To fit in with the home, owners seek a design for kitty necessity.
KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS
Ever notice what's noticeably absent on the pages of your favorite shelter magazine?
Just where, in those beautifully appointed homes, are the kitty litter boxes?
And just what are those of us who don't grace the pages of glossy magazines supposed to do with these necessary but ugly and occasionally unpleasant fixtures?
About 73 million cats deign to live in homes in the United States. Where there are cats, there must be litter boxes.
But just how to reconcile an unsightly litter box with arts and crafts, modern or any sort of decor is one of the great mysteries of the universe.
It so bugged cartoonist Scott Adams that he has included a litter box room in the virtual house he created for his Dilbert character.
Award-winning contractor Kacey Fitzpatrick included a "cat zoo" room with special venting for the litter box when she remodeled her Los Altos, Calif., home.
San Jose, Calif., veterinarian Dr. Jill Hoffman had a woodworker construct a custom cabinet to house her litter boxes, complete with built-in storage and a place for food and water on top, not to mention the step that enables her "fat cats" to get to their meals.
"My custom-built cabinet is pretty neat," she says.
Litter boxes annoy the rest of us enough that there is a thriving business in litter-box decor.
Former San Franciscan Barbara Cartun, whose feline furniture company is based in Bisbee, Ariz., has sold about 6,000 of her custom cabinets in the last five years.
One of her top-of-the-line cabinets costs $650, complete with stained glass window.
James Harris has two shops working in the Los Angeles area, turning out as many as 80 wooden litter box cabinets a month.
In yet another measure of desperation for those of us with cats, one company is offering a litter box cover masquerading as a planter.
Home decor, it turns out, is capable of thinking outside the box.