Curious about automated, self-cleaning litter boxes? Here’s the real scoop, firsthand

Guest Post by Janelle Leeson

How many different kinds of litter boxes are in your house right now? Oh us, we have three different types. Like you, we want the best for our kitties. With so many products and gadgets out there, it is hard to know what is worth the extra investment, and what is not. Lucky for you, we have spent the time and money on the fancy gadgets and can report back!

Psst: Overall recommendations are at the very end of this post.

Litter Robot

Atlas, next to the Litter Robot

The Litter Robot looks a little like a spaceship where cat poop is going to blast off to an alien planet. It’s a large rotating globe perched on top of a base with a built-in step. Complete with a blue nightlight outlining the globe for sight-impaired kitties, a panel of controls, and a user-friendly app, it’s one high tech litter box.

The Litter Robot arrived in a very large box, almost completely assembled. To set it up, we completed the light assembly, plugged it in, filled it with clumping litter, and connected it to Wi-Fi via the Litter Robot app.

We finalized our set-up by naming our Litter Robot Meowlenium Falcon.

Our cats were immediately interested in exploring the new litter box and took no extra training to begin to use it.

How does the Litter Robot Work?

The Litter Robot senses when a kitty five pounds or greater enters. Once it senses the kitty has left, it will wait a set amount of time (set by you in the app) before the globe rotates to separate the waste from the useable litter.

Only clumping litter works with the Litter Robot, however, there are great eco-friendly clumping litters! We use and love the corn based clumping litter, World’s Best Cat Litter. Clumped waste falls into the lined drawer below the globe and the useable litter is returned to the inside of the globe. Due to the almost immediate sifting of waste and return of fresh litter, our litter stays fresh for weeks.

When the waste tray becomes full, the Litter Robot app alerts you that is time to empty the tray. Additional maintenance includes a deep clean every 1 to 2 months.

Our “Meowlenium Falcon” Litter Robot with App.

The Litter Robot does need to be plugged into an electric outlet and at almost 2.5’ tall and a little over 2’ wide, it requires some space. It was initially in our living room, which was a funny talking point with guests. Though the tray below has a carbon filter, it produced a slight to moderate odor at times. We have since moved and the Litter Robot is now in a low traffic area of our upstairs master bedroom. I no longer notice an odor in this new location and the noise and length of the cycle are minimal for placement in our bedroom.

A rotating globe? Can my kitty get injured?

The Litter Robot requires a minimum kitty weight of five pounds or greater. The auto-sensing feature detects the weight of your cat, registering that your cat has entered. When your cat exits, the auto-sensing feature again detects the weight change and registers that your kitty has safety left. Once your kitty leaves and the pre-determined wait time passes, the Litter Robot begins its cleaning cycle. If your kitty re-enters during this time, this process restarts.

Kitties that do not weight five pounds or more may not be detected by the auto-sensing feature. Therefore, the Litter Robot may not know your kitty is inside and begin rotating with your kitty. Our kitties did not yet meet the weight requirement when we first installed our Litter Robot. We simply turned off the auto-sensing feature and manually initiated the globe rotation by use of the panel control or the app, supervising that our kittens were not re-entering as it turned.

When speaking to Litter Robot representatives, they informed me that a sensor fail is very rare. The sensors are designed to be ultra-sensitive and stop rotating when it detects the appropriate weight. If a sensing error does occur, the rotation of the globe takes approximately 2 – 2.5 minutes at a slow speed, allowing time for your kitty to step out safely.

(+) Low Maintenance (+) Easy Set-up (+) User-Friendly App (+) Reduces Litter Waste

(-) Cost (-) Placement Flexibility

Price tag: $499

CatGenie

Atlas using the GatGenie in the laundry room where it’s connected to the washing machine water & drainage.

The CatGenie feels like the closest we will get to our cats using the toilet and flushing, like Jinxy does in Meet the Parents. The CatGenie requires both an electrical connection and a connection to plumbing (drainage and cold water). Itis a fully automated litter box that senses your cat, flushes its waste, washes itself, and dries itself for the next use. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?

To setup the CatGenie, you follow the in-package directions to connect to the water intake hose to the cold water intake from a sink, toilet or washing machine. You will also connect the drain hose over a toilet rim or to the drain pipe that your washing machine uses [full disclosure that my partner did this part and reports that it is not complicated].

