I Tried the Litter Robot 4 and Yes, It’s Worth the $700 Price Tag
It's not perfect, but to a cat mom who's been scooping poop for a decade, it's a game changer.
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Cats have a reputation for being low maintenance, particularly because they don’t need to go outside several times a day to use the bathroom. The downside is, of course, that you’re stuck cleaning a litter box. The concept of a self-cleaning litter box is nothing new, but the technology took a huge leap forward with the debut of the Litter Robot from Whisker.
When it first hit the market, this super high-tech litter box completely changed the way cat owners viewed their least favorite task—the automatically-rotating design “scooped” litter immediately after kitty used it and locked it away until the waste basket was full, eliminating odors and keeping litter clean without owners having to lift a finger. But the original model wasn’t perfect, and some reviewers didn’t think it warranted the price tag.
Enter the Litter Robot 4, the new and improved Litter Robot, with a streamlined design, quieter run and updated features that address the problems pointed out in previous Litter Robot reviews.
As a cat mom of nearly ten years, I’ve tried every type of litter box on the market (along with countless other cat products, like scratching posts, pet vacuums and even cat-proof couches—yes, that’s a real thing!), and I’m a huge skeptic of those that bill themselves as a litter-cleaning cure-all. That’s why I put this model to the test—to see if the latest Litter Robot really could do what all other self-cleaning litter boxes couldn’t.
What is the Litter Robot?
The Litter Robot is a self-cleaning litter box that distinguishes itself by its circular design, which spins to separate clean litter from waste. It deposits clumps into a sealed compartment before sifting the clean litter back into the main chamber, which features a rubber-like lining, all within minutes after kitty does her business. This alone is a huge improvement upon the rake-like mechanisms that drive other self-cleaning boxes and are prone to jamming. The Litter Robot also connects to Wi-Fi, sending you alerts about your cat’s litter usage, the waste compartment’s capacity and your pet’s weight via the mobile app.
Litter Robot features
If you’re coming from using a manual litter box, the Litter Robot 4 might look (and act) something more like a spaceship.
With a circular, open-front litter area, the term “box” is a bit of a misnomer, and it takes up a very different type of space than you might be used to: The 22-inch-wide litter chamber sits on a base that houses the waste basket, coming in at just under 30 inches tall altogether—the tallest litter receptacle I’ve ever encountered. Here it is next to a standard counter stool for reference:
Despite its height, the new Litter Robot model is aesthetically pleasing (which is saying a lot for a cat bathroom). It comes in white or black, and features both an interior light for kitty and an exterior control panel with color-coded modes.
While the newest Litter Robot model improves upon its predecessor with a sleeker exterior, its entrance is larger for easier cat access.
Wi-Fi and app connectivity
Like the previous model, the Litter Robot 4 connects to your home Wi-Fi network to deliver you updates on how often your cat is using the robot, the current capacity of the waste basket and your cat’s weight. Use the history tool to see your cat’s litter box usage over weeks or months, and adjust the controls to customize the following features: how quickly the clean cycle activates after your cat leaves the robot (between 3 and 30 minutes), litter light settings, sleep mode, and to lock the manual control panel on the robot.
Whisper-quiet clean cycles
A full cleaning cycle takes about 2 minutes, with a soft shushing sound akin to a rain stick as litter filters in and out of the sifting grate. Because of the step leading into the Robot, I neither hear my cat entering nor exiting—only the gentle sound of litter falling signals that Big Red has used the bathroom. Would it be weird to call it soothing?
Speaking of having no sign a litter box is around, the Litter Robot 4 boasts impressive odor control. Even with the timer set to run 30 minutes after use, I didn’t notice any offensive smells coming from the Robot—something I previously used as an unwelcoming cue to scoop the litter. Multiple cat households should set the timer to run more often, but even a frequently-used Litter Robot doesn’t give off the odor of a traditional box, thanks to the fact that waste doesn’t ever sit in the main receptacle for long periods.
The Litter Robot 4’s sensors detect the weight change when your cat both stands on the step and gets completely into the machine, and runs a clean cycle after they leave. It also pauses current clean cycles if your cat re-enters the machine during one. That weight detector also records your cat’s weight (or a close approximation of it). Note that the Litter Robot 4 cannot detect kittens less than 3 pounds.
How we tested it
Assembly and set-up
The enormous size of the box that showed up on my doorstep gave me pause, but that’s because the Litter Robot 4 required next to nothing set-up—take it out of the box, fill with your preferred clumping litter and plug it in. Though some Litter Robot reviews report software connectivity issues, downloading and connecting my Robot to the app took less than 5 minutes. I can’t imagine a smoother unboxing experience.
