Story: The litter box does not contain treats!

As the old joke goes, “When is a door not a door?” Answer: “When it’s ajar.”

In our house the doors to two of our bathrooms and to the basement are kept ajar because that’s where we keep the cat’s litter boxes.

However, as many of you know who share your lives with dogs and cats, there is something about the tasty little “gifts” left in litter boxes that can be quite attractive to some, let’s call it, taste-impaired dogs.


We use World’s Best Cat Litter, which is made of corn as opposed to clay, and I’m guessing that just makes those poo-snacks seem even tempting when covered in a crunchy coating of corn litter–kind of like ice cream with your favorite crunchy topping. Both Jasper and Tucker will lick up the few stray litter bits that sometimes wind up outside the box.


Dog kisses aren’t as much fun when you know exactly where that tongue has been.

And yuck again.

Thus, we’ve had to devise ways to keep the doors open just enough to let a cat through, but not enough for a dog to slip his way in. It’s always a “he” we’re talking about, as smart Lilah has no interest.

At first we solved the problem by putting a brick or a box in between door and jamb in the various litter-box-containing rooms. This held the door open exactly one cat-width (in standard measure), and prevented it from opening to a dog width (based on the narrowest dog ) with a length of decorative chain. This worked for a very long time.

Until one day when we were away, Tucker must have had the munchies, and he dug at the door in the laundry room bathroom and muscled his way in, tearing the chain from the door jamb.

Thus began a series of escalating adaptations, as we tried to keep Tucker out, but allow the cats in. Tucker, having had a taste(!) of victory, figured if he just tried hard enough, he’d pull the chain off again. The edge of laundry room bathroom door started sporting tooth and claw marks–evidence of Tucker’s many attempts. He succeeded more than a few times.

Those were the days we instituted a “no kisses from Tucker” rule.

Then I discovered product actually designed for the issue called the Peek a Boo Pet Latch.

We bought a few and tried one out, and were thrilled to see that it worked. Tucker could not get past it, as it was very securely attached, and much stronger than the decorative chain. Plus, we no longer needed bricks or boxes, since the device itself kept the door a open just the right amount.

Peek a Boo Pet Latch

The latch.

Last week, when my husband and I were both home no less–Tucker decided he needed one of those special cat-food flavored treats Right Now. And if there’s one thing that’s true about terriers, it’s that they are persistent. As in, they don’t give up easily. As in, if at first you don’t succeed, try until you destroy the house.


The first I knew something was amiss was when Tucker greeted me at the bottom of the stairs by tossing an emptied and gnawed-upon treat bag at my feet. He looked up at me and wagged softly. “Here it is!”

Emptied treat bag

The treat bag was emptied completely, and turned inside out.

At first I thought  I must have left it within in dog snout reach. Shame on me; I wouldn’t blame him for going for the treats.

My usual three-dog posse followed my to the laundry room where I normally store the bag to see if I could figure out what happened.

That’s when I realized the treat bag wasn’t the real crime.

Laundry room bathroom door with damage

The door is chewed and clawed to bits. You can also see a bit of lip balm that I had kept in the treat bag. At least Tucker didn’t eat that. You’ll notice the latch still held.

The latch had worked; Tucker was unable to get into the bathroom. But he certainly tried his terrier best.

My guess was in trying to chew and claw through the doorway, he fortuitously pulled down the treat bag, which hangs on a series of hooks with the leashes to the left of the door.  Satisfied with his accomplishment, Tucker must have trotted off with his prize to consume every last molecule and quark left in the bag.

Here’s a close up of Tucker’s handiwork (pawdiwork?).

Shredded door close up

If you look carefully, you can see bits of Tucker’s fur still stuck to the door.

Then ever-curious Calvin came by to inspect.

Cat inspects damaged door.

What happened here?

I’ve read the studies about how dogs don’t feel guilt. I know that when they give you that hang-dog, sorrowful look, it’s really a reaction either to the human’s tone of voice or body language (“What did you do?” “Who did this?”) or memories of previous times there was a bad reaction. (The last time there was a shredded shoe, Mom was very angry.)

So it didn’t surprise me that Tucker showed up to see what was going on.

Calvin snuggles Tucker

Jeez, buddy, that was mad damage you did there!

Though I could almost convince myself that Calvin was consoling him.

And I didn’t scold Tucker. He would have had no clue what that was about. I just needed a way to remove the temptation.

So, until we get a steel door (one option) or come up with a way to make a cat door as entrance to the bathroom (with the litter box kept in a cabinet under the sink–another option), we had to improvise.

We keep several gates in the basement, and they come in handy for traffic control on occassion. In this case, we put one about 8 inches off the floor between the kitchen and the laundry room, so cats can get through, but dogs cannot.

A gate keeps the dogs out of the laundry room

Lilah, Jasper and Tucker inspect the blockade.


Calvin demonstrates how he can go under the gate.

Calvin demonstrates how cats can get through…


Tucker inspects the gate

…and Tucker demonstrates how he cannot.

We’ve won this round, for now. It’s a bit inconvenient, but until we solve the problem more permanently, we’ll put the gate up any time the dogs are unsupervised.

