ScoopFree Automatic Cat Litter Box


09/09/06 Update: See comments at bottom of review in Red.

I’m a cat person, who turned into a dog person, and who is now a dog person trapped inside a cat person’s body. I know that was kinda hard to follow, so let me try to explain… When I was a kid, I was 100% a cat person. This is probably because we never had a dog the whole time I was growing up. We had a big Black and Grey tiger striped cat named Pepper. He was an outdoor cat that only came inside to eat and hang out. At night, he went right back outside; we didn’t have a litter box for him in the house.

Later when I moved out into my own house, I got a Pembroke Welsh Corgi puppy and I promptly turned into a dog person. Kasey lived inside and only went outside for potty breaks, walks and play time. Fifteen year old Kasey had to be put down last August. :o( Although I’m still not over it, my cat Max has turned into the surrogate dog. Normally he sleeps in the garage at night, and comes into the house to just hang out for awhile. Well, that changed this past winter when it got really cold out and my roomie moved him in, litter box and all, while I was away on a business trip.

It was nice to have a pet back in the house, but it wasn’t so nice to have the chore of cleaning the litter box every night when I came home from work. It was equally less fun to tromp out into the woods to dump the clumps. So, it was natural for me to start wondering about automatic litter boxes. That wonder turned into a request, when the folks at PetGadgets.com contacted me to add their site to one of our links pages. I said sure and then asked if they might be interested in me writing a review of their ScoopFree Automatic Litter Box that they were selling on their site. I was intrigued by the sales blurb that hyped the fact that this litter box would require no human intervention for up to 30 days! Wow! They agreed to allowing me to write the review and now here’s the rest of the story…

One day the product arrived in a big box, containing everything needed to get started.

Package Contents

ScoopFree Automatic litter box
Fresh Step litter cartridge with 3lbs of Fresh Step crystals
AC adapter
Instruction sheet

My first surprise was the fact that the ScoopFree litter box wasn’t a litter box at all, but an open frame made of heavy plastic. This frame sits on top of a cardboard litter cartridge (tray). This was my 2nd surprise. I wasn’t convinced that a cardboard tray would be able to hold up to 30 days of my cat doing number 1 in it.

The tray is a 14.5 x 22 inch rectangle that is 2.5 inches deep. One end of the tray has a 5 inch wide lid that is attached to it. This is the area where all the solid waste is kept. Eeeeeew ;o) The top of this lid has two magnets affixed to the top. A cover that fits over the entire tray is also included. You place this cover under the tray and spread the included litter inside the tray.

The ScoopFree cartridges use Fresh Step crystal litter. Nope, you can not use other types such as clay, or clumping litter with this box. You MUST use the Fresh Step crystals. The crystals are made of silica gel, a porous substance that quickly traps liquid and then allows it to evaporate.

I’ve never used Fresh Step litter. I always have purchased generic clumping litter in big plastic buckets at SAM’S club. The Fresh Step crystals are bright aqua blue and look like they be more at home at the bottom of a fish tank, instead of at the bottom of a litter box. I was happy with the fact that this style of litter is virtually dust free. Not like the stuff I normally use, which sends up clouds of dust when you are trying to clean the box.

Once the litter is spread around the tray, you can then put the litter box frame on top of it. The purple angled part goes over the solid waste end of the tray. Then it’s just a matter of plugging in the AC adapter. You can then test the cleaning action by pressing the button on the back right corner of the unit. Doing so will start the metal comb moving from the back end of the tray, to the front end (solid waste end) and back. No, you will not need to manually press this button after every time your cat does his business. That’s the whole point, it’s automatic. The box has sensors that can tell when the cat is in the box. 20 minutes after the cat leaves, the comb will automatically clean the box. Easy! Then after about 30 days, you just lift up the frame, put the lid on the cartridge and toss it in the trash.

Sounds wonderful right? I thought so. I set up the box in the same area that the other box had been, removed the other box and thought life would be perfect from that moment forward. Yes, I’m a die hard optimist… I grabbed Max, stuck him in the box, made his paws rake the litter and thought that would be all that would be needed for me to do. Fast forward about 2 months later… Max has yet to use the box! Stubborn mule… I mean cat!

Trust me, I have tried everything to get him to use it. I followed the advice on the little leaflet manual that came with the box. The first tip was to leave the regular litter box in the same room, but don’t clean it. Eventually the cat will go find the ScoopFree box and use it instead. Well, I did that for about a week and then tried tip #2 don’t replenish the litter in the old box as you clean it. So when the box gets empty, the cat will use the new box. Nope, didn’t work. Tip #3, Put a few handfuls of regular litter on top of the Fresh Step crystals. That didn’t help either. All Max would do would be to go in the room, look at the box and then walk out. He refused to use it even once. I would put him in the box, and he’d hop back out and just go to the door to be let outside.

See it in action…


Click on image to play the QuickTime video (1:30sec,
3.2mb). The video is encoded in the H.264 codec. You will need the latest version of
Quicktime to view it. VLC is another free viewer. .

Although my cat never did use the ScoopFree Automatic Litter Box, I can comment on the construction and value of this product. First of all, it is made well, the plastic is heavy duty and the metal comb appears to be equally rugged.

Value may be harder to speak about. First of all, the box with one litter cartridge will run you $139.95. Cartridge refills are approximately $50 for 3 and $90 for 6. So, for $230, you will have 7 months cat box cleaning freedom. Is it worth that much to you? Of course, if you have more than 1 cat, each cartridge will not last as long… That sure seems like a lot of cash to fork over for the convenience of not having to scoop clumps every day. I’m disappointed that I’ll never know if the convienence would have been worth it for me. Darn Max! It is comforting to know that had I purchased this litter box myself, that there is a 90 day money back guarantee for problems such as mine.

