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Is a self-cleaning litter box right for your home?

Cats love a fresh, clean litter box. Sometimes, they can’t contain their excitement and use the box right after you’ve scooped it! If you’re looking to maintain that freshly-scooped appeal throughout the day, you may want to consider buying a self-cleaning litter box. Before you buy one, consider the following pros and cons.

What self-cleaning litter boxes do well

Self-cleaning litter boxes can either be powered by electricity, or by you. Examples of popular electric models are the LitterMaid and ScoopFree automatic litterboxes, which both use a comb or rake mechanism that sweeps the litter box free of waste.

One of the benefits of the these devices is that they will remove the waste mere minutes after it’s created, thereby minimizing the odor that escapes into the air. They are ideal for using with corn-based and crystal litters respectively. They also solve the common complaint of these types of litter becoming malodorous too quickly.

Other self-cleaning litter boxes, like the OmegaPaw Roll n’ Clean and various sifting tray litter boxes do not use electricity, but they are scoopfree in that you do not have to physically “dig for buried treasure” yourself. They can also be used with corn and crystal litters respectively.

Where self-cleaning litter boxes fall short

Even though self-cleaning litter boxes advertise that they work well with clumping clay litters, in reality clay litters can easy clog the gears. Clumping litter also tends to form a paste on the bottom of the trays, just out of reach of the comb. So, you’ll still have to get the scoop and scrape the bottom from time to time.

The ugly truth about most electric automatic litter boxes is that they don’t work well when there’s loose stool. The LitterMaid system, for instance, relies on clumping litter. If kitty didn’t cover poop, then when that rake goes by, it’ll just all get smeared in the mechanism. The ScoopFree, while designed to remove uncovered poop, doesn’t fair much better when the waste isn’t very firm. This is a problem that can be avoided by using a non-electric model, though.

Keep in mind virtually no litter box is maintenance-free, and receptacles do need to be changed on most electric models. If you do not change the receptacle in time, the lid will come open and fill the air with the smell of about 20 uncleaned litter boxes! Not to mention, buying new receptacles can often be an added expense that can build up over time. Luckily, eco-friendly solutions can be found in a few moments by searching the web.

Do you have an automatic litterbox that needs a little maintenance while you’re out of town? Hire a pet sitter! Our pet sitters are happy to make sure that everything is functioning properly for your kitty while you’re away.


Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

photo by Anas Qtiesh on flickr

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