As for Tucker? I have to convince him that apples, carrots and bananas are better snacks than litter-coated cat poo.

I hope that won’t be too hard.

Tucker and Jasper look under the gate.

Tucker and Jasper peer longingly underneath the gate.


How have your pets gotten into trouble–and how have you prevented it from happening again? And if anyone has any great ideas on  how to solve ours, please comment!


This post is part of the Monday Mischief blog hop–and this time it was real mischief. Don’t forget to visit some of the other great blogs below who are also participating.


25 Comments on "Story: The litter box does not contain treats!"

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  1. Holy cow, bad Tucker. LOL. I hope the gate works out. I had a dog a lot of years back along with a cat. We cut a small cat size opening in the door to the laundry room. That worked good.

  2. Misaki says:

    OMD! Can’t believe he would go that far to get to the cat tray. Hope the new plan works

  3. There’s something about those treats with “sprinkles” from the cat box that some dogs cannot resist. Tucker sure did a job on that door. Wow!

  4. I got a kick out of this post but sorry about what you had to go through! As you know, I have a cat and a dog and have always kept the cat litter behind a baby gate to avoid just what you had to experience. Cody “shares” a bathroom with me, he has an enclosed litter box and there is a baby gate in the hallway leading to the bathroom so that Dakota can’t get to it. We have used World’s Best for years (actually, I was one of their “Catvocates” last year), I might be switching because their size of bags has GREATLY reduced while their prices have gone UP. Plus, I am not thrilled about their “Crazy Cat Lady” campaign

    • Hey, dogs are dogs, and I knew exactly what I was getting into when I adopted a terrier. If I can’t laugh–and share the laughter–then I wouldn’t surround myself with furry, amusing and non-human creatures. Glad you enjoyed the post.

  5. Sue says:

    WOW. I can’t imagine what might work since he’s so determined. You don’t think he’ll destroy a cat door? :-0

  6. slimdoggy says:

    Oh dear, what a mess. No cats here, so I don’t have that issue – i think that latch was a great idea, too bad Tucker had other ideas about it. I think metal door…

    • Yeah, we’re thinking metal. And a cat door. And I think a little more tuckering out, too. I have a feeling it’s also about boredom. A tired dog is a good dog. So maybe if we do some serious ball-playing right before we leave, he might be less inclined to go exploring and excavating. One can hope. 😉

  7. Oh Terriers. We don’t have cats (and the dogs are smaller than most cats so most cat-proofing ideas wouldn’t work anyway) so no ideas here. Not that I have a great desire to but it’s an additional reason why we don’t keep small animals in the house. I could just see Mr. N chewing through a door (or learning to open them!) to get at mice or hamsters.

  8. Oh my gosh – sorry but that is too funny! I like the idea of the gate high enough to keep the pups out but the cat can still get through.

    Oh the things our pets do! 🙂

  9. Wow, what a story! That Tucker is a mess! MOL! We don’t have any dogs (yet), so we haven’t experienced this problem. Good to know there are products like that special latch out there for when the times does come for us to add a woofie to the family.

  10. Whoa! That is some serious mischief, or trouble! I thought the latch was a great idea but knowing my Doxie tenacity I can sympathize with Tucker. I confess to having a taste for those litter box treats but my excuse is that I was still a puppy. Dad built a stand in the back porch to put the litter box on that was too high for my short Doxie legs. Love Dolly.

  11. Sandy says:

    Oh no. I’m sorry. Not sure if this is any better than your gate, but I have one of these gates to keep the rabbit and cat apart
    Rabbits are notorious chewers so I didn’t want a wooden gate. Depending on how you set it up, a cat could go under or jump over.
    p.s. In our house, the rabbit will chase the cat out if the cat goes into his room (because the cat wants to eat his hay and then throw up).

  12. Wow! That is very persistent! We use baby gates for our bedroom and the hall leading to our other bedrooms. They boys know that they aren’t allowed behind the gates. Bentley can knock them down when he really wants to but unless Pierre is getting a bath, he doesn’t bother. Our bedroom is only gated while Pierre lives with us. He gets under our bed and taunts Bentley because he doesn’t fit under the bed! Haha! When Pierre gets in his kennel for bed, the gate comes down since Bentley’s bed in next to ours. Good luck!

  13. kolytyi says:

    Perhaps a strongbox as litter box? 🙂

  14. Great mischief Tucker! That was impressive buddy – you sure are tenacious!

    How annoying that they’ve put the gate up now – doh!

    My Mum wonders whether the cat litter boxes can be put up somewhere high that the cats can get to but you can’t? But I’m not gonna share that as I’m on your side! 🙂

    I hope you’re having a fun day,

    Your pal Snoopy 🙂

  15. 2 Punk Dogs says:

    We have a 6″ hook and eye on the doors to 4 rooms. It works about the same as the Pet Latch but they were under $4 each at Home Depot – which has cat doors starting at around $20. They seem to have better prices than a lot of pet places.
    I would definitely go with a steel door and put a cat door in it. You can cut through the steel with a bi-metal jigsaw blade. Here’s a link –
    Good luck!

  16. life’s kind of unfair to us dogs 😛

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