I’d love to hear from anyone out that there that have had a better experience with this product than I have. Or people that have the exact same experience. Please post your stories using the Discuss link below.


09/09/06 Update: We have success!!! As you read above, my cat refused to use this litter box during the review period, so I gave up and went back to his regular box and clumping litter. Well, that was months ago, and this past week we were on vacation in New York City, and Max as at the boarders. When we went to pick him up yesterday, I said that we should put the ScoopFree back in the house and see if he’d use it. Since he had to use a different box all last week while he was at the boarders, maybe he’d just try this one if he didn’t see a choice.

When we got him home, I put him in the box and he hopped right back out and proceeded to ignore us for the rest of the day and night. But then in the wee hours of the morning, I was awakened by a strange noise. It took me awhile to realize what it was and finally a big smile came over my face when I knew it was the litter box! Sure enough, when I checked under the lid later today, there was a ‘gift’ inside. Yay!!!

 

Product Information

Price:139.99
Manufacturer:ScoopFree
Requirements:
  • A cat that isn't as stubborn as mine
Pros:
  • Easy to setup
  • 30 days or so automatic cleaning
Cons:
  • Your cat might refuse to use it
  • More expensive than regular clumping litter
  • Can only work with Fresh Step Crystal litter
Posted in: Home, Kitchen

{ 53 comments… add one }

  • Julie April 18, 2006, 1:31 am

    Post your comments on the ScoopFree Automatic Cat Litter Box review.

    http://www.the-gadgeteer.com/review/scoopfree_automatic_cat_litter_box

    Just click the POST REPLY button on this page.

  • andrew April 18, 2006, 2:50 am

    I have not used the ScoopFree litter box, but here we have used the LitterMaid and it works great. It uses the clumping litter and the cat’s don’t have a problem with it. I don’t know if it goes a whole month without cleaning, but it does go quite a while.

    l8rZ,

  • aybara April 18, 2006, 5:58 am

    We have the Littermaid one also.

    We also have two cats. So it gets changed about once a week.

    Our problem wasn’t getting the cats to use it. After 3 days they were preferring the automatic box (using the non-cleaning old box method).

    However, both of our cats have the nasty little fetish of having to use a freshly cleaned litter box. Every time we cleaned the manual one, as soon as we moved out of the way, it would be newly christened.

    With the auto box, I swear that both cats go in and try to force something out each time it runs (which is 10 minutes on our model). It would probably last longer if they didn’t utilize it every 10 minutes.

  • Julie April 18, 2006, 11:33 am

    andrew & aybara,

    Can you use any type of clumping litter with the Littermaid box?

    One thing I didn’t mention in the review and actually just learned after a little research, is the fact that most of these types of litters (clumping and crystals) are not biodegradable. Here I’ve been dumping the old stuff in my woods…:eek: I did find that there is a brand of litter made from corn! Anyone tried it?

  • TheZodiac April 18, 2006, 12:52 pm

    I have always been intriqued by these devices. Though, never thought I had a use for them. Here is what I do:

    I have a oversized litter box, and use tommycat draw string jumbo liners.. then I buy some clumping litter – whichever is available there in a 30lb equiv package.

    Then I put about 3-4 big scoops in the liner and box… I empty once a week – my cat dosnt really poop TOO much… I just grab the draw string and tie it up, and toss it.

    The litter is very floral smelling, so its cool. THe litter box itself is of the covered type, and has a filter (dosnt seem to be effective as you would think) But it works pretty good for my set up – plus, I dont have an electrical outlet within a practical distance to use an electronic one :(

    This was a good solid, and honest review – plus, the dog story was touching, and the cat pic was cool!

    :)

    TZK

  • yehaskel April 18, 2006, 4:08 pm

    I also had the LitterMaid. I had no problems with clumping litter (I used the cheap kind), nor with my cats using it. However, I did have a problem keeping this thing clean, and I also had problems with the moving part staying on track.

    The litter recepticle is easy enough to remove and clean, but the litter comb had a tendency to get dirty (go figure) and was difficult to clean without getting super gross.

    At another point, the comb didn’t properly stay on the track and was misaligned. I tried to fix it, but it wouldn’t work.

    In theory, these things are great and I was very happy to have it in the beginning. In reality, it got pretty gross and I just threw it away and went back to the old analog variety.

  • Julie April 18, 2006, 4:16 pm

    TheZodiac & yehaskel:

    That’s true, usually the simpler / cheaper way tends to be the better way… :)
    It only takes me a minute to clean the regular cat box, so it isn’t like it is a time suck or anything.

  • Craig April 18, 2006, 4:38 pm

    I’ve got a 15-pound cat at home. He likes his food. He eats a lot and he poops bigtime. Can this box handle the output from a large male cat who does his business frequently?

    — Craig

  • karrock April 18, 2006, 10:55 pm

    Most of the clay and clumping litter is *not* biodegradable, and of course, none of the “crystal” litter is biofriendly either.

    There are other kinds of cat litter out there that *are* biodegradable — Feline Pine for one, which of course is made of pine sawdust… There’s also as you found, corn based and recycled newspaper based — biggest benefit of the newpaper litter is that it’s toilet-flushable, not sure about any of the other stuff.

    I haven’t tried any of the electro-mechanical boxes out there — frankly haven’t found the justification for such a large expenditure.

  • GadgetFreako April 18, 2006, 11:55 pm

    I realise this is a gadget site and all, but isn’t this an automated litter box a wee (!) bit luxurious?

    I have a box of disposable non-sterile latex gloves from the hospital. I use one of those daily to clean the litter tray (and smoothen the litter sand out). The glove and litter clumps are discarded in a closeby bin. I find the plastic scooper a little klutzy, and it also needs cleaning once in a while.

