If you have ever googled “the best automatic litter box,” you probably already know that Litter Robot is the most highly praised automatic, self-cleaning cat litter box on the market. Proudly made in America, it represents the third generation of litter robots created by Automated Pet Care Products, Inc., a Michigan-based company founded in 1999 by engineer Brad Baxter.
Litter Robot boasts an innovative and durable design and patented litter-sifting system. It was made with cat safety and comfort in mind and it promises to make litter box cleaning as simple as changing a kitchen garbage bag. While it definitely looks good on paper, we wanted to know whether it really works as well as advertised. Keep reading this Litter Robot review to discover if this popular litter box is worth your cash.
How Litter Robot Works
With Litter Robot, there is no scooping, manual cleaning is rarely needed, and apart from throwing out waste when the waste drawer is full, the entire cleaning process is fully automated. Here is how it essentially works.
When your cat enters the litter chamber, also referred to as the globe, a weight sensitive switch detects that your cat is inside. The switch also detects when your cat leaves the unit after answering the call of nature. Once your cat comes out of the chamber, a countdown timer starts. The role of the timer is to allow the litter to clump properly before the cleaning cycle begins.
When the timer reaches 0, the cleaning cycles starts automatically. The globe slowly rotates, separating the clean litter from the clumps using a built-in mesh screen for sifting. Further rotation eliminates the clumps by directing them toward a chute that allows the dirty clumps to travel to the waste drawer. With the clumps in the drawer, the globe begins to rotate in the reverse direction, letting the preserved clean litter pass under the mesh screen and return to the bottom of the globe.
It is interesting to note that the globe moves past its original position during the final phase of rotation. That way, it does not only ensure that the clean litter returns to its place but also evens it out, making sure the bed is completely flat and comfy.
The entire self-cleaning cycle takes just about 2.5 minutes to complete and it leaves the litter chamber clean, poop-free, and ready to use.
Setting Up Litter Robot
Fortunately, Litter Robot comes fully assembled, so you do not have to spend any time staring at IKEA-style assembly instructions. You are only in charge of properly placing the unit within your home, pouring the litter, securing a drawer liner, and plugging in the device.
The litter box needs to be placed on a firm and level surface. You should avoid uneven and unstable flooring and soft rugs. Furthermore, it is important to keep the device indoors, in a cool and dry place, near a power outlet. You should avoid exposing it to humidity and high temperatures and never place it so that it touches any walls. If you are using a litter mat or rug, you can either place it in front of the unit or underneath it. Be sure that it is not only partially under the unit, as this counts as uneven flooring.
Once the unit is properly placed, it is time to add the litter. You need to be careful when choosing the litter and determining the quantity of the litter that is to be poured into the globe. It is crucial that you opt for clumping litter in comparison to litters that are just absorbent, loose-clumping, non-clumping, newspaper-based or wood-based pellets. The best choice is high-quality clay clumping litter.
When filling the globe with litter, you need to be sure that you do not overfill it. There is a clearly visible fill line that tells you when you have poured enough litter. Normally, you should pour 8-10 pounds of litter, that is, about 1 and ½ gallons in volume.
Placing a drawer liner is super-easy. In the corners of the waste drawer, there are 4 plastic tabs that you can use to secure the liner and make sure it does not move as the waste enters the drawer.
With everything in place, you should insert the provided power supply into the socket located on the back of the unit base and plug the provided AC/DC adapter into a wall outlet. Then, you should push the power button on the control panel and let the device perform the initial cleaning cycle. If everything goes well, your litter box is ready to go. If you encounter any difficulties, you can consult the instruction manual and guides or get in touch with customer support.
Using Litter Robot
Litter Robot comes with a handy control panel that allows you to take control over all the functions of the device. The panel features 4 vertically aligned buttons and 3 horizontally aligned indicator lights located at the bottom of the panel.
The buttons include the Power, Cycle, Empty, and Reset buttons. Here is a quick overview of the functions of the buttons and indicator lights.
If just pressed and released, the Power button turns the device on and off. If pressed and held for 5 seconds, the Power button turns the built-in nightlight in the globe on and off.
