Litter-Robot.com Delivers the "State of the Art" Automated LitterBox with "State of the Art" Service
Mar 12, 2005 (Updated Mar 13, 2005)
Litter-Robot.com is Automated Pet Care Products single product web store for the Litter-Robot, the consistently top rated automated self cleaning cat litter box. The Litter-Robot is sold only by phone or through the www.litter-robot.com website (unfortunately,at a price which matches its reputation). We own several cats, and occasionally provide foster care for other cats from the local animal welfare society. Though we occasionally let our cats go outdoors, they spend most of the time indoors, and we have three litter boxes set up for the cats. When it comes to litter boxes, my wife does most of the heavy lifting, and when she mentioned that an automated litter box was high on her wish list, I suggested she go ahead and research the subject and find the one that would best meet our needs. At first we considered the LitterMaid Mega models, as well as other models available at local pet stores, but reviews and user forum discussions often mentioned mediocre reliability and other nagging problems with most popular models. And, the Litter-Robot name kept popping up, often with glowing recommendations by enthusiasistic owners. After agonizing over the price, we purchased one online from the Litter-Robot.com website.
Ordering the Litter-Robot
As you might expect with a one product website, The Litter-Robot home page is cleanly designed. The Litter-Robot is prominently displayed as are a list of its advantages, links to reviews, and the terms of its generous warranty (30 day money back guarantee and a 18 month full warranty). Across the top of the home page are links to more information about the company and product (testimonials, FAQs, pdfs of the manual, links to other cat related websites and user forums, and about us info), allowing potential customers to really dig into the details before making their purchase, even to the point of linking potential customers to forums which include sections covering other automated cat litter systems. An icon and link to the Better Business Bureau also indicates that Automated Pet Care Products meets all BBBOnLine Reliability participation and Better Business Bureau membership standards.
Clicking on the Order Here link takes you to order page, where you have only a couple of choices to make, how many Litter-Robots you want to buy, and whether to buy the standard black model (at $300) or the more expensive (by $20) bone color (off white) model. The check out page asks for your shipping and billing address, which can be different, and allows you to pay by credit card or Paypal. Only one shipping option is offered, FedEx Ground. The Litter-Robot, while not very heaviy, is large, 27 ½ in (H), 22 in (W) and 24 in (D), and shipping is substantial, $30 to ship our Litter-Robot from Wisconsin to Louisiana. Before placing my order, I had searched the internet for Litter Robot coupons, and found none, and reviewed listings on Ebay. Occasionally a Litter-Robot is available on Ebay or on Cat enthusiasts message forums, and used models appear to sell for $150 to $250. Ultimately, we decided to purchase a new model, for three reasons
- a few updates have been made to the Litter Robot design over the past two years, and some forum messages indicated these updates were well worth getting.
- a few users have reported that a few cats never take to the Litter-Robot, so I wanted to be able to take advantage of the 30 day money back guarantee
- we felt the 18 month warranty with a new model was worth getting
We ordered a black Litter-Robot on Feb 22nd, and received an email confirmation the same day, describing the order and telling us to expect delivery in 5-10 business days. We also expected to receive an email confirmation when the order shipped, but did not. Fortunately, the Litter-Robot website also offer a tracking summary for orders, so we could see when the item was shipped and when to expect delivery. Our package was shipped on March 2nd from Madison, Wisconsin and was delivered on Saturday, March 5th, 11 calendar days and 9 business days after placing the order.
Other Web Site Features
One of the features of the Litter-Robot website that I really appreciated was a link to the Litter-Robot user forum at Litterbox Central. This website includes forums covering several types and brands of litter boxes. The Litter-Robot forum contains hundreds of messages from the last couple of years covering this item. Many times, questions are answered by Litter-Robot representatives.
The website also offers plenty of FAQs, a copy of the user manual, and step by step images showing how the Litter Robot works. Since this item is not available in stores, the workings of the Litter-Robot might have been explained in more detail, but the images and explanations should be adequate for most potential customers. I didnt find the web site layout as intuitive as I might have liked, some things are hard to find, for examples, the FAQs are summarized on a page titled Advantages, while I first looked for them on the Use and Care page.
