It's certainly tempting...
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I love my cat to pieces, but I do not love cleaning his litter box. It’s a chore I dread, and if we’re being honest, I don’t do it as often as I should. I’m sorry, Nugget; you deserve better. So naturally, when I saw a product that promises to make scooping litter a thing of the past, I was like, “Where do I sign up?!”
The Litter Robot 3 Connect was definitely speaking my language—it takes any and all effort out of litter box maintenance, but, of course, the catch is that it costs $500.
Sure, there are other self-cleaning litter boxes out there, but most have quite poor reviews thanks to mediocre performance. The Litter Robot, on the other hand, gets glowing recommendations from happy users who say it’s fabulous and amazing. Seriously, it has a 4.6-star rating with more than 2,000 reviews! What else could we do but test it out?
The Litter Robot 3 Connect is a smart, automated cat litter box. It cleans itself after every use, and it’s marketed toward people who:
The Litter Robot looks quite different than other automatic litter boxes, and that’s part of the appeal. It’s made up of a rotating globe on top of a base that serves as a waste drawer.
Instead of trying to scoop out clumps of used litter like other machines, the Litter Robot rotates its globe after use. The clean litter falls through a sieve into a compartment, then any clumps fall into the base of the machine. The globe then rotates back and the clean litter is replaced. Simple, but genius.
How does it know when to rotate? It has a sensor that indicates when your cat is inside the globe, and it then waits seven minutes before rotating. This gives your cat plenty of time to do their business, so they’re not accidentally spun around in the machine.
We opted to test out the Litter Robot 3 Connect—because who doesn’t love a good smart home gadget? While you can get a non-connected Litter Robot, the smart features are only an extra $50.
When you get the Connect set up, you can use the Litter Robot app to monitor your machine from anywhere. It keeps a log of every time your kitty goes to the bathroom—ideal for spotting potential health issues like UTIs—and it also has a gauge that tells you when to empty the waste chamber. Plus, you can remotely activate the cleaning cycle, adjust the amount of time it waits before cycling, and even turn on a night light.
I was really excited for the Litter Robot to arrive, and thankfully, it showed up quickly! When I went to retrieve the package from the leasing office of my apartment building, I was honestly shocked at the size of the box. Spoiler alert: The Litter Robot is Big with a capital B.
The machine ships fully assembled, so all you have to do it take it out of the box and plug it in. I’m not going to lie—I was kind of surprised that this contraption is made from plastic. For $500, I expected a higher-quality construction.
The next step was putting litter into the machine, which proved to be tricky. I had a 40-pound box of litter, and it was tough to angle it just right to pour the litter into the globe without spilling. I ended up getting litter on the lip of the globe and in front of the machine.
From there, I set up the app, which was straightforward and only took a few minutes. Then, the moment of truth: the first cycle! I pressed the cycle button and watched like a child on Christmas as the machine did its thing. The globe rotates fairly slowly, and it’s fairly quiet during operation. The whole cycle takes a minute or two to complete, and when it’s finished, the clean litter is right back where it started. I was impressed!
However, two concerns immediately came to mind:
1. Would my cat be willing to use it?
He’s pretty laid back about his bathroom situation—we’ve had numerous litter boxes and he’s quickly taken to each one. However, this seemed like a big transition. He would have to jump up into the globe, and who knows how he’d feel about seeing his litter box moving!
2. Would he kick litter out of the globe?
He’s notorious for making a mess in the litter box. We actually have a top-entry box because he manages to kick huge piles of litter out of regular boxes. So my concern is that he’d just kick litter out of the globe’s opening, making a nice mess on the floor for me to clean up.
Nugget, being the champ that he is, quickly adjusted to the Litter Robot. I put some treats around it, and he was more than willing to jump inside. Once I was convinced he was comfortable with it, I took his old litter box away, and within 10 minutes, he went to the bathroom in the Litter Robot for the first time. (I know this because of the Litter Robot app.)
As promised, the machine cycles each time the cat uses it, but for the first week or so, it had some issues. Each time Nugget used it, I would get push notifications saying there was a “Cat Sensor Fault,” and when you open the app, it says the “weight in the Litter Robot is too heavy.” Sometimes the issue would correct itself and the cycle would run, but other times I had to manually reset and cycle the machine.
However, this stopped happening after several days, so I think the problem was that I had too much littler in the globe. There’s a “max fill line” and I thought the litter level was below it, but this seems to be the most logical explanation.
In regards to my concern that Nugget would make a mess, so far it’s been minimal. He does track some litter out on his feet, but there haven’t been any large piles of litter like we've experienced with open litter boxes.
We’ve always kept the cat’s litter box in my office, so you can imagine how delightful it smells when I’m working and Nugget decides to do his business.
I was hoping that the Litter Robot would minimize the odor, but I’ve found it actually does the opposite—at least initially. My theory here is that, because the Litter Robot tosses the used litter around when it’s freshly soiled, it amplifies the smell a bit. So it does stink for a few minutes.
I also found that the waste chamber began to smell after around a week, but it’s quick and easy to wrap up the waste and put a new bag in—much quicker than scooping. There’s also enough room in the waste drawer to put a box of baking soda, which helps keep the compartment from getting too stinky too fast.
I wanted to say no, because $500 is really excessive for a litter box, but wow, I love the Litter Robot. It makes my life so much easier!
I don’t have to deal with stinky bags of cat waste in my garbage can or feel guilty when I forget to clean the box for two days. For the most part, it smells significantly less than a regular litter box, and its operation is quiet enough that it doesn’t ever disturb you.
If anything, I could probably live without the smart features. It’s nice to be able to check the app to see if the waste bin is full, but beyond that, it doesn’t offer all that much extra functionality. However, even a non-connected Litter Robot costs $450, so it’s not like that’s a steal, either.
Bottom line? No, I don’t think it’s worth the exorbitant price, per se, but I do think it’s an awesome product that will make your life easier.
This is a tough one. If you’re like me and genuinely hate cleaning the litter box (or have any/all of the issues listed above) and you can stomach the $500 price tag, then yes, definitely buy the Litter Robot 3.
Besides a few hiccups, it really is as good as it claims, essentially erasing the worst part of cat ownership (besides the 2 a.m. zoomies, but that’s an issue for another day).
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
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