Ask most any cat owner what responsibility of pet ownership they hate the most, and many will reply that it is cleaning of the litter box. To this end inventors have created various automated cat litter boxes which clean themselves automatically.
There are many styles of automated cat litter boxes and none are particularly cheap. Like anything with moving parts they are prone to breaking down, but even that is not the biggest problem.
While some cats will use them, many cats are afraid of them. Once purchased, and used, returning such an item may be difficult.
Further more as a rule of thumb in multi-cat households, a person should have one litter box per cat. This is not because the boxes may get messy, but rather because some cats become territorial over their box and will not allow other cats to use it. When you have automated litter boxes, having one per cat can be costly.
These boxes are typically larger than the regular litter box as they allow space for their mechanics. Some people find these litter boxes to be too big and bulky when they have a small apartment or small place for the litter box.
Some cats who do use the box become traumatized if the box starts its cleaning cycle when the cat is nearby. This is also a good reason why any cat litter box should not be placed next to the laundry machines, because when running they change cycles and this could put the cat off using the litter box.
The biggest problem lies in the basic fact that these litter boxes are self cleaning. What few pet owners take into consideration is that many health problems first show up as changes in the pets litter habits. Loose stools, fewer stools, diarrhea, blood, more stools, more urine, less urine, bloody urine, and so on.
When owners clean their cats litter boxes regularly they become aware of their cats normal habits, any change in these habits can be cause for concern. This does not even have to be daily, but checking every two days will allow problems to be caught fairly soon.
Diarrhea can be a sign of worms, excessive urination can be a sign of diabetes, blood in the urine signals an infection or stones. These are all things that are better fixed sooner than later, so an early diagnosis is very helpful.
When we rely on a machine to do the job for us we might not be so on the ball about catching problems.
Is cleaning a litter box all that difficult? Not really, it is a 5 minute job which can be done every two days. Use a non-scented clumping litter and scoop out the clumps. A little baking soda will neutralize odors. You can assign the chore to older children as long as they are responsible to tell you if they notice a problem such as blood in the stool.
Better yet upgrade the cats dry food to premium cat food (not the food sold in grocery or department stores) and have fewer poops!. Cat foods that use more meat and less filler result in less waste, pick a food that uses chicken meal, or lamb meal as the number one ingredient. It should contain no by-products, which are cheap indigestible filler. The more filler a food contains the more a cat has to eat, and such the more waste it creates. Corn is a very common filler used in low quality cat foods and should never be one of the first three ingredients in a dry food.
Similarly by feeding a better cat food there is often less odor. This is because the better foods are more digestable.
In the end cat owners should really consider everything before taking the lazy route and getting a self cleaning litter box. While there are owners happy with these systems there are also many who are not.
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