Sunday, September 30, 2012

Review: The Litter Robot

Over a month ago, we received a delivery from Litter Robot (and when I say delivery I mean ginormous Monster Box that any cat would envy!).


If you’re not familiar with the product, the Litter Robot is an automated litter box invented by a mechanical engineer named Brad Baxter who was frustrated with the ineffectiveness of automated litter products on the market.

So he started noodling around with ideas of his own and in 2000, the first Litter Robot debuted.

We like that it’s 100% made in America – assembled in Wisconsin, in fact.

This 12-year-old company has a good track record with its customers, boasting a low 5% return rate.

Once we got the unit up and running, we can see why. It is well engineered. But will the cats use it?

We promised to give an honest review of their product, and so we took our time. That way, all three cats had ample opportunity to explore, get comfortable and report back on it.

Today, we present to you their findings in the form of a photo diary with commentary.

Day 1: Unpacking and Setup

“What’s this?”
Loads of sniffing and snoopervising during this process, from all three – though Faraday kept a healthy and wary distance!


The unit they sent us was easy to assemble.

It basically had three main sections: the base unit, the spherical litter area (the part that rotates), and the drawer that the waste is dumped into.

Here you see Maxwell supervising the installation of the plastic liner that lines the drawer.

("Yeah, mom, you're doin' it right.")

But of course, he had to check...!

The unit comes with a small number of plastic liners to get you started, but the supply is easily replaced, as the liners are the same size as a standard 16 gallon trash bag.

The liners are installed by pressing the plastic into the rubber grommets in each of the four corners. They'll hold the liner in snugly.

I've had no issues at all with the liner pulling out when it shouldn't.

Day 2: More sniffing 


Our unit came with a viewing port in the back. Maxwell thought this was totally rad and wanted to know if this was how kitties used the litterbox in space...?

 “Cool, it looks like a space capsule!”

Here's what the inside of the unit looks like - the litter sits in a heavy-duty rubber sling at the bottom.
The entire spherical top unit rotates, allowing the litter to be sifted and the solid waste to drop down to be collected in the drawer inset into the base, below.


Day 3: The Big Move.

Maxwell: “hey, you mean…this thing goes down in our bathroom?”

I set the unit kitty-corner to their existing litter boxes, under the basement stairs. The company recommends that you replace existing litterboxes with this one but with Faraday being as opinionated and stubborn as he is - (remind us some day to post the video of him trying to use the bathroom SINK, oy!) - we didn't dare.

Besides, the rule of thumb is to have one more litter box than you have cats - and since we have 3 cats, that means 4 litter boxes.

The unit works with standard clumping litter - including biodegradable corn based litters, like the one we use: World's Best.

"Wait! Is that...LITTER in there???"

Loads of sniffing ensued, with Maxwell spending a bit longer time investigating than the other two.
I placed a lump of used litter inside the Litter Robot to signal to the cats that yes, this is a litter box.

Do you see the shelf that Maxie's standing on? That serves as the drawer handle and also the sensor-activation spot. Max triggered the Litter Robot 7 minutes ago, when he went in. In this shot here, the Litter Robot has just started its automatic cycle, which drew him back to investigate.

One nice feature: the sensor will also trigger the unit to stop wherever it is in its cycle if it senses a cat like Max has come back to investigate. That's a nice safety feature. As soon as Max stepped off, the unit resumed.  (The manufacturers warn that this is not for kittens. The cat needs to be at least 5 pounds for the sensor to work properly. And they don't advise this for use by a cat over 15 pounds either since large cats may find its interior a bit cramped.)

Day 4:

Nothing. No surprise there, really - as hackles were raised a bit on both Faraday and Allie when they saw it intruding in their bathroom.

Day 5: Success!

When I went down to clean litter, Max went with me. I held my breath and stood stock-still as he approached it. He went in! (Sorry no photos of Maxwell with the Wall Street Journal inside the Litter Robot).

Days 7-10:

It looks like this is going to be Maxwell's domain - but wait! On Day 12, Faraday begins to use it as well. (don't ask us to go into the details on how we know which cat is using it *grin*)

Looks like this is going to be the Men's Room!

And - knowing Allie as we do... fastidious, energetic litter bury-er, plus she's larger than both boys too (Allie: I'm JUST BIG BONED!!) ... the Litter Robot may just be a bit cramped for her style.

Day 20: Business Trip.

The Litter Robot definitely made it easier on Marty while I was away. And the boys had nice, clean litter without any effort on Marty's part!

Our Conclusion

The Litter Robot is a perfect solution for a one-cat household, especially if its humans take short trips from time to time. It is a bit pricey - this unit retails for around $350 - and we probably wouldn't have purchased it for our own use simply because we have three cats, and one Litter Robot isn't enough for our needs.

But are we glad we have it? You bet. And it definitely makes Marty's job easier while I'm away.

Oh...and the fourth litter box we no longer need? It's been - as Miss Moderncat would say - upcycled.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Our Five Fave Tweets: September 2012

Our monthly series continues...

Who ME? Afraid of a little thunderstorm? PSHAW no just suddenly felt pressing urge to Investigate dust bunnies under bed (mowzers, they really DO multiply!)

DASH!>> Mother, oh Mother! Look, look!! @SusanMallery tweeted me again! *faint* oh wait. my nails aren't dry yet *blow*blow*

You done with that sammich yet OH YES I THINK YOU ARE *snatch*grab*

So Momma. SERIOUSLY. Do you have to have clothes out of dryer This Very Minute? I swear there's a towel calling my name -- s'cuse me... *burrows undercover*

EWWW not sure what Mom & Dad are eating but it's only fit for the Litterbox (MADE MY POINT CLEAR BY TRYING 2 BURY IT) *giggle!*

Friday, September 28, 2012

"Fun Finds" Friday

This is a random gathering of pet-related things we thought you might find interesting. 
(Okay, and a lot of it is from Mommy's snoop time on Pinterest!)

If you have a fun find you'd like us to feature, send us a shout-out by clicking on the Contact Us tab above.


We love this because it's not just a cool idea, it's also been used to help bring structure to the lives of difficult cats. You see, sometimes cats are difficult because they're highly intelligent, bored and just flat-out mischief makers! Clicker training can give cats who are easily overstimulated a way to exercise their brains. It can even benefit elderly cats suffering from cognitive dysfunction.


Karen Pryor is the author of "Clicker Training for Cats". You can buy the book ($12, new) and the clicker ($10.50, new) at