Cat owners everywhere inevitably have to face the litter box dilemma. They are looking for a solution that is easy (re: automatic), out of sight, odorless, easy for their cats, and something that actually works. Unfortunately, all of these features do not exist in any product on the market today. The litter box market is filled with products that range from a simple $10 plastic box with shovel, to fully automatic waste disposal systems that rival the cost of your washing machine. The problem is that every cat is unique and no single litter box system will work for all cats. The key is to find a litter box that meets your cat’s behavior.
Litter boxes can be grouped into 4 categories. The basic box (with or without lid) with sifter shovel, the furniture disguised litter box, the mechanical litter box, and the automated electronic litter box. Let’s examine each:
Basic Litter Box
The basic litter box has been a tried and true restroom for cats since the advent of the litter box. This option is the least expensive of all litter boxes on the market. The basic litter box is nothing more than a plastic box that you can optionally put a plastic hood on (for privacy and odor guard) and can use with or without a plastic bag liner. Operating this box simply requires you to scoop out waste once or twice a day. The box should be about twice the size of your cat so that she has room to maneuver. The key to keeping odor to a minimum is frequent scooping with a sealed disposal system (covered, lined barrel). A new company called Luuup has a new twist on the basic litter box that makes cleanup a snap. While more expensive than a basic box ($49.95) it may be something to consider.
Furniture Litter Box
There are many attractive furniture litter box options. The goal of the furniture litter box is to hide the fact that you have a litter box in your home. These cat bathrooms typically have a door or a hinged lid that allows for easy access to the box for cleaning along with a hidden entrance for your cats. While these boxes can be quite nice, it is imperative that the litter be scooped at least daily. The inside of these boxes can become quite messy and some are just too small, so make sure there is ample room inside for your cat’s comfort.
Mechanical Litter Box
There are a number of mechanical litter boxes that all basically use the same principal. These boxes typically have a built in sifter that will filter out waste when tilted or rolled over. The litter must be heavy clumping for these boxes to work properly. The mechanical litter boxes are a little bit easier than scooping but do require regular cleaning to get waste residue off of sides and top of box.
Electronic Litter Box
The electronic litter box attempts to completely automate the process of litter removal. Options in this class have automatic rakes, spinning domes, and even some that dissolve waste and expel the remains via your existing toilet/plumbing. While some of these can work quite well, it really depends on how fastidious your cats are. If your cats tend to spray on the side walls of litter boxes or not bury their waste, these solutions can become clogged and will often breakdown. Check the reviews on some of the more sophisticated litter machines like Litter-Robot, LitterMaid, and Cat Genie to see if any of these boxes will work for you. These litter boxes are the most expensive and can run up to $500.
There are so many litter box options so be sure to read all reviews before making a choice as most of these products are not returnable once put into use. The most important thing for your cat when it comes to litter is cleanliness, so no matter what you choose please keep your litter area and boxes maintained and clean.