Belittling the litter box

Dear Home-Ec 101,

Why is cleaning out cat boxes such an ordeal? How can I make my cat’s litter box smell better if I’m a little bit remiss about getting them scooped every day? What about the Litter Maid? Does that actually work?

Signed,

Scoopless in Saratoga

WinkIvy says:

Man, do I ever feel your pain. There is nothing in this whole world I hate more than scooping kitty litter boxes, except having my entire house smell like a kitty litter box, so I scoop, scoop, scoop.

When I was pregnant and was not able to scoop the catboxes due to the possibility of toxoplasmosis, I broke down and bought a Litter Maid. I can tell you with no uncertain terms that it was a total waste of money. When it actually did work, it didn’t do a very good job and I was constantly having to clean the rake thingy, and it quit working altogether after a few months. I used only the recommended brands of cat litter, and followed all their recommendations and it still sucked. Plus, one of my cats was totally afraid of the Litter Maid, so I had to keep another box around for him anyway.

The very best way to keep your cat boxes clean and sparkly is to scoop morning and night, use a great brand of cat litter and sprinkle baking soda in the box every morning. If you do this, you will never have a problem with odor in your cat boxes.

However, we can’t always be perfect about getting the cat boxes scooped. After all, we have about 8 billion other things we need to be doing rather than scooping cat boxes. So if you’re a little lazy about cleaning out the cat boxes, here are a few more tips:

  • Use a VERY good clumping cat litter. I’ve tried about 8 billion brands and my 2 favorites are Arm & Hammer Multi Cat and Tidy Cat Small Spaces.
  • Make sure you have at least one cat box per cat owned. Also, if you have an upstairs and a downstairs, have at least one cat box per level.
  • The cheapest method of controlling cat box odor is baking soda in the boxes. Arm and Hammer and Tidy cats make cat box deodorizers, but baking soda is just as effective and is a heck of a lot cheaper.
  • Do not use a covered cat box. If you use an uncovered cat box, your nose will definitely remind you of when it is time to dump the cat boxes.
  • Dump cat boxes entirely every single week. I dump mine on trash day so my dumpster doesn’t get too stinky.

Sometimes I’m surprised that I am a veritable font of information having to do with cat poop.

Submit your household questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.

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Comments

  1. I want to train my cats to use the toilet like a friend of mine has done. You should talk to her and put those steps on here!

  2. The Littermaid was a TOTAL waste of money!!! I got it for my now deceased cat (R.I.P. MoMo). Apparently, she was an odd cat. She only peed in one section of the box…but she peed like, 4,000 times a day! I had to start scooping the box again…if you didn’t the stupid thing would grind it’s motor for an hour. Argh, anyway, we spent, I dunno, $100 on that stupid thing and it didn’t even last a YEAR! The motor finally gave out…the sad part was that we’re so lazy, we kept using the stupid thing…we just uplugged it! How sad is that?!?!

    Now for advice: If you’re ok with scooping everyday, but don’t like the nasty smell…I recommend the Crystal stuff. It pulls all the moisture out of the poop and petrifies it. Only problem w/it…if you don’t change it every week, and you have a prolific pee pee cat, you’ll end up with this gelatinous gunk that you have to spray out w/the hose. If you go w/the scooping kind, I always sprinkled a layer of baking soda on the bottom of the box before I even put the litter in there…it kinda kept down on the stank.

    **Kathy: I’ve ALWAYS wanted to train my cats to use the toilet! Guess I should work on my kid first….LOL.

  3. use a liner (a trash bag works well). Beneath the liner place a few sheets of newspaper just in case the liner breaks. Use a clumping litter and top it off with arm and hammer. You can also put a dryer sheet or two under the liner with the newspapers. it helps a little. A cover for the box is always an option, but it can be a hassle. It is important to scoop once daily so you will only have to change it out once weekly. I’ve had a lot of practice. Good luck!

  4. Lynnster says:

    I guess I will be the lone voice of dissent here… my Mom has had the same Litter Maid for her cat for over 10 years, it was one of the early models, and we’ve had really good results with it. But she only has one cat, and even though it works great for her, I can tell it wouldn’t work at all in my house with multiple cats (plus since my dogs think the cat box is a treat box, I don’t want them eating clumping litter, that can’t be good for them. And I reckon it goes without saying if your one cat has issues with it, it’s probably not going to work out so well.

    We actually swear by the Scoop Away and only the Scoop Away (I used clumping litter in one of my regular litter boxes for a while) – every other clumping litter we ever tried was just too “wet” and a pain to scoop (maybe it’s just my cats, heh), and my mom thinks it’s the only one that does the best with her Litter Maid.

    • I used Littermaid for years, including an earlier version of the Mega Elite. This last one I purchased lasted about two weeks. It always seemed rather sluggish and didn't have much power. Then, after two weeks, the motor just stopped halfway through a cycle. I didn't have the box any more so I couldn't return it. I think I am finished with Littermaid.

      Well, I gave Littermaid one last shot. What a mistake! The last . . . and really mean it this time . . . . LIttermaid Elite I bought lasted longer than 2 weeks. It lasted 6 months before the motor burned out. When I was in Petco recently, I mentioned my displeasure with Littermaid to the clerk. He said a another customer recently told him the motors on Littermaid burn out too easily. No kidding. Bye Bye LIttermaid. I'm through with you. I have converted now to ScoopFree, It gets much better reviews, so I am optimistic.

  5. plain and simple…Litter Maid sucks…

  6. My wife and I went through two littermaid models. You’d think we would have learned after the first one! Both sucked a lot. And broke a lot. I finally threw the last one (the giant Elite Mega 9500 or whatever it was) in the garbage and we’ve gone back to a plain ol’ $3 box that actually works perfectly. (We had to scoop the littermaid at least once or twice daily anyways, so what’s the point?!)

