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Litter Robot Automatic Self Cleaning Litter Box Review

By: Elizabeth Daugherty
on January 5, 2010 8:22 am

I own two cats, Wylie (who behaves as though he’s the Pharaoh of Egypt) and Hammy (given to me by a homeless person) who is a spaz.  I love cats.  I also like dogs and I have two of those as well. But one thing I hate is cleaning up after my cats.  I have indoor cats; I’m not one of these pet owners who let their cats out into the neighborhood to do what it is cats do in my neighbor’s yard.  For years, I’ve used clumping litter because it was easier to clean out than the clay stuff.  Then came Litter Maid. Litter Maid is an electronic, automatic litter box cleaning system that sweeps clumps after sensing that a cat has been there.   The problem with Litter Maid and automatic litter box cleaning systems like it is that they’re too noisy, bulky and even messy.   I ended up giving away my Litter Maid and was resigned to scooping up the messes of my felines.  I have researched other automatic litter cleaning systems but they had little more to offer than the original Litter Maid.

Now comes the Litter Robot Automatic Self Cleaning Cat Litter Box from Automated Pet Care Products Inc.

This device stands heads and shoulders above every other automatic litter box or any system that dares to call itself an automatic self cleaning litter box.  This device redefines the basic design of the litter box itself.  Dome shaped, the litter box sits on top of the waste drawer.

Top Dome and Waste Drawer Platform. The dome sits atop the waste drawer.

Once your cat enters the dome, does what it is supposed to do and then steps out, the dome rotates after seven minutes, sifts the waste out into the drawer beneath the dome and then returns the cleaned litter and rotates upright.   Absolutely no mess, seriously no fuss and next to no noise.  This device makes little or no noise and, unlike the Litter Maid and its counterparts, there is very little overspill of litter. The only litter you should see is what your cat tracks out.

In addition to the cleanliness and convenience of this device, for dog owners, there is an added bonus.  Anyone who has ever had cats and dogs together in the same home knows that dogs favor this thing I like to call “kitty roca”.  I think we all know what I mean by that.  With a traditional litter box, hooded or not, there’s really no  way to keep your pooch from sampling the kitty roca.  Up until now, we’ve had to use baby gates to gate off the “cat area”; the area where they eat, drink and have their litter box.  Since the holding area of Litter Robot sits up on top of the waste drawer platform and the opening is large enough for a cat, the angle to get at the litter is very difficult for all but the most determined dog.  We have Corgis and they’re not fond of Litter Robot.  Also by the time they can possibly figure out how to even poke their heads through the opening, the seven minutes are up and Litter Robot begins its cycle. The slight noise and movement should be enough to scare off any dog from wanting to stick their face in the area.  I love it.  My dogs hate Litter Robot.

Cats have reputations for being finicky animals and it’s never a smart undertaking to move or change their litter box.  My cats are creatures of habit and heartily dislike having their routine of eat, drink, groom, go to the litter box and 18 hours of beauty sleep interrupted.  They want what they want, when they want it.  Even if it means getting their paws underneath my bedroom door and rattling the door against the frame (I have a historical house with old wood floors) at the unseasonable hour of 5:25 am to wake me up so that I might nobly serve them their breakfast.  Messing around with their litter box prompts them to show their displeasure by using my bathtub for their nefarious schemes.  I think we all know what I am talking about.  Litter Robot is prepared with a handy instruction manual filled with tips for the event that your cat might sniff around the new Litter Robot but not necessarily accept it as their new “Place of Business”.

When it happened that my cats would sniff around Litter Robot but not venture forth, I read up on the handy tips, utilized their suggestions and my cats are now happy Litter Robot users…although Hammy bolted from the room when the Robot begans its rotation cycle.

One of my favorite features is the waste removal drawer.

Litter Robot platform and waste removal drawer

This drawer is easily removed and comes with special notches that you pull the edges of plastic trash bag liners through to hold it taut.  When it comes time to empty the box, you just pull up the plastic liner and toss.

Plastic bags/liners pulled through notches and held taut to catch falling waste. A benefit of Litter Robot is that you can use just about any type of plastic bag to line the waste drawer and it's easy to install.

