The unwashed, clumped masses have what they're waiting for. Litter-Robot 4 — the latest in a popular line of self-cleaning litter boxes by Whisker — has arrived. The self-cleaning litter box, while an incredible idea attempted by many, has rarely achieved a level of excellence by their respective makers. The idea? Cats go in, do their smelly business, jump out, and after a moment or two, the device runs a cleaning cycle, making the cats' business effectively history — at least until its owner needs to empty the bin. In this Litter-Robot 4 review, I’ll detail the ins and outs of the device, as well as how it fared after a month of intense usage by my two adorable boys Jodah and Charlee.
What is Litter-Robot 4 WiFi-Enabled Automatic Litter Box?
— Fully Assembled Dimensions: 22 inches wide x 29.5 inches high x 27 inches deep
— Waste Drawer Dimensions: 13.50 inches wide x 5.50 inches high x 9.25 inches deep
— Inside Globe Dimensions: 19 inches wide x 15-17 inches high (depending on litter levels) x 18 inches deep
— Weight: 24 pounds
— Power: 15 Volt DC
There are plenty of litter boxes on the market right now that promise more streamlined solutions for dealing with kitty litter. Aside from cats' famously apathetic attitudes and troublesome curiosity, one of the main downsides of keeping a feline or two in the house is, well, this. Sooner or later, your precious furry brood will need to use the bathroom, and in the case of this writer's, they’re going to do it quite a bit. Manual cleaning will always mean you getting on your knees, sifting through litter, and breathing in some of those foulest smells known to man. Cat owners endure this, usually do it with a straight face, all for the love of their pets. But the Litter-Robot 4 offers a truly automatic solution. Cats go in, cats do their business, cats come out, and the machine more or less actually does, in fact, clean itself.
One of the obvious features that sets the Litter-Robot 4 apart from the Litter-Robot 3 is its wide-open entrance. The 3’s entryway is a little thinner, with the 4’s opening being almost 16 inches wide. This will accommodate even chonkier fellas, though any cat three pounds and heavier will be able to go in style here. The Litter-Robot 4 is big, taking up slightly more space than my older, incredibly analog litter box. An upside is that even with the larger door, it’s not exactly obvious what the device is. Classic litter boxes look like what they are, which usually forces them to be relegated to laundry rooms or hidden nooks in smaller homes and apartments. As opposed to, well, this.
Space-age design aside, the Litter-Robot 4 is still a litter box. The evidence of your cat has to go somewhere, and that somewhere is a bin under the device that is accessed by simply pulling on the stand that cats use to hop in and out of the machine. This box is lined with litter bags, and once filled, can be plucked, tossed, and replaced with a fresh bag.
Tech and Power
The Litter-Robot 4, unlike other litter boxes, has to be plugged in. This isn’t too much of a surprise. Aside from automatically cleaning the device, Litter-Robot 4 comes complete with WiFi capabilities used in conjunction with the Whisker app (available on App Store and Google Play) which keeps tabs on your cat’s activity and tells you when the machine requires more litter or the waste bin needs emptying. It can accommodate up to four different cats of any breed or size (at different times, of course), so you likely only need one device to accommodate all your cats. Just over the entrance to the Litter-Robot, there’s a cat sensor that can tell when a cat is inside the machine, along with lights to help guide them in dark rooms or at night. It’s even smart enough to recognize which cat is inside by weight, using its built-in SmartScale. The top right-hand corner of the Litter-Robot 4 sports a multi-colored LED light that provides a little insight into what’s happening in the machine without having to boot up the app. A blue light designates a machine ready to be used. Flashing blue means the waste drawer is full. Red light means a cat has been detected, and the machine will now delay its cleaning cycle. Consulting the manual gives further insight into colors and flashing styles.
Litter-Robot 4 Review: Is it Worth It?
As I previously touched on, Charlee and his little brother Jodah are the light of my life, but they are both bonafide bathroom-goers. I’m not sure why. Charlee is a stray rescued from the hardscrabble streets of South Sacramento, and Jodah is the runt of his litter who’s never known a second of hardship. They couldn’t be further apart in personality, aside from their propensity to go to the bathroom — maybe a sadistic amount. Using a device like the Litter-Robot 4 that promises to make this weekly drudgery a little bit easier wasn’t just an amazing prospect, but a godsend.
Setting up the machine took about five minutes, with the device coming more or less assembled. All I had to do was slide the waste drawer into the machine. Then I plugged the Litter-Box 4 in near where I kept the cats’ old litter box and waited to see if they would acclimate to it. After filling it up with self-clumping litter (sold separately) I sat back and waited. Whisker claims that most cats will transition from their old litter box in as little as a week. Luckily for me, both Jodah and Charlee required no such grace period, and the device saw use within an hour. As they played with their new gadget, I took the time to sync up the Litter-Robot 4 to the Whisker app. This took a few tries, and the third one almost had me give up on the whole prospect entirely. The device simply wouldn’t sync up to the phone. It required patience, as the device and the app were in their beta phase when I first set them up.
