Litter-Robot 3 review
Litter-Robot 3 makes scooping cat litter a thing of the past. Its smart sensors know exactly when to clean after your cat does their business, and keeps you informed via the app. But it’s pricey, takes up a lot of space, and it’s somewhat complex to use.
- No more scooping!
- It’s efficient when it comes to litter
- Most cats will learn to adjust to using it quickly
- App offers you controls even when you’re not home
- Built-in sleep timer
- Cat sensor prevents cycling while the cat is inside
- Good odor control
- Takes up a lot of space
- Buggy app
- Experience varies by the cat
- 18 month warranty is too short
Litter-Robot 3 is an auto-cleaning litter box that takes care of just about everything. In essence, you just have to replace a bag of waste on a weekly basis. Not only do you get some time off, but your cat gets cleaner litter.
If you’re the litter scooping representative of the household then you’ve thought “surely there’s an easier way”. This is us, and we’ve been tempted by every litterbox “innovation” we’ve come across on Instagram only to learn there are awful reviews behind them and that they don’t really work. Litter-Robot 3 is the only innovative litter-box we’ve ever heard to have good reviews, however, it comes with a high price tag.
Litter-Robot is a bit intimidating to use at first — it’s quite large, there are lots of moving pieces, buttons, status lights, and a lot of instructions. Thankfully it’s not too hard to learn and there’s a video available for it for just about everything you need to know. That said, the amount of space it takes up is perhaps the biggest pill to swallow. It’s big, but it’s movable and weighs 24lbs. Its dimensions are 29.5” H x 24.25” W x 27” D.
Does it work?
Yes! It works, but it’s highly dependent on your cat’s behavior. And, when it works, it really works! I haven’t scooped litter in months, not even once! Before I was scooping daily and now I “deal” with litter about once a week. But it’s a lot more pleasant than scooping. I pull out the waste drawer, tie up a standard kitchen garbage bag of the goods, vacuum some bits of litter from the drawer, replace the bag, top off the litter, and reset the gauge. It takes me a couple of minutes total to do. With all of that said, the Litter-Robot experience is entirely dependent on your cat, and my cat has made it a little more challenging than it should be.
What’s the actual litter situation?
Most any clumping litter should work with Litter-Robot. It takes about 8-10lbs of litter. I do a litter top off once a week, and the Litter-Robot is efficient at just getting rid of clumps. This means your litter will last a bit longer. We plan to completely refresh the litter once every couple of months or so. It takes over a week for our single cat to get close to filling up the waste drawer, so two cats would require a refresh twice a week. Another litter perk is that we’re finding a lot less cat litter on the floor. There’s still some that trickles out, but it’s a lot harder for the cat to fling litter out of the globe, and there’s a rubber step mat that helps catch some litter on the way out. We’re also buying litter less frequently than we used to.
What “features” are there? What’s the app do?
One feature we don’t want to overlook is that you’re not stuck buying Litter-Robot accessories for life. To that effect, you can use your own litter and your own bags. Litter-Robot is supposed to work with almost all cats 5lbs and up (sorry kittens). Litter-Robot knows when your cat uses the unit, and has a timer to kick off a cleaning cycle. The timer waits 7 minutes for optimal clumping, but can be made shorter for less smell, or longer for better clumping.
An advertised feature is odor reduction which we cover in the next section. There’s a sleep timer feature because the unit takes a couple of minutes to cycle and does make some noise — the sleep timer can be set for any 8 hour period and will clean when it wakes up. The unit makes about as much noise as a dishwasher. If the unit loses power it’s still a litter box, just one that doesn’t auto-clean. If this is a concern, there’s an optional battery backup under the unit.
There’s an optional app and WiFi connectivity feature that’s a $50 premium with the “Connect” model, and it can be upgraded to a standard Litter-Robot 3 unit for $100 extra. The app makes the features easier to set and the statuses easier to understand. There are a few buttons and status lights on the side of the unit, and you may need to refer to the manual to remember how they work. With the app you can easily set the sleep timer, control the night-light, disable the unit buttons (for curious cats like mine), reset the gauge, set the wait time, and trigger a cycle. The app will also alert you if the cycle was interrupted and if the unit was unable to finish cleaning. At any point, you can check in on the unit status. Finally, the app logs the number of times the cat uses the unit and the fullness of the waste drawer. Both stats are approximate as it won’t actually know if the cat uses the unit versus just entering and exiting the unit.
