AutoPets Litter-Robot 3 Connect | $499 | Litterbox.com
Everybody poops, especially cats. My cat in particular—let’s call him Porky for the sake of anonymity—commits what my partner calls “war crimes” in the Litter-Robot 3, an automatic self-cleaning litter box from Automated Pet Care Products, the same company behind Litterbox.com. In purely scientific terms, its proposition is this: Everyone despises The Scoop, so what if we replaced The Scoop with The Cycle, thereby offloading the poo poos and pee pees into a discreet baggage compartment below a gargantuan kitty litter-recycling spaceship? Cat owners rejoice because let me tell you, it doesn’t suck either. Au contraire, it lives up to its Cybertronian name.
Loyal readers may remember Litterbox.com from my review of their catnip-infused bath foam published what feels like 30 years ago and was actually 3 months ago. Around that time they also sent me the Litter-Robot 3 for review. Because cleaning out the litter box is a shared responsibility in our household, Victoria and I have been testing our sample since mid-March, in quarantine mind you, to determine whether it’s worth nearly half a grand to never scoop another poop or pee clump for as long as we live. The short answer? If you can afford it, by all means, it’ll save ample time otherwise spent shoveling dookies and piss rocks. $500 is a lot to ask for a cat toilet when you could buy, I don’t know, a pretty good human toilet for a fraction of the price.
Then again, cats, not unlike humans, are weird at shitting. My guy, for example, launches out of the Litter-Robot after staring irately in my direction sometimes for several minutes on end. In his path, he leaves dust and debris for SOMEONE–not him—to clean up. The Litter-Robot 3 Connect takes these oddities into consideration. For Roomba owners, IFTTT integration makes it so you never have to vacuum up after your cat again. Instead, you can set it up to automatically mow your cat’s poop lawn every time after every bowel movement. For everyone else, Litterbox.com also sells litter mats. (Unfortunately, I can’t use these myself since I also have a geriatric dog who will pee on them.)
Setting up the Litter-Robot 3 is pretty straightforward, assuming you don’t totally muck up and overfill the Globe like we did. The base may look sturdy, but I assure you, it can only handle so much weight. An 18-pound cat combined with excessive litter volume is a recipe for disaster. After calling in a new base and assembling the unit, it’s been smooth sailing ever since. The Litter-Robot 3 comes in three parts: the Globe, the Base, and the Bonnet. All three are available to buy separately from Litterbox.com on the off-chance you need a replacement. Admittedly, our Base-swap dilemma was the result of our own neglect.
Unique to the Litter-Robot 3 Connect is its Wi-Fi enabled app support. Available from the Apple App Store for iPhones and Google Play for everyone else, I’ve gotta say I don’t understand the hate for the software. Sitting at a 2.4-star rating on both platforms doesn’t bode well for the Litter-Robot Connect app, but in my experience the worst thing about it is how lean it is on features. And in a world full of unnecessary, bloated companion apps, it’s actually pretty refreshing. Getting started is as easy as pressing two buttons (gasp, at the same time) and scanning a QR code on the back of the machine.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to see insights on your cat’s bathroom habits and monitor its clean cycle history. You can also use the Litter-Robot Connect app to toggle on and off the built-in night light and adjust the wait time between when your cat defiles the Litter-Robot and when it cycles. By default, it’s set to 7 minutes. Dig into the settings and you’ll find Sleep Mode preferences as well. With this option turned on, you never have to worry about the impressively loud cycle noise interrupting your sleep. Intervals are customizable, but sadly for those of us who get either too much sleep (me) or not enough (ew), you are limited to an 8-hour window.
Located in the base of the Litter-Robot 3 Connect is the waste drawer, the aforementioned baggage compartment where the dumps and tinkles are stored. If my memory serves me right, three waste drawer liners are included, but you can purchase anywhere between 25 and 100 more starting at $21 from the Litter-Robot site. Or you can do what I did and roll up a large kitchen garbage bag that serves the same function at a much lower cost per count. When its built-in emitters and sensors detect a full waste drawer, the Litter-Robot flashes blue for three clean cycles until it’s deactivated. Simply empty the waste drawer and replace the bag, then press the Reset button to turn it back on.
By now, if you’ve read this far I should hope you know the answer to that question already. But to validate your decision either way, it depends. First of all, how much of a burden is it for you to clean out the litter box every day? Because with this, you’ll still have to empty out the waste drawer every three days or so. The main benefit is you won’t have to scoop your cat’s poop (or pee) anymore, and for that I feel blessed. While the Litter-Robot Connect app has been panned by users, reviewers such as myself remain on the right side of history since “barebones” doesn’t always mean “bad.” Some might call it intuitive.
The one downside to buying the Litter-Robot 3 Connect, then, is it’ll set you back nearly $500. However, I think it goes without saying, if you’re strapped for cash right now, maybe don’t blow your Benjamins on a dystopian mechanical litter box. Apart from the comically high asking price, our friends at the equally dystopically named Automated Pet Care Products have delivered on every front. Though you won’t find it sold at more ubiquitous third-party retailers like Amazon or even Chewy, the Litter-Robot 3 Connect is available at the Litter-Robot website and at Litterbox.com. From the latter, I recommend perusing their whole range of cat supplies, many of which I’ve tested myself, including Porky’s favorite catnip spray, The Fish, mice under the couch, the mat my dog peed on, and SO MUCH MORE.