Nobody likes scooping up dirty cat litter or cleaning a litter box out. It’s a gross, messy process, and it never ends.
If you really, reeeeeally hate scooping up your cat’s litter box day after day, you may want to consider getting a self-cleaning litter box. They cost a little more money up front, but the benefits are worth it.
Benefits of a Self-Cleaning Litter Box
We covered several of the benefits of using a self-cleaning litter box in our review of the CatGenie Self-Flushing, Self-Cleaning Litter Box. Here’s a summary of why owning a self-cleaning litter box is great:
- No more litter scooping
- Better odor control since waste is removed automatically
- Easier to clean than a manual / traditional litter box
- Cleaner environment for your cat
- Allows you to go on short trips without having to worry about litter box maintenance
The PetSafe ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box uses replaceable, disposable litter trays. Each tray comes pre-filled with blue crystal litter. Crystal litter is made out of porous clumps of sodium silicate sand. The porous nature of the crystal clumps makes them great for moisture and odor absorption.
Crystal litter works just like a normal bentonite clay-based cat litter, clumping your cat’s wastes and aiding in dehydration. One of the advantages of a sodium silicate crystal litter is that it produces less dust than a traditional litter.
Once your cat has used the litter box, the box waits for 20 minutes before an automatically controlled rake is activated, removing clumped litter from the box. Clumps of waste and litter are deposited into a covered compartment located on the disposable tray. A flap covers the tray to suppress odors. Alternatively, you can manually trigger a cleaning if you don’t want to wait the full 20 minutes after your cat has gone. Just push the Manual Rake button on the control panel to activate the rake.
Eventually, you will need to change out the disposable litter tray. The lifespan of the disposable litter tray varies depending on the number of cats using the box. For a single-cat household, you should be able to go for 20-30 days between litter tray replacements.
The litter box contains internal sensors that are used to detect if your cat tries to reenter the box during a cleaning cycle. If the sensors detect that your cat has climbed into the box during cleaning, the rake will automatically stop, and its internal timer will reset.
The manufacturer of the PetSafe ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter box recommends that the box be used for cats six months and older.
- Models: Original and Ultra
- Litter Tray Weight: 6.5 lbs
- Base Color: White
- Trim Colors: Purple or Taupe
- Power Supply: AC Adapter
- Length of Power Cord: 10 ft.
- Litter Box Exterior: 19 1/8 in. W x 27 5/8 in. L x 6 3/8 in. H
- Cat Potty Area: 14 in. W x 15 1/2 in. L
PetSafe offers two models for their ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box:
- Privacy Hood (fortunately this is detachable, meaning that you don’t have to fully enclose the litter area if you don’t want to)
- Adjustable rake timer, allowing you to set the rake to scoop the litter box 5, 10, or 20 minutes after your cat has finished using it
- Health Counter (keeps track of how frequently your cat is using the litter box and helps you decide when to change the litter tray)
How Does it Work?
Here’s a video of the PetSafe ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box in action:
The PetSafe ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box comes with following pieces:
- Self-Cleaning Litter Box
- Original Scent Blue Crystal Litter Bag
- Privacy Hood
- Power Adapter
- Litter Tray With Lid
- Operating Guide
The diagram below is from the litter box’s operating guide, and it identifies all of the system’s features, controls, and indicators:
With the ScoopFree Ultra, you have the option of adjusting the rake timer so that it scoops the box 5, 10, or 20 minutes after your cat has finished going to the bathroom. Using a shorter time potentially gives the litter less time to clump, but it will help control odor more quickly than the default rake delay of 20 minutes. Alternatively, both models of the ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box
You will need to change out the litter tray periodically to control odor. While the crystal litter works great at absorbing moisture and odor, it becomes saturated with time. Saturated crystals may be too small to be picked up by the rake, and as a result will remain in the tray. Changing the tray from time to time allows for removal of saturated crystals.
The recommended length of time between litter tray change-outs varies depending on the number of cats that are using the litter box. The following list outlines when litter tray change-outs are recommended based on the number of cats in the household:
- 1 Cat: Every 20-30 days
- 2 Cats: Every 10-15 days
- 3 Cats: Every 7-10 days
The disposable litter trays can also be used independent of the PetSafe ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box, acting as portable litter boxes that can be used while traveling. They are plastic lined, which prevents them from leaking. Once you’re done using them, you can simply discard them.
If you have the Ultra model, you can use the Health Counter to keep track of how many times your cat uses the litter box. This can help you get a better idea of how much litter your cat goes through, and it helps you monitor their digestive health. The Health Counter can be reset by using the Health Counter Reset Button on the control panel.
The Ultra model also gives you the option of setting the automatic rake delay timer. You can keep the default time of 20 minutes, or you can change it to 5 or 10 minutes. Just use the Adjustable Rake Timer Button to cycle through the time options.
As of November 2018, the PetSafe ScoopFree Ultra Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box is going for just under $130 on Amazon, while the Original model is going for just under $100. A 3-pack of replacement litter trays will run you just under $45.
The PetSafe ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box is not cheap to purchase or maintain. For a single cat, $45 worth of trays should last you about 60-90 days. If you typically spend more than $45 on litter over a 2-3 month period, then purchasing a PetSafe ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box may make good financial sense.
The biggest difference visually between the Ultra and Original models is the presence of a privacy hood on the Ultra model. As we mentioned in our CatGenie and KittyTwister review articles, covered litter boxes are typically not recommended. As a result, we tend to prefer the design of the Original over the Ultra model. However, the Health Counter feature provided on the Ultra model is extremely useful. If this is a critical feature for you, you can always go with the Ultra model and leave the privacy hood detached.
Users used to complain of urine leaking from the disposable litter trays. To address this, PetSafe began adding a plastic liner to the trays to help prevent leaking.
Ease of Use
The PetSafe ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box is simple to use once it has been set up. Your main responsibility will be making sure to replace the disposable litter trays regularly to control odor, depending on how frequently your cat uses the box. Changing out the litter trays is easy to do and only takes a couple minutes.
Your cat should have an easy enough time adjusting to the box. Some cats find this process a bit more difficult than others. Try placing the ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box in the same location as your cat’s old litter box. Make sure to keep the old litter box around for a bit until your cat has transitioned to the new box.
Quality & Durability
The litter box is constructed of durable plastic, and it will not have any trouble handling the typical wear and tear it is likely to receive as a cat toilet. Users typically do not complain of rake failures or mechanical malfunctions. Overall, the PetSafe ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box is well-constructed and operates as designed.
The largest complaint from users is the fact that the litter box requires you to use its own brand of blue crystal litter. Many people are not comfortable switching away from the bentonite clay litter they are used to. As a result, users tend to complain about the quality of the blue crystal litter. If you are used to using blue crystal litter, this should not be an issue for you.
Users tend to complain that the litter trays do not last long enough. If you have a cat that uses the litter box frequently, or more than one cats, the amount of litter tray replacements necessary to keep odor under control may start to feel a bit excessive. Make sure to take this into consideration when deciding whether or not this box is for you. Any litter box, self-cleaning or manual, is going to perform better when it’s used by fewer cats.
Recommendations from PetSafe for extending the lifespan of the litter trays include the following:
- Place the litter box in a location with low humidity, in a room with plenty of ventilation and air movement. Avoid placing the litter box in a humid location such as a bathroom or basement.
- Stir the litter around if your cat tends to go in the same spot over and over again.
- Consider adjusting your cat’s diet. Cat’s with diets that contain excess amounts of crude fiber and ash may go to the bathroom more than average, causing the waste trap in the tray to fill quickly. Reducing the amount of crude fiber and ash in your cat’s diet will reduce the amount of solid waste they produce, extending the lifespan of the litter trays.
Pros & Cons
- No scooping required!
- Capable of fully automatic operation for weeks at a time
- Disposable litter trays – less cleaning!
- Waste is stored in a sealed container
- Crystal litter is designed to limit tracking out of the box
- Safety sensors stop the box from running while your cat is inside
- Health Counter tracks the number of times your cat uses the litter box, which can be very useful for keeping an eye on your cat’s digestive health
- Requires repeated purchase of new litter trays
- Lifespan of litter trays may be reduced if your cat uses the litter box frequently or more than one cat is using the box.
- Some people simply do not like blue crystal (sodium silicate) litter
- Some cats may be a little slow to adjust to the new litter box
The PetSafe ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box earns a score of 8.2 /10.0 on our rating scale. This box performs a little better than the CatGenie. It’s a bit less clunky, and it’s easier to set up and maintain. The box performs well and will allow you to eliminate litter scooping from your regular chore schedule. Just make sure to change the trays regularly and keep an eye on it, and the ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box will do the rest. We recommend going with the Original model over the Ultra, since it costs a little less and doesn’t include the unnecessary privacy hood. Check it out on Amazon!