Which Automated Cat Litter Box Is Better, CatGenie or Litter-Robot?

I’ve reviewed both the Litter-Robot and the CatGenie, two automated Cat Litter Boxes here on Gear Diary, and I’ve had several years to test each extensively. On top of that, when I started using the CatGenie, and it became evident that it was going to work out for me, I gave the Litter-Robot to my friends Steven and June; they have been using it since early 2009. Since reviewing both, I’ve received questions about how the two stacked up to each other, but none covered as many issues as a recent letter from Danielle. With her permission, I am going to answer it here …

Dear Judie,

I hope you don’t mind me contacting you directly.

I love the idea of an automated litter box – I’m going to get either the Litter Robot or CatGenie.

I will pay a fortune to get either as I live in Singapore (an Australian). The machines are both sold modified for other countries….you just lack
the support of customer service nearby. That’s a big concern.

I have read many reviews.

Some people love the CatGenie, whilst others are very bitter and say its a waste of time.

The more specific questions I have are

1) I know the Litter-Robot is bigger, but which actually seems bigger and bulkier?

2) Have you ever had to pull the CatGenie apart and unclog and if so, is it as gross as people say?

3) Do the plastic litter scatter about more than regular litter even with dome?

4) Would a large male Ragdoll fit in both?

5) Smells of both. Mixed reports here. I don’t have an exhaust in the laundry….does the poop really bake in the genie? Also do you use unscented or scented solution? which is the best smell wise?

Thank you so much for your time, and I really enjoy your detailed reviews.


Danielle had many questions inside one question, so we’ll tackle one at a time …

1) I know the Litter-Robot is bigger, but which actually seems bigger and bulkier?

They seem about the same bulk wise; the LitterRobot has a 22″ wide x 24″ deep footprint, where the CatGenie measures 19.25″ wide x 24.5″ deep. As for height, the Litter-Robot at 29″ is taller than the CatGenie’s 21″, which includes the optional dome (it’s basically flush with the back of the CatGenie unit). While the Litter-Robot is taller, which should be a consideration if you are placing it in a cabinet, you still have to remember the SaniSolution Cartridge on the CatGenie; since it is placed on the top left and you’ll have to remove and reinsert a cartridge every few months, you’ll need to add at least 6″ clearance if you are keeping the CatGenie in an enclosure.

2) Have you ever had to pull the CatGenie apart and unclog and if so, is it as gross as people say?

The short answer is yes I have, and whatever people have said … it is infinitely grosser!

Now here is the rest of the story.

I have actually had two CatGenie models, the original CatGenie 60 which I reviewed, and the newest model, the CatGenie 120. The CatGenie 60 never gave me a day’s trouble, so when the CatGenie 120 came out … even though it was $329+ for the upgrade package I purchased, I bought it without a moment’s hesitation.

The one smart thing I did was not take the $100 upgrade rebate option by trading in the old processing unit. The CatGenie 120 arrived and I was pleasantly surprised to find that all of my old accessories fit perfectly – the siderails and dome – and the only major change was that the enclosed processing unit of the device was altered.

Even though we could have technically just replaced the processing unit on the old base, we went ahead and changed out everything. We completely cleaned it, and kept the CatGenie 60 in our storage building; I figured I might eventually have someone to give it to, just like I had done the Litter-Robot.

I kept the CatGenie 120 on automatic mode — which is supposed to be better for it, but I had trouble with the unit from about the 4th month on. The first issue was rather dramatic, as I was alerted to a problem when the error alert kicked off and all of a sudden I had what amounted to raw sewage on the floor of our laundry room. Of course this happened 15 minutes before I was supposed to leave the house to attend a school function for one of my step-daughters. Needless to say I didn’t make it, and I was in a foul mood as I cleaned up the mess. Kevin came home after the school function and helped me take apart the CatGenie and we couldn’t find any clogs or other blockage. In other words, there was no discernible reason for the blowup.

We got everything set back up properly, the little raise in the hose you are supposed to have, the loose wrap of the extra hose under the base, everything sparkling and ready to go … and the CatGenie 120 worked properly for a few more months. The next problem was that I would constantly get Error #3, the one which means the CatGenie is not draining properly. We took it apart several times, and were never able to find a clog or any other reason for it to not be draining, and yet the issue would persist.

