Any cat parent who does their due diligence staying up on the latest feline trends may have stumbled across the term “automatic litter box”. At this point, an automatic litter box seems somewhat self-explanatory, right? You invest in the litter box from the future, the magic litter box takes care of the scooping for you, you’re left with sparkling clean litter and more free time than you know what to do with.
So what are the qualities to consider when weighing your options for investing in an automatic litter box? That’s where we come in.
For us: Cost & Efficiency
These are the two most relevant factors that need your attention on your quest for the ultimate time (and money) saver. Where does the happy medium lie between something that’s cost-effective but isn’t “cheap” in terms of quality or delivery?
To put it short, you’ll get what you pay for.. but we’re here to help you size up the competition and find the perfect fit for you and your cat’s needs. Here we’ll explore how the top tier automatic litter boxes can save you money now and in the long run.
Let’s get into it!
So How Does An Automatic Litter Box Save You Money?
We’ve broken it down into 3 decisive factors:
Time – Time is a precious thing, a costly thing even! One of the most underestimated long-term woes associated with cat care is the amount of time we spend dealing with their litter. Okay, so we know this one’s a bit of a reach, BUT don’t underestimate weighing the pros and cons of maximizing the efficiency factor when it comes to an automatic litter box. If you can save yourself some time, do so!
Usage – This one is more or less about the frequency of the cycle and what that means for your electric bill. Every unit comes with a different set of features and pre-programmed cleaning cycles that can lean towards energy efficient (making sure to save you money) or energy draining.
System – This is where we get into the nitty-gritty of just how effective these things are for what they cost. How does their retail value measure up to their delivery? How do they hold up in preserving the amount of litter wasted? The system factor may be the most diverse of all with a variety of low to high-cost options with completely different methods of operation.
We’ll take a look at units that sift through litter, filter litter, recycle littler, and even units that wash (yes, wash) litter.
Alright, So How Do These Companies Stack Up?
The Litter Robot
Now this thing looks like something straight out of the future! At surface level, the Litter Robot seems like your one-stop shop when it comes to an automatic litter box. It’s highly efficient, reliable, and seems to be the industry giant in this space. But at a starting retail value of $499 (and up), that’s some serious cash we’re talking about!
The Litter Robot is a traditional rotating system that shifts on an axis to filter out all the litter while separating the waste and then re-distributing that same litter once the waste is trapped in its own compartment. This method …. sort of works. Our findings did show that while the Litter Robot is supremely effective at sifting through clumps there is quite a bit of residual litter that gets lost in the process. Not to mention the waste drawer that will require routine bag changes that can add up over time. (You could also probably just use regular plastic bags from home)
Now I know, I know! “It’s just a little litter, how bad could it be for my wallet” but in addition to the retail value grouped with the long-term costs of routinely wasted cat litter after every cycle, we question how well optimized the Litter Robot really is for what it costs?
The Litter Robot is equipped with three cleaning cycles that can run 3 minutes, 7 minutes, or 15 minutes after each usage. One more downside? Their 15 volt D.C. cable will run you a little more in electric than the competition.
So for us, we can’t say we weren’t expecting the WORLD when it came to the Litter Robot. For a $499 price point, our expectations for cost and efficiency just didn’t quite meet what was delivered. But overall you’re paying for reliability which is just as valid.
Let’s shift gears into something a little more cost-effective. The ScoopFree by Petsafe! For this automatic litter box we’ve got a few different versions at varying price points running from $99 to $229.
For the sake of comparison, we’ll be measuring up to our priciest of the lot to see how it delivers.
Offering 3 tiers of timed cleaning cycles using a horizontal raking system we’ve got some good news for our energy saving audience! For the price, this pick doesn’t seem so bad! It’s relatively cost-effective for the initial investment, a slower more efficient raking system can cut down on energy usage and wasted litter, so where’s the problem?
The base of this automatic litter box is not permanent. So, you would have to purchase additional waste trays on a routine basis after a certain amount of use. Add up those pricey replacement trays and before you know it you’ve probably invested more money into the ScoopFree than the Litter Robot!
Alright, now this you’ve gotta give points to for creativity. Ladies and gentlemen we present, the Cat Genie!
The Cat Genie is a… different sort of automatic litter box that essentially operates as a cat toilet. You would need to purchase their specialty litter which is more or less “flushed” and then washed and recycled for continued use. After a bathroom trip, the Cat Genie will collect the soiled litter and filter through the solid waste which can be disposed of down the drainage system it’s connected to.
So to be clear, we’re talking litter that gets washed, sanitized, dried, and redistributed! How’s that for innovation?
Now the downside is that you will (unfortunately) have to use their reusable litter (which would seem fine since it’s a one-time purchase in theory?). But be mindful you’ll also need to have your unit connected to a cold water line and a drainage system. Seems.. tedious, but okay! Hold it there, if there happens to be a significant amount of their litter that gets dropped down that drain you’re looking at a repair bill that could be costlier than the unit itself!
The Cat Genie also requires filter cartridges which they’re unclear about how often may need to be replaced but we’ll go ahead and tack it on as a long-term cost for this unit. (Roughly $19.99 a piece)
So where do we stand? Unsure. The innovation of reusable cat litter is definitely an interesting approach but for a retail price starting at around $289 plus all of the associated risks with clogging your drain, were not feel overly confident just yet.
The ChillX AutoEgg
Last we’ve got the AutoEgg by ChillX. Similar to the ScoopFree we’ve got another automatic raking system to step up with the energy efficiency. Exactly how efficient are we talking? 1 kWh of energy per 500 cleaning cycles … that’s an impressive stat!
As a newer model to the market with a high tiered price point starting at $399 we were interested to see if the AutoEgg could deliver in terms of both quality and the cost-saving criteria. We were impressed!
Energy efficiency aside, ChillX has developed something rock solid here with a high tech system that feels comparable to that of the Litter Robot but much more efficient at preserving litter.
You will have to use disposable bags in the waste drawer just like the Litter Robot. You can source these with ChillX using their 100% biodegradable bags or just any other plastic bag hanging around the house if you wanna keep things cheap. But this is the only disposable item the AutoEgg will need.
We were most impressed that even as an energy-efficient product ChillX spared no expense with features like their touch screen health log & alert system and the optimized horizontal raking cycle.
Overall it left us pretty satisfied with our results! In terms of effectiveness and preservation paired with the overall quality, we found it hard to fault the AutoEgg during our analysis. Solidifying a spot on our radar as one of the top tier players in the automatic litter box niche.
The ChillX AutoEgg undoubtedly wins the race in terms of cost and efficiency.
As we said, you’ll get what you pay for when it comes to investing in an automatic litter box. We’ve weighed the options in terms of their retail value and their long-term costs and quality.
The AutoEgg seems to be unmatched in terms of energy efficiency and without any disposable items, aside from the liner, we’re feeling pretty confident that ChillX is giving us the best bang for our buck when it comes to an automatic litter box.
In the end, quality always takes the cake. For that reason, we’re keeping our eye on ChillX as the underdog company that can deliver innovative cat tech and customer satisfaction.
Author: Debarati Das