It’s not uncommon if sometimes you wonder if you’re crazy to own a cat. This is a thought that usually comes up whenever you have to deal with your cat litter box. It can be an unpleasant task to scoop out the waste on a regular basis. Not only is it dangerous if you come into contact with the waste, but it can literally make you crazy. And that smell can be horrendous. With the ScoopFree Self Cleaning Litter Box, you now have a way to avoid all these problems, or at least you can keep it to a minimum.
The ScoopFree Original is a self-cleaning litter box. It’s powered by a 12V AC adapter, and its design is the brainchild of a few geniuses from MIT. With this litter box, you won’t have to touch the waste at all. Instead, all you need to do is to make sure the litter tray is loaded with the special Premium Blue Crystals that are part of your purchase.
These crystals are the secret ingredients to what makes this ScoopFree work. They absorb the moisture and the smell of the waste, and begin to dehydrate the solid wastes. The ScoopFree has a sensor that detects when your cat uses the litter box, and then 20 minutes after your cat leaves it initiates the cleaning process. The machine’s mechanism sweeps the waste into a covered receptacle, and that results in leaving your blue crystals clean and fresh-smelling. Every few weeks, you’ll just have to replace the disposable tray, and you’re good to go once again.
Of course, you will need some time to convince your cat to switch from your old litter box to this new one. But you have 90 days to do so, as that’s the length of time for the money-back guarantee. If you think your cat just doesn’t like it, you can return it and get your money back.
When you buy the ScoopFree Self Cleaning Litter Box, your purchase includes the litter box with the rake and waste trap lid, a UL-rated AC adaptor with a cord that measures 10 feet long, a covered litter tray and a bag of premium blue crystal litter, and the product manual.
- The box measures 27.5 x 19 x 7 inches while the litter area is 14 inches on each side. The litter trays measure 22 x 14.5 x 2.5 inches.
- The self-cleaning cycle cleans the entire box 20 minutes after your cat uses the box. A built-in sensor in the ScoopFree notes when your cat enters the litter box and also notes when they leave. The 20-minute countdown starts when they leave the litter box. If another of your cats use the litter box during the countdown, the timer resets and it starts counting down again after this second cat leaves.
- By raking the waste into the closed waste compartment, the smell of the waste doesn’t spread all over your house. It’s trapped inside that closed compartment. In addition, the crystal litter absorbs the urine, so the odor control is 5 times better than conventional litter boxes.
- Cleanup is easy because the litter trays are disposable, and they come with leak-proof lining. So there’s very little chance that you’ll make a mess.
- You don’t use as much litter as before. Compared to clay and clumping litter, you’ll use 5 to 10 times less litter.
- The ScoopFree has been lab-tested extensively, and they don’t fail or jam even when they’re used for more than 100,000 cleaning cycles.
- The litter box is for cats of all sizes, although they’re better for cats that are at least 6 months old.
- It’s for indoor use only.
- It’s easy enough to assemble and use. All you have to do is to lift the box and slide in the disposable litter tray. This tray is preloaded with the premium blue crystal litter. Then leave it be, and after a few weeks (depending on the number of your cats) you just remove the old tray and dispose of it, while you put in a new one. PetSafe, the manufacturer of the ScoopFree, offers an autoship subscription service.
- You also have the option of using a plastic litter tray, so you can just buy the blue crystal litter in 8.8-pound packs. This may be more cost-effective in the long run.
- Another option is to use the Litter-Bagger-Scoopfree, which comes with its own permanent tray. This doesn’t accumulate the waste in the tray compartment. Instead, the waste falls through a hole that leads to a bag. So when it’s time to change the litter, you just scoop the waste through the hole and into the bag. You can then fill up the tray with blue crystal litter again.
Changing the Tray
You should replace the litter tray every 20 to 30 days for best results if you have only a single cat. That’s reduced every 10 to 15 days if you have a pair of cats. For 3 cats, you’ll need to replace the litter tray every 7 to 10 days.
However, these are guidelines. So you should replace the tray is the waste trap is full. You’ll this when the purple waste trap lid just won’t close completely. You’ll find some small bits of solid waste sticking out from under the lid. And you may also notice a smell from the waste.
Another sign that you need to dispose of the tray is if the liter is saturated. You’ll know it’s nearing the time when the litter begins to turn yellow. When most of the litter is yellow, the saturation point is near. You should change the tray at this time, rather than wait to reach the saturation point. When you go past the right time, you’ll notice a smell from the tray.
For older cats, the trays may not last as long. That’s because cats that are more than a decade old tend to have kidney problems that makes them urinate more frequently, and this will shorten the tray’s useful period.
Getting Your Cat to Use the ScoopFree
Now for many cat owners there’s no real guarantee that your cat will make the switch to your new ScoopFree. But there are ways for you to increase the probability.
- You should leave the old litter box right next to the ScoopFree, in the same location as before.
- Then you can add several handfuls of your old cat’s litter to the litter tray in the ScoopFree. At the same time, you also add several handfuls of the blue crystal litter to your old litter box.
- Then you neglect to clean the old litter box altogether. That’ll make it dingier, and as a result the ScoopFree becomes a more attractive alternative for your cat.
- At some point, your cat may become startled by the sound of the rake. This can cause problems getting the cat to get used to the new litter box. So it may be a good idea to manually scoop the waste during the first few days when your cat tries out the ScoopFree.
- Cats don’t really like to do their business near where they eat and drink. So you should keep your litter box away from their food and water bowls.
