Self-cleaning litter boxes worth it?

canopener

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Like many cat owners, I am on the never-ending quest to find the perfect litter-litter box combination...which, I appreciate, will always remain elusive...
I've used covered litter boxes with wood- or wheat-based clumping cat litter for years (currently using okocat) and I'm thinking about upgrading to something self-cleaning. I don't mind scooping the litter box per se, but I would like to find something with minimal mess and better odor control.
Do automatic litter boxes make a difference in these regards? Do they make any difference in terms of littler throwing and tracking? I am tempted by the ScoopFree Ultra but it's a significant transition from what my cats are used to. If it makes any difference, I have two cats, one of whom has CKD.

(I also have one issue that I'm not sure whether would be improved by or a problem with an automatic litter box: one of my cats has a habit of peeing in the exact same spot in the box every time he goes. So, basically by the end of the day there's an oversided super-clump that's difficult to scoop without making a mess and, because it's in the front of the box (I think this might be partly a territorial thing), I don't love the fact that he's walking through it every time he goes potty. I'm not sure whether an automatic box would help stop this from building up, or just get caught in it)
 

jefferd18

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I have had two in my life- one was very effective and would scoop once the cat left the box, the other one would wait a good ten minutes which I didn't care for. Unfortunately, one of my kitties became a little too curious about the wires and lets just say the box didn't work too well after she was done playing with it.

But to answer your question: YES, YES, and YES!!
 

cataholic07

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The problem with those litter boxes is that they scare some cats, it can cause resource guarding in other because well they are stupid expensive so you can have only one, maybe two max, and you lose your best source of info on your cats health. The litter box. It tells you if they aren't peeing or if there is blood in it, if there is a tiny amount instead of large ones indicating utis, and diarrhea/blood.
 

IndyJones

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My only experience comes from a first Gen litter maid a friend gave me after their cat was hit by a car.

It worked fine except the litter would sometimes get up in the channels that the rake moves down and jam it up when it clumped this makes the motor strain and whine. Eventually the motor died after it clogged one too many times. I got the reusable after market cartridge so I didn't have to keep replacing it.

It was alright but not my favourite. Much easier to just dump the box in the green bin and hose it down outside than to wipe down the mechanical parts.
 

Bobsk8

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I use Pine Pellet litter and a sifting litter box. Time spent each day, at most 2 minutes scooping solid waste out. No odor, and 6 months of litter costs about $6.
 

Ceracera

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I've tried three types of automatic litter boxes. They're amazing as long as you're not unlucky and your cat doesn't have stomach problems (i.e. isn't prone to the runs). Each type has its potential problems that the unlucky few get stuck with. For the rake types (litter maid), the rake can be stuck at an angle so it misses some clumps and if your cat has diarrhea, poop will get stuck to the rake. The spinning bowl types (petsafe) are designed with plastic parts so the motor can burn out. The cement mixer types (litter robot) are expensive and the most well-designed, but again, if your cat has diarrhea, poop will get stuck everywhere.

Out of the three I've tried, the cement mixer type is the best. It has a safe design and gets ALL of the clumps. Plus it has a setting that empties out the entire box so you can hose it down.

I recommend getting an automatic box. Yeah, they all have their downsides, but they save you a lot of time. My cats use the automatic boxes the most, probably cause they're the cleanest.
 

IndyJones

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The problem with the cement mixer style is some cats might not use it because it is a hooded box rather than opened. They also take up lots of space, not ideal for condos and small furnace room setups.
 

Ceracera

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Ps you can get more life out of most automatic litter boxes by putting them on manual and running them yourself a few times a day. It’s safer for the cat too
 

crazycatlass

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My partner and I are looking for a second automatic litter box and I'd much appreciate any and all recommendations.
Details: We have two indoor-only cats and live in an apartment. The older cat, Goldie, is a senior, weighs over 16 lbs and is about the size of an infant, arthritic, and prone to spraying. (Yes, apparently females can spray too.) My partner suspects she might be part cow because based on tge size and number of clumps, she must create and expels half a gallon to a gallon of urine daily. The younger, Skidd, weighs MAYBE 7 lbs now, is afraid of everything and is easily startled by noises and movements, and he has ongoing digestive issues which we're working with our vet to eliminate. (The vet suspects damaged or flawed nerves in his colon; he develops 'plugs' and can't eliminate them without manual assistance. It's gross.) He absolutely has to have constant access to clean litter.

Between the two of them, we had SIX manual boxes going at one time just so he had good litter even with his sister peeing like a racehorse. My partner and I, however, can't handle the manual boxes anymore. I have chronic pain - doc thinks it's fibromyalgia - and my partner has shoulder and back injuries which won't heal. We keep a manual box in the kennel, but more than once a week scooping is just impossible. We currently have a Smart Scoop - shown above - but its flaws make me hesitate to buy another. The rake has three 'blind spots' - the bottom of the pan, the right side by the wall, and at the end of the box - and Goldie found all of them in the first three tries. On top of that, no matter which litter we've tried, the clumps mold in the receptacle...and considering we empty that 2-3 times a week, that's ridiculous. Upsides: it's pretty easy to clean, the price was good, and instead of shelling out for pricey bags, we can use cheapy 4 gallon trash bags with no problems.

What we're looking for:
  • Won't break if used by fat moose-cats
  • Versatile waste disposal. (plastic bags work as liners, reusable receptacles, etc) Preferably will hold a few days worth of...stuff.
  • Cat litter flexible (I get migraines and the scents in cat litter are MURDER, and it's hard finding specialty litters around here. The last thing we need is a box that only works with one specific litter that smells like lavender and cedar, costs $20 a carton, and isn't available within a 30-mile radius.)
  • Most importantly, LOW COST. I've been given a tentative $120.00 budget but I'm not sure we'll find something for that. If we find something good for a bit more, we may be able to work it out.
Any advice would be much appreciated. M
Also, lest anyone be offended by my calling Goldie a fat moose, she pur and rolls whenever she hears the word "fat" or any of its common synonyms. "Heifer" and "Moose" earn happy chirps and face-rubbing on top of that. She's a lard-ball but she's very happy and even more loved. 💛
 
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