Ours is installed in our basement to the washing machine intake and drainage. CatGenie supplies you with a SaniSolution and the only form of litter to be used in the CatGenie – reusable plastic granules. CatGenie reports that the granules never need to be replaced – unless your kitty tracks too many anyway from the box!

How does the CatGenie Work?

The CatGenie autosenses your kitty using infrared sensors. You can use the app to customize the wait time before it begins its clean cycle. Once its cycle begins, liquid waste drains from the basin and solid waste is scooped out, both then disposed into your waste drainage system.

Next, the CatGenie rinses the basin and granules with the CatGenie SaniSolution, followed by a dry cycle completed by the built-in hot air drier. The entire cycle takes approximately 30 minutes.

Because of the length of each cycle and the sound associated with it, we set our CatGenie to not auto cycle after each use, but instead to cycle once per night in the middle of the night. This may have also been influenced by the “hot poop” smell experienced during the drying phase. Our cats were both very intrigued with the CatGenie when first purchased and had no issue using it just after installation.

Three months into installation however, the kitties both prefer other means of disposal. This same issue has been reported by someone who adopted of one of our foster kittens.

(+) Completely Automated (+) Dust Free (+) User-Friendly App (+) Reduces Litter Waste

(-) Cost (-) Placement Flexibility

Price tag: $399

The Classic Litter Box

Foster kitten Fiefel, using a small regular litter box with pine pellets.

The classic litter box, a simple yet effective bin to be filled with any type of litter you and your feline could desire. Not restricted by the bells and whistles of electrical outlets or plumbing, this box can be placed anywhere in your home. And for those with adventure cats, it can be taken on the road. With affordable pricing and varying sizes and designs, there is sure to be a classic litter box that will fit your kitty’s needs!

The most important benefit of a classic litter box – it allows you to see your cat’s deposits. What an odd thing to want to see, you may say. Cats are known to be very good at hiding their pain. Therefore, it is up to you to spot inconsistencies in behavior, eating… or poops and pees. If your cat is battling parasites, has a food allergy, or another aliment, you don’t want to be the last to know once your kitty is severely dehydrated or losing weight.

When picking a classic litter box, consider that the box should be large enough for your cat to comfortably enter and turn around in. Common styles include a closed dome box or an open top. I personally prefer an open top litter box with high sides for the ease of maintenance and to allow more fresh air to circulate the box.

Obviously, this kind of litter box requires constant maintenance by you. I prefer to scoop ours at least two times a day; this would be increased if we didn’t have multiple boxes in our house. A lapse in scooping will lead to an undesirable environment for both you and your cat, and will result in greater litter waste. If you are anything like my partner, this amount of maintenance was out of the question and led to high-tech scoop-free box purchases.

(+) Cost (+) Placement Flexibility (+) Poop and Pee Monitoring

(-) Maintenance

Price tag: $4-$40

Overall Recommendation

  • Only need one box and have the time to scoop? I would stick with a classic litter box that works for you. [Note from Liz – we prefer this one at the moment.]
  • One box and no time to scoop? Little Robot turned to manual once in a while so you can peek at those poops! (The Litter Robot and the CatGenie both have apps that tracks and records visits. This can alert you if you want to sneak a look at the contents and helps you note any changes in normal bathroom activities.)
  • Two litter boxes? One classic and one Litter Robot.

P.S. If you love numbers and data, I would love for you to report back on cost savings of an automated litter box over time. Have an even better litter box suggestion?! Please tell us in the comments.

Janelle Leeson is a cat mum to two resident adventure kitties and numerous cat and kitten fosters! Janelle and her furry family enjoy filling their days with hiking, kayaking, and seeking out the best cat-friendly destinations. You can follow Janelle, her adventure kitties, and adoptable fosters at @paws_pdx. You can read about their adventures and discover your own next cat-friendly destination at Paws PDX Travels.

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Editor’s Note: This is not a sponsored post or compensated review. Some Amazon affiliate links are included.

2 Responses to Curious about automated, self-cleaning litter boxes? Here’s the real scoop, firsthand

  1. Bev Klinghesse March 21, 2021 at 8:27 am #

    Nature’s Miracle high-sided “classic” open box. The cut-out in the front makes it easy for Pippi to step in; the high sides make it easy for me to contain flying litter. I have one in the laundry room and another in the bathroom. Aesthetics aren’t an issue with me—I WANT to see Pippi’s poop and pee.

    Covered boxes, no matter how techno, remind me of Port-a-Potties🤷🏽‍♀️.

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