The Pros and Cons of a Self-Cleaning Litter Box

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The Pros and Cons of a Self-Cleaning Litter Box

Staff Writer · Mar 22, 2010

A self-cleaning litter box can be a very convenient item for a cat owner, but it is also a very expensive purchase. Before you decide to invest in a self-cleaning box, compare the pros and cons of using a self-cleaning box over a traditional litter box.

Pro: Less Work for You

Probably the greatest reason that you’re considering a self-cleaning litter box is so that you don’t have to scoop the litter yourself. In an apartment, your limited space means that your cat’s litter box is likely in a high-traffic area and odors from the box can quickly penetrate your living space. To keep odors under control, you should scoop your cat’s litter box one to two times a day. The more often you scoop, the better you can control the odor.

A self-cleaning box will remove any urine clumps or fecal matter each time the cat uses the box. If the system works and you’ve set it up properly, you’ll only have to empty the deposit tray once a day or once every other day, without having to scoop the litter clumps out yourself.

Con: The Cat May Be Scared

While a self-cleaning litter box may seem ideal for you, don’t forget that your cat is the one who has to use it. The box will automatically move a rake to clean the litter a few minutes after the cat has exited the box. This may startle your cat and it’s possible your cat could refuse to use the box after this discovery. While some cats get used to the box over time and others are never bothered by it, a cat who is scared of the box makes the box a wasted investment.

Pro: Odor Control

Many self-cleaning boxes have built-in odor control systems that keep odors locked away in the tray where the waste is pushed after the system cleans the box. Since the box cleans out the litter so quickly after the cat has deposited it, this helps to quickly lock away odors and keep them under control. The box will even work when you’re not there, keeping odors under control when you couldn’t possibly scoop yourself.

Con: Doesn’t Always Work

A self-cleaning litter box seems like a cat owner’s dream, but many cat owners have reported that self-cleaning boxes don’t always live up to the hype. Clumping litter clogs the system or strains the motor over time–perhaps in as little as one year–meaning that you could spend more than $100 on a box that needs to be replaced annually. Some owners report litter being sprayed or the system otherwise working incorrectly. While this is not always the case, you should at least be aware that your box is unlikely to last more than a couple of years.

Whether a self-cleaning litter box is worth the cost depends on your own willingness to do the work the self-cleaning box does. Scooping once to twice a day and purchasing a manual litter disposal system is inexpensive and largely as effective at controlling odor as a self-cleaning box.

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