While the cats took no time getting used to the Litter-Robot 4, there was an entire week stretch where both of them were still dazzled by it. Each would stare at it at different intervals during the day, sometimes when it was running a cleaning cycle, and other times when it was on standby. I too paid special attention during one cleaning cycle to see just how the Litter-Robot 4 performed its magic. After a cat does its business, the device tumbles the entirety of the litter within the machine, sifting out the clumped-up nasty bits into the waste bin below. Then, the clean litter sifts back into the machine, ready and waiting to be used again. Simple. Elegant. And totally hands-free. If a cat gets close to the machine while it’s going through a cleaning cycle, it will pause and wait a hot second before trying to complete the cycle.
Two Weeks In: Tidier Paws, Still No Flaws
Like the old-fashioned litter boxes I previously used, I placed Litter-Robot 4 on a small carpet for easy maintenance and movement. Sure, the machine cleans itself, but what about the smell? Most litter boxes and some litter machines treat the worst part about a litter box as an afterthought. After two weeks of use by two cats who are generous users, I didn’t detect any foul odors. It took the boys two weeks to fill up the machine to capacity, a surprising amount of time. Before, each cat had his own litter box, and each would require cleaning after about five days. The cats’ waste, along with the smell (and the horrible vibes that come with it) radiated throughout the entire house.
Once the box was full, my app alerted me to the situation, and I plucked the bag out, tied it up, and tossed it. Quick. Painless. All with minimal huffing of foul odors. While Whisker makes its own line of clumping litter and litter bags, the Litter-Robot 4 is compatible with whatever brand you already use. This would have been a deal-breaker if Whisker decided to take a more cynical route. A few weeks in, my spouse moved the Litter-Robot 4 into their office, a larger room that accommodates the boys. Moving the machine was easily accomplished, by dragging it across the house by the carpet it sits on. Jodah and Charlee didn’t miss a beat when the Litter-Robot 4 was moved, though a tense situation revealed the first potential pratfall for the machine.
Parents of “Kickers” Beware
Even the most cherubic children will act up, and nowhere is this more prevalent than with cats. Like a toddler, if a cat is having a bad time, he will make you feel his anxiety. We just moved into a new home with a bathroom that would require extensive remodeling. Charlee is sweet, but he doesn’t always vibe with strangers, especially ones that are using power tools four hours a day. When Charlee is mad, he takes out his frustrations by kicking up litter every time he has to use the bathroom. Annoying, to be sure, but considering the Litter-Robot 4 has such a massive opening, he managed to make an even bigger mess than with his old litter box.
Of course, considering that I still wasn’t touching or smelling evidence of the cats' business, I didn’t mind occasionally cleaning up his rage messes, especially since I keep a pet vacuum around for outbreaks like this. A week out of the bathroom remodel, Charlee has since calmed down, and is no longer kicking up litter storms. If your cat is the kind that acts up like Charlee, it’s something to keep in mind when weighing if you want to nab the machine or not.
Keeping track of litter-box activity is way more fun when the stakes are more or less gone. I didn’t need a notification when the boys’ old boxes were full: my nose would alert me quicker than any app ever could. The Whisker app gives you plenty of insight into the ins and outs of the Litter-Robot 4 as well as — yes — the scoop on your cats’ poop. It measures the level of waste in the drawer precisely. The moment I’m writing this Litter-Robot 4 review, it’s hovering around 66 percent full. It also tracks the litter level, which is optimal right now. A secondary benefit of the Litter-Robot 4 is that we’ve been able to use less litter than before. Because of the continual sifting, less litter is wasted. This should amount to measurable savings very soon.
The app also catalogs a complete history of activity, when a cat “goes,” and when the Litter-Robot 4 performs a cleaning cycle. You can even download this information and share it with a veterinarian, as weight and litter box activity can occasionally provide valuable insight to your pet's health.
Final Impressions on the Litter-Robot 4
How much would you pay to never touch cat poop again? If your answer is “$649,” then congrats, the Litter-Robot 4 is easy to recommend. Massive price tag aside, after a month and a half of intense use by two cats, the Litter-Robot 4 hasn’t even broken a sweat. I’ve only had to empty the device twice in this amount of time, and the intervals between changes are so sweet. Sometimes, I forget what it even used to smell like. If you want to tap into the Litter-Robot 4 and potentially never have to suffer the pain of touching the worst parts of a litter box ever again, the device is available for pre-order on the Whisker site. The first devices start shipping in July, and you can try them risk-free for 90 days.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.
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