    Then, I wash my hands after. If the gloves are good enough for nurses when they wipe patients’ bums, they’re good enough for a litter tray.

    In the mornings, I also encourage (i.e. push) my cat out the door before his breakfast while I shower, so on some days it does some of its business outside in the garden.

    Of course its not biofriendly, and there are not insignificant amounts of latex-allergy around, so take it how you will.

  • isobutane April 19, 2006, 11:28 am

    I am a certifiable cat nut, having three of the wee beasties roaming my home, eating my food, pooping in the litterpans (I have four of them) and generally spending their times being the most lovable creatures in the universe. I tried the Littermaid a few years ago. Oh, they used it, all right…but the device could not muster enough power to rake the resulting wastes into the container on the side, leading to lots of jamming. I decided that cleaning a regular litterpan would be a lot less aggravation, so I have my routine and I have no problem with it. I had three litterpans upstairs originally, but my cat Milo wanted some downstairs, too…and started peeing on my laundry and pooping on the old couch in the basement. I got the hint and moved one litterpan down to the bathroom downstairs and added another to it. Now they are all happycats! :)

    Mark

  • Daweed April 20, 2006, 3:33 am

    So the Motor in the scoop part isnt strong enough?
    did you find this tru in your testing?

  • Craig April 20, 2006, 2:32 pm

    karrock wrote:

    I haven’t tried any of the electro-mechanical boxes out there — frankly haven’t found the justification for such a large expenditure.

    How about not having to clean the well-used cat pan, which is strewn with enough dumplings to look like a rocky moonscape, every weekend?

    — Craig

  • Julie April 20, 2006, 2:55 pm

    There’s also fact that you wouldn’t have to stand over the pan and breath the litter dust as you clean the box. That’s a big motivator…

    Oh, I moved Max back out to the garage the other day. It’s now Spring time here (warm), so it was time to kick him out. I was surprised yesterday by what I found in the litter box when I went to clean it. The garage is dimly lit and I thought there was an uncovered ‘nugget’. But when I went to get it with the scoop, it moved! It was a mouse! It somehow got trapped and couldn’t climb out. Max better get busy and catch them! :)

  • Craig April 20, 2006, 3:09 pm

    Julie wrote:

    There’s also fact that you wouldn’t have to stand over the pan and breath the litter dust as you clean the box. That’s a big motivator…

    Agreed. I’d much rather scrub the toilet. No, really.

    — Craig

  • SF_Lucky April 21, 2006, 10:33 pm

    I am one of the inventors of the ScoopFree automatic litter box, and I work with the company that markets and distributes the product. Thank you for taking the time to read about and comment on ScoopFree. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have about the product directly.

    ScoopFree is different from other automatic litter boxes in that it can be left alone for weeks at a time. You only replace a disposable litter tray cartridge about once a month if you have one cat and about twice a month if you have two cats. Between cartridge changes there is nothing to empty, nothing to fill and nothing to clean. It’s the only hands-free, no-touch litter box.

    There are some comments above about other automatic litter boxes, which typically use clumping kitty litter which can stick to the rake and fill up a waste bin. ScoopFree uses crystal litter which does not clump. This means there is nothing messy to clog up the mechanism or to fill up the waste trap.

    Liquid waste gets absorbed by the crystals, and only the solids stay in the trap. The solids shrink over time and harden. They don’t smell and you can leave ScoopFree alone without ever having to touch the poop. Other automatic litter boxes require you to empty a messy waste bin and refill the litter tray every few days. Only Scoop Free is hands-off for weeks at a time — just replace that disposable tray about once a month per cat.

    Granted my point of view is biased, but ScoopFree really is an interesting product. The best way to understand it is to try it for yourself. There is a 90-day unconditional money-back guarantee. If you or your cats don’t love Scoop Free for any reason you can return the box for a full refund.

    You can learn more at http://www.ScoopFree.com.

    Thank you!

  • jaknjill April 26, 2006, 10:13 am

    Hello all – we have two very picky cats – the litter box has to always be clean – or they choose to do their business somewhere else. I also have a very picky husband – so I am the one who gets to make sure the litter box is clean! We tried the old automatic litter box – the one with the clumping litter – it worked pretty well . . except for the massive clumps that filled up the tiny box at the end, the icky sticky clayey stuff that got into the rake . . . and the fact that one of my cats sometime aims high – right over the edge. So anyway – we reverted to a regular litter box with clumping litter – but then when I saw this new type of automatic box – I was pretty excited. Bought one right away. My cats are doing well with consistently using the box – no smell, no sticky mess, no overfilled box at the end. I am still having trouble with the cat that has the aiming problem – I may try the hood to see if that is a fix. Overall I am very pleased – by the way – since the husband doesnt clean the box – I made him buy the automatic one! I deserve it – after all these years of litterbox duty!

  • Craig April 26, 2006, 12:01 pm

    jaknjill wrote:

    …I also have a very picky husband…

    My Better Half made me realize, after more than 14 years of marriage, that I am, indeed, a “fusspot.” How did she do this? She said, “You know, sweetie, you really are a fusspot.” And I’m the one who cleans the catpan. :) Go figure.

    — Craig

  • ObscureStooge April 26, 2006, 12:06 pm

    Julie,
    You really should just get another dog.
    Because everyone knows that cats are evil!

    :)

  • warmnbrite April 30, 2006, 3:21 pm

    I purchased my ScoopFree after using Littermaid for several years. I have a large cat (who produces large poop) and was skeptical when I saw the size. He has had no difficulty in using it. I am two weeks out, and no sign of any overflow/problem. I had to handle the Littermaid container at least 3 times a week. 30 days will be bliss. I’ll check back at the end of the month.