Then I started to regularly get error #1, the one which is supposed to mean a dirty water sensor or clog. Again, we took it apart several times but never found a clog; the water sensor would sometimes have a faint white film (possibly lime buildup – our water is hard, after all) on it, but wiping it off would not always clear the error. We did the prescribed maintenance on the device with the cleaning solution packets that had come with the unit, but to no avail. It got to where the error beeps would constantly go off, and I was getting more and more frustrated with the device.

Because unplugging it for a time would reset it so that it could properly run, I started unplugging it after it would do its sequence, right after the first error beeps started and cleaning the sensors didn’t work.

Yes, I called customer service, was walked through all of the tests and resets that I had already done, was told that my problem should be fixed now … and they weren’t. After another week or so of plugging it in only when I needed to run it and then immediately unplugging it, I got the brilliant idea of getting the old model out of our storage room.

Because I wanted to see if the issue was with the CatGenie 120 processing unit or the base itself, I inserted the CatGenie 60 processing unit into the 120’s base. We have not had a single issue since. :sigh:

photo courtesy of CatGenie

3) Do the plastic litter scatter about more than regular litter even with dome?

Not really. Avah likes to kick litter whether it be plastic or traditional. I just figure that we are always going to have a little bit to clean up one or twice a day with any style litter box; if your cat is a kicker too, then you will always have a bit of clean up, no matter what you use. That’s just one of the un-fun things about owning a cat, I guess.

4) Would a large male Ragdoll fit in both?

Absolutely. There is plenty of room in either the Litter-Robot or the CatGenie. Avah is fully grown and weighs about 16 pounds; she doesn’t even begin to fill her box. June & Steven’s cat Tom is a big boy – just under 20 pounds (he is fat, not once of those cats who just looks big but is all hair) – and he still has plenty of room in the Litter-Robot.

5) Smells of both. Mixed reports here. I don’t have an exhaust in the laundry….does the poop really bake in the genie? Also do you use unscented or scented solution? which is the best smell wise?

This is a two-part answer. On the CatGenie 120, yes the poop baked because the damn machine did not properly clean it! It was disgusting! Enough to run you out of the house! And it did several times! Even worse was if someone came over while it was completing the cycle and the house smelled. Oh, it was aggravating!

But I am happy to report that with the CatGenie 60, the only smells we get are the mild scent that the Unscented Cartridges put out. We started with the Scented cartridges, but they are pretty strong (we aren’t big potpourri or spray deodorizer fans, either), so we ultimately began ordering the Unscented. Those aren’t “unscented” really as there is a fresh, light deodorizing smell. However, it’s not obnoxious at all.

My recommendation for you? I would say that because you are in another country and because you don’t have easy warranty or maintenance access, you would likely do better with the Litter-Robot. The first reason is that the CatGenie 60 is no longer available, and only the 120 can be purchased. I simply don’t trust that model enough to recommend it to anyone, based on my experience. The second reason is because you will have to purchase more SaniSolution and plastic litter over time, and shipping to Singapore will likely be costly.

If you get the Litter-Robot, you will only need to buy clumping litter as needed. Of course you’ll have to regularly remove the waste bag in the bottom storage bin, but that is still a relatively trouble-free way to keep the litter box clean. :-)

Categories: Editorials


11 replies

  1. This! I’ve been back and forth half a dozen times in the last month or so trying to plan this big purchase wanting to make sure I got it right because at a couple hundred bucks a pop – I’m unlikely to be able to try these out indefinitely. But this side by side comparison of both from a satisfied user of both is just what I needed.

    I was leaning towards the genie as being an apartment dweller carting in and out heavy bags of litter is really just killing me but the bad reviews were making me anxious about it. I can manage the litter on occasion but could I really stomach the smell? What if it backed up and didn’t just sit in the bowl but overflowed? My deposit would be ruined and I’d never be able to get the sledge out of all the crannies. I think I’d rather live with any smell I get from the LR (my cat simply has stinky poo) and noise than having to clean up sludge.

    After all the point is to NOT have to deal directly with poo anymore right?

    Anyway thanks so much for this it was definitely the deciding factor in my purchase and if things turn out well I’ll be sure to come back with a glowing update post and point anyone else I find on the fence here!