Another added benefit of Litter Robot is that there are no “special exclusive liners” to purchase… you can use small bathroom trash bags; I use the plastic bags I get from the grocery store (make sure there are no holes).  Litter Robot also works with almost any clumping litter although the wheat based litters like Swheat Flushable Cat Litter and pellet type litters do not work well with Litter Robot.  The unit comes with a complimentary bag of clumping litter but the instruction manual encourages you not to use it if your cats are already familiar with a particular type of clumping litter.

The website (http://www.litter-robot.com/) details how Litter Robot (which we affectionately nicknamed Robo-Kitty) works including a very cool animated bit.  You can adjust the sensitivity based on your cat(s) weight or just manually cycle the Robot yourself.   Adjusting the sensitivity of your cat is one area that I have discovered is a little hit or miss with Litter Robot.   If the sensor does not register that a cat has entered and done its thing, the Robot will not cycle and you will be required to manually cycle the Robot yourself.  Owners of kittens and cats that are typically lighter weight or smaller framed are not candidates for Litter Robot.  Kittens and small sized adult cats are too light in weight to trip the sensor.  If you have a medium or larger cat and a kitten and the larger cat has recently used the Robot, you run the risk of the Litter Robot activating its rotation cycle with a kitten still in the dome as the kitten’s weight will not register.

As with everything pro there have to be some cons.  Litter Robot has some cons.  The first con is the Customer Service number of Automated Pet Care Products, Inc. which sells Litter Robot.  There is a toll free number on the instruction manual and on the website but no one actually answered the phone the two different times that I called.  I was prompted by an automated answering voice to leave my name and phone number with assurances that someone would get back to me.  In an economy where most people hit the “Forget It” button when presented with a situation where they have to rely on a customer service individual to get back to them, this is just bad business in my book.  Nine times out of ten, the CSR calls back at an inopportune time.  My Litter Robot unit did not cycle automatically despite my adjusting the sensor to the highest mode of sensitivity.  I have to manually cycle the unit each time I go into the room to feed my cats.  This is twice a day.  This is no real big deal to me.  It’s no extra effort to manually cycle the machine.  All I do is press a button and off it goes.  But the unit is advertised to be automatic and either our cats are under the 5lb weight mark needed to trip the sensors (not the case with Hammy) or the sensor isn’t tripping properly. Some individuals MIGHT have an issue with the sensor having a glitch, I didn’t.  I press a button, it does all my dirty work.  I’m not complaining.  But to give Litter Robot a fair shake, I plan to keep on contacting the Customer Service Department to work out the sensor glitch and will report on that in a follow up review.  They even provide an email addresses for various customer issues.

Another con could be the price. At $349.00 for the Expanded unit which I have and $329.00 for the Original unit           ( $289.00 and $269.00 for reconditioned units), Litter Robot is pricey compared to other automatic self cleaning litter boxes that are on the market.  But the company promises a 90 day money back guarantee if you just can’t get Mr. Kitty to use it and an 18 month warranty.

It's a very tall box that Litter Robot comes shipped in.

In my book, the benefits of Litter Robot far outweigh the high price.  Litter Robot eliminates the smell, the mess, the inconvenience and the trouble of a clumping litter box and the trouble of cleaning a cat box period.  You save money on litter, you save time by not having to scoop so often, the waste removal is a breeze, and you can recycle plastic grocery bags to use in the waste removal drawer. You can’t beat the stink elimination either.  No one coming to your house would ever guess that you have cats.  Compared to its noisy counterparts, Litter Robot does make a quiet noise when cycling but you’d have to be in the room to hear it.  It’s nowhere near as loud, raucous and obnoxious as the less expensive and clumsy self cleaning boxes on the market.  Sensor lights on the front panel also let you know when the Robot is full, cycling or ready to go.

My cat Hammy poses with Litter Robot. Actually we had to hide around the staircase for a good ten minutes to get this photograph.

I cannot say enough great things about Litter Robot.  I would like to criticize the price, but it’s more than worth it.  My only wish now is that the Litter Robot company would make a unit for dogs.  Then I’d be set!

