Are Automatic Litter Boxes like the Litter-Robot Bad? 😺❤️🚽

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On Friday, I published our interview with certified cat behaviorist, Ingrid Johnson.

In the interview, when we start talking about cat litterboxes (because one of the two main reasons she is called to someone’s home is because of improper cat elimination issues), she says:


[…] The automatic boxes and the Litter-Robots and the Litter Maid and all of that stuff, the Tidycat Breeze system, all that stuff keeps me at a job. It’s contraction-y and the cats don’t want to use it. And it scares them, they’re too small, they don’t get washed out enough.

Litter-Robot Open Air

Litter Robot Open Air Review

Litter-Maid

Littermaid LM980 Mega Self-Cleaning Litter Box

Tidy Cat Breeze

Purina Tidy Cats BREEZE Cat Litter System Starter Kit

The Litter-Robot where the bottom is the top and the top is the bottom, that’s gross. The cats don’t want to get in there and rub their body up against the body walls of the litter box that had pee and poop on it earlier before it spun around. It’s yucky. They’re very clean animals. So, we do a lot of things to hide the litter boxes and put them behind cat doors and in closets. Just have a nice clean big litter box in a prominent place and keep it scooped.

Jenny: I felt the same way about automatic litter boxes for a long time. And I reviewed the Litter-Robot, and we have one now. And I’ve changed my tune about it only because of my personal experience with it. But I do know that it can get gross if you don’t keep it clean. But I’ve learned it’s so important for folks that – like a firefighter for example who is gone for 48 hours and can’t scoop the litter box, or someone that’s disabled that can’t get the litter box scooped. So, I think that they do have a place, but you have to be cognizant, again, looking at your cat and seeing them as an individual, seeing them as what works in your life, your lifestyle. I had a blind person contact me because they needed a solution because they couldn’t keep their cat’s litter box clean except for the person that came by once a week. So, I understand the argument there.

Ingrid: And I think that if you’re going to have something like that, you should always have a traditional box as well. Because the other thing about the automatic boxes is – now of course for the blind person, it might not factor in so much, but we take away very vital information that we need to know. And we need to know how big are those urine clumps. Are they small? Are they huge? Are they normal? How many urine clumps are there, and what’s the consistency of the stool? What goes in our cats and what comes out the other end are really big indicators of our cat’s health. And when we take that information away, we lose a lot of early signs that something might be wrong.


To be honest, I was NOT surprised that Ingrid felt this way about automated litterboxes – afterall, readers have written me telling me that Jackson Galaxy is opposed to them as well.

Both Ingrid and Jackson deal with cats who have improper elimination problems stemming from poor litterbox situations AND MORE, and I can definitely see how an automatic litterbox isn’t always the right choice for a cat, an owner, etc.

Litter-Robot Has NOT Been a Bad Thing for Us

As with anything, there are exceptions to the rule.

After having one for nearly two years and reviewing it and hearing about all the success stories, it is hard for me to think of the Litter-Robot as a bad thing.

Certainly, before I reviewed it, Ingrid’s perception of it reminded me of how I felt about the Litter-Robot before I realized how many people (disabled, arthritic, visually impaired, people in chronic pain, people with really busy lives) have benefited from the invention of the Litter-Robot. Of course, their cats have benefited too because they have a “clean” (scooped) litter box – and a regularly scooped litter box is one of the first things to look at when you have elimination issues (if it isn’t health related).

I have included a video I posted on Facebook below about Trigg watching our Litter-Robot cycle – sometimes when I scoop the litterboxes, I accidentally activate the weight sensor in the Litter-Robot. Trigg, who was sitting on the basement stairs, heard it start to rotate and ran down the stairs to watch it. That’s when I grabbed my phone and started recording this.

As she mentions, one of the reasons she doesn’t like automated boxes is because she talked about the cat having to go into a globe where there’s dust all over the sides of it on the inside (but ultimately said, she would be OK with one being in the house as an option for the cat – as long as they had a normal litterbox to use too). Certainly, that could be the case depending on how the owner keeps the LR clean or not or what time of litter they use, etc.

I think she is also coming from a perspective where she is always encountering cats that have problems – elimination issues, etc. The choice to have a LR and to know whether or not it works for you, your cat and your home is subjective.

Is it for everyone? No. But, after having ours for 2 years and hearing how much so many owners love it – I can’t see it as a bad thing. Every situation is different and every home is different.


I would be curious to know your thoughts on such a thing – please feel free to share below.

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  1. i totally agree with what you said. and if people are too dumb to figure that out… to do what works for them instead of trying to fit the cat to the product just because.. well, they shouldn’t have a cat! cripe! i want most of the stuff you show and review but i know my cats pretty well (most of the time anyway) and something may be darling and fun to me but i know they won’t play with it or use it or whatever. so i don’t get it. but when you think about it that is kind of the mentality these days..whatever is the latest and greatest, whatever is new, whatever is trending we think we have to have and our kids have to have and our animals have to have. even if it means we don’t have food..hahaha! to me that’s is just stupid. and automated is only bad if the cat hates it, doesn’t use it or some unwanted behavior comes up because of it. i totally agree that someone that is super busy and or has a disability , it’s a god send to them. what cat is going to be happy with a cat box full of crap and pee because someone can’t get to it?! might create some behaviors for sure then. you said it very well. it’s very individual and you have to really think about your own situation and your cat or cats. it’s not just a convenience for us, it’s to make their lives better as well. i’d even say that about the roomba. why terrify them with the big mean vacuum if they can be entertained while you get your floor clean. should you just use a broom? ummm. i feel that trying to force anything on a cat is bad but if they use it and like it and they have choices then why the heck not? and as far as that guy with the “owner” issue, omg, give me a break! that guy needs to go get a massage or something. (rolls eyes hard).

    1. cool. thanks for sharing your thoughts – i agree that “automated is only bad if the cat hates it, doesn’t use it or some unwanted behavior comes up because of it.” ha ha ha on the owner guy needing a massage – he might need much more than that =)

      1. Yeah I know but what I was really thinking I couldn’t have written here, that was more than ridiculous. Some people have fallen over the edge.

  2. I’m new here hey everyone… I’m getting my first Ragdoll Kittens soon and I’m wanting to have my home ready and everything I need before they get here. I’m getting two ! So excited, any tips on litter brands or what kind of litter box to get how often do I clean it out? Thank you very much and thank you for this site it’s been very informative I love it.

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