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Cleaning the litter box is not a fun chore - but can you afford an automatic litter box that will do the work for you? Many cat owners choose a self-cleaning or automatic litter box. It makes cleaning a breeze so you can enjoy your cat even more. The problem is, these boxes can be expensive.
But how much does an automatic litter box actually cost? Is it worth it?
The average price of a motorized automated litter box is around $120. There is a range though. An automatic litter box can cost you anywhere from just over $25 to nearly $500. At the low end, you'll find simple, self-cleaning boxes that you have to operate manually. The more expensive models use sensors to control cleaning cycles and other features.
Keep reading to find out more about the costs involved with an automatic litter box and to see several examples from every price range.
What Affects the Price?
Four factors determine the price of an automatic litter box. We’re going to take a quick look at each one so you can better understand why they’re priced the way they are.
The biggest factor that affects the price of an automatic cat litter box is the level of technology that it includes. As you’ll see, some so-called self-cleaning boxes don’t have a motor at all. Instead, they use sifting and require you to rotate them to separate the clean and dirty litter.
More advanced litter boxes include motion sensors and timers to make sure your cat isn’t still in the box when it starts its cleaning process. These are truly automatic as you don’t have to do anything but remove the collected dirty litter but are also more expensive because of all the gadgets they include.
A larger litter box is going to cost more than a smaller one just because more materials go into making them. However, cats tend to prefer larger boxes, so it’s generally better to get a larger litter box than a smaller one.
Companies that don’t invest in customer service pass those savings onto their customers. But that also means if you run into a problem, you could waste a lot of time and frustration trying to solve it.
So, companies that want to provide an excellent experience for their customers will ensure they have outstanding customer service representatives waiting for you at all times. This also means that you’ll pay a bit more upfront for your litter box, but it’s worth it if you need help.
At the end of the day, the manufacturer sets the price for their litter boxes. A well-known company may have higher prices simply because they can whereas a smaller company may have to lower their prices to get sales.
Supply-and-demand is something else that the manufacturer will use to decide how to price their litter boxes. A large market with few suppliers can drive prices up whereas a small market and a larger number of competitors will lower prices.
When a manufacturer comes up with a truly unique idea for a litter box, this allows them to sell them at a higher price since they have something that nobody else does.
The Hidden Costs Of Automated Litter Boxes
The upfront cost isn’t the only one you need to consider when looking at automatic litter boxes. If you get a cheap litter box but then have to pay five times as much for litter as you were before, it won’t take long before that cheap box is expensive.
Take a look at a few of the hidden costs that could come with an automatic litter box:
Does the automatic litter box you’re looking at need a special litter? Many of these require a clumping litter. If you’re not already using this type of litter, this may increase the amount that you’re spending every month, so be sure to look into this before buying.
The Quantity of Litter Needed
How much litter will you need to add to the litter box?
How often will you need to change it?
If you find that you need to use more litter than you were before, this is another way that you’ll end up spending more with an automatic box.
In most cases, you’ll need the same amount of litter or could use even less as some of these boxes are efficient and will only remove what’s necessary. In this area, you may find yourself saving money by using less litter.
Special Cleaning Solutions
While the manual self-cleaning boxes will likely require the same cleaning solutions as previously, some of the more complex ones may need special cleaning solutions. Check the cleaning instructions for each litter box before jumping in to see how much it’s going to cost you to keep it clean.
Automatic litter boxes that have to be plugged in will raise your electric bill. Although they don’t use enough power to make a huge impact, every little bit counts. If you’re looking for ways to save on your electricity bills, a litter box that runs on electricity is not the best option.
Unfortunately, no litter box can make the dirty litter vanish into thin air. That means you’ll still have to spend some time maintaining it. This could mean simply removing the clumps or oiling mechanical parts to keep them running smoothly.
If you’re getting an automatic litter box to save yourself the time it takes to clean your cat’s box, make sure you’re actually going to save time by finding out more about maintenance requirements.
How often will your automatic litter box need to be repaired? If it’s constantly breaking down, this could turn into a huge waste of time and money just to keep it running properly.
This is where customer reviews are helpful. People aren’t shy about sharing stories of how quickly or how often their device broke down. When reading through reviews, always keep in mind that not every customer has the same experience, and that some problems can be caused by user error.
How long will the automatic litter box last? Will you need to replace it every six months? Even when carefully maintained, everything has a life expectancy, so check to see how long the litter box you’re looking at is supposed to last.
Sometimes, a smaller upfront investment in a higher-quality litter box will help prevent you from needing to buy a new one because the first one wore out so quickly. You may also consider using a litter box liner to help prolong the life of your litter box.
Types of Automatic Litter Boxes
There are three types of automatic litter boxes we’re going to discuss:
- Manual self-cleaning boxes
- Automated raking litter boxes
- Upscale automatic litter boxes
Within each section, you’ll be able to see how much each example costs to help you decide which one might be best for you.
