Should I splurge on the Litter Robot?
April 14, 2021 10:34 AM   Subscribe

Is the Litter Robot worth the money?

I recently switched to a LitterMaid self-cleaning litter box. I'm not happy with it. The cats paw at the lid and the waste container, so that there's waste and litter on the floor. Also, because the litter is so shallow and my cats like to dig, all the urine absorbs at the bottom and sticks to the tray. At this point, it is not self-cleaning.

I'm looking at a Litter Robot, but it's a big outlay. Does it allow for enough litter for some digging? Is it sturdy enough to handle some interest by curious cat? Is the improvement in self-cleaning sufficient to be worth $500?

I don't care if the wi-fi is buggy. My cats aren't disturbed by the noise of the LitterMaid. I understand that if I go for the Litter Robot, I'll need two.
posted by freshwater to Pets & Animals (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I have the litter robot. It is big, quite ugly, and not silent. That being said, I will never go back to regular litter boxes. We just empty the bag in the bottom approx twice a week. Once every six months I dismantle and clean the whole thing - not that hard.

We have two cats that share it - one is a frequent digger, and no problems there. He also stands on the front step and puts his head inside the Litter Robot as it does the spin cycle, which is apparently mesmerizing. One cat does track litter out of it on his way out, but he does an odd leap-type exit, which is probably the issue.

We've had ours for almost two years. A handful of times it gets stuck in an odd position but every time we have fixed it by unplugging it and plugging it back in again.
posted by hepta at 10:59 AM on April 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

A counterpoint:

My mom had the litter robot. Despite the timer delay on the cleaning, her cats would not stop messing with it, and so it just didn't work out. They never broke it, but it was just robot-ing constantly.

If you do decide to try it out, I would start with just one and then replace your other litterbox(es) if it works.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 11:02 AM on April 14, 2021

Best answer: We had a litter robot (actually 2) about 10 years ago, so an older model. Litter was fairly shallow, but they were able to dig a bit.

We had the same leap out to exit issue, but the amount tracked out wasn't any worse than with a regular litter box.

We liked the robot enough that when we moved across country we left our original one behind for my sister and bought a new one. Unfortunately my sister's cats wound up being afraid of the robot. So that's a potential concern.

We eventually moved to an apartment where it wouldn't fit, so changed out to a Scoop free litter box (tray style automatic), which we did not like as much.
posted by ghost phoneme at 11:14 AM on April 14, 2021

Best answer: I wouldn't necessarily say that you'll need two - we have 3 cats that happily use our single LR.

Some thoughts in no particular order:
  • One of our cats is definitely a dig & bury cat and they don't hit bottom as long as we keep it filled to the line. Tracking is pretty normal as long as they don't kick the litter straight back.
  • The inner rubber lining has held up well to any scratches or investigation. We've never had them poke at the out shell, but it's a hard plastic that's pretty secure.
  • We have the same issue as hepta where sometimes it doesn't fully cycle, but it's infrequent and easily remedied by hitting the cycle button. Usually its because they trip the weight sensor after hopping out.
  • They have far and away the best support of any product I've bought, ever. Long after our warranty had expired, we had sensor issue and I was fishing around for a workaround. They just sent an entirely new unit.
  • Combined with Pretty Litter, being able to see how often my previous cat used it (yay app!) saved his life because I caught a blockage almost immediately. Not LR specific but I have a deep appreciation of these products now.

posted by markolson at 11:29 AM on April 14, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: We have one and three cats. Menace loves it, the Old Man can't be bothered with it and Mayhem (who was the reason for purchasing it) avoids it. Since we have three additional litter boxes, only one of them is using it exclusively.

Cons: It is expensive. It is big. It is loud (but I hardly hear it any longer). Menace loves watching it rotate.
Pros: Maintenance is easy. Cleaning it is easy. There is a night light! I have the steps so the bulk of the scatter ends up on the stairs. Since there is only one cat primarily using it, I only need to empty it every couple of weeks. If Mayhem liked it, I would probably replace the remaining boxes with a second one.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 11:41 AM on April 14, 2021

Best answer: We have one for our cats aged 3 and 8. It’s nice. We’ve had it since mid-2020. Not looking forward to deep cleaning it which seems inevitable. Their accessories like bags and carbon filters are over-priced and you can buy generics on Amazon.
posted by oceanjesse at 12:21 PM on April 14, 2021

Best answer: We bought one a quite a while ago because we had a picky cat who would throw everything out of the box before going. It worked quite well, but it built up dust like every cat litter thing. The cat didn't mind it, and clean up was indeed easy.

