My kitties make stinkies
July 29, 2008 9:29 PM   Subscribe

Do any of the automatic cat litter boxes work well?

We got a Littermaid Automatic cat litter box a couple years ago when our friends' cats died and ran away. It worked okay, but would often get stuck, and was still a messy business with cat litter strewn everywhere. But the thing has finally kicked the bucket and we were wanting to get another. Looking at the reviews for the new versions of the littermaid litter box on Amazon, however, they seemed to have come down in quality. The other litter boxes don't seem to have great reviews either. The Litter Robot seems to get okay reviews, but is awfully expensive.

What are people experience with the current selection of automatic litter boxes? Is any particular one recommended, or should we just go back to manual scooping?
posted by GeneticFreek to Pets & Animals (17 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Seconding the Litter Robot. I have have two of them (for multiple cats - not because of any problems) and they really do work, unlike the Littermaid I used to have. They're awesome. Do not pass go - go spend the (slightly more than) $200 and get one. It's worth it.
posted by snowleopard at 9:49 PM on July 29, 2008

Littermaid sucks. So does the other one we tried. I forget what the second one was had a flat circular tray that rotated to clean the box, rather than the rake moving significantly, but it was essentially a littermaid with a different rake.

So we clean litter boxes manually, and it works fine. (What's 5 or 10 minutes a day, really?)

It ends up being much less disgusting than the mess that would fairly regularly find itself on the rakes with the automatic stuff.

Of course, I've never used a litter robot (which looks like it would get just as icky should one of the felines have a soft stool and be harder to clean than the littermaid), nor the one that uses water.
posted by wierdo at 10:08 PM on July 29, 2008

I think the breeze litter system is great. It's not exactly automatic, but it reduces cleaning and odor to a large extent. Amazon people tend to agree. Basically, it consists of special litter pellets on top of a grate/screen. Liquid drips to the bottom where it is absorbed into a pad. Change the pad once a week or so. Solid waste dries (even if it isn't buried or isn't as solid as one would hope), and you scoop it, and add more pellets occasionally.

I (er, my cat) used a Littermaid for a long time, and was less than impressed. Not worth the effort/maintenance. Especially when it would occasionally fling poo across the room. I assume all the rake-based types have the same downfalls as the Littermaid.

The CatGenie (the self-washing box) is intriguing, but is expensive and requires a connection to running water. I'm not sure how well it works, but it could be worth looking into.

The Litterbox Central forum is a good place to look for more information and discussion about automatic litterboxes.
posted by sentient at 10:35 PM on July 29, 2008

I bought one and thought it worked well, but there was one problem. It scared my little mačkica (Bosnian for kitty) so much that said mačkica starting, um, avoiding the little box with the same sort of deadly fear you or I might have of attack robots.

So the personality of your cat may be a factor in the success or failure of these products.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 10:49 PM on July 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

We have (or rather, our cat has) a LitterMaid. I don't mind it, although it's not perfect. It's better than scooping, IMO. We've been using it for about 2 years now, and I think we paid $150-200 for it when it was new.

It's very sensitive to the amount of litter in the box. Too much, and the rake will get stuck and won't go through. Too little, and poop will get stuck to the bottom of the box or to the rake. (And the rake does get stuff stuck to it sometimes; I just clean it off with a litter scoop.)

We clean it out completely about once every week or so, every other week at absolute most. If you don't dump it completely on a regular basis, it will get really, really disgusting. (And our cat will refuse to use it and use the carpet/plants/shoes instead.)

The main benefit to us is that it controls the smell better than a regular box, because it gets scooped more quickly. Also, it keeps the cat from making use of the potted plants, which he does if we don't scoop the manual box after every use (he's a neat freak like that). This is especially important when we occasionally need to leave him in the house overnight or for a day by himself.

It's definitely not perfect (it needs a much stronger motor, for starters, and a removable rake would be nice) but we're pleased for what it cost.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:51 PM on July 29, 2008

Best answer: Following your 'litter' tag we can see that Litter Robot is MEFI's preference.
posted by B(oYo)BIES at 10:57 PM on July 29, 2008

I've been happy with the Scoop Free
posted by Alabaster at 11:57 PM on July 29, 2008

Some really good advice in this identical thread, posted less than a month ago.

