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The Pros & Cons of a Self-Cleaning Litter Box

Why It May Work for Some Households and Not Others

By Madeleine Burry. January 24, 2014 | See Comments

A Cat Checking Out His Litter Box

A self-cleaning litter box: every cat parent's dream, right? Or maybe not. Although a self-cleaning litter box sounds ideal, it is not always accepted by every feline. Find out what the pros and cons are to decide if it would be a hit or miss in your home.

If you love your cat, but don’t like the stink and mess of cat litter, a self-cleaning litter box might be the right choice for your home. And it’s not just you who will appreciate this change: cats, fastidious in their habits, will usually be fans of the increased cleanliness in self-cleaning litter boxes. Some cats, however, will be put off by the mechanisms that make them function. Discover how these litter boxes work, and the pros and cons.

How Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes Work

Self-cleaning litter boxes come equipped with a method of detecting when your cat is in the litter box—either a motion or weight sensor. A few minutes after your cat has finished their business in the litter box and departed, the self-cleaning litter box will rake the litter and deposit any clumps in a separate compartment. Some units will rotate to separate the waste. The compartment with all the waste is enclosed and cordoned off, so that the smell is not noxious. Some self-cleaning litter boxes utilize special litter, and others are designed to work with what you already use.

Some owners complain that the mechanisms used for separating the clean litter from the dirty litter can jam or break, but in general, the litter boxes seem to work well. 

Pros

  • Goodbye to a vaguely stinky area around the litter box.

  • No need to deal with litter on a daily basis.

  • Easy disposal of waste—although don’t forget, you’ll still have to empty the compartment of the waste eventually. So you haven’t escaped dealing with the litter box entirely.

Cons

  • The initial cost of the litter box will be higher than a simple plastic tray. The price for self-cleaning litter boxes ranges between one hundred dollars to nearly four hundred dollars on the high end. Some of these litter boxes also require that you purchase disposable trays and special litter.

  • Some cats will find the movement a bit alarming—even though they’re not inside when the raking occurs -- and may be reluctant to use the self-cleaning litter box. Keep in mind that cats are often change-averse, so an ease-in period may be necessary.

  • The clean-up process after your cat uses the facilities can be a bit loud, which can be bothersome to cats and owners alike, particularly if the cleaning occurs in the late hours of the evening.
More on Litter Box

How to Choose a Cat Litter Box and Kitty Litter
5 Ways to Take the Eww Out of Litter Boxes
Litter Box Training for Your Cat

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