  • Julie April 30, 2006, 9:19 pm

    ObscureStooge:
    I’m not ready for another dog yet. The main problem is that no one is home from 7am – 4pm M-F. I don’t want to leave a dog in a crate all day like that. If I had a fenced in yard area, it would be easier…

  • kodiak728 May 7, 2006, 2:33 pm

    I have a litter box which is sold in stores as a scoop-free automatic litter box. It is not automatic in the sense that it is an electric rake etc. But it is scoop free. It is filled with clumping litter. Once or twice a day I tilt the littler box on its side. The clean litter falls through a grate and the waste falls into a sleeve. I slide out the sleeve and empty it. And the litter box is clean and ready to use. Actually my cats (all three of them) use it all day long (along with the second litter box in another room). I have always hesitated to buy the Litter-Maid because of the noise. But this works for me and my cats.

  • jonsidneyb May 9, 2006, 4:27 am

    I have two littermaids in my home and they work but I find the motor is a little bit weak. Actually I have had 4, 2 have died over the years.

    I didn’t realize the clumping litter was bad on the environment, I thought it would return to the soil with no problems.

    I find the ScoopFree interesting but I wonder about the media it uses. Can it be recycled somehow…hmmmm,

  • cocowood July 18, 2006, 10:22 pm

    After using a regular cat box with liners, I bought the ScoopFree Automatic Cat Litter Box and I think it’s a great machine! It has made my life a lot easier! We adopted our one-year old cat, Dude, earlier this year and I wasn’t sure what to do about the litter box situation. My husband and I are pretty much clean freaks and neither of us would ever have our condo smelling even remotely like a litter box. Before ScoopFree, I was cleaning the litter box the moment I was out of bed in the morning, immediately after returning home from work, as well as just before bed, etc. When we first adopted Dude, I went through several types of litter (including flushable litter), liners, and even sifting liners (the kind where you put the whole 30-day supply in the cat box and then you are supposed to pick the top liner up and the clean litter falls down to the next liner — ha! Well, that lasted about two days because Dude digs like he’s digging to China and I went through $10 worth of sifting liners in literally two days!) I spent a ton of money on this litter box stuff. So I went over to my local PetSmart and found the ScoopFree representative giving a demonstration — and she sold me on it immediately. I took it home, set up the machine (easy!) and put Dude in the ScoopFree box and took his front paws and started digging — so he’d get the idea … and he sniffed around and jumped out. Then when the box started to clean itself (as it goes off 20 minutes after the cat leaves the box) Dude ran over and watched it. I really thought that was going to be it — that he would never have anything to do with it once he heard the noise and saw the movement. But I perservered and for the next few hours I watched Dude and if he even looked like he was going towards his regular litter box, I picked him up and put him in the ScoopFree. He started digging around and still did not use it. I finally just said “Well, Dude, guess what … you are going to have to get used to this because I am NOT going to be a slave to a regular litter box in this condo any longer.” So I took his old box out of the condo and put him back in the ScoopFree box and he promptly jumped out. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much that night, but when I did finally fall asleep, I woke up to the “soothing” sound of the ScoopFree box going through it’s cleaning cycle! YIPPEE! I was so happy! So … it took Dude about 12 hours to get the hang of it. Very minimal maintenance is required in that I don’t like leaving the poops in the cartridge for as long as they say you can. Therefore, I just remove the blue plastic lid over the cartridge and lift the cartridge up to clean out the poops with a poop scooper about every five days and discard its contents into a plastic bag and throw it away. Then I use the scooper to swish the crystals around and push some back into the cartridge. I change the cartridge about every 20 to 25 days. The ScoopFree is virtually odor free — I am a very happy ScoopFree believer!

  • Julie July 19, 2006, 2:03 pm

    cocowood:

    I think my cat Max is just too stubborn to try something new. :P

  • rlwille August 16, 2006, 6:03 am

    I understand that Lucky Litter Corporation reviews these message boards from time to time and hope they can work on improving this one. I have a single cat about 14lbs. I have had my scoopfree for about a month and having to use a cartridge every week and a half. It is because he pees out the front of the box landing on the floor and it soaks into the cardboard of the box disintegrating it and smelling bad. He just seems to barely fit and when he turns around he is urinating and it is rolling down the flap and onto the floor, being soaked into the cardboard. Is this something you are looking to make the outside packaging less easy to degrade short term from urine? or make it so the lid is more angles if they miss it rolls back into the box?

    I really like the product and think it is much better then my purrforma and littermaids I used to have to replace every 1-:o 2 years. This does not have problems sticking or smelling as long as the cat does not overshoot the box. I do have the hood but that is not the issue. Any chance you are looking to make the litter box mechanism larger? give him more room and less likely to miss?

  • Julie September 9, 2006, 8:00 pm

    We have success!!! If you read my review, you’ll know that my cat refused to use this litter box, so I gave up and went back to his regular box and clumping litter. Well, that was months ago, and this past week we were on vacation in New York City, and Max as at the boarders. When we went to pick him up yesterday, I said that we should put the ScoopFree back in the house and see if he’d use it. Since he had to use a different box all last week while he was at the boarders, maybe he’d just try this one if he didn’t see a choice.

    When we got him home, I put him in the box and he hopped right back out and proceeded to ignore us for the rest of the day and night. But then in the wee hours of the morning, I was awakened by a strange noise. It took me awhile to realize what it was and finally a big smile came over my face when I knew it was the litter box! Sure enough, when I checked under the lid later today, there was a ‘gift’ inside. Yay!!!