While you will need more vertical space than other litter boxes, I found that the Litter Robot took up a virtually identical amount of floor space in my litter area, and because I didn’t have anything placed immediately above my old litter box, I had minimal rearranging to do. The only change I had to make in terms of placement was ensuring the Litter Robot wasn’t touching the wall, so that it could spin unencumbered.
Big Red is a generally cautious cat, so I expected him to be suspicious of the big turning litter machine where his box used to be. I didn’t expect him to refuse to use the bathroom for more than 24 hours in protest.
While he was reluctant to actually use the Robot, he was incurably curious about it. The first day, I received no less than 30 notifications that the Robot detected my cat’s weight on the step or in the machine (don’t worry, you can opt out of notifications). No amount of coaxing could convince him, and I got worried he might resort to going somewhere else in the house. Thankfully, he finally acquiesced…and watched fixated as the Robot spun his waste away within minutes.
The next few days passed with tentative use (during which I increased the timer to the maximum wait period to minimize the number of times it would run) before he finally got used to his new bathroom.
Daily use and maintenance
It’s been about six weeks of use now, and aside from those first few days, it’s been smooth sailing. The 7-minute cycle delay time ended up being the sweet spot, and I haven’t run into any technical issues or glitches as previous Litter Robot reviews mentioned.
Using the Whisker app, I regularly check on the litter level (which, even after several weeks, remains “optimal”) and waste basket capacity, though the Robot also sends me alerts when either need attention. With one cat, I go 12-14 days before needing to empty the bin—a huge upgrade from scooping every other day. Be warned, though: The waste compartment does an impressive job at odor control, but when it’s time to empty it out, things get smelly. Thankfully, the process is as quick as tying up the waste bag and popping it into the trash.
Even if you turn notifications off, the app still keeps a record of activity, listing each time it detects your cat, their weight and its clean cycles (including if any cycles are interrupted by your cat returning to the Robot).
via iPhone (3)
I find the history feature valuable, but flawed for two reasons: 1) The Robot runs a clean cycle after each time it detects your cat, but it can’t distinguish between the cat nosing around on the step into the Robot and them actually using the bathroom, so it may run unnecessarily. (During Red’s hyper-curious phase, he was triggering a clean cycle almost constantly. I limited this by setting the clean cycle timer to its maximum wait time after detection, 30 minutes, but couldn’t mitigate it completely.) And 2) the pet weight scale is not accurate. I know from a recent vet visit that Big Red weighs about 14 pounds (he lives up to his name!), but the Robot consistently recorded his weight between 7 and 12 pounds. I attribute the lower end to times he did not fully enter the Robot, but I can’t speak for why it isn’t accurate when he’s completely inside the machine.
I also noticed that the interior of the Robot didn’t stay perfectly clean. As other Litter Robot reviews have noted, messier bathroom situations can get stuck to the grate or lining as the Robot spins. Nothing a quick wipe didn’t fix, and a far smaller mess than I’ve encountered changing past litter boxes.
- Never scoop litter again! Not only great for kicking an unpleasant chore, but good for pregnant people who should avoid cat litter, or those with accessibility issues
- Excellent odor control
- Comes assembled
- 5-minute setup (just plug it in and download the app)
- App alerts are helpful for monitoring bathroom usage, litter box capacity and nighttime activity
- Customizable settings for single or multi-cat households
- Aesthetic design (no need to hide the litter box!)
- Some cats may take time to get used to it
- Requires more vertical space than other litter boxes
- Scale isn’t entirely accurate
- Still requires a little cleaning for certain messes
- Not for kittens under 3 pounds
- Warranty limited to 1 year
- At $700, it’s extremely pricey
Litter Robot 3 vs. 4
via merchant (2)
- Wider opening: Easier for cats to enter and exit, and better resembles a standard litter box to nervous cats
- Sleeker design: Streamlined design draws less attention, though it is taller than the previous model
- Better odor control: Waste drawer is now deeper and seals tighter
- Less litter dust: LowDust screen reduces the amount of dust emitted during clean cycles
- Enhanced sensors: OmnisenseTM Detection provides real-time litter and waste drawer levels
- Quieter: The new Robot is virtually silent
- More cycle delay settings: Set your Robot timer to clean after 3, 7, 15, 25 or 30 minutes of your cat exiting
- Different color options: Choose black or white (versus gray or beige)
- Lower weight threshold: Kittens can now be as small as 3 pounds (versus the previous 5 pounds) to use the Robot
If the price isn’t prohibitive, the Litter Robot is a worthy investment. While Litter Robot reviews (including mine) confirm it’s not perfect, the updated model resolves many of the previous issues and offers a revolutionary convenience to those coming from old-fashioned litter boxes, especially for multi-cat households.
Where to buy the Litter Robot 4
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