  2. Hi Key, thanks for leaving your comment, and good luck with your purchase! Do keep us posted. :-)

  3. Well the Litter Robot is here and my fat kitten (10+lbs!) is staring at it :) She’s put her head in, sniffed it good and got at least one paw all the way into the litter chasing one of her favorite treats. I’m hopeful right now that we won’t get to the full 90 days before neither one of us could even dream of doing without it :)

  4. Good luck! I hope she takes to it like Avah and Tom did!:-)

  5. Wow, less than 24 hrs after it’s arrival and setup, Whisper has used the robot! She even stayed and watched while I manually ran the clean cycle. The sound of her wettish pee clumps falling down into the roof surprised her a bit but I’m pretty positive she’ll keep using it and grow used to the cycles etc rather quickly and I’ve got to say not having to bend down and scoop fresh pee out of the litter box first thing on a Saturday morning doesn’t suck either :)

    She is a curious kitten of less than 1 years old which probably explains the fast results but she’s also skittish from time to time so it could have gone either way. Yay! I’m glad she likes it!

  6. Awesome! Whisper sounds just like Avah was when she first started using automated litterboxes. It sounds like you are set! :-)

  7. Hi Judie,

    Just curious – did CatGenie offer to send a replacement unit/part when you were experiencing the constant issues?


  8. Hello,

    I have owned the CatGenie for two years, and I finally stopped using it and went back to having a litter box with clumping litter (made from walnuts). The CatGenie has issues that I can’t rely on when I go away. When I come home and it’s full of water and the cats have gone all over the floor a round it, it becomes useless. There’s a clear probe needs constant attention and cleaning otherwise the unit stops working. Loose poop will make your entire house smell horrible when the CatGenie “bakes” it during the drying cycle! And you need to be sure that your cartridge is not near the end when you go away, or it will stop working. I’ve had issues with having partially full cartridges that won’t work once I take it out and replace it with a full one. Waste of $$$.

    There are several other things you may not know about the CatGenie until after you’ve had it for a while.
    1. You are forced to buy special pellets, which are expensive (more than litter). CatGenie claims that you will save on litter, but in reality, I’d say 50% of their special plastic litter ends up ALL OVER THE HOUSE, as it sticks to the cats’ paws and I end up having to vacuum my house CONSTANTLY. I find litter in every corner of my house, including in the upstairs bedroom (the Cat Genie is on the first floor), on window ledges, furniture, etc.
    2. The hidden costs: Not only are you forced to pay a lot of $$ to purchase the CatGenie, but you are then forced to purchase their cleaning cartridges and litter. Not cheap!
    3. Lastly is the electric bill. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out why my electric bill was suddenly much higher. Well, imagine running your blow dryer for 15 minutes every time your two cats goes into the litter box ($$). When the CatGenie is done cleaning and drying, my entire laundry room is heated just from the box.

    I’m now looking seriously at the Litter Robot, as it does not need or use water, special cleaning cartridges nor special pellets, and I can use any clumping litter. So even though it cost a little more to buy than the CatGenie, I’ll make up the difference in less than 6-months.

    Anyone want to buy a used CatGenie?

    • Paulie, I realy think that you will be happy with the Litter Robot. We ultimately ended up going back to that when the CatGenie 60 finally died. Not a moment of trouble with the LitterRobot; it is a fantastic option if you don’t want to scoop your own litter.

      We still have that CatGenie 120 in storage … it’s past time to trash it. =P

  9. I had the Litter Robot for 7 years. Loved it until the rubber inner lining got scratched and started absorbing the urine smells. So even after cleaning it with bleach, it would still smell. They did not and do not have a replacement for the rubber lining. Another issue I had was the the clumps would fall in a single pile into the tray and not fall to the sides, so as it rotated, even after just a day, it would get poop and wet clay litter smeared on the outside of the dome. When I lived in a house and had a hose outside to spray it down with, it wasn’t so bad. But I’m back in an apartment and you can’t rinse that down the shower. The only fix I found was to periodically (several times a day) shake the drawer so the waste moved around in the bottom rather than forming a pyramid in the center. When we’d be gone for the weekend, omg was it awful!!! I’d have waste smeared and piled on the sides of the base. So, a year after moving into my apartment, I bought the cat genie 120. So far, I haven’t had any issues other than the exorbitant cost of the supplies. I do get those granules all over the house and they’re almost as bad as grass burs on bare feet. But you don’t have clay litter smeared on the floor when it gets when from coming out of the shower if it didn’t get swept up before said shower. It does stink when the dryer goes and you have wet stool. I have 3 cats and set it to delay for cycling so the poop would harden a bit and less would get left behind when it scooped.