  • Debrutsid October 19, 2006, 9:15 am

    I’m worried about getting an automatic litter box, although I would really like one and have a few questions.

    My husband doesn’t ‘do’ litterboxes, and I work 10 hours a day, six days a week, which means when I get home I do not want to meddle with a litterbox. I only have a small 12lb cat, so I can usually leave the cat litter for a week without touching it, but I am sure my Magic would appreciate a clean box everytime he uses it. And as well as a happier cat, we have guests over unannouced all the time, and in our small apartment, we have one place for the litterbox, our tiny dining room, in the furthest corner from our kitchen. But in a small place, it’s not that far.

    Anyways, enough about our small history, onward to the few questions I had. I had originally wanted a littermaid, until of course I saw this new Scoopfree, and read this reviews with all the comments. So question one, how loud is the Scoopfree motor? I have read that at least two of you have been awaken by the sound of the motor. Yet, I do believe I read someone else say the littermaid is even louder. Does anyone know which is quieter? Question two, how well does it work to keep down the odor? As stated before, our apartment is a small one bedroom, and whenever I clean the clumping litter, the dust spreads through the home and lingers there for hours. But I rather deal with that dusty smell, then the smell of cat poo since my little cat produces some strong odors.

    Anyways, I think that is all I had to ask. Thanks for taking the time to read my comment and hopefully reply. :)

  • Julie October 19, 2006, 11:55 am

    Debrutsid:
    The sound of the ScoopFree isn’t deafening by any stretch of the imagination, but it is noticeable when you are in an adjoining room, or in the middle of the night if you are a light sleeper. I don’t have any experience with the Littermaid, so I can’t compare. As for odor, while I was using the ScoopFree, I didn’t notice any at all. But we kept the litter box in a small bathroom away from most foot traffic. Going into the bathroom, some smell was noticeable after 2-3 weeks of use. It wasn’t horribly stinky, it was just a litter box smell. With the ScoopFree, one cartridge (tray of litter) is supposed to last around 30 days. I think 20 days is a better measure, but it all depends on the cat.

  • sam8988378 November 24, 2006, 9:56 pm

    Julie wrote:

    ObscureStooge:
    I’m not ready for another dog yet. The main problem is that no one is home from 7am – 4pm M-F. I don’t want to leave a dog in a crate all day like that. If I had a fenced in yard area, it would be easier…

    :confused: I never will understand this “crate” thing. From birth to now, the only time I have spent dogless was 1 1/2 years of college, living in a dorm (& even then, I would see the doggies on home visits, vacations). Once we had used a playpen for a puppy, but it was more to protect the puppy from the little kids (recent playpen graduates), than anything else. We have a yard, but rarely did we leave the dogs outside when we left. The last two dogs we’ve had were abandoned as puppies,
    so they don’t even like to go outside without a person. Otherwise, we never did anything but say “see you later”, and leave the dog(s) in the house.

    True, all dogs have their quirks. The loveseat by the window is a doggie magnet. So we just tilt the cushion before we leave. All the puppies have chewed at least one thing you wish they hadn’t (LL Bean boots, corner of the Armoire, purse), but rarely did this happen twice. It never happened after puppyhood. From what we can tell, our dog now just goes to his favorite places and naps until we return. So why would there be a need for a crate?

    I’ve read that a normal healthy dog can go up to 14 hours without an “accident”. In NYC where commutes can be hours, people have dogs indoors from 7 to 7 on workdays. Sure, the dog would rather be out much earlier. But then again, so would the worker. I imagine that hours spent cramped inside a crate (even the roomiest leave little room to do more than turn around) are much less agreeable than hours spent puttering about, stretching, napping. So why crate?

    Dogs are an awful lot like very little children, but without the crying, temper tantrums or desire for consumer goods. You have to be patient, repeat a whole lot, set boundaries and be consistant. Doggieproofing is also easier than childproofing a home, but both don’t have to be “proofed” as strictly,
    forever. Tilting the loveseat cushion is a form of doggieproofing which we still have to do. With a new dog, I would recomend putting the shoes in the closet, as well as gloves out of reach.

    I’ve realized that I tend to prefer older dogs (our last two were rescues. From what I’ve seen, the fault with so many abandoned dogs lay not in the dogs, but in their previous owners). so housebreaking wasn’t a problem. But we have had puppies, and free reign of the house isn’t a good idea until this is accomplished. My roomate and I have had puppies so tiny that we were able to leave them in the bathtub when we went out. In other instances they had a newspapered area in a lage box in the kitchen or bedroom, closed off with a childproof gate until this was accomplished. Then they were
    welcome anywhere. Crating really isn’t necessary. It’s just easier for the owner than aquiring the skills necessary to teach a dog to be well-mannered in the house.

    So, if its the 7-4 absence which is preventing you from having another dog, be assured that it is possible. If I had to cage my dog for hours on end (or even at all) though, I don’t think I would have one, either. I also think I would change my living situation really really fast. A house is not a home without a dog (or two).:)

  • sam8988378 November 24, 2006, 10:08 pm

    cocowood wrote:

