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A mixed review from the cats
on November 30, 2008
We have three cats and four litter boxes--this one makes five--so I know a thing or two about scooping. I've been intrigued by the idea of these self-cleaning boxes for some time, especially since my significant other can't seem to clean the litter boxes with any regularity if I'm out of town. More recently, one cat's sudden penchant for peeing in inappropriate places for no apparent reason has inspired me to explore new approaches to the feline toilette. (And yes, she's been to the vet multiple times, and they can't find anything wrong.)
This is basically a good idea that could use some refinement. The unit was a little confusing to assemble, mainly because the instructions weren't great. But I eventually figured it out. It does perform mostly as advertised, but I have two main gripes with it. First, as other reviewers have noted, it makes a bloody racket when it's raking the detritus into the receptacle. The first few times, I thought someone was shredding a document, as it sounds almost exactly like a paper shredder, only the growling/whining noise goes on considerably longer. Fortunately, it's located clear across the house, but for people who keep the litter box in the bathroom near the bedroom, it's really a problem. Second, the unit is designed with thin disposable plastic receptacles and air cleaners that cost a fortune for what they are and don't hold very much. The box comes with four of each, and while I'll probably get some more because there's really no choice if I want to keep using the box, the pricing is outrageous. (I'm reminded of the old Gillette marketing strategy, where they were more focused on selling razor blades than razors. Same thing here, I fear.) A more minor issue is that the unit seems fairly flimsy, but only time will tell if that's actually a problem. Also, the rake mechanism speared a clump on one of the passes, and I'm not sure why, as the litter level seemed okay. Be forewarned that the tolerances for the litter levels are fairly narrow, and if you fill it too full, it sweeps perfectly good litter into the receptacle, wasting litter and precious space.
Of the three cats, only one seems to be using it. She is on medication for some digestive issues and drinks huge amounts of water, which then comes out the other end with more frequency than normal. So she's been generating a lot of clumps in the litter box, and these have nearly filled the receptacle in just one day. The other two cats have been freaked when the rake motor does its thing and have continued to use the other boxes. I don't know if they'll overcome their fear and start to use it or not.
We have also noticed a stronger than usual urine smell in the room where we keep the litter boxes, and this may be from the accumulation of clumps in the receptacle. I've emptied it, but it really smelled worse than if I'd just skipped a day of scooping all the litter boxes. So time will tell about that as well.
Before buying this, you should carefully check the dimensions because the whole unit takes up a lot of space, especially with the ramp. If I decide to keep using it, I may get the cover, as all our cats prefer covered litter boxes. I'm also hoping that just maybe it will cut down on the noise a bit.