A Self-Cleaning Litter Box – Our Take

Written by: Chris Wadsworth

A Clean Litter Box – Without The Trouble

A self-cleaning litter box can save you time and the trouble of cleaning a litter box. This type of litter box may also keep the litter box area cleaner and smelling better.

Self-Cleaning Litter BoxIt’s hard to feel like your home is as clean as it could be if you have a smelly and dirty area surrounding your cat’s litter box. Could a self-cleaning litter box help? Hmmm . . . Here is our take.

A self-cleaning litter box is every cat owner’s dream. However, as delightful as this sounds there are things to consider and you may even conclude that a self-cleaning litter box is not a perrrfect fit for your feline friend.

Here are the pros and cons to help you decide if it would be a hit or miss in your home.

If you love your cat, but don’t like the stink and mess of cat litter, a self-cleaning litter box might be the right choice for your home. And it’s not just you who will appreciate this change: cats, fastidious in their habits, will usually be fans of the increased cleanliness in self-cleaning litter boxes. Some cats, however, will be put off by the mechanisms that make them function.

Let’s do a review of how they function.

The Mechanics of a Self-Cleaning Litter Box

Self-cleaning litter boxes come equipped with a method of detecting when your cat is in the litter box—either a motion or weight sensor. A few minutes after your cat has finished their business in the litter box and departed, the self-cleaning litter box will rake the litter and deposit any clumps in a separate compartment. Some units will rotate to separate the waste. The compartment with all the waste is enclosed in its own separate container so this cuts down on the smell. Some self-cleaning litter boxes utilize special litter, and others are designed to work with what is already in common use.

Some owners complain that the mechanisms used for separating the clean litter from the dirty litter can jam or break, but in general, the litter boxes seem to work well based on our observations of reviews.

The Pros for A Self-Cleaning Litter Box

  • Significantly reduces the stinky smell in the area around the litter box.
  • You do not need to deal with litter on a daily basis.
  • Easier disposal of waste than scooping through and sifting litter. Note that you’ll still have to empty the compartment of the waste eventually. So you haven’t escaped dealing with the litter box entirely.

The Cons for A Self-Cleaning Litter Box

The initial cost of the litter box will be higher than a simple plastic tray. The price for self-cleaning litter boxes start in the low one hundred dollar range and then go into the hundreds. Some self-cleaning litter boxes also require that you purchase disposable trays and special litter.

Some cats will find the movement a bit alarming—even though they’re not inside when the raking occurs — and may be reluctant to use the self-cleaning litter box. Keep in mind that cats are often change-averse, so an ease-in period may be necessary.

The clean-up process after your cat uses the facilities can be a bit loud, which can be bothersome to cats and owners alike, particularly if the cleaning occurs in the late hours of the evening.

Here are some things to consider when making a selection for your own self-cleaning litter box.

The Dimensions of the Waste Compartment

This is very important because the bigger the waste compartment is the longer without scooping the litter box. When the waste compartment is small you will need to empty it every 2 or 3 days or maybe every day with 2 or more cats. It may not be worth it.

How the System Handles Urine

Liquids are not easy to contain and collect. When a cat urinates a lot, the automatic litter box needs to have a system capable of handling the urine and collecting the litter clumps efficiently.

Level of Contact with Cat Waste

The best automatic litter box will require you to have a minimum contact with waste, so get a machine that doesn’t require extra manual scooping.

Litter Requirements

You may need to change the type of litter when getting a self-cleaning litter box in case the unit requires a different type of litter than what your cat currently uses.

Supplies

Some self-cleaning litter boxes need you to buy specific supplies from the manufacturer for the unit to operate. Check specifically for this so that there are no surprises later.

Level of Noise

If a motor is too noisy it will not only bother your cat but it will bother you as well. Some cats are really skittish and may reject the litter box only due to its noise. Consider the noise level especially if you are going to place the unit close to your bedroom.

Deep Clean Washing

When it comes to clean the unit we expect all parts to be removable for washing. Some units have built-in pieces that can’t be cleaned easily. Consider this point if you really like to deep wash the litter box.

The Robot 3 Open-Air

We like the features of this self-cleaning litter box and suggest you check it out because it has many features. As you research this self-cleaning litter box you will gain insights into what you may desire. The unit provides you with an excellent list of things to consider for your own self-cleaning litter box. We have provided a link to this product on Amazon below.

Pros for the Robot 3 Open-Air

  • Very easy to set up, it comes fully assembled
  • By all account (reviews) it works reliably and effectively
  • The litter area is made from thick rubber that handles the cat’s scratching and digging
  • Adjustable wait time for a cleaning cycle (3, 7 or 15 minutes)
  • Full light indicator to empty the waste drawer
  • Better odor control with vents and charcoal filter on waste drawer
  • Larger new design suitable for bigger breed cats
  • The unit can be filled with litter directly through the entryway
  • Blue LED night light helps cat to use the litter box at night
  • Self-adjusting sensor allows the unit to work reliably on any floor and with any cat’s weight (over 5 lbs)
  • Sleep mode allows you to stop the unit from operating at night
  • No rakes to clean and no clogs
  • Easy to change litter with a push of a button
  • Well designed sifting system does not get anything stuck on the bottom or walls
  • You can use any 8-13 Gal trash bag to dispose the waste
  • It saves in cat litter up to 50%
  • Cleaning cycles by a push of a button
  • Suitable for multiple cats
  • Easy to clean as it has a large opening
  • Reset button allows you to restart the unit to keep it working normally
  • Option to upgrade to a Wi-Fi Smart version, the Litter Robot “Connect”

Cons for the Robot 3 Open-Air

  • The unit is big and bulky
  • Panel doesn’t show the current wait time (3, 7 or 15 min) so there’s not a way to check the new wait time if you decide to change it.
  • Litter amount is very specific so you need to trial and error a little bit to get the exact amount (12 to 13 cups is our take)
  • High price
  • It’s hard to keep track of your cat elimination habits since you will always see the litter box clean (note: you can keep track of your cat’s health by getting the Litter Robot Connect Wi-Fi that provides a daily, weekly and monthly chart of your cat litter box usage. You can check these reports on your smartphone and you can control pretty much all the functions of the Litter Robot with the App.

Link to this self-cleaning litter box on Amazon

You need to do your own research to find a self-cleaning litter box that is right for you and your cat. We hope that this blog post helps you with that decision. We are often asked for our take on self-cleaning litter boxes when we discuss how to keep a client’s home as clean as possible and decided to write this post.

If you are in need of a cleaning service and your home or office is located in the Upper Valley then give A Clean Vision a call at 802-295-6065 or use our online contact form.

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