My personal search for a way out of litter box drudgery finally lead me to a combination of products and a technique that takes me no more than 1 minute per box every time I scoop. I now spend less time cleaning 3 boxes twice a day than I used to spend cleaning 2 boxes once a day. Before going into detail about what I settled on, I first want to list what didn't work for me.
Litter Boxes Tested and Reviewed
First, I tried a couple of different two-piece sifting-type boxes. They always sound like such a great idea, but they were all too shallow, allowing urine to stick to the sifter, and none of them had just the right size holes for the natural litters I use.
Then I investigated, and abandoned, the idea of a self-cleaning litter box. What I realized is that no method is perfect. "Self-cleaning" boxes have to be cleaned themselves, especially if you have a digger who burrows his/her way to the bottom of the box. (I actually had one of these boxes about a decade ago.) Electronic boxes break down, and some require the purchase of additional (expensive and/or hazardous to the cat) products as part of routine use and maintenance. If you'd like to research alternative litter box ideas for yourself, I cannot recommend highly enough the discussion forum Litterbox Central.
As an aside, any cat box with reuseable litter the kind which is meant to be washed or rinsed will start to smell, no matter what the manufacturer claims or how they attempt to disguise it with stinky perfumes (this also from experience).
There is one non-motorized option you may wish to consider. It's a box which you roll on its side, and then on its top, before righting it again. Waste collects in a tray in the top, which you simply remove and dump. It may be just what you've been looking for. It's called the Omega Paw box. Here's a short demonstration of how it works:
I did try this box and was mostly happy with the way it worked, with a couple of exceptions: if matter sticks to the bottom, you won't know it in time to loosen it yourself before you roll it, plus the box can collect larger pieces behind its internal screen, and allow larger "bits" than I would like back into the useable litter. More problematic was the fact that most cats don't like a covered litter box, including mine, and none of my cats seemed to "get" the concept of turning around once inside the box. Our largest cat routinely stepped inside the box and peed...on the floor outside the box. (Hey, his feet were inside.)
The way the Omega Paw box worked, however, finally gave me the giant hint I needed about how to make my own task much simpler. Once I decided I was stuck continuing to manually scoop each box, I started to re-think the products and method I was using.
What I discovered is that the choice of litter is of prime importance.
I thought the SwheatScoop I had used for a decade was a good choice, and that it was clumping adequately. My tests with it and another cat-safe brand (clay litters are hazardous to cats, so I will never use them again) showed me I was wrong, and that was one of the reasons I spent so much time scooping.
In order for my no-time-at-all scooping to be effective, I needed a litter that clumped fast, and stayed in clumps. Although it's a bit more expensive than what I was using, I am completely sold on World's Best Cat Litter.
Your next tool is this large metal scoop. Unlike the ubiquitous plastic scoops, this one will never break, so its the only one youll ever need to buy.
As far as the box goes, you'll need a large one with tall sides. The one below is a Clevercat top entry litter box without the cover, but any large tub with a flat (not textured or indented) bottom will do.
The tall sides also allow you to put enough litter in the box I recommend at least 4 inches so that diggers wont get all the way to the bottom. Not having to ever scrape clumps loose from the bottom of the box is an important part of this time-saving process.
So, here's the secret method you've been waiting for: To clean the box, tip it to one side as shown in the photo below. Waste will become visible as the litter slides to the far side of the box. Use your large scoop to remove it, and to scrape anything that may have stuck to the side of the box.
Tip the box to the other side and repeat, and you're done.
The size of the scoop means that you can get larger clumps, and the size of the holes in the bottom of the scoop mean you don't have to sift or shake it (another way to keep dust down and clumps together): simply let loose litter flow through the bottom of the scoop.
The great clumping litter you purchased means that clumps stay together, so you don't have to go scooping through the box to get all the loose pieces.
If you don't want to deal with cat litter or litter boxes at all, there is one other option, which is to train your cat to use the toilet. There are many videos on YouTube which will show you how, and many products purporting to make the task easier, but after seeing a few videos of cats falling in the toilet, I personally lost interest in that idea. Poor kitties!
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