Cats are known for being independent and strikingly clean. Any cat person boasts that one of the biggest advantages these felines have over their canine counterparts, is that they don’t have to worry about dealing with the whole process of taking them out in order for them to do their business picking it up, and throwing it away. However, this is not entirely true. Sure, we give them a litter box where they neatly bury it, but eventually you do have to pick it up and find a place to throw it away. Litter robots are new tools that can make this process easier. Let’s take a look and see if it’s really worth it.
Cats and Litter Boxes
Cats and other felines have this unique habit of burying their poop. It might seem like meticulous cleanliness at first, but they actually do it for a reason rooted more in survival. It’s also important to note that giving your cat a special place for them to defecate is very recent in the history of cats and humans living together. This has caused a need to innovate in order to ensure a clean space that won’t affect our own health or the cat’s.
Cats and Humans Start Living Together
Modern house cats are the descendants of some African wildcats that wandered into a human village in the Fertile Crescent which is now modern day Iraq. These villages were new, as humans before then were just hunters and gatherers always moving around following their prey and weather. However, in this fertile region, they invented agriculture which allowed them to set up permanent buildings.
This new technique of growing food led to an abundance and the need to store it away for later use. The mouse, another creature native to this region, found it easier to just come to the villages and eat the humans’ food when they weren’t looking. Luckily, this creature is the cat’s favorite meal. The felines became beneficial for the villages and were quickly accepted in.
As cats and mice spread around the world following people, they began to form a very close bond together. However, they stayed outside for the most part, occasionally entering a preferred human’s home. They hunted and fed themselves, and went out to a plot of land to go potty and bury it. So, why do they do that?
Why Do Cats Bury Their Poop?
Although it’s very nice of your cat to kindly hide away their feces, they aren’t doing it so much to be clean. All cats have this instinct in order to prevent predators from finding them. Although your house cat doesn’t have many predators, it instinctively continues to do this action.
During the early part of the 20th century, cats and other pets began to live indoors permanently. This is due to many reasons such as the environmental consciousness of the impacts cats have on the local ecosystem, the push to control cat populations, and that cars made it much more dangerous for these animals to just roam around freely.
With this shift into the home came some consequences. Suddenly humans needed to provide cats with food and a place to go to the bathroom. At first, they would just provide the cats with a box filled with paper, ashes, or dirt. These materials, however, didn’t do much to eliminate the strong ammonia smell of cat urine and feces. So, people need a solution quickly.
The Invention of Cat Litter
Edward Lowe was a businessman in Michigan. He specialized in selling ice, coal, sand, sawdust, and granulated, kiln-dried clay known as Fuller’s Earth. One day in 1947, his neighbor asked him for some sand so she could use it for her cat’s litter box as she was tired of using ashes claiming it was too messy. He went to look for some, but it was so frozen that he gave her some Fuller’s Earth instead.
The neighbor came back and reported that the clay did a great job of keeping the odor down. She and her friends started to routinely ask him for boxes of it. Lowe began to develop his own unique formula which he would call Kitty Litter. This invention made it possible to comfortably cohabitate a home with cats and the invention of the litter robots.
Litter Robot Review Is It Worth It?
Litter boxes and litter itself have come a long way since 1947. A litter robot is a fully automated litter box that has a lot of digital features. However, the most important one is that they clean themselves. This means you don’t have to do any scooping and you just have to throw away a bag. There are a wide variety of them out on the market ranging in price and style. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular ones, how they work, what they do, and if it’s a product you and your cat should consider.
Whisker Litter Robot III
The litter robot 3 connect looks like a Star Wars droid. It’s round, futuristic, sleek, it has lights and rotates when it's cleaning itself. It has a price tag of 549 dollars which might seem scary, but we’re sure this is the one expensive investment you need to make for your cat. You’ll never have to scoop a litter box again!
The mechanism is actually quite simple. Your litter robot will come fully assembled and you just need to place the mat on the steps, put a liner in the collection box, pour in your litter of choice, and convince your cat to go in. Once inside, they’ll start to do their business.
The robot has a weight sensor that will activate as soon as your cat steps out. This activates a timer that allows the litter to clump before cleaning. This is also important to ensure your cat is fully out of the box. During the cleaning cycle, the litter robot will slowly rotate and sift to separate the clumps from the rest of the litter.
These are deposited into a fully enclosed drawer located at the bottom of the robot. Furthermore, it has a carbon filter to prevent any foul smells from leaking out. At this point, the globe returns to its normal position leaving a bed of clean litter for the next time your cat uses it.
This device connects to WiFi and also to your phone through a special litter robot app. Through this you can be alerted when the bin is full and needs to be emptied. Furthermore, you can keep track of how often your cat is using it. This is particularly helpful if they’re having health issues. Overall, this litter robot is great for anyone that wants to spend less time scooping and cleaning dirty litter.
PetSafe Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Box
There are other options for those who can’t afford the expensive price tag of a litter robot. You can get this one for just 154.95 dollars. It doesn’t look as fancy, but it’ll keep you from having to scoop. It looks more like a traditional litter box just with a small device attached to it. You can choose to put a hood or keep it open. This decision will depend on your cat’s need for privacy.
Unlike the litter robot, though, you will need to also purchase special crystal litter, instead of the traditional clumping litter. They claim this provides 5 times better odor control. The box has a special weight sensor which activates a timer as soon as your cat jumps off. Twenty minutes later, a special rake will sift across the entire box separating waste from the litter and deposit it into a special covered trap. These sensors also stop the cycle if it detects your cat has gone back in.
