Automatic litter boxes reduce your cat’s litter box maintenance by more than half in most cases. These high-tech self-cleaning machines will scoop your kitty’s waste and keep the box hygienic after every visit. But surely even these smart devices need to be manually cleaned now and then?
To answer this question, we’ve researched the different cleaning methods that automatic litter boxes use to stay in tip-top shape. In this article, we’ll explain each system, detailing which parts require maintenance and how frequently.
How much upkeep do automatic litter boxes need?
Rotating vs Raking Systems
Most self-cleaning litter boxes operate with a traditional rotating system or a horizontal raking method. Both types remove the waste from the litter bed, but in relatively different ways.
They also both have a waste compartment for storing the dirty litter. For these automatic litter boxes, you will need to empty the tray’s content and replace the liner from time to time. The size of the waste drawer will determine how often you need to do this.
The AutoEgg utilizes a horizontal raking system and features a 20-liter waste drawer. This size compartment will typically require emptying every 5 to 7 days for an average-sized cat. If you have two kitties using the box, you may have to empty it more often. You should top up the litter whenever you empty the waste drawer too as to keep things level.
It’s also worth noting that automatic litter boxes with rotating globes like the Aimicat use carbon filters to neutralize cat waste odors. These filters require replacing roughly every three months for one or two cats.
Alternative Systems/Flushable Litter
There are some automatic litter boxes on the market that work quite differently. Some self-cleaning machines, such as the CatGenie, connect to your drain and filter/flush the waste out just like your toilet does. For these litter boxes, there is no waste drawer to empty which can change how you’d regularly clean your unit.
What’s more, The CatGenie uses special washable litter granules. Every cleaning cycle cleans and dries the granules before returning them to the tray to be used again. This means you’ll very rarely need to top up the litter, making these self-cleaning systems extremely low maintenance.
Disposable Crystal Litter Trays
The ScoopFree is a self-cleaning litter box that uses pre-portioned disposable litter trays.
The ScoopFree removes waste after each visit like the rotating and raking system. However, it uses crystal litter specifically made for the ScoopFree, instead of standard clay litter. This crystal litter absorbs urine and dehydrates solid waste rather than sifting out clumps.
Each pre-portioned package of litter lasts 20-30 days for one cat, 10-15 days for two cats, and 7-10 days for three cats. So, for this style, the upkeep is relatively low for one kitty but considerably more if you have multiple cats sharing the litter box.
Deep Cleaning An Automatic Litter Box
Aside from the general maintenance of topping up litter and emptying the waste drawer, self-cleaning litter trays recommend deep cleaning the litter box. How often you do this depends on how many cats use the box and which cleaning system the unit uses.
For automatic litter boxes that self-clean via a rotating globe, we recommend deep cleaning the interior part every 1 to 3 months. Cleaning this system is super easy as there are no electronic components inside the globe that water can damage.
To clean, remove the top section from the base if possible and clean the TOP ONLY either with soap and water or run it under a tap or garden hose. Just ensure the globe is thoroughly dry before you reattach it to the base.
You can clean the waste drawer in the same way as the globe as long as it’s separated from the body. However, you should wipe clean all other surfaces, including the base, whenever they become dirty. You should never submerge or soak the base in water.
Self-cleaning litter boxes that utilize the horizontal raking system require deep cleaning slightly more. You should aim to deep clean the litter box every 5 or 6 weeks for one cat. If you have two or more kitties sharing the box, you should wash it every 2 to 4 weeks for good hygiene practice.
To clean this type of automatic litter box, you’ll need to disassemble first. Luckily, systems like the AutoEgg has made this process as quick and hassle-free as possible, taking just 60 seconds to take it apart.
Once deconstructed, the AutoEgg will have six individual components that you can wash with soap and water. You can also spray and wipe them with disinfectant as needed.
Like the rotating designs, the base of a raking system is not washable, as it contains the engine and the motor. However, if it does need a clean, you can use wipes with caution. Ensure all parts
are thoroughly dry before resembling.
If you have a toilet-like litter box like the CatGenie, you only need to take it apart and deep clean it two or three times a year. After disassembling the appliance, gently scrub the parts with a soapy sponge to remove any debris build-up.
Even though the CatGenie stays relatively clean, you do need to run a maintenance cycle on the machine every 90 days. The maintenance cartridge contains special enzymes to break down any lime or other deposits from the water inside the unit. Running this cycle couldn’t be easier as all you need to do is insert the cartridge into the unit and press start!
Remember, even though these high-tech machines self-clean, it doesn’t mean they never require manual cleaning. Your toilet flushes your waste away, but would you still want to use it if you never cleaned it? It’s the same for your fur baby.
A little bit of maintenance now and again will keep your awesome litter device in tip-top condition so your furry friend can
continue using it for years to come.