 

Product Information

Price:$329.00 New Original Unit-$269.00 Refinished Original Unit $349.00 New Expanded Unit-$289.00 Refinished Expanded Unit $349.00 New Unit $289.00 Refinished Unit
Manufacturer:Automated Pet Care Products Inc.
Pros:
  • Quiet
  • Clean
  • Saves litter
  • Easy waste removal
  • Easy to assemble
  • Free shipping back if necessary
  • Easy to understand instructions
  • Comprehensive website
  • Handy Tips and Tricks for encouraging cats to use new device.
  • No exclusive parts or special bags to buy
  • Discourages canines from nosing through litter box
  • You do NOT ever have to scoop litter again!
Cons:
  • Price is a little high
  • Customer Service did not answer the two times that I called. Because my question was specific and I needed to be near the unit, having them call back at their convenience is not always convenient for the customer.

Comments

  1. 1
    Gardenwife says:

    Having two cats and three dogs who love being pirates (digging for buried treasures), I would love something like this. There’s just no way I could I justify spending that kind of coin for a litter box, though. I wish I could!

  2. 2
    dotelpenguin says:

    It looks like a cat cloning machine. Or maybe washing machine. Woosh Wooshhh MEEEEEOOOOWWWW

  3. 3
    Jeremy says:

    Seriously, you need to check out the Breeze box by Tidy Cat. I have 3 cats and it is the best thing I have ever switched to.

  4. 4

    You should post an update of how your cats have done with the litter box after a little while. I’ve had my CatGenie for more than a month now, and one of my cats is still not using it reliably. :(

  5. 5
    Elizabeth Daugherty says:

    Hello fellow Gadgeteers,

    I continue to love my Litter Robot. Not having to scoop and just pulling up a bag, in my opinion, more than makes up for the price. My cats continue to use it and even Hammy now stays in the room when I cycle the Robot. Especially if I’m feeding her. There is absolutely NO stink with this gadget which is another bonus and I just cannot say enough fabulous things about the Litter Robot.
    I realize that, especially in this economy, that this unit is spendy. I’m with you there. But if you can find some way to purchase one, I am telling you now, you will never regret it.

  6. 6
    Fredenka says:

    Looking at the animation on the website, this system seems way better than the CatGenie.

  7. 7
    Julie says:

    @Fredenka I think the advantage of the CatGenie is that you do not have to empty anything. The only action required is to change the cleaning cartridges and add a few litter granules as needed. For my one cat, I’m replacing the cartridge once every 60 or so days (he’s outside partially) and less than a cup of granules.

  8. 8
    Eric says:

    My mom has a 1st gen (about 6 years old) and it is still going strong, the newer models are more refined and quieter but the older models are still built to last and pop up on craigslist every now and then for $100 or so.

  9. 9
    Eric L says:

    Been a litter robot owner for 2 1/2 years. Our 1 litter robot servers 4 cats and it’s simply the best litter box ever made. All raking system litter boxes we have ever tried failed to work for us. The price of this unit is well worth it. You will save so much litter you will be amazed. We use 2 small scoops of litter twice a week when we empty the tray.

  10. 10
    Shirley says:

    Hi Elizabeth:

    I have been reading your REVIEW of our Litter-Robot and noticed that you were having a problem with the unit cycling in the automatic mode. The cat sensor definitely needs an adjustment.
    Please do the following:
    1. Turn the unit OFF and remove Globe and Drawer.
    2. Turn Base unit upside down so that you are facing the bottom surface.
    3. Locate the circular black foot toward the front of the base.
    4. Rotate the circular black foot (2) complete turns in a COUNTER CLOCKWISE direction.
    5. Turn Base unit right side up, install Drawer and replace Globe.
    6. Turn unit ON and let it complete a clean cycle – Green light should be on after cycle is complete.
    7. Now push on the Step to simulate your cat entering to verify that the Cat Sensor is working (Red light comes on). Push any button to reset back to Green.
    If you are still encountering problems, drop me a note at customer-service@litter-robot.com and I will be pleased to assist you. Wish I had your e-mail address so that I could send photos.
    Let me know the outcome.
    Sincerely, Shirley
    Customer Service – Litter-Robot Team

  11. 11
    ihavecat says:

    I *heart*my litter robot! My friends and I call it the “space ship” and i got it after a long search! I wrote a blog about my adventure!
    http://ihavecat.wordpress.com/2009/10/05/litter-box-a-space-odyssey/

  12. 12
    Ann Fennell says:

    Could it be that the cats are jumping over the “pedal” instead of stepping on it?

    I like the design and would love to have one, but I can’t justify spending that much money on a plastic litter box.

    I would actually prefer if the littler box could be cycled completely manually, with a handle or something. Having to plug-in a litter box seems excessive to me. The mfg. should try making a less expensive model, cycled by hand, that doesn’t require electricity.