Cleaning is extremely easy as you just have to remove the tray and throw it away. It also keeps count of the times your cat is using the litter box. Tracking their movements can be beneficial to their health. However, other users have pointed out that it doesn’t quite work as well as PetSafe claims to do. This is because it doesn’t quite catch everything and, therefore, leaves a strong smell in the air. Furthermore, the cleaning process is quite noisy which can scare your cat away.
PetSafe Automatic Litter Box
This is another budget alternative to the litter robot brought to you by PetSafe for $129.95. This one is a bit different since it’s circular and works by rotating the bin, sifting, and depositing the waste into a bucket. It automatically will do this every thirty minutes, making a full rotation every hour and a half.
One advantage to this litter box is that it works with normal clumping litter and doesn’t need any special additional purchases. So, you just fill it up and you can watch the base spin, separate waste, and push it on to a conveyor belt that leads it to a special bin where it collects until it’s time for you to put it in the trash. This compartment has a special replaceable carbon filter that reduces the smell. However, many customers haven’t been satisfied with the product saying it doesn’t clean properly and it breaks down easily.
Omega Paw Roll’ N Clean Litterbox
This litter box doesn’t use any fancy technology to clean itself. However, it does feature a unique patented design that makes it so much simpler for you to clean it yourself that doesn’t involve any scooping. This large gray box comes in a smaller size for $28.99, or a larger one for $52.37.
Just like any litter box, you just put in the litter you normally use. After some use and you think it’s time to clean it, you just have to roll the box onto its head. This process will sift the clean litter from the waste and place it in a special pull out litter tray. You can tap it to make sure everything gets in. Now, just roll it back, take out the tray, and throw the waste away. The entire process is so simple without the use of electricity, liiners, or filters.
Pet Zone Smart Scoop Litter Box
This self cleaning litter box is similar to the PetSafe one as in it’s just a normal box with a raking mechanism on the back. So, how does it compare? Well, you can use this with regular clump litter and don’t need to buy anything specialized. It plugs into any outlet and you can watch it work.
The cleaning mechanism consists of special sensors that detect when the cat leaves the area and starts the process fifteen minutes later. Furthermore, it can sense if the cat enters again during it and, therefore, stops and restarts the cycle in another fifteen minutes.
A scooping metal rake starts to make its way across the litter and collects little lumps of waste and pushes them into a waste drawer which you can line with a plastic bag. The best part about it is that it doesn’t waste any clean litter. Also the motor is strong and surprisingly quiet.
This litter box costs $124.95 and is a good value considering you don’t have to buy any extra specialized additions. You will, however, need to do some maintenance, as the rake can get stuck and you’ll need to help it out by unblocking it.
Importance of Litter Box Cleanliness
Burying excrement is a defense mechanism cats have developed in order to hide the fact that they’re around. Although this works great outdoors, indoors they’re forced to do it in a small regular litter box. It's very different than open air. This can cause it to quickly build up with waste which has many negative side effects that aren’t just a horrible smell.
It’s better for everyone if you keep a clean litter box. First of all, it’s harder to clean the more days you let pass by. Cats crave a clean place to go to the bathroom, so if they see that they’re box is filthy, they’ll probably decide to go elsewhere. They’re definitely not keen on holding it in, but it is a possibility if they’re bathroom is filthy. This can lead to kidney or bladder damage.
A clean litter box also reduces the transmission of cats to human diseases such as toxoplasmosis. This is particularly dangerous if someone in the house is pregnant. The Toxoplasma gondii parasite lives in cat poop and can cause birth defects when a fetus is exposed to it. A pregnant woman should never clean a litter box and you should take special precautions and be extra clean.
Many types of litters are now available for purchase. Clay litter used to be the only option but all that has changed recently. You can choose litter based on cost, absorbency, amount of dust, scent, clump ability, and availability. However, it ultimately comes down to what your cat likes or will tolerate. The majority of cats like fine-grained litters, perhaps because they're softer.
Once you and your cat have chosen a litter you’re both happy with, you should continue to use the same type. Changing types of litter suddenly can cause them to get confused and possibly decide to go to the bathroom outside of the box. Some humans might be attracted to scented litter, but remember that cats are more sensitive to smells than we are, so you should avoid it. However, if you’re really worried about the smell, you can add a layer of baking soda at the bottom. This aids in absorbing the foul smells and won’t offend your cat. Replacing fresh litter is important for their health too.
Clay cat litter is currently the most popular litter choice. This is probably in part because it is also one of the most well-established and easy to come by. There are low dust and dust-free options available along with scented or unscented ones. Some are made up of large pieces of clay and others are finer clay particles, but they all absorb urine and turn it into a softer, wet cement-like texture. There are even clay litters that contain attractants to entice a difficult cat to use the box more.
Clumping and non-clumping are the two main types of clay litter. Clumping is often preferred by many cat owners who like to scoop the urine waste out of the litter box regularly, but others like the lower cost of non-clumping litter and use the entire bag when necessary.
Training an outdoor cat to become an indoor cat can be a challenge to any cat owner. This is because they are used to burying things in dirt, so encountering commercial litter could be confusing. They might even try to use your plants instead of the box. You can prevent this by placing rocks in your flowerpots.
As you can see, it’s important to give your cat and the rest of your family a clean and healthy home. This includes basic hygiene and your cat’s litter box is no exception. The litter robot is expensive, but time is money, and think about how many hours of scooping and cleaning you’ll save. You won't regret throwing out that old litter box.