I've had a cat in my life, in one form or another, since I was a child and the ScoopFree litter box is my first foray into electronic, self-cleaning litter boxes. It was a gift from my sister when I was pregnant because my husband travels often for work and she knew that pregnant women shouldn't change the litter box. She has a key to my apartment and one day I came home and "surprise!" there it was all set up. I was grateful, but dubious. After almost two years of use, here's the, ahem...scoop.
PetSafe makes the ScoopFree box in two versions - the Original and the Ultra. I have the Ultra which includes a privacy hood, the ability to change the rake delay time (5, 10 or 15 minutes after the cat exits the box) and the health counter (which counts how many times the cat has entered the box). The house and hood are made of plastic and the rake is metal.
The litter lives in a disposable cardboard box (the "tray") which sits beneath the house of the unit, thus becoming part of the unit itself. The litter itself is called "blue crystals" and that's just what they look like. ScoopFree says that it "absorbs urine on contact and dries solid waste [just say it, people — poop] to reduce odor" and are "low tracking".
ScoopFree vs Traditional Litter Boxes
The main differences between the ScoopFree box and traditional litter boxes is that the ScoopFree has an electronically powered rake mechanism that drags cat poop forward into a receptacle (the "trap") and, paired with the odor-absorbing crystal litter, only needs to be changed once a month (for one cat).
Ease of Use
Changing the litter is very quick. I would say it takes me about five minutes. Here's my routine:
- pour the litter into the new tray and set it aside
- take the house and hood off the old tray
- put the cover on the old disposable cardboard tray and put it in a garbage bag
- put the new litter tray under the house and hood
- reset the health counter
The Bottom Line
I'm a convert. Changing the cat litter was one of my least favorite chores and now it's not only easy, but infrequent.
- ODOR. It truly eliminates any urine or poop odor and the litter itself has no scent. It lives up to its claims.
- CONVENIENCE. Not having to think about the litter box for a while month is awesome.
- LESS ICKY. You have no contact with cat urine or poop (i.e. less gross than scooping a traditional box)
- HEALTH. The health counter can be useful if your cat is sick. When my cat had a urinary tract infection it helped me know how often he was using the box.
ADJUSTING. Like any litter box, some cats may take awhile to adjust to it. My own cat hissed at it for a few weeks (which, frankly, was hilarious) but still used it. My sister ended up buying one for herself and it took several weeks before her cat reliably used it.
OUCHY! OUCHY! The crystal litter is described as "low tracking" but I have not found this to be the case. I tried several different mats before I found one I thought was decent at cutting down on tracking and, more importantly, if you step on stray crystals, it hurts (more than other kinds of litter).
PRICE. The initial investment in the ScoopFree is steep. The Ultra sells for $179.99 on PetSafe's website and $159.99 on Amazon. The litter itself is expensive - about $50 for 3 months worth. Considering you are only changing your litter once a month, it's not as expensive as it might seem at first glance, but it is still on the high end. You can sign up for a litter subscription which is 5% cheaper and delivered to your door. (Amazon customers report buying a non-disposable plastic version of the tray and "Just the Crystals" which brings the price down to about $10/change.)
ON THE GRID. Has to be plugged in which may limit where in your home you can use it.
UPDATE: Six months later I purchased a plastic tray (this one) to replace the disposable cardboard trays. Cleaning the tray does require closer contact with the litter, thus raising the "ick" factor, but I feel better about not throwing away the cardboard each time. I've also experimented with other crystal cat litters and they all seem fine.
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf.