Top positive review
Great product - but it took a lot to get it there!! (You can use real litter!)
November 26, 2017
I'm going to start by saying this product is great, it just doesn't work like as a miracle solution product, at least not for all cats. It's not going to last you a month without upkeep, I guarantee it. That doesn't mean it isn't well worth it after some adjustments. I purchased this just before the adoption of my first cat, a fully grown and litter boxed trained before she got to me, adult cat. I work 9 hours a day and live in a one bedroom apartment, with a roommate, where the smell would be terrible if left untamed for long. So I thought this would be worth the investment to ease the burden of owning my first cat, having never had to clean a litter box before in my life.
***SIDE NOTE: I invested in a permanent plastic tray. They are far too expensive for what they are, but worth every cent after you realize how much you are saving with the disposables. ESPECIALLY if you plan on going with actual litter instead of crystals.
First off, my cat adjusted easily, it was almost remarkable. She figured it out with in 2 hours of being placed in a brand new home and didn't put up even a little fuss. However, she is a uncommonly tolerant cat when it comes to change, which is why I was able to go through the experiment I am about to share. I am sharing because I know some cats aren't this tolerant and if you are one of those people who can't mess around with different litters, I did it for you and you can see what might work best for you!
The first 2 weeks of using the product, I used as directed with the crystals that came with the product. I knew it would be expensive and all that jazz to replace the trays, but the product said for one cat it should need monthly changes. That just was not true at all. By 1 week it began to smell, by halfway through that next week it began to turn to sludge and the smell was gagging-ly bad. It quickly became apparent that my cat was not going to work well with these crystals. She pees in one spot, and will not change it up. Even with frequent stirring of the litter, it just turned to sludge and smelled like death through the whole apartment. I nearly puked when trying to dump the litter out, and it was the grosses thing I had even seen. Scrapping that sludge off the cardboard tray was just... nope. My roommate was not pleased in the least. He also did not like that smell of the crystal litter, even before it was urinated on. That, AND it tracked all through the house and, it must be made in a lego factory or something, because it HURT to step on.
So, needless to say after just one round, I was done with the crystals. My cat didn't really like them (she wouldn't cover up her poo because I think it hurt her paws), my roommate didn't like them, I didn't like them and heaven forbid my landlord ever came in for a sniff! That and to replace those throw-away trays weekly would be financial suicide. I considered returning it and getting a regular litter box, because it would probably be better than this! I don't give up easily though, and I researched if I could use real litter, and mostly the consensus was 'No'. But I am stubborn, and my cat is one of the few that doesn't mind if I change things up, so I decided to go nuts with different litters and test each one for a week. I bought a Litter Works permanent tray and decided to get some real litter. (There is also Forever Tray but this one was cheaper and I haven't yet noticed a reason why it would be worth the extra 20 bucks.)
Basically: Non clumping litter of any kind was a no. She pees up a storm and it's over saturated in a matter of days and I have to switch out the whole tray of litter. Wasteful! So I moved up to clumping. First, knowing nothing about litter, I bought a rather cheap version of Fresh Step at Walmart for 8 bucks. A hopeful feat to think the cheapest would work, but I didn't know if it would explode my machine or anything yet, so I started cheap (With some of the reviews I read, it sounded like it might explode my machine if I put clumping litter in it!). The Fresh Step was the first time I began to think this product might actually work well for me. After 3 days it was looking pretty good. On the 4th day it began to look dreary as the rakes began smushing the clumps and they were getting stuck behind it and on it and ew. It took some cleaning to clean off the rakes and it was a little gross, but it was still better than the crystals since it wasn't dragging around my house and it was getting rid of the urine. (Be aware, the tray fills up faster when it is being filled with pee clumps and poo clumps) It also smelled like febreeze which was a big upgrade. (Roommate was still unhappy with that smell, though) This is the Papa bear of solutions.
I wasn't convinced this was as good as it gets, so I dumped that and moved up the price list to Arm and Hammar, as recommended to me by my boss and avid cat owner. He swears by Arm and Hammer. So I bought a middle priced version that say 'Hard Clumps' on it. Hard clumps sounded great. Maybe they wouldn't smush into the rakes! So I filled the tray up with that and Kitty seemed to like that even better. She didn't even let me put the lid on before taking a nice dump in it. Lucky me. So I let that run for a week and it did, well, okay. It still blocked up the rakes a bit although not nearly as much, but it didn't smell at all (Until I lifted up the lid of the poo trap... then phew it was not pleasant!)
This was the mama bear solution, If you are on a budget, this is what I suggest you go with. It's not too expensive, and it work with little upkeep. About every 30-40 rounds or so you need to go in and clear out the trap, takes 5 minutes. It smells for a few minutes then goes away and doesn't smell again, I would wrap a scarf around my nose and it wouldn't be bad. Sometimes I had to do a rake cleaning after 4 days or so, just to keep it looking pretty. (I suggest getting a Litter Genie trashcan. They are magical and I've put 4 rounds of trap cleanings in mine and it's still not full for the first time!) This is a good place to stand if you are like me and my cat and you hate crystals but already put 160 dollars into the device. It's not the monthly hands-free promise, but it's still very convenient and stop it from smelling while away at work.
Now for those of you who really want the good stuff: I suggest Arm and Hammer Slide litter. It IS pricey, but it's worth it. I got a 19lb box for 12 dollars are Target, and often it is on sale (I predict it will last me 3 weeks or so). However vs. the 8 dollar 24lb box I started with, it is a financial jump (Still a boat load less than 13 bucks a week for the disposable crystals from hell!). Some places offer the bigger box for a good deal less than 2 of the small boxes but they are pretty hard to find (Petco.com is one of the few I've spotted). If you have the money to spend on it, it is worth it! I threw this stuff in, my cat loved it, I loved it, it has a small unnoticeable fragrance that she doesn't seem to mind and I can't smell unless I put my head in the box. The best part is, it requires almost NO UPKEEP for a week at a time. After 1 week, it is at about 40 scoops and I need to go in and clear out the poo trap which fills quickly with the big rock hard urine clumps. But that is a million times better than dealing with urine sludge every 3 days. I scoop all of it into my Litter Genie, takes 5 minutes AND HAS ALMOST NO SMELL. I personally don't like the way the litter smell too much, and once it mixed with urine it gets a little pungent, but NOTHING compared to the sitting poo smell of the other liters when I took off the lid and as mentioned, I can't smell it unless I get close. I didn't gag once or need to turn away while cleaning it. My roommate mentioned that he smelled it when clearing the trap, but it wasn't too bad and then I realized he hadn't complained once about the litter box smell since I put this litter in it. It does not get stuck in the rakes much at all. Once every few days I will go in and move the rake forward and clean out any small bits that got tuck behind it, but that's most for esthetic reasons and would probably be fine left untouched for a week. After I dump the poo trap, I throw in a bit more litter to top it off and it's good to go for another week. I'll go in a stir the litter and even it out when I walk past, if I think about it, daily. Mostly because of her need to pee in one area, that spot gets bare quicker.
The only issues I've seen is that her one pee spot gets a nice pancake of litter on it after about 2 days. It doesn't stop the rakes, but it does go into the trap either and sticks to the tray a little. Luckily the litter does what it says it does and it comes loose with a good scrape from the scooper and I toss it in the trash and it's good to go. Minor problem.
Final conclusion: This product is good, but in order to be GREAT you need to make it work for your cat and life style. Chances are it isn't going to be upkeep-free for a month at a time, even with one cat, especially if she's a big pee-er like my baby is. BUT It's not hopeless and clumping litter does work if you can get the good stuff. Get a Forever Tray or similar, some good Arm and Hammer clumping litter, a Litter Genie, and a willingness to clear it once a week and your in for a much easier time than daily cleaning.
I think it is a 5 star product with Arm and Hammer Slide, but I remove one star because it took me and arm, a leg, 2 months and a particularly patient cat to get there. Plus they seem to go out of the way to convince you that nothing but crystals will work, and that's not true at all. If it weren't for the Arm and Hammer Litter and the Litter Works tray, I'd have returned the product after 2 weeks.
Hopefully this will help another struggling cat parent!