I'll just copy and paste my previous comment -

Litter Robot FTW

I heard about them on a few months ago, picked one up on craigslist and have never been happier - I've already saved $40-$50 in cat litter costs simply because so little cat litter is used every time and all the clean stuff is conserved.

Though it has a higher initial investment, they take returns for any reason in the first year - so if it breaks or your cat won't use it, you're not out a couple of hundred bucks.

We are HIGHLY satisfied.
posted by arnicae at 1:07 AM on July 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Question about the Litter Robot. Is it loud? I live in a studio apartment, and I tempted to get something like this in order to quell odor issues. But I also don't want to be awakened in the middle of the night, because at most this thing will be 15 feet from my bed.
posted by kimdog at 7:01 AM on July 30, 2008

We have a Cat Genie. We had some bugs to work out with the impeller, but they sent us a new and improved one free of charge. The only time we run into any real problems is if my wool-chewer deposits a bunch of fabric leavings, which will clog it up. Digging through poo-water to remove a clog like that is NOT fun. Otherwise it works pretty well.
posted by Addlepated at 7:12 AM on July 30, 2008

One caveat about the Litter Robot - our fluffy, 15 pound cat refused to use it. There is not a ton of space inside, so it might be best for a smaller cat. On the other hand, we were able to re-sell it on craigslist for the price we paid, so it's worth a shot.
posted by Mr Bunnsy at 7:30 AM on July 30, 2008

The Litter Robot is loud but you can unplug it at night and plug it back in in the morning. I liked the Litter Robot but my boyfriend hated it because of the noise, and its persistent getting stuck while rotating (easily solved with WD-40). Luckily our cats would still use it if it was upside down. I agreed to give it up because he promised to handle all litter box related chores.

I have to say though that the thing was a pain to clean, as I live in an apartment and couldn't simply take it outside to hose it off.
posted by miscbuff at 7:37 AM on July 30, 2008

I had a Litter Robot for a couple of years. Works well, the cats were cool with it. However, there are two caveats:

1. Change the litter and empty the tray more often than they recommend. Maybe my cats just poo'd a lot more than normal cats.

2. Every once in a while take the whole thing apart, drag it outside, and give it a good hosing down.

Otherwise overall a good machine. I'd still be using it, but now I own my house and can do things like cut a hole in the wall and keep the litter boxes outside - then just change the pine based litter wholesale once a week. If you own your place of residence, get creative, think outside the litterbox.
posted by krisak at 8:10 AM on July 30, 2008

posted by nitsuj at 8:45 AM on July 30, 2008

we have 7 cats and use the litter boxes that have the sifter and 2 boxes. Lift the sifter, dump the contents, sifter goes into the bottom of the second box, dump relatively clean sifted litter out of the first box into sifter/second box.... easier to do than describe i guess. Main point, with a plethora of cats we can't risk mechanical failure and dumping each box takes about a minute and no touchie of the poo. the littermaid I got my wife as a labor saving gift lasted about 3 weeks. I should add our cats are all Ragdolls and in the 15 to 20 pound range. If anyone has any new ideas to test, we'd be a good torture test house.
posted by Redhush at 1:49 PM on July 30, 2008

Omega Paw Self-Cleaning Litterbox

These work really well and have no motor to scare the cats. You just roll the thing ~180 degrees to the right, tap the bottom a few times, then roll back (and a little past so the litter returns to the tray). The kitty clumps are deposited into a pullout tray thingie that you just dump out.
posted by BrandonAbell at 3:45 PM on July 30, 2008

I have the Scoopfree Automatic Litterbox and it has been working fine the 7 months I've had it. It is a good size, the litter trays aren't a terrible fortune (about $15 each, less if you buy in bulk online,) and they are pretty easy to replace when they get dirty (with my 14lb cat that is every 3 weeks or so.) My cat was suspicious of the noise it makes when it rakes the litter for awhile, but he got used to it. Getting him to use it initially was a challenge, but I put about a cup of his old brand of litter in with the crystal litter and that did the trick. Overall I have no complaints, and it is so much nicer than having to scoop the litter myself everyday. I chose the Scoopfree based on online reviews I found on It seemed like more people had problems with Littermaid.
posted by kathleenl at 8:14 AM on August 2, 2008

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