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Automatic Litter Boxes - Are They Worth It?

I broke down to the promises marketed by the manufacturers of the automatic cat litter boxes 4 years ago of how easy it would make my life. As a person who loves gadgets, I could not resist the temptation any longer, so I plunked down my money and figured it had to be the greatest thing on earth. I consider myself a practical person and would rather direct my energies toward more meaningful tasks, rather than dealing with a cat litter box.

Four years later and 4 automatic litter boxes later, I have finally come to my senses. My wife and I have 3 cats who have three distinct personalities. All three cats have no problem using the automatic boxes, as a matter of fact, they seem more than willing to make certain that the boxes are tested to their full ability to do the job.

Since the idea to purchase the automatic litter boxes was my decision, the chore of dumping them was quickly was handed to me. No problem I thought, these are automatic, so once a week I will simply dump the containers and so, big deal.... Wrong!

First up, was the Littermaid Mega. Figuring the larger size would accommodate the leavings of 2 adult cats, I eagerly waited on this to arrive by UPS. Once delivered, setup was a breeze and I figured life was good as I had the the chore of cleaning the litter box under control.... Wrong again.

Several issues reared their ugly heads rather quickly. Once a week dumping of the waste container was not enough by far for 2 adult cats. The second issue was the type of litter I was using was causing a problem. OK, I bought a different brand of litter and figured that was under control. The next problem involved removing the waste container from the litter box when it was time to dump it. The plastic boxes have a habit of springing when you try to remove them and always seem to shoot soiled litter in your face. Those of you reading this article who own a littermaid know what I mean. Safety glasses should be included with this litterbox. The problem of the single litter box could be handled quite easily by either dumping the container more often, or buying a second littermaid, so I of course opted to purchase a second automatic litter box. My stubborn nature had set the criteria that this was only going to be a once a week chore.

With 2 littermaids in action, things went fairly well for a little over a year, but when trouble occurs, it happens all at once. First, the original unit burned out the motor. Of course the warranty had expired the month before, so that unit went into the trash. This time I went to the local Walmart and bought another littermaid, but a little smaller in size than the mega model. This was a mistake in judgement on my part as I noticed the mega unit still in action was filling up fast and the new unit was not being used at all. Watching around a corner, I would see cat number one jump into the smaller unit, then immediately jump into the bigger litter box to do her business! That lasted about 2 weeks until the mega could not handle the added load any longer and quit working. I was convinced that littermaid was engineered to fail as soon as the warranty period was done, so I figured it was time to try another brand of automatic. Enter, the Smartscoop! This automatic litter box looked very slick and well designed, so I had to have one. After reading through the manual and setting the unit up, I filled the box with the indicated amount of litter and waited for someone to give it a test run. This did not take long as cat number 2 had been watching my efforts to assemble the unit and was more than willing to give it a trial test.

The maiden voyage was a disaster as the metal prongs engaged the cat waste, bound up against the back of the litter box and flung the cat poop out of the box and onto the floor like a catapult! Quickly grabbing my handy cat litter scoop, I retrieved the clump of cat poop off of the floor and deposited it back into the box before my wife saw this. OK, reset the box and try again.......... Same result! Flying cat poop! Back to the store to return this cat crap launcher and figured you have to go with what you know, so I purchased another littermaid mega and brought that home with me. To further complicate this, my wife handed me a very small 6-8 week old kitten who she found in her flower bed. Being a bit soft-hearted, this kitten has become cat number 3 in our household. I am fairly certain we are listed very high on the abandoned kitten rescue list for the neighborhood.

Cat number 3 had no problem adapting to using the littermaids, but all 3 cats like the mega size and will not use the smaller littermaid unless the big one is occupied. With the addition of cat number 3 to the growing household population and more use on the littermaid mega, it quickly died after 4 months of use. No sense fighting over a warranty issue, it went quietly into the trash without any fanfare.

At this point, I had become disgusted with the automatic litter boxes and looked for something different, which I found at Cats-On-Line. These folks have developed a MANUAL dump litter box at really works well. No electric, no motors, sensors, timers, none of the technical aspects I so longed to own a few years before. This litterbox has a long handle that is attached to the box. You just sweep it through the litter, and dump it into the bag at the back of the box. It uses grocery store shopping bags rather than special plastic containers that can get rather expensive.

It has become the favored litter box at my home as the existing littermaid should last forever as none of the 3 cats will use it. I turn the switch on and off once in a while to make sure it is still working, but the waste container rarely has anything in it.

They like the No-Stoop litter box much better and I have to say, it works much better than any automatic litter box I have tried. Visit them at Cats-on-line and you'll see what I mean.

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