ScoopFree Original Self-Cleaning Litter Box Review in 2020
If you are looking for a hassle-free solution to disposing your feline’s litter, it’s probably time to transition to self-cleaning litter boxes.
While they are a little pricey compared to the traditional litter boxes, self-cleaning litter boxes automate the cleaning process, and there is little effort required from you. No manual scooping or rolling the litter box to separate the clean litter from the waste clumps.
Self-cleaning litter boxes feature disposable litter trays, where the cat waste are deposited after the unit auto-cleans itself. Once these disposable litter trays are filled up, all you have to do is to pull them out, dispose of and replace them with a new litter tray.
PetSafe ScoopFree Ultra Self-Cleaning Litter Box?
The ScoopFree Ultra litter box is an automatic self-cleaning litter box that is uniquely designed to keep the litter box clean, without the need to scoop and clean it on a daily basis.
This litter box is manufactured by PetSafe, a company that has been in existence for almost three decades, and that manufactures other revolutionary pet products like wireless fences and cat water fountains.
Its team comprises the best pet trainers, vets, and animal behaviorists to ensure whatever product is released into the market is above board; won’t compromise health and safety standards of your pet.
The ScoopFree Ultra Cat Litter Box combines the automatic raking mechanism with the high-absorbent silica gel. This combination ensures that the litter box can stay up to 30 days without being saturated. The silica gel crystal is designed to neutralize odors by up to 5x compared to clay litter.
This litter box is equipped with motion sensors to track when the cat enters the litter box, and when she leaves. Once the cat has used the litter box and exited, the litter box starts a countdown timer (which is customizable) to start in either 5, 10 or 20 minutes.
After the countdown timer ends, the automatic raking system is activated, and the rake sweeps across the litter bed to catch any solid waste and encourage urine absorption. The wastes then find its way into the odor-controlled absorbent tray, sits there for a while before being discarded and a new tray introduced.
How does the Scoopfree Litter Box Work?
The cat litter features an advanced optical light sensor system that gets activated hence every time your furry friend is through with her ‘call of nature’.
Upon detecting that the waste box has been in use, a 5, 10 or 20 minutes delay is then engaged to ensure that the cat does not re-enter the litter box when the automatic raking system is in effect.
After the delay period is completed, the raking mechanism starts off. If the cat urinated in the litter box, the blue silica crystals will absorb and deodorize the urine.
This ensures that there is no urine odor in the litter box. Since the urine is absorbed by the crystals, it will not create clumps, and therefore, no urine waste will get deposited into the waste trap.
If the cat defecated inside the litter box, the crystals will soak up the moisture from the feces to reduce odor, and then form clumps. When the raking mechanism is activated, it will move across the litter box, collecting the waste clumps and depositing them into the waste trap which opens to receive the wastes.
The waste trap cover and the cardboard waste trap are attached to each other by magnets, which allows them to open and close after they receive the wastes. The rake then moves back to its normal idle position as it levels up the litter.
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What is Included in the Box?
When you buy this litter box, you will find the following items in the box. They include:
Self-cleaning cat litter box
The ScoopFree Ultra self-cleaning litter box is the main product that you are buying, and it will be the first thing that you will find. This litter box has the following components:
Litter box frame: This is one of the main parts of the litter box, and it houses the automatic rake and sits on the litter tray.
Litter tray: This component is located below the main tray, and it holds the crystal cat litter and holds the waste trap below it.
Waste trap and cover: This component is located on the front of the litter tray, and its work is to hold the litter wastes after they have been deposited by the steel rake. It has a waste tray cover, which uses magnets to open and close during the cleaning process.
Stainless steel rake: This rake is located on the rear of the box, and its work is to sweep across the crystal litter after the cat completed her business, and deposit the wastes into the waste tray. It also levels up the litter after the cat has exited the litter box.
