The Litter-Robot Review: Never Sift Through Your Kitty’s Litter Again

Of all the gadgets I have ever reviewed, I think that the Litter-Robot would definitely win the title of most offbeat, but it was well worth doing. I unboxed the Litter-Robot in late January, set it up, and then sat back to see whether Avah would accept this “spaceship” as her litter box.

It will have been two months tomorrow, and we have both lived to tell about it, so that should immediately tell you that things went well.

But let’s go back to the beginning…

The Litter-Robot Review: Never Sift Through Your Kitty's Litter Again

As a refresher, you can watch this video of the Litter-Robot’s unboxing…

…and this video of its easy setup.

You’ll notice that the bag used in the bottom tray during setup is nothing special, just a typical kitchen bag. The Litter-Robot came with five or so of them, and when those included were gone (at the rate of about one per week), I started using plain old white tall kitchen garbage bags.

When I first set up the LR, I couldn’t put it in the same spot where her old box used to be because I needed access to a wall socket. I also needed a larger spot to accommodate the approximately 30″ tall x 24″ deep robot. Furthermore, it was important that nothing be right next to the top half because it had to be able to spin without dragging against anything. Fortunately, I was able to place the Litter-Robot in our middle bathroom.

I purchased a brand new 35-pound bucket of the cheapest clumping kitty litter sold at Sam’s, which happened to be their store brand. It took a little less than a third of the bucket to fill the Litter-Robot or approximately nine pounds. After two months of use, I still have over half of the bucket left. Every time I empty the drawer, I look to see if I need to add any more – usually, it’s still just fine.

So right there, you see that there are no special or proprietary supplies that need to be purchased to keep the Litter-Robot working from the first day of purchase. Because of that, there is no fear that you might one day be unable to find special solutions or accessories based on where you live or the company’s circumstances. I’m just saying…

There are several tricks listed to help you acclimate your cat to this new system, but from the beginning, getting Avah to use the Litter-Robot was surprisingly easy. I took one piece of solid matter from her old litter box, put it in the new one, and then threw away her old box.

After her initial photo set, in which she was exploring her new space, Avah understood that the Litter-Robot was not a playpen; she never again used it for anything but how it was intended.

Here’s the important thing to remember before trying to use a Litter-Robot: your cat must weigh at least five pounds for safe use. If you have kittens or a really petite chatte, then you should stick with a regular litter box until they are larger. But if you have a cat who weighs over five pounds, you’ll be good to go. Their site says, “The Litter-Robot accommodates cats up to 15 lbs, but according to our customers larger cats have adapted to the Litter-Robot without problems.”

Before we watch the video of Avah demonstrating the Litter-Robot, I want to tell you about the Cat Sensor, which is built into the front step. The basic purpose of this sensor is to let the LR know that a cat has been in the drum and that the drum needs to tumble. The minute your cat leaves the Litter-Robot, a seven-minute countdown starts.

As you will see in this video, cats sometimes come back to check “their business,” and the seven-minute window gives them time to do this as well as time to get away. If the cat steps on the Cat Sensor again, the seven-minute sensor is once again tripped, and in this manner, there is no chance of the cat being inside the drum when it starts to rotate.

Okay, here is Avah, ready to give a demonstration of the Litter-Robot…

I thought about adding some cool background music to this video, but in the end, I decided that it was best to leave the audio alone; I thought it important for you to be able to hear the mechanical sound made as the globe rotates in an otherwise perfectly quiet room. We have ours set up in the middle bathroom, and we have grown used to the sound it makes when tripped.

Realize that this is a room with no carpet and very little furniture (other than porcelain, heh!), so yours may sound quieter if it is in a different environment. If the tumbling sounds are going to bother you, then the robot might be best placed in a laundry room or basement.

So when the Cat Sensor has been tripped, and the globe’s rotating, I bet you are wondering what’s actually happening, right?

Here’s a video showing it in detail…

If you are truly worried that your cat won’t take to the Litter-Robot, you can give one a try, basically risk-free for 60 days. Right now, they are offering FREE shipping, so the worst-case scenario is that if things don’t work out, you’ll only be short the $40 or so it will take to send the huge box back. After seeing how quickly Avah took to her Litter-Robot, my mother bought one for her older Persian; mom will not be taking advantage of the return policy. 😉

According to their site, “The Litter-Robot waste drawer was designed to prevent mold growth, eliminating that typical cat box smell. However, we do recommend that you empty the waste drawer at least once a week – after all, there are limits.”

Well…yeah. 😉

Worth noting before you take a good hard look at the picture coming up – I have gone as long as a week and a half without cleaning out the drawer, and not once did the Litter-Robot start to smell. To be honest, I just forgot to clean it because it didn’t. 😳

Granted, I only have one cat; those of you with more than one will have to figure out for yourself whether you can go a few days or a little bit longer. But no matter what, I guarantee the cleanup will be preferable to scooping…period.

Anyway, here’s a look at what one cat can produce in a week; I hope you haven’t just eaten. 😉

The Litter-Robot Review: Never Sift Through Your Kitty's Litter Again

Scary, huh?!

I noticed that, unlike Avah’s old box, where…how can I say this delicately? Okay, I can’t. She had this spot where she would pee, and it would just create the nastiest, smelliest, wettest mess – even with the clumping litter. I absolutely dreaded cleaning her box because of that mess. This no longer happens with the Litter-Robot. Because her waste is not allowed to sit, and it is instead immediately rotated, coated in gravel, and dumped, there are no “toxic spots” in the drum.