What’s the clean up like? How’s it smell?
For a week’s worth of cat waste, it smells as good as it possibly can. My wife agrees it doesn’t smell worse than the open litter box we used to scoop daily. I’d call this a win. That said, there are a few options you have to reduce the odor, like reducing the cycle wait time after cat detection and/or emptying the tray more frequently. The clumps and waste are really nicely consolidated directly into a standard kitchen garbage bag (10-13lb bag) in a sliding drawer under the unit. There’s a carbon filter in the drawer to help absorb the smell. The weekly cleanup is pretty much as easy as removing and replacing a bag and maybe cleaning up a few bits of litter on the floor.
We’ve had the unit for a few months and there hasn’t been a very noticeable reason to do a thorough scrub down of the unit other than for this review. The website says to give the unit a wipe down once a month and a thorough cleaning a couple of times per year. This is a bit more challenging as there’s a handful of pieces, more surface area than your old litter box, and electronics to consider.
Will your cat adjust to it?
Our cat had an interesting “adjustment” to the unit. There’s a handful of recommendations to teach your cat about their new litter box, like putting it in the same space, using some old litter for the scent, using treats, and leaving the unit off. We chose to just replace our cat’s old litter box with the new one and use the fresh litter. We introduced her to the new litter box and made sure she knew there was litter in there. She was skeptical for most of the day, but soon push came to shove and she began using it just like her old litter box.
Things got interesting when we turned the Litter-Robot 3 on and it started cycling. For two months our cat regularly attacked the cycling robot. Her curiosity gets the best of her and she pushes the robot, taps it, slaps it, and presses all the buttons. We’re happy she finds it entertaining, but she is constantly pausing the robot and interfering with the clean cycle. She’s finally slowed down a bit with this, but we had to set up a camera on the litter robot to make sure it never gets stuck when the litter is not accessible — and this has happened multiple times.
Litter-Robot usually resumes from interruption, and the app usually relays the correct status to us, but both are a little buggy and do require us to get involved from time to time. The best solution for us was putting the sleep timer on while we’re out of the house. This challenge had us questioning whether or not Litter-Robot 3 was worth it, but thankfully it got a lot better.
Will I be able to figure it out?
It’s definitely more complicated than the litter box you have now. The app makes using the features and understanding the statuses a lot easier. Without the app, there’s a quick start guide and a reference guide that are really useful. We leave the reference guide next to the unit so we know what the status lights are trying to say and how to handle them. Finally, there are videos on how to do everything, from set-up to clean-up. So, yes, you’ll be able to figure it out, but you’ll want to give yourself half hour or so when you get the device to familiarize yourself.
Should I buy it? What else do I need to know?
If you’ve made it this far, you probably already know Litter-Robot is not cheap. It costs $499 for the Litter-Robot 3 “Connect” app version and $449 without the connected app. We can say for the extra $50, the app is a no-brainer. While the usage stats are nice, the app is most useful for knowing the status of the litter box (without having to interpret colored and flashing status lights) and being able to control the unit from anywhere. Since our cat constantly messes with the unit, knowing the status is really important if we’re ever out of the house and need to cycle the unit or power it off and on.
The bigger question is it worth $500? It’s been amazing not having to scoop, but this really depends on how you value your time and how much you dislike scooping. Space is a factor too. Our cat used to take up a small portion of a bathroom with her litter box, now she takes up almost the whole bathroom. There’s definitely a lot less scattered litter in the bathroom, which is great. We still need to check the Litter-Robot every day to make sure all is well, but this is easy in a small apartment.
There’s a 90-day money-back guarantee if your cat doesn’t adjust or you don’t like it (but you have to pay shipping) and an 18-month warranty. Given the price and the complexity of the unit, we would like to see more than an 18-month warranty, though you can pay $50 to extend the warranty to 3 years. All-in-all, if you have the money and you’ve been tempted for something better, Litter-Robot 3 is a fantastic luxury for you and your cat. Your cat gets a clean litter box every time and you get a lot of your time back. Litter-Robot 3 is available from litter-robot.com.