The Cycle button can be pressed and released to manually start the cleaning cycle. The cycle can be stopped by pressing any of the buttons and resumed by pressing and releasing the Cycle button.
If you press the Cycle button and hold it for 5 seconds, the device will go into the 8-hour sleep mode, during which the self-cleaning cycle will begin only if you press and release the Cycle button. Once active, the sleep mode will repeat every 24 hours, starting at the initial activation time. If you want to deactivate the sleep mode, you can do it by pressing the Cycle button and holding it for 5 seconds.
The Empty button’s main function is dumping the litter into the waste drawer in order to replace the litter or prepare the globe for cleaning. If the device is not active, that is, if it is not performing the self-cleaning cycle, pushing and releasing the Empty button will make it rotate in a direction opposite to that of the cleaning cycle rotation, thus releasing the litter into the waste drawer. Once the litter is dumped into the drawer, the globe will not automatically return to the original position. You need to instruct it to return to the original position by pushing and releasing any button on the panel.
The second, highly useful function of the Empty button is adjusting the timer settings. By pressing and holding the Empty button for 5 seconds, you enter the timer settings and the indicator lights tell you which setting is currently selected. The blue light flashing means that the current setting is 3 minutes, the yellow light tells you that the current setting is 7 minutes, and the red light flashing indicates that you have selected the 15-minute wait time. To switch between the 3 settings, you need to press and release the Reset button and watch the indicator lights to see which setting you are choosing. To save the desired setting, you should press the Empty button and hold it for 5 seconds.
The Reset button is primarily used to reset the built-in weight-sensitive switch, otherwise known as the Cat Sensor. You may want to reset the sensor after adding or removing litter, removing waste from the drawer or relocating the device. All you need to do is push the Reset button and release it immediately. If you push and release the Reset button mid-cycle, it will pause the cleaning cycle. Pushing the button again with the cycle paused will abort the cleaning cycle.
The final function of the Reset button is control panel lockout. If you want to lock out button functions, you simply need to press the Reset button and hold it for 5 seconds. This can be particularly useful if you are not around and your cat decides to play with the buttons. To activate the buttons again, just press the Reset button and hold it for 5 seconds.
We have already mentioned some of the numerous functions of the indicator lights and now we will just go over the remaining prominent functions of each light.
The first, blue light is illuminated when the device is not mid-cycle and is ready to use. The illuminated blue light just lets you know your cat can safely use the device, the litter is clean, and there is nothing to do. On the other hand, if the blue light is flashing, that means that it is time to empty the waste drawer since it is close to full.
The second, yellow light is illuminated when the clean cycle is active or paused. If the yellow light is flashing slowly, once per second, it means that the cycle is interrupted, either by bonnet disconnection or removal or by the cat entering the globe mid-cycle. If the yellow light is flashing quickly, it means that the device has detected pinch condition, that is, it lets you know that something is stuck in the chute area. If the yellow light is illuminated together with the blue light, the sleep mode is activated.
The third, red light is illuminated when the cat is inside the device. If the red light is flashing, the cat sensor has been active for more than 2 minutes, either because there is too much weight in the globe or the cat would not leave the unit and allow the countdown and cleaning cycle to begin.
In addition to the 3 indicator lights, the Power button can also be illuminated, which happens if the backup battery is used. Should you notice that the Power button is illuminated, be sure to check if the device is properly plugged into a wall outlet.
Cleaning & Maintenance
Unlike most other litter boxes, Litter Robot does not require frequent cleaning. Some users clean it once a month, which is a good idea if your cat sprays high while peeing. Other users report cleaning it only once per year since the device is designed to prevent residue from sticking to the inner walls of the globe.
To clean the device, you need to detach the bonnet by pushing the plastic tabs on both sides of the unit. Second, you should simply lift the globe and thus remove it from the base. The globe is free from electronic parts, so you can clean it without any fear of damaging the device. You can clean it with mild soap or detergent, avoiding bleach, and wipe it with a clean towel or cloth. The rubber inside the globe dries near-instantly. The same cleaning rules apply to the waste drawer.