Manual Self-Cleaning Boxes
Manual self-cleaning boxes require some work on your part to remove the dirty litter. However, it takes far less time and effort than scooping. Plus, you don’t have to get too up close and personal with the litter.
Because of their lack of technology, these are the cheapest automatic litter boxes on the market. Both of them are under $50 and don’t use electricity, so you won’t be spending anything to run them. All you need is your favorite clumping litter and you’re on your way.
Omega Paw Self-Cleaning Litter Box
Despite being the cheapest self-cleaning litter box, the Omega Paw Self-Cleaning Litter Box has a lot to offer. Its large size makes it great for multiple-cat households or larger cats, plus it’s incredibly easy to use.
All you have to do is roll it over and then back to collect all the clumps in the collection tray and to put the clean litter back into the main area. It takes less than a minute to clean out, and then all that’s left is to pull out the collection tray and dump the clumps.
Le You Pet Luxury Cat Toilet
The Le You Pet Luxury Cat Toilet works by flipping the box over and then righting it. All the clumps fall into the collection tray and the clean litter goes back into the box. Although its smaller size makes it difficult for larger cats to use, most shouldn’t have any problems with it.
What sets this setup apart is that it has a removable screen. When stuff gets stuck to it, you can quickly and easily pull just that part out to clean it off rather than having to pull the entire unit apart. This helps cut back on the amount of time you spend maintaining it.
Automated Raking Litter Boxes
These all come in around $100 and have a raking mechanism that is activated by a motion sensor in the box. It scoops the entire box in one sweep a few minutes after your cat has left the box and deposits all the clumps into a hidden waste tray.
For the most part, these types of automatic litter boxes work well and require very little maintenance. The rake may need to be cleaned every once and a while, and the tray will need to be emptied as needed. But, other than that, you can set these and forget about them.
If you’re looking for an automatic litter box with maximum convenience, then the PetSafe Scoop-Free Litter Box could be right for you. It comes with pre-filled disposable trays, so all you need to do is load it, let it get filled, and then toss the whole thing away when you’re done.
This also offers incredible odor control as the Blue Crystal cat litter is designed to trap odors so you never even smell them. However, because you have to buy replacement trays every few weeks, it can get expensive quickly.
The Littermaid Mega Self-Cleaning Litter Box was designed to “make pet parenting easy.” It’s extra-large to accommodate cats over 15 pounds and also works great for multi-cat households. It also has a ramp to allow easy access for kittens and elderly cats.
One of the other features that make this automatic litter box nice is the high walls. This is especially important if you have a cat that sprays the sides of the box or is an over-enthusiastic digger. The high walls will help keep messes contained.
Promising to help you break free from the never-ending chore of scooping the litter box, the PetZone Smart Automatic Litter Box is easy to disassemble to clean and works with any clumping litter. Emptying the tray is cheap and easy with plastic bags.
For skittish cats, automatic litter boxes can be scary as they can make a lot of noise. This litter box was created with that in mind and the motor is even quieter than your refrigerator, ensuring that even the biggest scaredy-cat won’t develop a fear of the litter box.
Upscale Automatic Litter Boxes
These last two litter boxes that we’re going to discuss will run you between $300 and $500, but could certainly be worth it for someone who’s looking for the best automatic litter box on the market. Read through the description of each one to find out more about how they work.
With the CatGenie Self-Washing Cat Box, you’ll never have to deal with a dirty litter box again! Plus, over time, you’ll save a ton of money with this litter box as you won’t have to buy any more litter. This box uses washable granules that get washed and dried every time your cat uses them.
Setting up this litter box is a bit more complicated than others, but once you have the water input and drainage in place, you don’t have to do anything else for it. Just replace the inexpensive cat-safe cleaning solution cartridge every 120 washes.
The Litter Robot works the same way as the manual self-cleaning litter boxes, using a sifting method. However, it does it automatically for you so that all you have to do is clean out the collection tray every once and a while.
What’s nice about this upscale automatic litter box is that the collection tray has a carbon filter which cuts foul odors. Additionally, the unit lets you know when the tray is full so you don’t have to keep checking it.
Is a Self-Cleaning Litter Box Worth the Investment?
Some people love the idea of a self-cleaning litter box, but can’t stomach the idea of spending so much on a litter box for their cat. However, in some cases, a self-cleaning litter box is a worthwhile investment.
It may be worth it if you:
- Find it physically difficult to scoop the litter box every day
- Are pregnant and can’t clean the litter box
- Have limited time to clean the litter box
- Really hate cleaning the litter box
Having a cat can bring so much joy and love into your life, so why ruin that by fighting over whose turn it is to clean the litter box or wasting your time scooping clumps? Invest in an automatic litter box and you can truly enjoy having a cat.
Do you own - or have you ever owned - an automated litter box? Share your opinion in a comment and let us know if you thought it was worth the investment!