CatGenie – Automatic Litterbox?
UPDATE: I’m fairly satisfied with my CatGenie now and can recommend it. Nora from CatGenie contacted me and sent out a new hopper and a new robotic arm. Another CSR sent me a replacement processing unit. With these new items in place, and after having corrected the issue that my plumber had hooked up the CatGenie to hot water instead of cold, and after switching to non-scented cleaning solution – everything is working amazingly. I spend around two minutes a day paying attention to the CatGenie – just enough to press the start cycle button.
Here are my revised requests for a future CatGenie:
- Larger – Small/Medium cats have no problems…My “gentle giant” Barclay finds her behind sometimes hanging over the edge…Resulting in a mini-mess to cleanup.
- Automatic Cycles – After a cat uses the bathroom it would be nice if it ran through at least a minimal clean cycle. Perhaps just scoop and flush the poor and rinse/dry with water.
- Different Litter – Not sure what can be done about this but my cats track this litter all over. It seems to stick to their little paws.
Charity and I have three cats (Hermione, Barclay, and Piper) – and they are very precious to us. Unfortunately, they do not know how to use proper waste facilities (e.g. our bathrooms) and so we have the litter box issue. We’d love to let them go outside, but our house is surrounded by busy streets – so not such a great idea.
We started with traditional litter boxes – and that was okay. The poop scooping isn’t bad, the problem is the pee – eventually it saturates the litter and you have to change the entire box. Uck. We tried one of those automatic litterboxes that uses a robotic arm to move the poop into a small waste can – but this still didn’t solve the main issue – the urine!
Finally, it was time to pull out the big guns. We purchased a CatGenie from PetNovations. With taglines like, “Never touch, smell, or buy cat litter again” and “The only automatic cat box that flushes away waste and, like a cat, washes itself.” Wow. Now, I should note that I’m really the sucker for these automated toys – I was the one who bought the automatic shower cleaner (which didn’t work) and wants a Roomba (even though people tell me they are far from perfect) and who dreams of self-driving automobiles. Charity is not so easily drawn in – so the blame mainly rests on me for these new-fangled purchass.
Anyways, the CatGenie is a nifty idea. It hooks into your water and into your waste. You can have it dump directly into your toilet or into a laundry drain. We initially started with the toilet – but when we had our bathroom remodeled (it was a very cramped half bath, we expanded into a master bath) I had the designs include a small cubby hole with separate water and drainage that we could place the CatGenie into. Woohoo!
The CatGenie has a bowl and you fill it with these washable, litter-like granules. Your cat jumps into the bowl and does her business. Any urine moves down through the bowl (which has holes in it) into a holding tank (essentially a septic tank) while poop remains on the top. Occasionally you run the device and a robotic arm pops up, scooping out the poop and liquidating it with some heavy duty cleaner they have. It also sucks all the urine into the drain as well. It uses water to rinse the litter and basin so that there is no residual smell. Wow, amazing!
It is a great concept – and we’ve actually chucked our old litter boxes, but that isn’t to say it doesn’t have some major problems. Namely:
- Size – The bowl is smaller than most single cat litter boxes. While Hermione and Piper have no difficulties, Barclay who is our “gentle giant” finds it a bit more difficult to utilize. The litter area could use about twice its current size.
- Robotic Arm – The robotic arm is supposed to grab all the poop and scoop it up and then dump it down this shoot where the poop is liquidized. Unfortunately, it has this violent shaking process it utilizes to ensure the reusable litter doesn’t get disposed of as well and generally looks 25-50% of the poop it scoops.
- Smell – And thus begins the smell issue.
- Smell #1 – You essentially create a small sewer in the bottom of your CatGenie. This does not smell friendly – so don’t forget to run it regularly!
- Smell #2 – I don’t know about you, but the heavy-duty cleaning agent they utilize drives me out of the entire upstairs of the house[1. I just ordered unscented cleaning agents.]
- Smell #3 – Oohh…Poop stew. This is what you get when the robotic arm fails to grab all the poop and the CatGenie then begins washing the granules (and all the poop that was missed). The smell is not pleasant!
- Smell #4 – Stir up poop! This is essentially what happens in the wash cycle…and the smell can be absolutely horrid!
In spite of its seemingly magical self-cleaning state (I was hoping for something like a human toilet’s self-maintenance) it has a tendency to clog (if you have long haired cats) and my processing unit just died, so until Monday or Tuesday it is back to the manual processes.
That said, it hasn’t gone onto the trash heap like the automatic shower cleaner. Instead, we’ll be getting a new processing unit (here’s hoping they’ve improved their routine a bit for cleaning), and I’ll probably start scooping the poop and dumping it down the toilet rather than letting it run through (the horrid smell you get is pooh, not urine generally). Finally, we use some Baking Soda-esque powder to occasionally dump onto the waste in-between cycles. It replaces the wretched smells with something rosy and beautiful.
If I didn’t have a CatGenie, would I buy one? Nahh…But since I have one I’m gonna use it. It’s good enough to use, but not good enough to buy.