In short, self-cleaning cat litter boxes aren’t exactly the bees’ knees and any internet writer that might associate them with terms such as “wonderous contraption” is clearly being ironic. We believe this to be self-evident, as juxtaposing a hyperbole with a mundane object is most often used for comedic purposes rather than anything else.
Anyway, why are self cleaning litter boxes such a bad choice? In more convoluted words, if you’re in the market for a self-cleaning litter box, why should you not be? The skinny is that they are expensive, unreliable, and not all that convenient when you come down to it.
They often clog, which will demand a larger labor contribution on your part as compared with just emptying out a classic litter tray, even if this is done daily. A cat’s droppings can get stuck between the wires of the crate that most models use for combing through the litter to separate the solids.
Furthermore, in the above scenario, some models might have the sensors that “tell” them when the waste container is fully activated, so these will stop working and let out a noisy signal for the whole household to be bothered by.
But it wouldn’t require for the machine to be in any way broken in order to be uncomfortably noisy. These use an electric motor and quite a deal of gearing to do their job, so some models can get up to 50 db when in cycle, which is slightly above the volume of a typical conversation.
This can, and will, scare more timid cats, and it might make the animal develop a negative association with the device. Old cats, too, might face difficulty when trying to use the automatic litter box, as the actual filling sits some inches off the ground, a height that the cat will have to climb.
The size of the pet can also prove problematic. Experts recommend that a litter box should be one and a half to 2 times as long as its user and equal in width to the cat’s length. None of the automatic models available today on the market meet this standards, all of them being too small. So a kitty bigger than a common Mediterranean/European short hair will find the automatic litter box as an uncomfortable place to do its business.
As they say, “more money, more problems” and there’s definitely “more money” involved with owning an automatic litter box. Besides the initial purchasing price that goes into the hundreds of dollars, there’s also the maintenance cost added by the special kitty litter you will have to purchase.
Some models use “crystal” granules that can set you back as much as $600 a year, while others employ a more traditional mixture that “only” costs about $200 per year. The thing we’ve noticed is that the “cheaper” models (in the $100-$200 range) use the more expensive crystal caps, so that your initial saving might very well cancel itself out it after a year.