    After using a regular cat box with liners, I bought the ScoopFree Automatic Cat Litter Box and I think it’s a great machine! It has made my life a lot easier! We adopted our one-year old cat, Dude, earlier this year and I wasn’t sure what to do about the litter box situation. My husband and I are pretty much clean freaks and neither of us would ever have our condo smelling even remotely like a litter box. Before ScoopFree, I was cleaning the litter box the moment I was out of bed in the morning, immediately after returning home from work, as well as just before bed, etc. When we first adopted Dude, I went through several types of litter (including flushable litter), liners, and even sifting liners (the kind where you put the whole 30-day supply in the cat box and then you are supposed to pick the top liner up and the clean litter falls down to the next liner — ha! Well, that lasted about two days because Dude digs like he’s digging to China and I went through $10 worth of sifting liners in literally two days!) I spent a ton of money on this litter box stuff. So I went over to my local PetSmart and found the ScoopFree representative giving a demonstration — and she sold me on it immediately. I took it home, set up the machine (easy!) and put Dude in the ScoopFree box and took his front paws and started digging — so he’d get the idea … and he sniffed around and jumped out. Then when the box started to clean itself (as it goes off 20 minutes after the cat leaves the box) Dude ran over and watched it. I really thought that was going to be it — that he would never have anything to do with it once he heard the noise and saw the movement. But I perservered and for the next few hours I watched Dude and if he even looked like he was going towards his regular litter box, I picked him up and put him in the ScoopFree. He started digging around and still did not use it. I finally just said “Well, Dude, guess what … you are going to have to get used to this because I am NOT going to be a slave to a regular litter box in this condo any longer.” So I took his old box out of the condo and put him back in the ScoopFree box and he promptly jumped out. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much that night, but when I did finally fall asleep, I woke up to the “soothing” sound of the ScoopFree box going through it’s cleaning cycle! YIPPEE! I was so happy! So … it took Dude about 12 hours to get the hang of it. Very minimal maintenance is required in that I don’t like leaving the poops in the cartridge for as long as they say you can. Therefore, I just remove the blue plastic lid over the cartridge and lift the cartridge up to clean out the poops with a poop scooper about every five days and discard its contents into a plastic bag and throw it away. Then I use the scooper to swish the crystals around and push some back into the cartridge. I change the cartridge about every 20 to 25 days. The ScoopFree is virtually odor free — I am a very happy ScoopFree believer!

    Lol, if self-confessed “clean freaks” think ScoopFree is great, then I am sold! I owe someone a self-cleaning litterbox as a gift, and had been looking at the littermaid (on sale today for $49.). However, I had read about the grooves getting dirty (at Epinions), and found the same thing here. As for the description of the fork tines getting dirty:I’m no clean freak, but eeewwww!

    The gift recipient is no great fan of litterbox cleaning and has been a bit of a slacker. Her new husband never had pets, and is also a clean freak. While I’m not happy about the fresh step not being biodegradable, I would be less happy if her cat became ill or became the source of conflict due to using something other than the full catbox.

    Thank you everyone, for helping make this decision:)

  • robin94122 December 2, 2006, 11:06 pm

    I am in a wheelchair, so a simple to clean litterbox is a necessity. (I’m also not well enough to clean everyday.)

    I got this after my brother got one. He has no mobility issues, but travels fairly often, ans is usually away for 2 to 3 days. He had someone to come in and feed and play with his cat, but they didn’t like to clean the litterbox. And he didn’t like the cat having an always dirty box (or coming home to the smell!) Anyway, he got it, liked it, and recommended it.

    So travel and mobility issues are two good reasons for getting one.

    I had tried others in the past, but this is the first one that seems to really work as advertised. Throwing away the whole bottom cartridge is brilliant. It is quieter than the others I’ve had. It’s definitely quieter than, say, a hair dryer but probably about the same as an electric shaver. It would wake a light sleeper, but not a heavy one. And you do get used to it, as it only runs for about a minute. For me, it’s about the same level of disturbance as when my refrigerator kicks in the defrost cycle. If I wake up, I know what it is and go back to sleep.

    My cat also likes watching it work. It definitely has not caused her not to use it. Like a lot of people, I find the cartridge lasts about 3 weeks. (I change it as soon as the smell gets noticeable.) I have one small cat. A larger cat or two cats would need more frequent changing. I don’t know anyone who gets a full 30 days out of the cartridge. But I buy mine when they’re on sale in a 6 pack, which ends up costing about $5 a week.. And of course that includes the cost of the litter.

    When I got mine the manufacturer offered a 90 day guarantee. (Not the store, the company.) I don’t know if they still do, but it’s worth checking if, like me, you have a real reason to need something like this.

    Robin

  • Mary Ann May 16, 2007, 11:48 pm

    I just opened my new scoop free litter box and I have a question, this is probably really a stupid question but here goes- when I made sure that the magnets on the top of the waste box met the magnets on the purple cover, I find that the waste box does not sit on the bottom of the litter tray now but above it. Is this correct? Is this how the waste gets IN the waste trap? The reason I ask is that it says not to put any of the crystals in the waste trap but won’t that flow in as soon as I fill the box?

    I know dumb- I am hopeless with anything that needs to be put together even something this simple. But I’m dying to try it so any help would be appreciated.

  • Mary Ann May 22, 2007, 11:44 pm

    I recently purchased the scoop free litter box. I have to say it’s great not to have to SEE the little ‘packages’ anymore and my cat Misty took to it right away. However, I notice that if I stand right near it I definitely DO smell it and when I checked the waste trap the solids seem to still be soft and aren’t drying out and shrinking as I thought they are supposed to. I’ve only been using it a bit less then a week so I don’t think that’s the problem. Is this normal? I mean you don’t smell it when you walk in the room but I thought if the solids dried up you wouldn’t smell anything even standing over it so I’m a little bit disappointed about that.

  • catguy10 June 6, 2007, 12:16 am

    I’ve had this product for about 2 months now & my cats both love it! They used a litter crystal box before, so they moved to this one with no problems.

    The only downside is that they seem to get a few extra litter crystals out onto the floor, but it’s not too bad. Also, between the two cats, I go through a tray every two weeks. I’ve got to empty out those “gifts” every week, just to keep the unit working properly, but it has saved me so much time and effort :D

    To get around the whole hassle of buying the refills (online, as the stores never seem to have them) I just ordered a whole set of plastic pieces to make a custom tray. Then I’ll just have to buy the litter crystals as a refill.
    If anyone is interested in how to make their own, or how much it’s cost & all that, you can email me at lifetimeplasticlitterboxtray (at) dsmiley [dot] com.