When cleaning the base and the bonnet, extra caution is needed, as they contain electronic elements. You can wipe them carefully, making sure there is no excess moisture that could cause potential malfunctions.
Apart from cleaning the device as needed, you need to empty the waste drawer regularly. If you have only 1 cat, you need to take out the waste every 7 to 10 days, depending on the size of your cat. If you have 2 cats, you need to take out the poop twice as frequently, every 3 to 4 days, and so forth.
If you notice that the blue indicator light is flashing before the drawer is actually full, this may be the result of poop accumulating on one side of the drawer. It may be a good idea to remove and shake the drawer every now and again to evenly distribute the waste and make full use of the space within the drawer.
Litter Robot Design & Dimensions
Litter Robot is an attractively designed, bisque-colored litter box consisting of 4 major elements. These include the base, the removable waste drawer, the ergonomically designed globe where your cat does the business, and the detachable bonnet that protects the globe.
The device is made of durable recyclable plastics and industrial-grade components and the inside of the globe is lined with heavy-duty rubber. It is built to last, features a solid construction, and since it is fully assembled, it does not leave any room for assembly errors and damages.
The device is rather large and weighs 24 pounds. Its dimensions are as follows:
- Fully Assembled Unit: 29.5″ in height by 24.25″ in width by 27” in depth;
- Entryway: 16″ in height by 10.25″ in width;
- Inner Globe Dimensions: 15″ to 17″ in height (dependent on litter amount) by 20″ in width by 20″ in depth;
- Litter Bed: maximum width of 14″;
- Waste Drawer: 16” in height by 12.5” in width by 5” in depth.
The device is roughly the size of a nightstand and although it is pretty large for a litter box, it can fit in virtually any room in your home. The entryway and the litter bed area are expanded to accommodate larger cats. The removable rubber step mat in front of the globe is designed to facilitate entrance and catch some of the litter that the cat may kick out on the way out of the globe. The design is definitely elegant and thoughtful, with the only problem being that its uniqueness and the overall size of the device may seem intimidating at first and may take time to get used to.
Litter Robot Highlights
So far in this Litter Robot review, we have mentioned some of the key features of this litter box. Now, in order to acquaint you with the full set of unique characteristics and options it offers, we will provide an overview of the device’s most distinctive features.
Fully Automated Cleaning
Litter Robot knows when your cat does the business and when to start cleaning and it completes the entire process automatically, with zero assistance on your part. It keeps the litter clean at all times, requiring you to simply replace the drawer liners and litter as needed. No scooping whatsoever, as easy as taking out the trash.
Patented Litter-Sifting System
The patented litter-sifting system efficiently removes all the clumps from the litter and leaves the bed level, clean, and ready to use. By preserving the clean litter after each cycle, it saves up to 50% in litter, so no good litter ever goes to waste.
Litters tend to differ in terms of how much time it takes for them to clump. In accordance with the specifications of the litter you opt for, you can adjust the device’s timer, choosing between 3, 7, and 15-minute settings. Thus, you do not have to worry about the wait time being too short for the litter to clump properly.
Another essential characteristic of Litter Robot is the Cat Sensor, that is, the weight-sensitive switch that detects whether your cat is inside the globe. The sensor does not only inform the device when to start the countdown and cleaning cycle but also makes sure that if your cat jumps inside the globe during the cleaning cycle, the globe stops rotating and thus prevents your cat from getting hurt.
Safe & Sturdy Design
Not only is Litter Robot made of high-quality materials and built to last for years to come, it is free from shock hazards and elements that could cause harm to your cat.
In comparison to its predecessors and the majority of its competitors, Litter Robot boasts a larger entryway and a more spacious chamber that offers greater comfort to larger cats.
Low Noise & Sleep Mode
Keeping in mind cats’ natural sensitivity to noise and the fact that some cat guardians may need to keep the litter box in the bedroom, the manufacturer has made sure that the noise produced by the device is low enough not to bother even the most sensitive cats and guardians. Furthermore, the sleep mode lets the guardian deactivate the device for 8 hours, guaranteeing peaceful, uninterrupted sleep.