Detection sensors: The sensors are designed to automatically detect when the cat enters and leaves the box. It has a delay indicator of 5, 10 or 20 minutes from the time the cat left the box, after which the automatic raking mechanism is activated.
Health counter: This component records the number of litter box used to help monitor the cat’s health as well as when you are due to change the waste tray. If the cat stays for long without visiting the litter box, it can point to an underlying health issue.
Privacy hood: The privacy hood hides the litter bed from view, and it allows shy cats to do their business without worrying that someone might be watching them. It also prevents the spread of litter odors outside the litter box. The privacy hood is available in taupe and purple colors.
Original Scent Blue Crystal Cat Litter
ScoopFree Ultra self-cleaning litter box comes with one measured package of Scent Blue crystal litter that is enough to last you for weeks. Just tear and pour into the litter tray once you are ready. The crystal litter is 99% dust free and has five times better odor control than the traditional litter.
ScoopFree Ultra vs. ScoopFree Original
Both ScoopFree Ultra and the ScoopFree Original are two of the most popular automatic litter boxes manufactured by PetSafe. They both have almost the same design, use the automatic raking mechanism, and use the blue scent crystal cat litter.
The ScoopFree Original is a little cheaper and has fewer features compared to the ScoopFree Ultra. For example, it has an open litter tray and no privacy hood, making it less attractive to shy cats who mind their surroundings.
It is also a little smaller, and it measure’s 27.4 x 19 x 7 inches and weighs just 18 pounds. Another limitation is that the indicator allows only a 20-minute delay after the cat has exited the litter box, before activating the automatic raking system.
The ScoopFree Ultra self-cleaning litter box has more features that the ScoopFree Original. It offers various timing options for the delay indicator, that is, 5, 10 or 20 minutes.
This litter box also has an inbuilt-health counter that monitor’s its usage by your feline every single day. Checking the frequency of trips to the litter box can tell you if the cat has any underlying health issues or is dehydrated. It also tells you when to change the litter after it has reached a certain number of trips, mostly 70 to 100 trips.
Another add-on to the ScoopFree Ultra litter box is the privacy hood. This feature is a plus for most cat parents who would love to give privacy to their little fur balls when they go for a long call. The privacy hood makes this unit a little bigger than the ScoopFree Original, and it measures 27.5 x 19 x 16 inches.
Pros of ScoopFree Ultra Self-Cleaning Litter Box
The ScoopFree Ultra Self-Cleaning litter box is a superior litter box that will free up most of the time spent emptying and scooping the litter box. Here are some of the things I liked about this litter box:
Easy to set up
The ScoopFree Ultra litter box is simple to set up and get ready for work. Once you have confirmed that all the tools are ready, take out the litter box frame and slide the included ScoopFree disposable Tray under it. Next, open and pour one package of the ScoopFree crystal litter into the litter tray. Install the privacy hood, connect to a power source and you are ready for work.
Unlike the traditional litter boxes where you have to scoop wastes every day, this litter box automates the litter cleaning process. It is equipped with motion sensors, which detect the cat’s movements and activates the automatic raking mechanism after a 5, 10 or 20 delay duration after the cat exited the litter box.
All the waste clumps are pushed to the waste tray, and you remain with the clean litter. No manual scooping and no throwing away the litter after a single use!
High absorption and better odor control
The ScoopFree crystal cat litter has a high moisture absorption than the traditional litter. It absorbs the cat urine and dehydrates the cat poop to remain with dry clumps that can be swept by the stainless steel rake to the waste tray.
Absorbing the urine and moisture seals unpleasant odors that would have otherwise spread outside the litter box, and bring an awful smell to your house.
Low litter tracking and dust
The crystal litter is less prone to litter tracking than the traditional litter, will rarely stock on your cat’s paws. However, if by any chance some of the litter particles wander of the litter box, the blue-colored particles can easily be spotted and picked up immediately.
Also, the crystal cat litter come loaded into the tray and all you have to do is slide it under the litter box frame. In addition, the litter particles are hard, and cannot easily break when the rake is sweeping across the litter box or when your cat is digging up the litter to hide its treasure.
