Automatic Litter Box Review
Omega Paw Self-Cleaning Litter Box, Green and Beige - photo reproduced under fair use. I recommend this automatic litter box.
Date: 2nd April 2010: I thought it would be useful to do an automatic litter box "review of reviews". What I mean is to combine reviews that are fairly easily accessible, add some analysis and comment and come up with a final version.
I don’t know about you but I find it can get a bit confusing trying to find out what the best product is from Internet searches. Different websites present different products. Some are reviewed and some aren’t. Are the reviews genuine? This page is an attempt to pull the strands together, to try and achieve a clear focus on what the best automatic litter box is, based on all available information that is on the Internet. In short I am doing the donkey work and, hopefully, applying a bit of analysis and common sense.
Clearly litter boxes manufacturers are country specific. Products can also be country specific but some products cross boundaries. For the purposes of this exercise, I am looking at the USA market as that is where most visitors to this site come from and where most of the automatic litter boxes are. In the UK we really don't think about the automatic litter box or automatic litter box reviews.
An Automatic Litter Box will usually have machinery, moving parts and require power. This opens the door to mechanical failure and maintenance. Cats vary in habits. Can one machine cope with the wide range of habits and sizes of cats? A critical point is, does the benefit in terms of less work outweigh the downside of cost (initial and possible running costs) and potential problems of mechanical failure, purchase of consumables, returns etc. All these take time. Also, how much manual work (meaning "supporting poo scooping", cartridge removal and re-insertion etc., training the cat to use it, cleaning up around machine) is involved to run the machine? When we buy these sorts of machines, ideally, we want it to do all the work. The more work we need to do the less viable the machine is.
There is a lot to be said for simplicity (peace of mind and predictability). One factor may be the number of cats one lives with. In a one cat household the litter needs cleaning once a day, I would say. It usually takes me under 2 minutes and I do a good job (I am fast and efficient, though). Why buy a machine under these circumstances? In a two + cat household do we need to buy more than one tray? Is that financially viable?
How well built are these machines. Manufacturing costs have to be kept down to keep prices down. It could be argued that the average automatic litter box is not that durable. Stories of breakdown after 6 months and earlier are not unheard of. What if we buy the wrong litter. Will it damage the machine?
Will the cat use it? Some of these machines are far removed from the natural process of a cats toilet, namely doing it on the ground in soil and they can be noisy.
I have considered: number of reviews from users and their score, purchase price and running costs, ease of use, availability, maintenance issues, return policy, customer service. I have digested the essence of the reviews. I have multiplied the rating times the number of votes. This, I feel is better that plain ratings as it tends to take into account the number of purchasers, which is also a factor in making an automatic litter box review.
CatGenie-Self Washing, Self Flushing Cat Box. 255 customer reviews at Amazon - 3.5/5 score (875 "points"). The score indicates things are not completely right with this machine. Good number of reviews, however. Adjustment might be needed for cat as it is different and arguably "unnatural" for a cat to get into. Some noise and some smell. Pellets get carried out of box. Mechanically, there are some question marks and the same goes to functionality. There is noise (beeps etc.) that might put off people and cats. It is neither cheap to buy nor run it seems. Accordingly, the benefits might not outweigh the negatives.
Litter Robot LRII Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Box, Beige. 200 customer reviews at Amazon - 4.5/5 score (very good overall score and large number of reviews indicating lots of purchasers - 900 points). 60 day return policy (on the face of it this very is good). Customer service could be better. Best to buy in a store for face to face contact. Large and tall product. Not much space inside product. The ideal size for a litter tray is 1.5 times the length of the cat. This would not appear to meet that requirement. High initial cost but projected low maintenance. Good system. Some cats might not take to it because of (a) step up (b) it is covered. Recommended as best by one review website1. See a video in comments.
Petsafe Simply Clean Continuous-Clean Litter Box. 120 customer reviews at Amazon - 3/5 score (not that good a result if we are honest and certainly less good that the Litter Robot - 360 points). Perpetually on and creates noise. Not a perfect poo collection system. Cheap cost.
ScoopFree® Self-Cleaning Litter Box. 515 Amazon customer reviews giving a score of 4/5 (points 2060). Impressive number of reviews and decent score. Expensive cartridges so high running costs but relatively cheap purchase price ($140 Amazon). Process not perfect requiring some manual work. Some report odour and noise problems. Using a hood and putting Baking Soda in the tray helps reduce odor but this indicates a design problem and it is more work for the human. Running costs.
The remainder I review in less detail as they are patently less good (in my opinion)...
LitterMaid Elite Mega Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Box. Amazon reviews: 123 reviews at 3/5 (points 369). There are 39 one star ratings and 26 five star ratings indicating for me a problem. However it also indicates quite a could customer base but a machine that probably lacks good functionality.
LitterMaid LM700 Self-Cleaning Automatic Litter Box, Sage and Cream. Amazon reviews: 256 reviews at 3/5 (points 768). 73 one star ratings and 76 five star ratings. Large number of reviews but clear problems.
SmartScoop Self-Scooping Litter Box. Amazon reviews: 68 reviews at 2.5/5 (points 170). Twenty-seven one star reviews and seven 5 star reviews. On that basis alone this machine cannot be recommended.
LitterMaid LME5500 Automatic Litter Box. Another one with relatively poor reviews in Amazon: 31 reviews at 2.5/5 (points 77.5) with 12 one star and 6 one star. Dissatisfied customers outweigh satisfied ones at 2:1. As this post is intended to find the best. this one machine fails.
LitterMaid LME9000 Elite Mega Advanced Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Box. This automatic litter box has a large customer base judging by the number of Amazon reviews (296) but the rating is 1.5/5 (points 440), the poorest of those reviewed here and there were 210 one star ratings and 15 five star - this is a failure!
Omega Paw Self-Cleaning Litter Box, Green and Beige. Amazon votes: 1088 ratings at 4.5/5 making total "points" of 4896. There were 61 one star and 683 five star ratings. This has no machinery as is the case for the others. It requires some input from us but the simplicity is I believe, its strength as this translates to reliab ility and no noise. It is an aid to litter box maintenance rather than a machine that supposedly does the work for us.
I don't see a fully automatic litter box (powered device) that really does the job to a point that you can say unequivocally it is worth buying it on the basis that it improves your life.
However for powered devices, Litter Robot LRII Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Box ($309.87) is the best and is illustrated adjacent right. The lower number of reviews is probably due to the lower customer base compared to the ScoopFree® Self-Cleaning Litter Box ($85.99), but that may be due to the added expense of the Litter Robot machine.
The best overall automatic litter box is the Omega Paw Self-Cleaning Litter Box, in my opinion - price $35.25.
However, personally I would not buy any (but possibly the overall winner). I prefer simplicity and doing the job fast and accurately. There are some hidden advantages. Unpleasant though feces are, they do indicate health and if we shovel it ourselves we can keep tabs on our cat's health.
I have not reviewed all available products but the major ones.