    Finally, I’ll start seeing some better payback to this unit, I’m almost out of my 6 pack of cartridges.

    ~Jason

  • SQinAZ September 10, 2007, 3:48 am

    I want to get my mom a scoop-free, automatic litterbox for Christmas. I had purchased a Littermaid for my sister about ten years ago, and she had nothing but problems with it. I just read a slew of negative reviews about Littermaids today, at this website: http://www.consumeraffairs.com/pets/littermaid.htm

    Is the ScoopFree any better? I don’t begrudge spending this money for a hands-off litterbox for my Mom, but only if it’s going to work, and not die in a few months. She has two cats, and two manual litter boxes right now. The cats have not used crystal litter yet, so they would have to get used to that.

    I am most concerned with the long-term operation of this product, as well as the company that makes it honoring their warrantee, which LitterMaid apparently does not do.

    I noticed that someone posting here was an employee of the ScoopFree company, and would appreciate his/her comments on reliability, and the warranty. I would also appreciate any comments by users of this product who have had problems, akin to those with the LitterMaids, where the motor burns out in a few months, parts break immediately, etc. And how the company dealt with your problems.

  • SQinAZ September 10, 2007, 3:58 am

    I would also like to know about safety features, as in, does the rake stop if a cat goes in to do his/her business while the unit is raking?

    Also, without reading all of the comments on the LitterMaid site I posted above, one person reported a major fire cause by the LitterMaid…maybe because it would get hung up on cleaning and not stop. I want to make sure the ScoopFree is UL approved, and doesn’t have the same engineering problems that the LitterMaid most definitely has. I know, for sure, I am not buying my Mom a LitterMaid. I also know that, if I do get her an automatic-cleaning litterbox, it’s going to have met my standards of excellence via research. :)

  • helenv September 17, 2007, 5:54 pm

    The thing I find most concerning is the fact that liquid waste does not get removed from the tray. I don’t understand how the tray can stay clean enough for the cat to want to use and not become very smelly if the liquid waste is never clumping and removed. Won’t it just sit on the bottom of the tray? My cat is very picky about the litter box. She will only go in one spot of the box and will not go in the box if the box is not clean. I cannot use the littermaid box because she only goes at the end of the box right by the waste receptacle and there is a lip there. The grates aren’t able to properly rake the clumps because of the lip. I thought the Scoop Free Box might be a good option because it just rakes straight across and doesn’t have to raise up at the end but the fact that it doesn’t remove the urine concerns me. What have been other users experience with urine and the Scoop Free box?

  • Julie September 17, 2007, 5:57 pm

    helenv:

    The litter crystals soak up the liquid. It’s not an issue.

  • helenv September 17, 2007, 6:01 pm

    Thanks for the feedback Julie :)

  • Anne Cox January 5, 2008, 10:14 am

    Please help. I have 2 cats and a cairn terrier. Our cairn seems to think the cat box is full of treats and sneaks in to grab a bite when we aren’t around. I am now using a covered cat box but am having trouble with one cat using it because she hates our younger cat and I think the cover freaks her out. I have been looking at the Littermaid and Scoopfree automatic litter boxes but just not sure. Is there anyone out there who would have advise for me? Thanks so much!!!!! Anne

  • Skyanne February 1, 2008, 3:18 pm

    I purchased the Scoop Free Automatic Litter Box about three months ago and love it! When we adopted Phoenix, we purchased the traditional litter box and I quickly found what a pain it was to keep it clean each day. I did some research and decided on the Scoop Free. The inital cost is expensive and the refills are not cheap – but it works just like it says it does! I was so pleased to put the automatic litter box in place and not worry about changing it for 30 days! If you can swing the cost, I highly recommend!

    By the way, Phoenix had absolutely no problem adjusting to the new litter box. I removed the old one and put the new on in its place and it worked out perfectly!

    [Edited at February 01, 2008 15:19:09 PM.]

  • Lisa December 10, 2008, 12:44 pm

    I have one cat, a large male tabby, and a scoop free litter box, and it works really good. Contrary to the review though, no, you do not need to use fresh step crystal litter, nor suffer the expense of those pre-filled, disposable boxes. The forever box (I got mine on ebay) replaces the expensive cardboard refills, and there are several brands of crystal cat litter that work just as well–Mimi crystals, (Walmart) are a good, very inexpensive choice, Tidy Cat crystals (available just about anywhere) also work well, but the odor control is only so-so.
    The start up for a scoop free is expensive, but using a forever box and filling it yourself takes quite a bit of the edge off.

  • SailCat December 17, 2008, 9:40 pm

    I had success with both Brand of boxes. I found the ScoopFree box on close-out for $25. I knew the the Littermaid was $100. I did not know the refills were $15-$20 for 1 refill. $39-$75 for 3. Sometimes on Ebay you can score a deal. I know there is a “charitable” contribution for the product, but the refill for cat litter and shipping charges are a bit much. I can have boxes made for 1.50 and use a cat litter of my cats choice. I clean the trap every other day just to keep it from backing up with 2 cats.

  • Scifan December 19, 2008, 10:30 pm

    Someone tell me more about this forever box. I’m considering getting a Scoop-Free. Especially since we may have a third cat–a stray who has yet to be claimed–who is very finicky about the litter box, I’m thinking of getting this as a second litter box. However, with 3 cats, I’m not crazy about the replacements. So I’d love some more info on the forever box, please. Thanks!

