20 Ways to Re-Purpose Cat Litter Buckets

A yellow cat litter bucket and the words "20 ways to re-use kitty litter buckets"

When I grow up I might be a crazy cat lady.

Or maybe not. I currently have two house cats plus Bullet who comes and goes as he pleases, and a couple of barn cats.

Having indoor cats means I use cat litter. Bucketfuls of cat litter. I like the brand that comes in the sturdy yellow buckets. But when the bucket is empty, you have to do something with it to make room for the next bucket. Fortunately they are easy to re-use for other purposes.

If you don't have house cats, I bet you know someone who does. You might even want to ask for their empty buckets or jugs so you can try some of these ideas.

Uses for Cat Litter Buckets

1. Livestock triage kit - I keep a limited first aid kit in the horse barn which holds vet wrap, scissors, rolled cotton, a thermometer, and leg wraps. 

I keep my more-comprehensive livestock first aid kit with bottles and jars of liniment and wound care products in the house so the contents aren't exposed to freezing temperatures or extreme heat. But it's very handy to have some supplies handy where they'd be needed in an emergency.

A yellow cat litter bucket with a strip of tape labeled "kidding supplies."

2. Goat kidding kit - this bucket holds all the supplies I might need during kidding season.

3. Plant containers - I asked my husband, the Chief, to drill holes in the bottom of half a dozen buckets so I could plant in them. With the lids removed, they make great up-cycled plant containers. 

He drilled the holes along the bottom edge of the sides of the buckets so the water could drain more easily.

Are cat litter buckets food safe? Well, maybe. They have the " #2 " recycling symbol on the bottom, but not all #2 buckets are food grade. [Source] Whether you use them for vegetable plants or just for flowers is up to you.

Holes drilled in the sides and bottom of a cat litter bucket so it can be used as a planter.

4. Storage for potting soil. Much better than those messy, flimsy bags it's sold in.

5. Harvest buckets - I fill buckets with plums, apples, blackberries and veggies when it's time to harvest. The buckets have handles so it's easy to carry them around. 

They probably aren't food-grade buckets, but I use do use them for this short-term purpose. All fruits and vegetables are well washed before they are prepared for consumption, and they are only in that bucket for a short period of time.

6. Garden seat - an upside down bucket is a good spot to sit while working in the garden. They are sturdier if you sit on the bottom instead of the top. I keep my garden tools and gloves in this bucket too.

7. Pet food storage - for dog or cat food.

8. Birdseed storage - I enjoy feeding the songbirds and have two big feeders in the yard. Half a bag of birdseed will fill both feeders, but I don't like to store the rest of the birdseed in the original bag where mice can get into it. 

One of the best things about cat litter buckets is that they are mouse-proof. I set the half-full bag inside and shut the top tightly.

9. Goat minerals - I buy goat minerals by the bag, so I pour it all into a bucket for storage.

10. Water bucket - I keep a bucket filled with water in the yard for the dogs to drink. Locate it near the faucet for easy refilling.

11. Project bucket I - when we dismantled a big metal shed in return for the materials, we took two buckets with us to hold the screws, bolts and other hardware as we removed them. The buckets hold more than the zipper bags we used to use. We also took one along when we bought a used swingset.

12. Project bucket II - we use the buckets as a carry-all when we set out on a task. Hubby uses them to carry and hold the tools he'll need on a current project. I pack mine with the beekeeping items I'll need when I go to inspect my hive.

Brown and gold speckled hen in front of yellow cat litter buckets on their sides, used as nesting boxes.

13. Nest boxes in the chicken coop - this is one of my favorite uses for cat litter buckets. They are the perfect size and my hens love them. I take off the flap top but leave the edge to help keep the straw and shavings in the bucket. They're easy to clean when needed.

14. Miscellaneous storage - I have several buckets that hold the work gloves and rubber boots that our daughter and her husband use when they visit.

15. Winter wear - another bucket holds all of our scarves, mittens, winter work gloves, and so on that need to be stored over the summer.

16. Small toys such as Legos and blocks - when our youngest daughter was little she loved to play with Happy Meal® toys and Disney figures. She had quite a collection that outgrew every container we had until we gave them a bucket. The toys were lightweight and she could carry the bucket around by the handle.

How to Re-Use Cat Litter Jugs

17. Hauling water - I have several of these smaller litter containers hanging around too. I love these jugs for hauling water to the chickens, or for carrying hot water from the house to water troughs when the hose is frozen in the winter.

An empty plastic jug that held cat litter. There are many ways to re-purpose these jugs.

18. Chick grower feed in a jug can be kept right next to the brooder.

19. Car storage - cutting the top off of the jugs yields a container for small toys and necessities in the car.

20. Storing liquids - I use a jug to mix fly spray concentrate to refill the spray bottles for the horses. I keep it in the horse trailer and label it well for safety.

BONUS IDEA - I paint the jugs black and fill them with water to help heat my little greenhouse. The water-filled jugs act as a "heat sink," absorbing the sun's heat during the day and releasing it slowly at night.

Painting Your Buckets

If you wish, you can paint cat litter buckets with Krylon Fusion® spray paint for plastic, then decorate with acrylic paint. 

I used white paint on the buckets I used as plant containers and had to apply several coats to cover the logo, so a darker color might be a better choice.

I've read that you can use methyl ethyl keytone (Butanone) to remove the printed label, but I haven't tried it.

Using chalkboard paint would allow you to label the buckets; I just use duct tape instead. Contact paper is another good option for covering up the printing on the buckets if you'd rather not paint.

What would you store in cat litter buckets?

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A yellow cat litter bucket on its side used as a nesting box, with a brown hen sitting on straw inside.

Related posts:
How to Grow Potatoes in Buckets
Start a Container Garden
Our Almost-Free Recycled Shed


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