  7. I just got off the phone with Applica, the company that oversees Litter Maid cat litter boxes. The metal ribbon spring that retracts the wire to the rake on the rake’s return to the rear of the box broke. The representative’s reply to the problem was to buy another box, they do not carry replacement parts. What kind of scam is this? From what I have read it appears I am not the only one who has experienced this. I am writing to to the major pet stores and to the Conecticut Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Affairs regarding the issue (they are out of Shelton, CT). Imagine if they printed on the box that no prepair parts can be purchased, that would certainly impact sales.

  8. Kelly Phillips says:

    I was seriously considering buying a Littermaid litter box, but after thr reviews I read, here, I don’t think so!!!! I use the sifting litter box liners, they work just fine, especially after the reviews I read!! Thanx!

  9. I recently purchased the litter maid plus for my 2 cat household. The first time it raked it sent a clump nearly half way across the room. After that it didn’t send flying poops but it did its thing. The first problem is the raking mechanism is not enclosed and is not safe from litter. We all know what happens to clay litter when it gets wet. Very hard to clean and you have to be careful not to get the motor wet. Clumps get stuck in the rake and finally the rake got stuck halfway thru the cycle and is now not working at all. because the rake is stuck the cats could not gain access to the box and pooped outside of it. What a treat to wake up to this morning. My husband has just spent the last hour cleaning it and taking it apart and putting it back in the box. he is still working on it as we speak. HE IS NOT A HAPPY CAMPER!!! I THINK I HEARD HIM SAY THAT THIS WAS MUCH MORE WORK THAN CHANGING THE TWO OTHER BOXES AT $5 EACH.
    Does littermaid offer psychiatric help for people dealing with the problems that littermaid has caused???

    I am going to run to Walmart to purchase a big/deep litter box and one of those strainers and go back to being happy. My cats, i am sure will agree.

    LITTERMAID SUCKS!!

  10. HI, I have 3 cats. They don’t use the box all the time in the summer as they are outside. But at night they do & in winter. I have 2 boxes. I don’t care if only one uses it. It stinks. I scoop all the time, empty & wash, refill. I buy the litter from the feed store. It has a weird smell. I’ve tried all kinds at the store. The crystals got all over the rug, they don’t like it, the sandy stuff is ok, some clumps, some don’t. It smells even after i scrub the box. I bought new boxes. What do I do. Thanks, carol.

  11. I'm new to your website and I love it, I'm a total convert for the 50/50 vinegar water solution for cleaning now, thank you! I wanted to let you guys know I've had really great experiences with the Cat Genie. It's comparably priced to the Litter Maid, but it works 99% of the time for me (I got mine for $250 with a coupon on their website). I've only had one problem with it so far over the course of a year. After 3 months the water sensor in the CPU "broke" because "they had a bad batch of lasers" and THEY initiated a voluntary recall on their website. Costumer service had a new unit sent out to me within 3 days, and paid for shipping both ways, for the new unit and to ship the old unit back. Buying their cleaning solution is comparable to the cost of cat sand (about $10 a month for me for 3 cats).

    I've had it for a year now, and every three months I do the recommended routine cleaning. Other than that I don't have to touch it. I have a herniated disc in my lower back so scooping cat litter was not something I could physically do as often as they needed it, as much as I love my cats. You guys would probably love something like this, so I hope you find my review helpful as a new possibility in keeping your house clean. :)

  12. I toliet trained my cats using the Litter Kwitter system. It took a lot of hard work and dedication– and about six months– but from the very begining it saved me a ton of money on litter and now I never have to buy litter again. Plus, no more scooping cat boxes or gross smells— however it's still a bit startling to walk-in on one of my cats sitting on the toliet. :-P LOL.

  13. jessilee138 says:

    I foster and rescue cats..It has taken me a while to find out what the best way to deal with this issue is.. Ultimately the joy of cats must equal dealing with the cat box. Here is my advice..I buy the pine litter..NOT feline pine or the kind that is specifically for cats. I go to the feed store TSC or any local feed store..I live in a suburb of Houston, so this may not be easy for most, but at the feed store I can get 40 pounds for $5.99 (sold as pine pellet horse bedding), feline pine is $9.99 for 20 pounds..worth a trip , right?..I also decided to give up on litter boxes..I buy rubbermaid totes..you can find them in the size of around 2ft x 1ft.. its a great size for the cats. They are also only around $10 or $15..way cheaper than the big litter boxes. I scoop twice a day and I have around 12-15 cats most of the time..in 800sq feet. I promise you wouldn’t be able to tell..I scoop twice a day..and as long as I stick to that it’s pretty fast..If I go out of town for a weekend or something I just dump everything and start over.

  14. I strongly second the opinion that PINE litter is THE way to go. It’s my belief that clumping litters are extremely BAD for cats as well as your pipes… and that stuff STINKS. Pine is a miracle as cat litter, works like magic and 100% safe for cats and pipes alike. And cheap too! What’s not to love? Great tip on the horse bedding BTW!

    Clumping litters harden HARD. Think about that when your cat is innocently washing it’s paws after visiting their cat box and little bits of it start accumulating in its poor digestive system. It’s a slow and painful death I have been horrified to witness first hand and I can guarantee you, never ever again will I see the likes of it.

    Bottom line: If you have a long-haired cat especially, and use clumping litter you are just asking for trouble for that poor cat. Even a very small amount of clumping agent mixed with long hairs in the digestive tract can lead to tragic results over time.

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