How to build a cat litter mat
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A while back my sister and her partner asked me to help them find a solution for the cat litter that falls out of their cat’s litter box. Often after the cat does its business some of the cat litter sticks to its paws. As the cat walks out of the litter box the litter gets spread in the area in front of the litter box.

There are some existing products that help deal with this, such as rubber or fabric litter mats, but they seem to have their own issues. Most noticeably the mats either start smelling after a while, do not hold on to the litter well (causing the loose litter still to be spread around), or hold on to the litter so well that the mats are hard to clean.

To solve this problem I set out to design a better product that contains the litter in an area separate from where the cat steps, that is able to be cleaned easily and at a low frequency, and that is built for long term use.

A 3D printed DIY cat litter mat on a wooden surface.
The 3D printed mat that gets placed in front of the litter box.

The 3D printed mat consists of two components. The first is a generic serving tray that purchased for this project in a local store, the second is a 3D printed grid that is used by the cat to walk on. The litter drops from the cat’s paws through the holes of the grid onto the serving tray. The grid elements have been designed to be wide enough to not hurt the cat’s paws, and narrow enough so that there is enough space for any common size litter to fall through the holes.

So that you can prevent litter from spreading around your house, I have described how to build the DIY cat litter mat below, as well as the materials and tools that are required.

How to make the 3D printed cat litter tray

What you’ll need

Tool icon Tools
Gorilla Dual Temp Mini Hot Glue Gun Kit with 30 Hot Glue Sticks, (Pack of...
22,049 Reviews
Wellmax 16PC Metal Spring Clamps Set, Heavy Duty Clips for Clamp...
271 Reviews
Saw or Rotary Tool
Part icon Parts
Serving Tray
Approx. 40 x 30 cm / 16″ x 12″ with rounded corners
Steel Nails
~1.5-1.8 mm / 1/16″ in diameter
x 12
3D print icon 3D Printed Parts
Left Grid
x 2
Middle Grid
x 2
Right Grid
x 2

Step-by-step

Top view of a 3D model of a 3D printable cat litter mat.
I started this project by designing the cat litter mat in Blender.
A 3D model of an upside-down grid with feet.
The bottom of one of the 3D printed grid elements. Visible are the spikes that distribute the weight of the cat and the grooves along the edges into which the steel nails are glued that hold the six printed elements together.
Top view of six grey and white 3D printed grid pieces, a handful of steel rivets and a handful of thin red bars on a wooden surface.
An overview of all parts. I initially 3D printed thin red bars that I wanted to use to attach all six elements to each other. The plastic turned out to be too flexible so I went with the steel nails (rivets that I cut the head off) instead.
A brown serving tray.
The serving tray that I used as a base.
Two hands holding a Dremel rotary tool which is used to cut the head off of a steel rivet.
Here I cut the rivets into 18 mm long nails that fit in the grooves of the printed pieces. It would probably be more cost efficient to just use regular nails but rivets were the only thing I had at hand.
Two small clamps holding together two 3D printed grid elements.
The setup I used to glue the grid elements together using hot glue. I used the red beams to help align the grid elements.
A hand holding a knife to remove excess hot glue from a grey and white 3D printed grid assembly.
After gluing the nails in place any excess hot glue can be removed from the bottom of the grid with a knife.
Top view of the bottom of a 3D printed cat litter mat.
The completed grid with all nails glued in place.
Side view of a custom 3D printed grey and white cat litter mat that has been placed upside down on a wooden floor.
Gluing the grid on a flat surface ensures it is perfectly flat.
A DIY cat litter mat placed in front of a cat litter box in the corner of a room with white and green walls.
The DIY cat litter mat can now be put to use by placing the grid on top of the serving tray and setting it in front of the litter box.

Conclusion

The feedback I got from my sister on the litter mat has been positive. The litter mat collects the litter well, it is easy to clean and does not hold smells.

I might want to revisit this project at a later point to make a version that is easier to use for others. The nail system to connect the grid elements is a bit elaborate and can be substituted with some kind of interlocking system. Customizable dimensions using OpenSCAD are something I would like to add as well.

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