While it is virtually impossible to completely eliminate all odors, this litter box does really well when it comes to odor control. The waste drawer is equipped with a large carbon filter that locks in the odors and prevents mold growth by absorbing moisture. Odors may not be non-existent, but they are significantly reduced in comparison to other litter boxes.
Young cats have amazing eyesight, but the sad truth is that their vision deteriorates with age. That is why Litter Robot comes with a LED nightlight that is automatically activated when the lights go out, making it easier for older kitties to use the litter box after dusk.
With Litter Robot, you do not have to open the waste drawer all the time in order to check whether it is time to throw the poop out. The blue indicator light on the control panel flashes whenever it is time to empty the drawer.
No matter how many cats there are in your household, they can all use Litter Robot, as long as they are large enough to use it, and each kitty will have clean, perfectly level litter to use every time.
The device requires no fancy liners. You can use regular 8-13 gallon trash bags or opt for any kind of liner or bag of the same volume. If you want to go green and opt for bio-degradable liners, you can always get Litter-Robot’s own drawer liners for as little as $0.46 per liner.
Litter Robot can work with virtually any clumping litter, so you do not have to buy the most expensive one on the market in order for the device to work. However, if you need some advice on choosing the best litter, the manufacturer recommends you go with Litterbox.com All Natural Clumping Litter.
Easy Litter Replacement
Replacing the litter is made incredibly easy with the Empty function of the device. You simply need to press the Empty button and all the litter will end up in the waste drawer, so you save both time and effort on litter replacement.
While Litter Robot is normally plugged into a power outlet, it does come with a backup battery that can be of great use in situations when an outlet is nowhere to be found or there are some troubles with the adapter.
Is Litter Robot Right For My Cat(s)?
In order to determine whether Litter Robot is a good choice for your cat, it is important to take into consideration your cat’s weight, possible health issues, habits, and attitude toward new things.
Namely, the device is designed for cats that weigh 5+ pounds. This is important because the Cat Sensor can only detect cats that weigh at least 5 lbs. If you want your kittens to use Litter Robot, you need to avoid automatic self-cleaning by turning the device on only when you want to manually start the cleaning cycle. Thus, the device can be used by smaller cats but with human supervision.
As far as potentially problematic health issues are concerned, the device may not be a good choice for cats that suffer from diabetes. Namely, with diabetes come very large urine clumps that may not pass through the chute and may even get stuck. This means that if your cat suffers from diabetes, you may need to do some occasional manual cleaning and remove the large clumps yourself.
Finally, if your cat is easily scared and does not like changes, which is sometimes the case with older cats, he or she may not particularly like Litter Robot due to its unusual design, rotation, and the humming sound it produces when self-cleaning. While most cats get used to it rather quickly, there is always a chance that the cat may be too nervous to give it a fair shot.
To conclude, Litter Robot is best suited for cats that are confident and curious, weigh 5+ pounds, and do not suffer from diabetes. However, that does not mean that the device will not work for cats that are not ideal candidates; it just means that additional effort may be required on the part of the cat guardian.
Is Litter Robot Safe For My Cat(s)?
As stated by the manufacturer, Litter Robot is built with cat safety in mind. It does not contain any sharp or protruding elements that may harm your cat. Both the inside and the outside of the device are smooth and no electrical components are ever within your cat’s reach.
The globe is completely electronics-free. All 15 Volt DC control system elements are carefully hidden inside the base of the device, so there are no potential shock hazards.
Another common concern is that the globe may rotate with the cat still inside. If the cat weighs 5 lbs. or more, the Cat Sensor prevents the globe from rotating if the cat is inside. The globe may rotate only if the cat is too small and light for the sensor to detect it, which is why we again advise you to keep the device turned off and manually start the cleaning cycle if you have kittens.
Other than that, we see no other reason for concern since the manufacturer has done everything possible to ensure that your cat is always safe when using the litter box.
