April 14, 2007

Oh, Brave New World That Has Such Feces In It

Filed under: Not Tech — Chris @ 5:59 pm

I’ve been meaning to blog the LitterMaid self-cleaning litter box for months now. Every time I come into contact with the damn thing it makes me want to call my congresswoman (hi, Nydia!).

If you’re not familiar with the product, it’s a litter box with a sensor and a motorized rake. A few minutes after a cat jumps in the box, the rake makes a pass over the litter and scoops whatever is clumped there into a little plastic bucket. Sounds pretty great, right? Wrong.

People on the Internet are not happy with this product. A lot of complaints are centered on the apparent fact that the motor breaks down quickly and often. But even with a fully operational motor, this is a deeply flawed product.

  1. If you fill the box up to the line marked “Full”—or even just somewhat near it, say, anywhere above the line marked “Add Litter”—or, actually, to tell the truth, even if the box is not the least bit full but the litter is somehow unevenly distributed into unfortunately placed dunes—the rake will actually get stuck, going back and forth and back and forth all day or night—oh, and did I mention that it’s really fucking loud—until you turn it off and remove some (or a lot of) litter and smooth it out and pray.
  2. The rake teeth are about a half inch apart and don’t reach down to the bottom of the box. Tiny poops escape unharmed. A layer of fine urine-soaked dust accumulates. Stench ensues. The thing weights 20 or 30 pounds, so dragging it into the bathroom or backyard to scrub it out is a hassle.
  3. With a regular litter box, if you want to ignore it for a week or more, you just have to play chicken with your cat’s inclination to go start pooping and/or peeing somewhere else. Usually, at least in our case, the box will become just completely unacceptably stank long before the cats give up on it.

    With a LitterMaid self-cleaning litter box, if you ignore it for more than a few days, it starts scooping poop and urine-saturated litter onto the floor. Thus, the self-cleaning litter box, far from relieving you of the stresses of litter box management, actually makes careful attention to the state of the litter box more important.

  4. Somehow, because of the way the dirty-litter bucket is wedged into a little gap on the side of the box, you are actually more likely to come into contact with cat shit in the process of changing the litter than with an old-fashioned litter box and scoop.

So, to summarize, here is the litter box of the future: it’s loud, it’s stinky, it scoops shit onto your floor, and then makes you touch it. And then it breaks! It gets my highest recommendation.


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