Eating cat feces isn't good for your dog but it is more disgusting than harmful. Cat litter, on the other hand, is dangerous. The cat litter can cause bowel obstruction with potentially fatal consequences. Talk to your vet about the degree of risk.
Keeping the dog out of the cat box is important. Here are methods I have used or have seen being used:
1. Put cat box in bathroom. Install cat door in bathroom door. Keep bathroom door closed. (similar with other rooms or large closets) If the puppy/dog is small enough to fit through a cat door use the kind of cat door with a magnetic catch that is released by a special collar on the cat.
2. Build a "cat run" in the garage. Put cat box in it. Install cat door to connect inside house to inside of "cat run." In the newspaper article the people installed a cat door in the wall between the house and the garage - then built a "cat run" in the garage to keep the cat from roaming the garage, getting into the car engiine (nice and warm) or getting out and getting squished. The cat run had a large door to access and service the cat box. They disguised the cat door by putting a nice picture on it and similiar styled pictures in a vertical line on the wall about the opening - very nice.
3. Get "cat play pen" (large cage with an upper and lower door) Put cat box on floor of cage, leave upper door open, keep lower door closed. Most dogs can't jump well enough to jump up to the upper door and into the cat play pen. Be sure to fasten a towel, rug or something to the front of the cage so that the cat can't get a paw stuck in the bars.
4. Build a carpeted play structure. High up put a boxed in platform. Put the cat box on the platform. My sister used to have hers in an upper cabinet with access via carpeted climbing tree.
5. Get an extra large crate. Put cat box inside. Make a screen or modify the door so that the cat can get in and the dog can't. (a) PVC pipe "bars" can be narrow enough to easily admit the cat, but not the dog (b) install a cat door (e.g. replace the door of the crate with a plexi-glass door with a cat door set in it.).
6. Get a covered cat box. Place it behind some heavy furniture with the opening just a little way away from the wall. The kind that has a "hood" over the opening seems to be better at keeping the dog out. Consider using rubber cords or otherwise fastening the top and bottom together to keep the dog from pulling the hood off.
7. Install a "baby gate" or other barrier across door of the room where the cat box is kept.
8. Use a chain lock or other device to keep the door to the room with the cat box from opening wide enough for the dog, but be sure the door is propped open enough the cat can slip inside.
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