Automatic litter boxes let you avoid the most unpleasant part of cat ownership: scooping out the cat box. Some models, like the Litter Robot, sell for over $300, but the SmartScoop Automatic Litter Box is a self-cleaning model that sells for less than $150, including six month's worth of supplies. Just add your favorite scooping litter and you're good to go.
The SmartScoop automatic litter box comes unassembled, but don't let that scare you. I'm not mechanically inclined, but my husband was out of town when it arrived so, after my initial panic, I had it put together and working in less than 15 minutes.
The SmartScoop litter box comes with literally everything you need, other than cat litter. You get the box itself, six odor-fighting carbon filters, 24 no-touch liner bags for the waste compartment, a ramp and a litter-catching mat. These supplies will keep you going for six months, and you can substitute home garbage bags for the liners.
I usually use crystal cat litter, but you need a clumping product for the SmartScoop because of the way it works. The automatic rake moves poop and pee clumps into the waste compartment. My cats are flexible, so switching one of our multiple boxes over to clumping litter was no problem.
I didn't use the ramp, since I knew my cats would easily jump in and out of the litter box, but I used the mat and it was a big help for preventing litter tracking.
My four indoor cats are infinitely curious, so they crowded around as soon as I moved the SmartScoop into place. Like all automatic litter boxes, it needs to be close to an electrical outlet so it can be plugged in. Alas, my cats thought it was a playground and proceeded to play and dig in the litter without doing their business. I left the box, hoping they'd eventually use it for its proper purpose.
I don't know who took the plunge first, but while I was working in the family room, I heard the SmartScoop kick into action. I rushed into the foyer to watch how it works. Basically, the rake moves the entire length of the litter box, then moves up over the waste receptacle and tilts, which drops the waste product into the waiting compartment. The motor is on the outside of the litter box, and the rake is sturdy metal, which seems like a durable arrangement. It's hard to describe, but it's a fascinating process.
The motor is somewhat noisy. This didn't bother me because it was located in an out-of-the-way area, but it might bother you if you put it close to a bedroom and are a light sleeper.
The SmartScoop worked admirably, kicking into action after each kitty potty break. The unit has a sensor and timer that starts it up after a certain amount of time elapses so it doesn't start raking while still in use. I loved the fast cleaning action, and the waste container was simple to empty without touching the used the litter.
The only bad part of the unit's operation is that the rake does not cover the entire litter box. It misses the area at the very edge, and of course that's the spot where one of my cats loves to perch. The rake kept the rest of the box neat and clean, but I had to manually scoop out the edge. Occasionally a few little clumps got stuck to the rack, so I cleaned those off periodically, too.
Although they took to the SmartScoop right away, my cats were a bit confused when the box kicked into gear to do its thing. They ran over to watch it when they heard the motor, and one of them even batted the rake. They found the box's motion infinitely fascinating; if you have an overly sensitive cat, the sound and motion might possibly make her frightened of the box.
Pros and Cons
Overall, the SmartScoop is well worth the price if you're sick of cat box duty. I've tried various manual litter boxes, and nothing beats the convenience of automatic.
This box is also great for people with fussy cats who prefer to use an unsullied box. Here is a quick summary of the main pros and cons:
- Reasonable cost for an automatic box
- Easy to assemble
- Easy to empty
- Prevents odors
- Keeps box constantly clean for fussy cats
- Misses the edge of the box
- Too noisy for bedroom if you're a light sleeper
- Sound and motion might spook sensitive cats
I recommend this product if you want to try an automatic litter box but don't want to break the budget.