  13. 13
    Jen says:

    Right now I have a “bubble” Litter Robot and two kittens. I’m cycling everything manually for now until both kittens reach 5lbs in weight, but so far the ‘bot has been fantastic.

    @Ann – a manual equivalent of the Litter Robot might be the Omega Paw Roll’n Clean litter box:
    http://www.omegapaw.com/products/roll-clean-litter-box.html

  14. 14
    Theresa says:

    I’d buy one of these every year if I had to. The litter robot is absolutely worth every penny. I’ve had mine for 2 months. Our stubborn, pampered cat would not use the litter robot. It was a long road, but she loves it now. Litter Robot’s site had excellent ideas about how to help the cat accept the unit. The suggestions really really worked.

    She loves the unit, and we’re ready for automatic emptying. The unit won’t cycle automatically. I’ll try the suggestion above. Even pressing the button to cycle the unit is soooo much better than scooping dirty litter. Our cat and I are happy and she no longer soils outside of her box.

  15. 15
    Theresa says:

    Update — The suggestion above worked. I was in the next room and heard the unit cycling automatically! Yippee!

    I shut the door to adjust the unit. The cat was extremely annoyed that we were tampering with HER territory. When we were finished, she rubbed her paws over the step up ramp (that we also purchased from litter robot) and LAID ON THE RAMP! It was so cute!

    I know I sound like a spokesperson for the unit, but I’m not. I’m just a very satisfied customer and a gadget junkie. She loves that ramp. It cost a pretty penny too. I wasn’t going to purchase it, but I had no choice. She rejected the unit and I bought it in an effort to help her adjust to the new unit. The ramp was the turning point — indifference to love. She rubs her paws across that ramp and lays on it or next to it whether she has to use the bathroom or not. Go figure!

    Anyway, take care everyone and continue loving your pets and gadgets!

    Theresa Jace and Taco (the cat)

  16. 16
    Frank says:

    My $0.02. We’ve owned a “robo-kitty” for almost six years now. It does require an occasional thorough cleaning as kitty litter gets down inside the driver unit and the whole thing will take on an odor. No big deal as you just take it out in the back yard maybe once a year and lightly wipe it down inside and out to remove all of the stuck bits.

    Over the years the only real failure has been the 12VDC wall wart transformer which died a few years ago. Replaced it.

    Recently, one of our cats contracted diabetes so tends to drink a lot of water that leads to, well, a lot more use of “robo-kitty. This has led to more cleaning. Today we cleaned out the unit and it stopped working. Turned out that the duct tape used to cover the control board failed and some damp kitty litter got all inside the unit. Fearing it had burned out I carefully cleaned it. Fortunately, it worked! Wiped down the inside, applied new duct tape and we are back in business.

    Had the control board failed, the manufacturer sells replacements for $30 for our original unit. Sweet!

    The only other maintenance we perform is to put a little AmourAll (black unit tends to lose its luster) and a little candle wax on two spots where there are visible wear marks. I’m not sure but I think these are the result of a slight misalignment between the ball and the base during manufacturing. No biggie since it has outlasted our Roomba, one car and numerous computers.

    I wonder how many miles our little friend has racked up spinning in its cradle?

  17. 17
    Pogonip says:

    I don’t have one of these, though I’ve got two other types now and have had LitterMaids in the past (won’t buy any more of those since the motor burns out so easily.) But a friend has one, has praised it, but also warned that if you don’t keep the drawer cleaned out, and let it fill up, you will have a big round rotating drum completely covered with a fecal film. Not a fun cleaning job. Fastidious housekeepers have no worries, but those of us with AADD might.

  18. 18
    sal says:

    It’s a good product, but getting parts is horrible. I need a new motor and they won’t sell me one. You need to ship the unit to them at your cost, pay for the repair and pay for the return shipping, so a $20 or 40 dollar repair can cost upto 100 dollars or more.

  19. 19
    SueinsoCal says:

    We just returned our PetSafe automatic litter box because the motor gave out before the 2 month warranty. I saw from other remarks online that this was a consistent problem. Does the Litter Robot consistently have a better track record in the durability arena? I don’t care if it’s noisy. I want durability. Is there a consistent problem with the sensitivity of the sensors? What are your experiences here?

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