Litter Robot Training Tips
Previously in this Litter Robot review, we stated several times that this is not your average litter box. Thus, it may take some time for your cat to get acquainted with it and here are some tips on how to facilitate the switch, particularly if your cat has not used an automatic litter box before.
First of all, it is important to place the litter box in the same spot where you kept the previous litter box. You should keep the device off for the first couple of days, so your cat does not get scared by the humming noise and the rotation during the cleaning cycle.
Next, in addition to fresh litter, place a handful of used litter in the globe. Your cat will recognize the scent of the litter he or she has already used.
If necessary, you can spray the mat in front of the globe with catnip or place treats in and around the device. This can help your cat associate rewards with the litter box.
In case your cat keeps using the old litter box instead of the new one, you can make the old box less attractive by not cleaning it. Cats are hygiene-conscious by nature and prefer clean litter boxes. If the old one is dirty and messy, your cat is more likely to give Litter Robot a try.
If none of these solutions prove helpful, there is another one that is so silly it may work. Since cats love cardboard boxes, you can place the device’s original box on top of the litter box; just cut the front side of the box to allow the cat to go inside the globe.
Once you notice that your cat has used the litter box, all that is left for you to do is help your furry pal get used to the rotation and the humming. You can manually start the cleaning cycle with your cat in the room, helping your friend get familiar with the strange new object. It is important not to leave your cat alone with the device during the first cleaning cycle; you should stick around to provide reassurance.
Cost & Returns
Litter Robot costs $449.99. Included in the box are 1 fully assembled Litter Robot, 1 carbon filter, 3 drawer liners, and 1 welcome kit that includes a 15-Volt DC power supply, an instruction manual, a quick reference guide, a quick start guide, and return and repack instructions.
The device can be shipped to the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea, Russia, and the European Union member countries, including the UK, Germany, Sweden, and France. Shipping is free in most countries, including the continental US (shipments to Hawaii and Alaska may incur additional fees).
Litter Robot comes with a 90-day money-back guarantee and an 18-month full warranty. Thus, you can return your device within 90 days and get a refund if you are not satisfied. Alternatively, if both you and your cat(s) like the litter box, you can keep it and enjoy free repairs for 18 months.
We would like to note that the warranty period can be extended. If you purchase an extended warranty at the same time as the litter box, you get an additional 18 months of warranty for $49.99. Extra 18 months of warranty coverage bought separately cost $99.99.
Another upgrade worth mentioning is the Litter Robot Connect upgrade kit that lets you add WiFi connectivity to your litter box, which further lets you remotely control the device via a dedicated iOS smartphone app. You can get the upgrade kit for $100 or you can purchase WiFi enabled Litter Robot Connect for $499.99 and save time on DIY upgrading.
In terms of additional costs, you do not need to invest in anything apart from drawer liners and clumping litter, although the company does offer nice accessories as well as replacement components in its online store.
Does Litter Robot Live Up To Expectations?
While Litter Robot is far from cheap, the truth is that the vastest majority of users agree that it is definitely worth it, especially if you travel often, have a busy schedule or simply want to avoid scooping and effortlessly provide your cats with clean litter at all times.
Malfunctions are rarely reported and user complaints are generally infrequent. Most of the complaints are related to cats taking long to get used to the litter box. However, this problem can be easily resolved with the training tips provided earlier in this Litter Robot review.
While there are some users that find the unit to be too large or hate that they have to measure the litter in order to get the amount right, the issues reported are minor and do not refer to the device’s functionality. On the contrary; many users find the device to be working even better than expected, as they get acquainted with its numerous smart and helpful features over time.
- Fully automated, self-cleaning litter box
- Patented litter-sifting system
- Sturdy, safe, and ergonomic design
- Adjustable timer
- Cat sensor
- Sleep mode
- Great odor control
- Suitable for multiple cats
- Full-drawer indicator
- Minimum-effort maintenance
- No scooping
- 90-day money-back guarantee
- 18-month full warranty
- Cats under 5 lbs. cannot use it independently
- Large dimensions
- High price