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|Litter Robot - The #2 Automatic Litterbox|
|Written by Stephanie|
When I first began looking at automatic cat litter boxes, the Litter Robot II was among my top two choices. The Litter Robot essentially looks like a large dome sitting on a square base. The cat climbs up a sensor step and into the dome to do his/her business, and seven minutes later the Litter Robot begins rotating, breading the cat waste with your preferred brand of clumping cat litter (which is a lifesaver if your cat doesn't like to cover his own business, and prevents the interior of the Litter Robot from becoming smeared in poo). As Litter Robot rotates, the litter is passed through a grate which catches the waste clumps and then deposits them into the waste receptacle below, leaving only clean litter behind for your furry friend. Once the dome has finished its rotation, the waste receptacle is closed preventing odours from escaping. The weight of your cat on the entry step signals to the Litter Robot that it has had a visitor, hence the time delayed cleaning cycle. If your cat happens to be the curious type, or has to use the washroom again, his weight will again trigger the sensor and Litter Robot will immediately cease operations, resuming again once it no longer detects your cat's presence (this is also a handy feature if you have crawling babies!) Depending on the frequency of your cat's bathroom visits, or how many cats you have in your home, simply remove the bag of cat waste from the waste receptacle once or twice a week and replace with any regular kitchen garbage bag.
What impressed me about the Litter Robot is that it does not use any rakes or moving scoops to clear the waste out, unlike other automatic litter boxes (the LitterMaid features a rake notorious for getting caught up in sticky poop, straining and finally springing loose, catapulting feces across the room). Litter Robot's cleaning cycle utilizes gravity to sort the waste clumps, placing less strain on the motor. The theory goes that this will extend the life of your unit and require less maintenance.
Another convenient feature of the Litter Robot is there is no need to purchase special solution or litter granules; all you need is clumping litter and kitchen garbage bags which are readily accessible at most grocery stores or Walmart. Some cats are very particular about the litter granules they will use, and will protest change by depositing a cat turd in a place of their choosing (one of my cats prefers the front entrance way, where I will be sure not to miss his 'note').
Litter Robot is set to run a cleaning cycle 7 minutes after your cat has done his business, unlike other automatic boxes that are timed to go at set intervals during the day. This is a fantastic feature if you have multiple cats who will not use a dirty box, and also greatly reduces any litter box smells as the waste is cleaned up quickly and does not sit exposed in the litter box for several hours. This feature can be a little annoying, however, as the Litter Robot is a fairly loud machine and cats (our cats, anyway) are fairly nocturnal creatures. I wasn't really concerned about the noise as we live in a house and planned to put our litter box in either the basement or laundry room, but if you live in a small apartment you may wish to shut Litter Robot off at night.
Another thing you may need to consider is the size of the Litter Robot. The dimensions are 29 inches (H), 22 inches (W) and 24 inches (D), so it is on the larger end of the scale as far as litter boxes go. If you have a dedicated spot for your litter box, such as a laundry room, basement or corner, this likely won't be an issue but if you live in a smaller apartment you may be stuck integrating Litter Robot into your home decor (its got to be worlds above staring at an open pan of dirty litter tho…)
Considering the overall size of the Litter Robot II, the actual interior litter bed measures 14 inches across, and depending on how much litter you use, there are roughly 14 inches of headroom available inside the dome. This may be an issue for larger cats, or cats who like to wander and circle before deciding on a spot to settle in. The Litter Robot instructions recommend the optimal cat size for this particular box be between 5 and 15 lbs. Unfortunately, due to the basic function of the Litter Robot, the dome lid cannot be removed for finicky cats as it can with Cat Genie. Smaller kitties weighing less than 5 pounds may not set off the weight sensor, so you will need to run Litter Robot manually (leave it unplugged, and plug it in when you need it to run a cleaning cycle, or make it completely automatic using an Insteon plugin) until your kitty weighs enough.
While I liked the overall functionality of the Litter Robot, in the end we decided to go with the Cat Genie as the cat waste is flushed out of the home through your plumbing system with no need to actually deal with the waste at all (my husband didn't feel the process was truly automated if he still had to throw out a bag of poop twice a week!) and we loved that we don't have to go through disposable litter or plastic bags. For the environmentally conscious consumer who would like to offset the carbon cost of disposable litter/plastic bags, the Litter Robot has come out with an Eco Unit; 84% of the plastics used are in the entire unit are made from 100% recycled material. Its looks a bit industrial compared to the standard black or white Litter Robot model options, but some people might get a kick out of the Death Star look.
If we lived in an apartment or a home where hooking the Cat Genie up would not be practical, the Litter Robot II is my absolute #2 pick.