- The location of the litter box should be visible and easy to find for the cat. That’s so they can get to it quickly whenever they get the urge to do their business. If they have some difficulty in getting to their litter box, an accident becomes more likely.
- It should also be a safe and quiet location. When they do their business, cats often feel vulnerable. So any sudden movement or noise can startle them and they may associate that location as a dangerous place.
- You should also keep the litter box clean as often as possible. Cats are quite fastidious and they like their litter box clean.
What about Kittens?
While the ScoopFree isn’t exactly ideal for your kitten, if you have one among your cats you can still get them to use the new litter box. But it will require extra effort from you.
- Kittens instinctively need to do their business after key activities like napping, playing, or eating. So after the kitten has done one of these activities, put them in the litter box right away so they’ll associate the new litter box with their instinct to do their business.
- Kittens urinate more frequently than their adult counterparts, so the litter box will get dirtier more quickly. To compensate, you should stir the crystal litter one a week so the saturated crystals will be distributed.
What’s the Green Light All About?
The ScoopFree has a green indicator light. It stays green when there’s no problem. If there is a problem or the litter box is in its cleaning cycle, the light will flash.
- If it flashes slowly, then your cat has just used the ScoopFree and it is in countdown mode. The rake will then sweep once 20 minutes have passed after your cat has left. When the rake comes back to its regular position, the indicator light will once again go to a steady green light.
- If it is flashing rapidly, there’s a problem with the litter box sensor. If the light flashes when your cat is inside the litter box, then it means the sensors are blocked. That’s normal.
What’s not normal is if the lights flash rapidly and your cat isn’t using the litter box. That means some other debris or urine is blocking the box’s sensors. You will have to clean the sensors by swiping inside the sensor holes located on the two sides of the litter box, using a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl rubbing alcohol.
Maintaining the ScoopFree
In general, you don’t really have much cleaning to do with the ScoopFree since the parts that get dirty are parts of the disposable tray, and you can just throw them away. But you can clean the ScoopFree so they can work properly for a longer period of time.
Here are the cleaning steps you need to take.
- Detach the power cord from the litter box.
- Tilt the waste trap lid so it can fall of its slots and you can remove it.
- Use mild soap and water to wipe all the surfaces clean.
- Wipe the rake clean with a brush or sponge.
- Check that the optical sensors aren’t blocked.
Never spray the ScoopFree down, immerse it in water, or expose it to too much moisture or sunlight.
Benefits of the ScoopFree
So let’s tally the various advantages you’ll get with this automatic litter box:
- Assembling and setting up the ScoopFree is no problem at all. If you have enough brains to put in the tray and to plug the power cord into a wall socket, you’ll be fine.
- With the use of the disposable litter trays, getting rid of the waste is quite simple and convenient.
- If you follow the manual and you maintain it properly, you’ll find it is very reliable.
- This litter box is very quiet, especially in comparison to other types of automatic litter boxes.
- It’s also very effective in reducing the smell. The crystals dry out the waste to reduce the odor, and because the trays are disposable there are no lingering smells as well.
- These crystals aren’t as sticky to cat’s paws as regular litter.
- The litter box has high sides, and that prevents accidents involving the tail hanging out.
- The power cord is 10 feet long, and that’s a great length that allows you to place the ScoopFree almost anywhere.
- You won’t have to manually clean the waste anymore, as this is done automatically. And it only does this when you’re cat isn’t using the litter box.
Drawbacks of the ScoopFree
The main drawback of this litter box is that you should really watch it so you can tell for sure that the crystals are still absorbing the waste. Its capacity to absorb urine must be watched especially. Though the crystals do absorb urine like a sponge, when it reaches its limit then the failure will be quite dramatic. Remember, the tray is made of solid cardboard, and it can be very messy if the crystals fail. So you have to be very religious in changing trays.
Here are some other potential problems:
- The disposable trays can be very expensive, and that can be a drain on your budget for each month.
- The rake can get some solid waste attached to it, and that can get smelly unless you clean it off.
- When the rake sweeps the litter, clean litter will be collected as well.
- The tray compartment that stores the waste isn’t really airtight, and that can cause the odor to get out.
- When the tray is replaced, it can get very heavy.
This is a review of the ScoopFree Original, but there are other versions like the Ultra. This Ultra version may be more to your liking, as it offers features that aren’t available in the original. For example, the time delay for the rake is adjustable. You can set it to wait just 5 or 10 minutes instead of the default 20 minutes.
Then it also comes with a privacy hood, which is an accessory you can get for the ScoopFree Original. This is a removable piece that offers more privacy for your cat and it also helps control the odor.
The Ultra even comes with a “Health Counter”, which acts like a kind of odometer for the litter box. This feature counts the number of times your cat has used the litter box, and this tells you when it is time to change it.
So should you get the Ultra or stick with the Original? If you don’t need the Ultra’s extra features, you can save your money and stick with the Original. And this original version is excellent.
It is very well-designed, and it doesn’t need as much maintenance as other automatic litter box systems do. It also doesn’t cost as much initially, although the regular purchase of the disposable trays can be painful for your budget. But you can get a plastic tray instead, and buy the premium blue crystal litter regularly instead.
This isn’t the right system for you if you can’t afford to buy disposable trays or even a plastic tray and the crystal litter. That’s especially true if you have more than a single cat, since you’ll need to buy more supplies more frequently. It may not also be a good purchase if your cat doesn’t tale to new things like a new litter box easily. And it also won’t work as well if your cat tends to produce soft waste.
But if you have the budget and the discipline to replace the trays regularly, then never again will you need to deal with carpet accidents—this one works, and works very well indeed.