I should mention that while you might think that a spinning drum would kick up unwanted litter dust (after all, scooping certainly seems to), I have not found that to be the case at all. The Litter-Robot rotates so slowly and gently that dust is not expelled.

I can’t begin to express how spoiled – yes, spoiled I have become since using this device. Cleanup is a breeze, and the little bit of litter that gets tracked off the step is nothing near what used to be tracked out of Avah’s old box. The Litter-Robot is an appliance that I can’t imagine owning a cat without having; I would like to say that the Litter-Robot was for Avah, but the truth of the matter is that it was for ME.

The Litter-Robot retails for $329.00; it is available in black or beige directly from the manufacturer

Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample

What I Like: Easy to set up; uses ordinary trash bags and clumping litter – no special supplies needed; no fear of cat being caught inside; you never touch the nasty stuff; no sifting; no nasty smells…no worries!

What Needs Improvement: The tumbling action is a bit noisy if you have to keep it in the main room of the house



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About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
Judie is the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of Gear Diary, which she founded in September 2006. She started in 1999 writing software reviews at the now-defunct; from mid-2000 through 2006, she wrote hardware reviews for and co-edited at The Gadgeteer. A recipient of the Sigma Kappa Colby Award for Technology, Judie is best known for her device-agnostic approach, deep-dive reviews, and enjoyment of exploring the latest tech, gadgets, and gear.

10 Comments on "The Litter-Robot Review: Never Sift Through Your Kitty’s Litter Again"

  1. Wayne Schulz | March 21, 2008 at 3:26 am |

    I love that cats come back to check their business, just like humans. Wait, you all don’t do that too. No, I was just joking. Really.

    This is super cool and it’s nice to see one of these cat gizmos that really works. My ex-wife has two cats – I’ll have to forward this on to her. She always asks me to clean the litterbox when they go away — heck maybe I’ll get her one for her birthday…

  2. I was waiting for your review on the Litter Robot.

    I was going to get one of these but after reading and hearing how loud the tumbler is, I’m going to have to pass on this device for the time being. My wife and I live in a small NY apartment and that sound would be too distracting. We’d have 2 locations to place this device, either near the living room or near the bedroom. So either we’d hear this sound while watching TV or get startled by it when we’re in the middle of sleeping. Unless I can find some kind of box container to put over it to muffle the sound, we’re going to have to wait in getting this litter box until we move out into the suburbs when we have more room.

    Thanks for a wonderful review!

  3. Joel Mclaughlin | March 21, 2008 at 8:20 am |

    I had a LitterMaid and it SUCKED. You would have to clean it every other day to keep it from stinking to high heaven and then the cats seemed to poop ON the gate and it would get stuck. EWW!

    This looks cool, but I don’t thing the wife will let me spend 3 hundo on a litterbox! 😀

  4. Great review… but I disagree on your lack of background music. Something by the Stray Cats, perhaps???
    I have 2 cats (and 3 dogs – I never figured out that kids want pets so the parental units will have something to replace said kids when they move out…) so the problem is not only one of getting the feline contingent to use a new box, but (hooray!) keeping the dogs from “policing” the results. I have a Littermaid, and even with the 2 of them usually using it (my aptly-named Big Kitty has fat days when he prefers something less confining; OTOH Little Piddle has no body image issues; she even loves to sit and look at herself in a mirror) but it sometimes doesn’t rake the litter before the dogs get “curious.” Thank you, Judie, I’ll definitely consider the Robot.

  5. @Wayne – you are such a sweet ex-husband! 🙂

    @jaxim – It’s hard to explain, but like I mentioned above, the acoustics of a tile room with porcelain fixtures (and absolutely no background noise) may have made the tumbler seem louder than it would in a carpeted room, or even a room with more furniture.

    Even as loud as ours seems, it is in the room right next to my office and after noticing every time it went off for the first day or so, we have acclimated to where we hardly notice it at all anymore.

    @Joel – that three payment deal makes it not hurt as much, and believe me, once you have one of these you won’t regret it. And you said “cats”?…even more of a reason.

  6. @n0doz – Yeah! I had asked Sarah what she thought would be appropriate music for the video, and we had fun laughing at some of the songs that came to mind. 😉

    I have had dogs who were more than a little curious about OPP*, and I didn’t even think about how the Litter-Robot’s design would keep all but the most tenacious out of the litter and even then, it would only be a seven minute window. Good point!

    *(other pet’s poo)

  7. I know it sounds a little nuts – but this place will make you a custom cover for your litter-robot.

  8. Nope, not nuts at all. Looks like they have found a market. Thanks for the link. 🙂

  9. Did I not promise you (and Avah) would love the Litter-Robot? Well, love may not be the right word for any waste disposal system but I knew you would rave about this cement-mixer/ spaceship gadget. As a former daily scooper, I often wonder how much time I’ve saved over the years only emptying the drawer twice a week (2 cats – Jackson and Tabitha). You’ve got the right idea with the cheap litter; my other suggestion is to use the cheapest plastic bags and instead of poking it into the bag holders, just slip the drawer into the bag and when it’s time to empty it you just invert the bag as you peal it off the drawer.
    Just saves a little time. Glad you went with the beige color, too. 🙂

  10. Yes, you did! Thank you so much for pointing me in the right direction. I’m glad I didn’t waste time with a raking system, this is the best thing since…any cliche you could insert. 😉

    Your bag insert idea sounds good, too – I’ll give it a try later today. :mrgreen:

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