Out of the many self-scooping litter boxes on the market, the Litter Robot cleans itself with a unique motion that makes it more efficient. Instead of relying on a rake that moves through a traditionally shaped box, the Litter Robot is a globe that looks like something from Star Wars. The globe rotates to produce pristine litter, with waste waiting in a drawer for disposal.
Old Cats Learn New Tricks
Although I've owned cats for decades and have seen ads for various automatic litter boxes, I've stuck to the traditional method of hand scooping. I've tried other non-automatic box styles, but nothing fancy.
Most automatic boxes work by having a rake that moves through the litter, picking up poop and pee clumps and depositing them in a holding receptacle. It's a sound principle, but the boxes tend to have mixed reviews.
Then, along came an entirely new concept called the Litter Robot. Unlike raking boxes, this contraption has a globe that slowly spins a few minutes after your cat uses it, depositing the mess into a drawer. The rotation makes the sifting work efficiently, with no clumps left behind like some of the raking models.
When the makers of the Litter Robot offered me an evaluation unit, I was eager to see how my cats would take to it. I had a special challenge; the Litter Robot is designed for average-sized cats, and three out of my four are around 20 pounds. Thus, I'd be able to evaluate two things: how well the Litter Robot works and if my "big boys" would even try it.
Curiosity Lures the Cat
My husband was able to assemble the Litter Robot within 10 minutes. It comes with bags and filters for the waste drawer; all you need to add is your favorite clumping litter. My cats are used to crystal litter, but they're also very adaptable, so I knew the litter change wouldn't deter them.
We put the Litter Robot in a closet where we'd previously had one of their regular boxes and shifted the other box into the adjacent bathroom. The automatic box needs to go in a spot with an easily accessible electrical outlet.
You can encourage your cats to use the Litter Robot by completely removing other boxes, but I knew that wouldn't be necessary. Sure enough, three of the four cats were soon lurking around, trying to figure out this new space age contraption.
Within minutes, our biggest cat, Farquaad, hauled his 20-pound body into the globe. He didn't actually use the box, but he did dig around. Then SheiKra, our normal-sized cat, jumped in and sniffed around, but didn't use the box. Stitch hung out in the area but didn't get up close and personal like the other two.
I noticed that the cats jumped into the globe rather than stepping on the step to go in, which also starts the self-cleaning timer. I had the box unplugged anyway, since I wanted to control the timing so it wouldn't freak them out when they first saw the cleaning cycle. I left it unplugged and went about my normal business, figuring I'd check it later.
That evening I discovered that someone (likely SheiKra) was using the Litter Robot. I cycled it, and the sifting worked perfectly. SheiKra came around to see what was happening, and although he stared rather oddly at the slowly spinning globe, it didn't deter his use. The Litter Robot became his personal litter box; I think he liked the fact that the others didn't really fit in it, so he had an exclusive "potty place."
I started leaving the Litter Robot plugged in, and sometimes SheiKra would trigger it on the step, while he'd just jump in at other times. Not a big deal, as I simply cycled the unit manually by unplugging/plugging it in when I noticed it was used.
My crazy feral cat started using the Litter Robot, too, but alas, not in the traditional way. We leave a water bowel in the upstairs bathroom for him, and he likes to play in it. He decided he also likes to use the Litter Robot as a sandbox, and he has even more fun doing it when his paws are wet so he can track the clumping litter.
Easy to Use, Easy to Clean
I was extremely impressed with the Litter Robot's ease of use. Emptying it is as simple as pulling out the drawer and removing/replacing the bag. The drawer has little holders that keep the bag stretched out so the waste falls inside of it. You can buy the company's bags or use small garbage bags. The drawer itself is plastic, so I like to wipe it out and spray it with an odor killer, just in case.
The Litter Robot is also amazingly quiet. I put it in a bathroom that is attached to my bedroom, and it never even made me stir in my sleep overnight.
The only downsides of the Litter Robot are its price (over $300) and the fact that it doesn't accommodate plus-sized cats. The price is not so bad, though, when you realize that it's more reliable than cheaper boxes with rakes that can get stuck or break.
The Litter Robot comes with an 18 month warranty and a 90-day money-back guarantee, but we never experienced any mechanical issues with the Litter Robot and were fully satisfied with its performance. The only glitch was SheiKra's stubborn refusal to use the step that triggers the cleaning cycle, but even the best-designed product can't factor in every cat quirk.