group of not-so-great options. I may pre-order one of these and cross my fingers that my cat likes it! Question: How much does this box weigh?

  7. I really love this idea. I have been concerned about the plastic litter boxes I have used for years now. But I am just wondering about the size of this litterbox. My cat is quite tall and I am not sure if she would fit inside! I would love to photos with large cats using it.

  8. I never thought that there was anything like this out there. Now I’d hope to read reviews because I’d be ready to switch.

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