Picky cat died and new cat got too fat to go through the door. We gave it to grandpa who has mobility issues, and it has been a fantastic solution to dealing with his cat.

It's a worth-it luxury if you have the means and your cat takes to it. Unfortunately you don't know that until you've laid out the cash.
posted by hobu at 12:22 PM on April 14, 2021

Best answer: Your cats are adorable :-)
I've had a LR for several years now (LR2) and can never go back to normal litter pans. Not having to tend to a litter box every day is so completely worth the $ for me. I change out the waste bag every other week, and give the globe a scrub / spray with the hose about 3-4 times a year. I also bought mine on craigslist used, so that might be worth considering.

My cat is able to dig a bit. Sturdiness will not be an issue as well.
WRT a comment above, if the cat trips the weight sensor during a cycle, the LR will stop rotating, but will resume after 20 seconds or so.
I use a regular tall kitchen garbage bag (and pull it over the entire bottom tray so that the extra bag is pulled under), and don't use the carbon filter accessories. I'm pretty sensitive to smells and the LR does a good job keeping the stank at bay.

I agree that it is *not quiet*, but I love it so much that I am tolerating it in my loft apartment with no walls. I do have it on an outlet timer so that it turns off at night. I'll also agree with markolson that their customer service is above and beyond, and that the cats could probably share one LR since it's self-cleaning nature keeps the litter box fresh for multi-cat usage
posted by blueberrypuffin at 1:44 PM on April 14, 2021

Best answer: I've had one for about 6 years and love it. I don't think you need 2 since it cleans after each use, I only have the one cat though. I always put off the deep clean, but when I finally do it it's not that bad. Make sure it is totally dry before you use it again though, I leave outside in the sun for a day to be sure.
When I bought mine they had a 30 day return policy, if your cat wouldn't use it etc. you could send it back! I bet that's still the case but check and see, customer service is awesome.
The only problem I've had with it getting hung up is when I installed the lip wrong after a deep cleaning, I'm not sure the new design even has the lip.
**** would buy again.
posted by BoscosMom at 1:50 PM on April 14, 2021

I've been super happy with our petsafe. Been reliable for over two years. The top helps contain the litter.
posted by cosmac at 1:53 PM on April 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

I went and watched a video of that Litter Robot and it struck me that it's very similar to the manual, not robotic Omega Paw which also works on a rolling principle but is much much cheaper because no robotics. I've had them before and they worked pretty well, rolled them once a day.
posted by foxfirefey at 2:02 PM on April 14, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: They do still have the return policy but it's 90 days, not 30. Customer service has always been really nice, you mighty just call and chat with them. They're just not like most companies.
posted by BoscosMom at 2:05 PM on April 14, 2021

We've got 2 of the top-entry PetSafe automatic litter boxes and they've been great in all respects, and quite a bit cheaper. Zero maintenance except once every 3-4 weeks swapping out the used tray with a new one - takes a few minutes per box.
posted by homesickness at 2:17 PM on April 14, 2021

We got a reconditioned model direct from Liter Robot to save $100. Arrived in new packaging all clean. I really like it.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 2:25 PM on April 14, 2021

Just another anecdote for your pile. Some friends bought the Litter Robot for their two cats. One was scared of it (it's noisy!) and then the other bit through the cord after less than a day, possibly in an attempt to save the entire household from the robotic litter menace. I was tempted but my guys do fine with a regular box and frequent scooping.

(This thread needs way more photos!)
posted by easy, lucky, free at 2:37 PM on April 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I had one for years and if I get a cat again nothing else would do. Keep an eye out for one on Craigslist, used ones are usually very affordable. There isn't really anything that breaks. Get an older one with the window. Their customer service is excellent. Really! Start with one. A neighbor has one for two cats.
posted by Ferrari328 at 2:41 PM on April 14, 2021

Best answer: Three cats, one Litter Robot here. I think you'd only need two if your cats were territorial over the litterbox; ours aren't, fortunately.

Our experience has been mixed-to-good; we're using a regular litterbox alongside it as one of our cats is in a cone post-surgery and can't navigate the LR with it on, and have rediscovered how much of a pain manually scooping a box multiple times a day is.