The manufacturer claims that this litter box is 99% dust-free, which is pretty convincing considering how much it differs from the traditional litter. You can also get this ScoopFree Anti-tracking litter mat to collect any litter particles that may wander of the litter box.
Disposable litter trays
If you are the kind of person who detests the sight of cat poop or is allergic to dust, this litter box is for you. This litter box comes with disposable litter trays which, when full, you can pull out and put in the trash bag.
The ScoopFree Ultra self-cleaning litter box has a strong plastic lining around the litter tray, which helps in protecting against leakage. This keeps the areas around the litter box clean, and without any urine leaks.
Cons of ScoopFree Ultra Self-Cleaning Litter Box
Here are some of the things we did not like about this litter box:
Expensive to buy cartridges
While the ScoopFree Ultra automatic litter box brings a lot of convenience for most cat owners, it becomes less desirable to people on a budget who are not willing to spend more per month to maintain the litter box.
Cat owners using this litter box may spend anywhere from 50 to 100 bucks per month to buy cartridge refills, depending on the number of litter box used and the number of cats using the litter box. This cost exceeds what most cat parents spend on traditional cat litter per month.
Update: We found some cheaper alternatives that are compatible with the ScoopFree litter box (Scroll down to see more)
Litter box not ideal for large cats
The litter tray measures 14 x 14 inches, and this space may be too limited for multiple-cat homes and large cats. The privacy hood makes the space even smaller, and large cats may lack space to wiggle around while inside the litter box.
Also check: Best litter box for large cats
Some unpleasant odors get trapped beneath the litter tray
While the ScoopFree crystal cat litter does some good work in absorbing urine and moisture from cat poop, the moisture may get to the bottom of the litter tray and get dump.
If the cat digs up the litter, the bottom litter may produce some pretty nasty stench into your home that may cast doubts into the efficiency of this litter box. However, most customers do not have issues with this since they rarely get into contact with the litter, and only happens in rare cases.
Alternatives to Cartridges
One of the limitations of using the ScoopFree Ultra litter box is the high maintenance costs. Cat owners must buy the pre-filled disposable trays every two to four weeks, which adds up to the mainframe you incur every month to purchase your cat’s supplies.
However, some innovative cat parents have discovered some ways to cut on these costs when using the ScoopFree ultra self-cleaning litter box. Our recommended alternative to the disposable ScoopFree cartridges is the Forever Litter Tray.
What is a Forever Litter Tray?
The Forever Litter Tray is primarily designed to work in ScoopFree Ultra and ScoopFree original by eliminating the need to buy pre-filled disposable trays. It is made with a sturdy, thick plastic that has anti-microbial properties to reduce stains and odors.
When you buy this tray, just slide it under the ScoopFree self-cleaning unit, attach the forever flap, pour litter crystals inside the compartment and it is ready for use.
How the Forever Litter Tray Differs from the ScoopFree Disposable Trays
Using the ScoopFree Disposable Trays requires you to buy a new pre-filled disposable tray once the cat has hit a certain count. This can be an expensive option in the long-run, compared to using the traditional litter box where you scoop and dispose of the waste.
With the Forever litter tray, you get a permanent solution to your litter problem at a lower price than what you incur with the ScoopFree disposable trays. You will need to buy the cheaper crystal litter in bags and fill the tray. When it’s time to change the litter, just scoop out the waste, clean the tray and refill it with a fresh batch of the crystal litter.
For the best performance, you should use the pre-measured crystal premium cat litter, which has the same size as the ScoopFree Blue Crystals. Buying smaller-sized or large crystals than what the litter box uses can create a mess, which is not something you want to happen. Large crystals will get dragged by the rake to the waste compartment, while smaller crystals may get into the motor and clog it.
Customers who have had success with the Forever Litter Tray recommend getting the Fresh Step Crystal litter.