Litter Robot Open Air Reader Review Update: Malfunctions and Globe Replacement
In November 2015, a reader, Jessica, was kind enough to do a write-up about her experience with the Litter-Robot Open Air and her kittens, Saoirse and Aisling. Saoirse and Aisling will be 1-year old this month, so I thought I would check in and see how the Litter-Robot is holding up both for the kitties and for Jessica. If you want to read the first part of her Litter Robot Open Air Review, you can do so here. You can also read and see videos from Floppycats' Review of the Litter Robot Open Air.Sure, happy to provide an update, please feel free to edit as you need to. And yes - kitties are bigger now, they'll be a year old this month. Saoirse is about 10 pounds and Aisling is about 8 pounds.
I still really love the Litter Robot overall. The pros I wrote about initially are all still true! It is the kitties only day to day litter box and they use it faithfully, we've never had any issues or accidents (knock on wood). One of the things I loved when I first got it was how fascinated the kittens were with it - they often watched it, twisting their heads as it rotated. Saoirse, my more adventurous kitty, tested the limits as well - often stepping up to look in while it spun, and sometimes stepping into it (which stops the turning) to see what was going on.
Aisling occasionally doesn't trigger the scooping sensor since she's smaller, but it's occasional and I think is a factor of how much litter is in it and how much she scratches (she sometimes spends a long time scratching around which does trigger the sensor it seems). Both cats fit inside without issue by themselves, and sometimes they squeeze in together - and seem to both fit! However, I realize neither is a particularly large cat.
I have to empty the drawer every 5-7 days. There's no kitty smell in the house at all, except briefly before the scooping occurs. I use standard kitchen garbage bags, and they work fine. I did like the Litter Robot bags that came with the unit, but I haven't ordered more. I undoubtedly should replace the carbon filter, but even though I haven't - no smell. When I open the drawer, I am constantly amazed at how great it is at containing those odors. It's really amazing in terms of keeping a house free of catbox smell, and for that alone I would recommend it.
Does It Really Save Money on Litter?
I have used Dr. Elsey's Precious Cat Litter, Costco clumping cat litter, and briefly, a lightweight clumping litter from a big box store. I don't recommend the lightweight at all - it formed clumps that stuck to the liner and broke into small bits that didn't get scooped. The weight wasn't "right." Lesson learned! I had actually just stopped using it when I did my initial review, and you can see some if the yucky sticky stuff on the liner in one picture in that review. That :sticking" issue never happened again when I went to the right litter - the Dr Elsey's (the bag for which you can see in the photo, I still had a "mix" at the time of my initial review). The basic clay, dust free clumping litters have worked really well for us. I don't think I go through litter all that quickly, and it stays very clean. I was skeptical about it saving me money on litter, but I think it really might in the long run versus a conventional box - maybe a bag or two less a year. If you overfill the Litter Robot, you're wasting litter since it will just empty out in the sifting process - so you get good quickly and knowing the right amount. I keep extra litter in a bin near by with a scoop and add a couple scoops when I empty it. The cats always have to investigate the new litter, even if they have just used it.
I still have the con of the liner at the lip of the unit, however. I used to have to reset the liner daily, my cats just scratch and scratch and scratch at it, and seemed liked the cause/effect of unseating it. I had a few exchanges with the manufacturer about it (they were always very friendly and responsive). At one point they said they were looking at a rigid lip add on for this purpose, but it's never come out. I did add some large binder clips to the opening to stop the unseating, which was their recommendation. It's not beautiful, but it does work, and doesn't prevent the cats from using it or interfere with the functionality. I reached out a few weeks ago to follow up on the rigid lip and was told that after I bought my model, they added an improvement to bolt down the liner, and they sent me a new globe at no charge. I received in a week, brand new globe - no issue installing it. Really great customer service. It is nice to have the liner bolted towards the front - but the lip getting unseated is still not solved, so my binder clips are still in place. It's a bit frustrating to have several hundred dollar item that you have to modify in that way to get full functionality, but it's still a pretty minor overall.
Breaking News - Litter Robot Open Air Fence
Breaking news - I just looked at the Litter Robot site, and they DO now have the rigid lip (called Litter Robot Open Air Fence) which I am ordering!! Hopefully this re I'm also intrigued by the "steps" they have for the unit. While my kitties have no issue whatever getting into the unit, I do wonder if this would make them slightly less likely to leap from it, as they occasionally do. The the litter map I have does do a good job catching the litter they do scatter, and the total litter scattered is less than I've had in the past with conventional litter boxes and other cats in my life. I just ordered both, along with the replacement carbon filters.
I have had a couple of minor malfunctions (yellow or red flashing lights), but each time they were caused by a little bit of litter getting into the wrong place, between the globe and the base unit. Easily fixed, just vacuum up the excess litter, and it is easy to take apart and put back together. It's happened twice. I'm not entirely sure how, it may be tied to slightly overfilling the unit or maybe when I didn't empty the drawer quite soon enough. The drawer does fill up sort of like building a sand pile, so you'll get a higher pile on one side of the drawer which will cause issues. However - the "full" indicator (blue light) really works well, just pay attention to it!
Because I have had these couple of faults, plus the possibility of a power outage, I always leave a second "conventional" box out for the cats when I am away overnight plus ensure the drawer is emptied. But I find the cats really don't use the conventional box, or maybe use it once, versus the Litter Robot. The "regular" litter box is a novelty to them, but the Litter Robot is their preference. Which is great testimonial.
One other minor peculiarity that I think is more my cats than the Litter Robot is that sometimes, when my kitty Aisling is in an especially scratchy mood, she'll scratch all over inside the globe - and has discovered that she can scratch at the edge of the internal shield and make a loud(ish) noise. While the unit itself running doesn't wake me up at night, that noise has a couple of times. But that may just be my slightly nutty cat. She also likes to open ans close cupboard doors loudly.
So life with the Litter Robot Open Air has been great - and may actually get even better with the Open Air Fence accessory!! My number one favorite part is the lack of cat box smell, followed closely by only needing to empty it every 5-7 days vs scooping regularly, and only needing 1 box for 2 cats. These things make the cost well worth it overall for us.
Buy the Litter-Robot III Open Air Automatic Litter Box