The good: when it works it works well and you really don't have to scoop litter any more. Solidly built and well designed. Cats took to it readily; it does hold enough litter to permit some vigorous digging. The tray + carbon filter work well to contain smells; we usually toss in a quarter-cup of baking soda when we empty the tray to help neutralize pee smells. We use regular kitchen trash bags to line the tray which are cheap and fit well. Customer service is good and resolved a broken-on-arrival problem with ours quickly and efficiently.

The mixed: expensive! and the accessories, should you need them, are expensive too. One of our cats is a big digger and occasionally kicks out litter; the fence accessory raises the height of the lip and reduced kickouts a lot, but it smarts a bit paying $25 for a small piece of moulded plastic. They track litter out of it like crazy; we have a big litter mat in front of it which does help to contain it, but still: the promo pictures of Litter Robots on pristine shiny wooden floors are to laugh.

With 3 cats ours needs its tray emptied every 3-4 days and this is kind of an unpleasant task as the whoosh of concentrated cat-pee smell that hits you when you open the tray is oof. Additionally, the inside of the globe does get dirty and whiffy over time; we clean ours every 4-6 weeks and in an apartment bathroom this is a big production; it'd be easier if you could hose it off outdoors.

Ours has been a bit temperamental recently, throwing a lot of flashing-yellow "temporarily halted" errors. On ours I believe this was caused by flaky contacts between the base unit and the bonnet over the globe that covers the track and provides the nightlight; they get corroded and stop making good contact which makes the base unit think the bonnet is missing and halts rotation. Sandpapering the contact fingers to remove the corrosion has pretty much fixed this.

Our youngest cat had a fascination with watching it rotate and often wanted to jump in while it was rotating; not great, although the unit does sense the additional weight and halt rotation. Took a while to train her out of that behavior, mostly by providing distractions while the unit was rotating; she pretty much ignores it now.

Overall: would repeat purchase, and probably will when this one reaches end-of-life.

I do have it on an outlet timer so that it turns off at night.

FWIW the current model has a sleep mode feature that can do this; we don't bother any more but it worked nicely when we did.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 2:49 PM on April 14, 2021

Best answer: Another counterpoint. I had one of the earlier models, so grain of salt. The "stuff" ended up piling up lopsidedly in the tray, causing all sorts of streaking and grossness when the LR turned. And "stuff" was always getting caught in the various nooks and crannies. Much grossness. It was heavy and very difficult to clean (total pain in the ass actually), and the seal between the holding tray and the box was poor, so the whole house smelled like dirty litter almost immediately. YOu know that smell when somebody doesn't cover up their mess???

Switched to a regular litter tray and have been much happier. All those concerns could be specific to the older models though, dunno.

I did have a huge cat and a digger, and it was fine from that perspective.
posted by bluesky78987 at 5:45 PM on April 14, 2021

Best answer: We had one about 10 years ago when we had cats, and ditched it when we moved cross country in favor of a Cat Genie (washed plastic litter granules with water, amazing! Everything goes down the drain like your own poo.)

Our experience was exactly like bluesky78987 - occasional streaking on the outside of the drum and it was just impossible to clean the inside. The cats got used to both types of automated box just fine.

Litter robot is HUGE, for sure. Measure your space before you get one.
posted by WowLookStars at 6:46 PM on April 14, 2021

As long as folks are mentioning alternatives, I'll drop another positive review of the Omega Paw boxes. The boxes are super simple to use, and work as advertised. I do find that my clumping litter clumps pee to the box bottom, but I can solve that problem by thumping the bottom of the box when I'm rolling it to clean it. I have two cats, and we have 2 boxes, but I think we'd be fine with one. With two, we clean both twice weekly.
posted by girlstyle at 9:21 PM on April 14, 2021

Response by poster: Thank you all for sharing!

I went ahead and bought two, because I'm paranoid about litter box territoriality.

It took them about two weeks to transition from the old box (which I left dirty to encourage them). They were very interested in the noise, but not scared.

Now they use it without a hitch. And I love it more than I can say. The litter is more contained than previously, and the cleaning cycle works great. The only thing that occasionally happens is that one will peek inside during the cleaning cycle, so it sometimes has to restart. I know that because of the app. Which seems to work fine.

I love it so much. It is so easy to maintain. It's amazing. It's worth the money.

Bonus Cat Picture
posted by freshwater at 10:01 AM on May 18, 2021 [4 favorites]

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