Delivery and In the Box
Fedex delivered the Litter Robot on a Saturday while we were out (we had signed a release long ago requesting that they leave deliveries without getting a signature if we weren't home). When we opened the box we found the Litter Robot in three pieces, the globe, the base, and the waste drawer, which slides into the base. Also included are a few standard 13 gallon garbage bags for the waste drawer, a 110V power adapter, a short, but clear and effective, instruction/ setup manual, and a RMA form (which we never expect to use).
Setup is trivial, no screws or bolts to thread, no wires to connect or batteries to install. All we had to do was set the globe on the base, put a trash bag on in the drawer and slide the drawer into the base. Once the Litter-Robot was plugged in, it was ready to use. As was recommended, we did not put litter in the Litter-Robot on day 1, nor did we plug it in. We just let it set on the floor for the cats to find and study. After the first day, we put in cat litter, and located the Litter-Robot next to one of our existing litter boxes. At this point we still did not run the robot in fully automatic mode, but occasionally manually ran it through the cleaning cycle. After two more days, that point, our cats were comfortable with using the Litter-Robot, so we put it in full auto mode, which meant the Litter-Robot would go through a cleaning cycle 7 minutes after each use. A weight sensor detects when a cat leaves the litter box, starting the cleaning cycle.
How Does it Work
Its hard to describe the litter-robot operation without images. The images on the Litter-Robot website, http://www.litter-robot.com/features/step_01.aspx, give a few good looks at how it works. Ill try to describe the operation here without images:
The Litter-Robot consists of a large, 27 diameter globe setting on a round base which is about 10 tall. If you are looking at the globe as it sets on the base, there is a oval opening facing you about 6 ½ wide and 9 high, for cats to enter and exit. On the interior of the globe, attached to the bottom half is thick flexible rubber liner, which is only attached at the edges. Cat litter is poured into to this liner. Youll also see two large spring loaded covers that block two openings on the right side of the globe. Inside the globe, across the top, is a plastic screen covering about ¼ of the open area.
All along one circumference of the globe, on the outside, is a geared track. This track mates with a small motor and gear in the Litter-Robotbase. Seven minutes after a cat exits the Litter-Robot, this motor turns on and starts rotating the globe. Imagine the entrance staying in place as the globe rotates about an axis perpendicular to the entrance. As the globe rotates, the litter tends fall back into place, staying on the bottom. Also, as the globe turns, the screened area which was on top, rotates to the bottom, and any dry clean litter falls through and behind the screen and is temporarily trapped there. Clumped litter stays on top of the screen, and continues to fall as the globe rotates. After the screened area passed the bottom, the waste ports rotate to the bottom, where the waste port covers open as a latch catches on the base. The clumped litter falls through these ports into the waste drawer below.
The globe then reverses, the spring loaded port coverings close, and as the globe turns back to its starting position, the unused litter falls back through the screen and onto the rubber liner which is now in its original position on the bottom again. Litter usage is as minimal as you can expect, and human intervention, to empty the waste drawer is easy and clean. Litter-Robot claims you can go a week or so between bag changes, but with so many cats we change the bag almost daily, though its much less effort, and a simpler, cleaner task, than what was required with conventional litter boxes.
Would I Buy Here Again?
Though this was an expensive purchase, we are pleased with this unit's first week of operation, and feel we received a reasonable value for our money. The Litter-Robot is not perfect, and it looks like the interior will need an extensive cleanout every week or two. All of our cats, currently 6, aged from 6 months to 16 years, use the Litter-Robot. Odors seem to be minimal, and the exterior seems to stay clean, except that some cat litter is tracked out on the cats feet. The shopping experience went smoothly and the item ordered was shipped and delivered on time and as described. Support seems to be a strong point of this company, so even though we dont have a bricks and mortar store to return this item to when problems occur, it appears that well get satisfaction from the manufacturer, if problems do occur.
Better Business Bureau Information:
Other good sources of related information:
http://www.litterbox-central.com/forum/ (Litter Box Central user forum)
http://www.catfancy.com/anforum/forum.asp?FORUM_ID=24 (Cat Fancy magazine user forum)