For some cat owners, scooping up and cleaning up their cat's litter box is an awful chore. Especially for men, the thought of using automatic cat litter boxes is especially attractive. However, automatic cat litter boxes are a lot more expensive than the normal manual litter box, usually costing at least $50 each. There is also a maintenance cost - some people report spending an extra $10 to $20 every month buying replacement trays. These self cleaning litter boxes are not always suitable for cat litter training. Below are some questions often asked about these high-tech automatic kitty litter:
1. I have already litter trained my cat, but I am getting tired of cleaning up the litter everyday. Will self cleaning cat litter boxes help me?
- Possibly. Automatic litter boxes will scoop the cat poop into a separate compartment and rake the remaining litter to prevent cat pee from puddling up. You still need to get rid of the dirty litter every one or two weeks, and replace the used litter.
- Cats tend to be quite finicky creatures. There is a strong possibility that if you change their litter box, you may need to go through the whole cat litter training process again.
- Some of these self cleaning litter boxes also require specific types of litter to work properly, for example a particular brand of crystal cat litter or clumping cat litter. Will your cat use this type of litter?
- Also, be aware that some cats absolutely refuse to use these automatic litter boxes. In the worst case, you may have to retrain your cat twice - once to use the automatic device, and once more to revert to the old manual litter box.
- You may want to buy your litter box from a shop with a lenient return policy, especially if you buy one of the expensive models. If your cat does not like the new litter box, at least you can return it.
2. I heard that automatic kitty litters are noisy and can scare my cats away. Is this true?
- It is true that they tend to be noisy. Some people are sensitive to noise, especially at night. If your cat goes potty in the middle of the night, the machine will activate. Depending on your noise tolerance and where you placed the box, this may disturb you.
- Will kitty be scared off? Frankly, that depends on your cat. Some cats are just fascinated by these things, and will never want to use an ordinary litter box ever again.
- Other cats take some time to get used to their automatic cat litter boxes, and may need to go through litter training again before they will use these new self cleaning litter boxes.
- I have heard of accidents involving long haired cats, where they get caught in the device and become permanently scared of using any kind of enclosed litter box ever again.
- There are also reports of some brands of automatic cat litter, where the design attracts cats to pee or spray on their sensors. Obviously, this quickly damages the litter box.
3. How long do self cleaning cat litter boxes last? Do they get spoiled quickly?
- This depends on your luck. There is no general consensus on any particular brand which is more reliable or less reliable than the rest. Some people have used theirs for nearly a decade, while others had to return or throw away theirs in just a few weeks.
- Someone did note that the rectangular-shaped automatic cat litter tend to have fewer problems compared to the round or other odd-shaped boxes.
- Unfortunately, price seems to have no relation to reliability.
4. What is the best cat litter to use with these automatic litter boxes?
- It is best to follow the manufacturer's instructions. However, most require either crystal cat litter or clumping cat litter.
- NB: Some owners find that the manufacturer's recommendations are wrong. If your litter box does not work well with the recommended litter, you may want to experiment with a different type before giving up.
5. The maintenance cost is expensive - how can I cut costs? Does it use a lot of electricity?
- Some older models may have needed more power, but the newer models are more efficient. You should not notice any significant increase in your annual electric bill.
- The major cost is in replacing the tray and the litter. Most automatic cat litter boxes require you to buy a new tray with some specific brand of kitty litter.
- Some owners have successfully saved a good deal of cash by re-using the tray. They also use a cheaper brand of cat litter, although sticking to the same type, e.g. if the recommended brand is a crystal litter, then they use a cheaper crystal litter brand.
- Someone reported that she used small trash bags to line the tray - this allowed her to re-use the tray even more often.
As you can see, automatic cat litter boxes are not for everyone. For now, there is no clear leader to recommend. If your cat has already been litter trained, you should not make any changes.
Do you want to learn more about cat litter training? Click here to learn more about cat potty training.