    So now I’ve had my Cat Genie 120 for 2 years and they raised their costs for supplies. $69.99 to start on their VIC program (automatic shipments and no cost for shipping, cheaper than ordering individually) and then $52.00 each additional shipment (4x/year). It used to be $20 something each month until the last shipment was sent. Now it’s not so affordable and I’m considering getting another Litter Robot. Decisions decisions. I really don’t want to have the issue with the poop pyramid in the drawer again or clay litter all over my bathroom floor. But I also don’t want to spend a fortune on supplies any longer. Anyone else have these issues and find a way to conquer them?

  10. I have been an owner of the Catgenie 120 for 5 years now, with 3 cats including one that sheds a lot and after I just moved into a smaller appartment I have decided to clean the Catgenie and pack it off, likely to be sold off and I’m looking to buy the LRII. Here’s my review of living with the Catgenie for 5 years and all the pains and joys it’s caused me.

    I should preface this by saying that I am what you would call a power user of the catgenie. I am one of the few owners of the CatGenius Catgenie 120 cartridge hack panel that allows you to refill cartridges with whatever you want and thus not having to pay an exhorbitant 25$ a month on sanisolution.

    Worse of all.. the sanisolution.. whether it be the flowery one (the worse) or the “unscented” (unscented my-ass!) they both stink quite badly!! And this thing relaly stinks like hell when shit happens. I’ve been running mine with hot water for years now, and I don’t even use any solution. Once a week I soak the whole thing in hot water and Oxy Clean.

    Also, I stopped buying those ridiculous granules early on. At first I bought other plastic pellets from an ebay vendor.. I recommend doing this as it’ll save you lots of money. And then I found an even more eco-friendly and much cheaper solution (since the plastic pellets shipping was very expensive to canada). I started buying bird seeds instead, specifically “carthage seeds” which are the perfect size. They have a tiny smell to them at first but it’s not a bad smell and they don’t sprout ever and work perfectly.. they also minize tracking since they’re a bit heavier than the plastic ones.

    So all that said.. that means that instead of spending like 35$ a month on supplies I’m spending 10$ ! A great improvement. But the electricity is probably 30$ a month on itself. So that means that owning the catgenie as a base cost for me of about 480$ a year! That’s the price of the LRII right there. For other people (most people) that didn’t find a way to hack their unit to add huge savings they are paying close to 1000$ a year on their catgenie without even realizing it.

    I can get a 20kg box of premium litter for about 10$! It looks to me like I’ll be saving mucho money going to the LRII.

    But more importantly.. is that I’ve had it with the Catgenie problems. The biggest most recurring problem is that it often stinks and with no ventiliation in the washer/dryer room that it’s going in now I just can’t have that major stink spread to the house. It looks to me like the LRII has a much more manageable and predictable smell control which could probably be lessened by making sure empty it every 5 days for example and by adding a few smell absorbers/maskers around that small room.

    If I had a nice big room with a window (oh yes a window!!) or a supreme ventilation exhaust system I would love the catgenie much much more because if you clean it well and run it twice a day (like I have been doing.. yes twice a day with 3 cats.. and I manually dump poop pellets into the toilet whenever I get the chance) it can go 2-3 months without requiring any maintenance except for the occasional 2 minute fix one.

    Also in 5 years I’ve only had one spill.. and I quickly prevented that from ever happening again by placing the catgenie into a nice plastic container about 4 inches wide and 24×30 dimension’ish.

    Cleaning it however is absolutely horrific… seriously that alone is one of the driving reasons why I have no choice but to drop 550$ CAD on the LRII right now.. because I plan to sublet this place with the cats now and I can’t expect anyone else to have to deal with the many possible terrible scenarios the Catgenie can force you into lol. The LRII seems so much easier.

    I just wish there was a LRIII already. I have been googling that for years now!!! I have always hated how Catgenie doesn’t also upgrade their unit.. it seems to me like there’s so many ways to improve on both these models and make a much-closer-to-perfection variety.. but I guess the effing pattents on those things are preventing this kind of thing from every happening. Somebody ought to make a new robot litter machine that can be printed from a 3D printer. It sucks that there’s no innovation from either of these companies now that they have a good selling models. And seriously.. while I’m about to pay 550$ incl taxes and free shipping for the LRII.. I look at the whole thing and wonder why so expensive?? Anyone wanna guess on the manufacturing costs of this thing? It looks honestly extremely primitive compared to everything the Catgenie does. But oh well.. that’s the price of not having to scoop cat litter for 3 cats and I’ll take it because I love my cats and we all deserve it =)

    The joy of course is that 90% of the time overall I have come home to a nice smelling house with no worry for as much as 2-3 months at a time about the Catgenie needing any maintenance.