  • R April 25, 2009, 4:43 am

    For people that have a houseful of pooping creatures, and tend to weekend travel, auto cleaning boxes are worth every penny. For longer travels, it’s easier to find someone to house sit if they only have to swap out pans, bins, or what have you once a week. And when I come home from a long day of work and school, my house smells poop-free – priceless!

    I used Littermaid for a solid 3 years, and it was great. But the new ones, which look identical to the old ones, don’t seem to last as long. I’ve heard they started using ‘cheaper’ parts, not reflected in the price tag. I’ve been through two already. They stick, clump, and turn messy very quickly. I’d been duped by some other round, way-too-may moving part ones in the past. So I was a little hesistant to try a new brand but after some research, husband and I decided to introduce to the scoop free to our household of litterbox users.

    So far, so good. Not all of the creatures have accepted their new toilet, but they’re getting there. I’m optimistic. The design has covered some of the hangup with the older box. For example, no incline so there’s no “collection” over time that eventually jams the rake. That also goes for the no clumping. Logic says the rake will last longer when it’s shoveling around poop, not clay (though often a fine line). The odor control seems better with the crystals but didn’t have too much of an issue with previous litter. The color contrast is a bit shocking, but strangely pleasing. If it doesn’t work out, maybe you can use it to hold potpurri? just kidding.

    FYI: the trays are ridiculously expensive for more than one cat household. But they have a ‘permanent’ tray only available online, as far as I’ve seen, at such places as Amazon. It’s around $50 but you just dump the tray, and refill with crystals instead of throwing away the whole thing. The tray issue was the largest complaint I saw about the box, ever, and the company stood up to the task.

    Long live auto pooper scoopers!

  • lynn July 22, 2009, 3:32 pm

    I have mainly heard of problems with the design of the new littermaid. Never once have I had a major problem with my ScoopFree – it does exactly what it is designed to do, no breaking parts involved! (I suppose you should expect that your purchases wont fall apart with normal use, but apparently that isnt always the case… at least not with other brands of automatic litterboxes). In regards to the cost of the refills, I get a deal as a subscriber to their automatic shipment service (they even give free shipping to subscription members). Worth checking out for sure!

  • Jeanie August 27, 2009, 10:12 pm

    Debrutsid:
    We just got a ScoopFree, and have used Littermaid in the past. The Littermaid was VERY loud, especially as the motors struggled against the clumps and were giving out. (All of our Littermaids died, and frequently malfunctioned, raking for hours on end.) We are ecstatic at how QUIET the ScoopFree is! Not bothersome at all for us!

    For a while, we had been doing well with the Tidy Cat Breeze system, since I don’t mind scooping. Trouble is, we adopted a new cat who decided he will ONLY go in a completely clean box. With 4 cats, that’s impossible. We couldn’t go out of town, or even be away most of the day, we had to cover the beds with plastic tarps (a favorite place to use as a potty), and cleaned up puddles in the living room daily. I was at a loss, and thought we might not be able to keep him, though I love him dearly. At first, he thought the crystals were food, but once I sprinkled in some of the old litter and a couple of pieces of poop from the other box, he is using is fine, and for the first time, he has used nothing but the litterbox all day! The ScoopFree looks like it’s going to succeed in keeping a sweet cat with the family who loves him (without destroying the house!) Yay, ScoopFree!

  • Jason January 12, 2010, 12:36 am

    We have 2 cats that go often & we decided to keep it simple & just go w/ bigger box. Just switched them over to a 37-Gallon Rubbermaid Container (w/ or w/out lid w/ hole cut in the top) Cats don’t seem to care whether has lid or not but they have definitely shown preference to the bigger box vs. their old standard size box. Container is large enough to hold ~ 2 boxes of kitty litter (which has noticeably cut down on smell vs. old standard size box) & high walls on the container have decreased litter granules on the floor outside the box & completely eliminated the problem of the cats “missing” the the box & hitting the floor instead. Bigger Box could easily survive over a weekend if needed, whereas the old standard size box could barely go more than a day before getting out of hand.

  • christina April 29, 2010, 12:05 am

    Hey, all of you guys who have big enough bathrooms or laundryrooms need to buy a CatGenie from http://www.catgenie.com WOW is what I have to say…I’ve got 9 “pooping creatures” (well 10, but dog can’t use it :-) and I’m near buying.

    This thing hooks up to water supply and drains into YOUR TOILET where you can FLUSH IT DOWN!!!! You just have to have enough space in either your bathroom or laundryroom. Price is $351 and $399 (there’s a covered one and uncovered), but in addition to this promo code “VALUE” to get 12% off (it ends soon though), they also offer a 3-payment plan…pretty cool! You just have to pay the $30 shipping on the payment plan whereas you’d get free shipping if you pay all upfront.

    PLEASE LET ME AND THE WORLD KNOW IF YOU DO GET ONE…I WILL DO THE SAME WHEN I DO.

    Take Care and don’t forget to hug your furry friends :-)

  • Julie April 29, 2010, 8:00 am
  • cathy May 18, 2012, 6:04 pm

    We bought one for our cat and my boyfriend followed the advice on the box to put a dropping from the old box into the new one.,well the cat used the new box within 10 mins! its been virtually odor free for 3 weeks now..definately worth the money

  • Laura March 24, 2014, 9:47 pm

    I bought the oop free litter box over a month ago. I have one adult (big kitten) male who goes no1 a lot. When I first set it up I cleaned out and got rid of his old litter box but before doing so I (with gloves on) scooped some of the old but still clean litter and sprinkled that over. I placed him in it and he used it as soon as necessary. Maybe it worked because the old litter had his smell on it. But so far I love it and it is 98% odour free. I give 5/5 *

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