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If you’re into pet tech, you may already be considering upgrading your litter box game. An automatic, self-cleaning litter box saves you the hassle of scooping and just might save you some money as well.
There’s a growing market for self-cleaning litter boxes and some models have all the bells and whistles. You can even buy a litter box that scoops, cleans itself, and flushes waste right down the toilet (hint: we’re talking about the CatGenie Self-Flushing, Self-Washing Cat Box).
Automatic litter boxes come in all shapes and sizes. While they may have similarities in the end result they deliver, there are some significant differences worth considering. In this review, we’ll take a side-by-side look at two popular models: the Litter-Robot III Connect and the PetSafe ScoopFree.
Head to Head Comparison
|Number of Reviews
Reviews averaged and content pulled from company websites as well as third-party e-commerce sites
|Made in the USA
You should know where your pet appliances are made
|Designed & assembled in the USA (factory in Juneau, Wisconsin)||Made in China|
|Years in Business
Is the product manufactured by a longstanding, successful company?
Your investment should be backed by a full-service warranty
|18-month full-coverage warranty; extended 3-year warranty available||1-year limited warranty|
Buy with confidence knowing you can get a refund if unsatisfied
|90-day in-home trial + money-back guarantee (must pay return shipping)||45-day money-back guarantee (must pay return shipping)|
Can you “buy now, pay later” with stress-free financing plans?
|3-, 6-, &12-month plans available with Affirm||None|
Smart pet appliances can be remotely monitored and controlled through the app
|The first self-cleaning litter box with WiFi capabilities; get notifications and monitor litter box habits with the Whisker app||Scoopfree Smart is WiFi-enabled; remotely monitor a unit with My PetSafe app|
What makes this pet appliance self-cleaning?
|Original patented gravity-driven litter-sifting technology||Rake-sifting system|
The appliance should be designed with both pets and pet parents in mind
|Orbital design with large entry||Open, uncovered design|
Background On The Litter-Robot III Connect
- Ease of Cleaning – 10/10
- Odor Control – 10/10
- Appearance – 9.5/10
- Construction – 9/10
- Price – 7/10
Overall Score: 9.1/10
The Litter-Robot III Connect is the latest version of a WiFi-enabled, fully automatic, self-cleaning litter box. Now offered from Litter-Robot by Whisker, the original design was released by Auto Pets in 2000. With its latest upgrade, the Litter-Robot offers mobile app connectivity to help you monitor litter box usage, check on key maintenance tasks, and gain insights into your cat’s health.
Mallory Crusta, our Head of Content, tested the Litter-Robot III for several weeks in mid-2020 and I tested it myself earlier that year. You can watch our video review here on YouTube.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Litter-Robot is that it’s big. It features a large, globe-like shape with an elliptical opening in the front. The whole thing has a footprint of about 30x25x27 inches, so it’s much later than your average litter pan.
The Litter-Robot III is an automatic, self-cleaning litter box in the sense that it automatically initiates a cleaning cycle after your cat leaves. The cleaning cycle rotates the globe, sifting clean litter into a storage compartment while clumps and solid waste tumble into a discreet waste receptacle.
All you have to do is replenish with fresh litter when the level gets too low and empty the waste receptacle. You’ll have to purchase your own litter, but there are no other added costs unless you choose to purchase Litter-Robot’s branded waste drawer liners. Grocery bags work just as well.
Background On The Petsafe Scoop Self-Cleaning Litter Box
- Ease of Cleaning – 8/10
- Odor Control – 7/10
- Appearance – 9/10
- Construction – 10/10
- Price – 6/10
Overall Score: 8/10
The PetSafe ScoopFree is a self-cleaning litter box that looks a little more similar to a typical litter pan. This review focuses primarily on the ScoopFree Original but PetSafe has since released the Second Generation Scoop-Free as well as the ScoopFree Smart litter box.
Mallory Crusta, our Head of Content, tested the PetSafe ScoopFree for 2 months in mid-2020 and I tested it myself earlier that year. You can watch our video review here on YouTube.
Aside from being a self-cleaning litter box, the biggest difference between the ScoopFree and a traditional litter pan is that it is specifically designed to be used with crystal cat litter. The litter box comes with a bag of ScoopFree Disposable Crystal Litter, but the device will work with comparable products from other brands.
The PetSafe ScoopFree is not a sifting litter box. It looks like a traditional litter pan with its rectangular shape, but it features a hidden rake that moves across the litter bed, sweeping waste into a discreet compartment. The entire unit measures about 19×27.5×6.5 inches.
Crystal cat litter plays a key role in the function of this automatic litter box. It absorbs more liquid waste than clay and dehydrates solid waste, providing a longer lasting litter solution.
Now, Let’s Take A Look At How The Litter-Robot III Compares With The Petsafe Scoopfree.
There’s no secret about automatic litter boxes. They save you from having to scoop the litter box and they often offer additional benefits like odor control and limited tracking.
When it comes to the Litter-Robot III and the PetSafe ScoopFree, however, there are significant differences in how they accomplish these goals.
To compare and contrast these two litter boxes, we’ll take a closer look at the following categories:
Let’s dive into the details in each of these categories.
1. Size And Setup
Both the Litter-Robot and the ScoopFree are noticeably larger than a traditional litter pan, but the ScoopFree is a more direct comparison.
The footprint of the ScoopFree is only about 19×27.5×6.5 inches while the Litter-Robot 30x25x27 inches. The ScoopFree is a rectangular device that sits on the floor much like a traditional litter pan. In contrast, the Litter-Robot takes up a great deal of vertical space and might be more difficult to slide into a corner.
In terms of setup, the Litter-Robot couldn’t be simpler. It comes in a very large box completely assembled. You simply have to place the litter mat on the top step, fill the globe with litter, and plug it in. You’ll also probably want to install a plastic bag or a Litter-Robot waste drawer liner.
The PetSafe ScoopFree is by no means difficult to set up, but there’s a little more packaging to work through. You’ll need to unbox the device itself then open the included bag of crystal cat litter. After pouring the litter into the cardboard tray you simply lower the plastic housing over it then plug the device in. As long as you’ve lined up the ends correctly, you’re ready to go.
Unless you run into some kind of unexpected challenge, setting up either of these automatic litter boxes shouldn’t take you more than 5 to 10 minutes.
Size And Setup Winner: A draw
2. Operation And Performance
The first major difference between the Litter-Robot and the PetSafe ScoopFree becomes apparent when you test them out. They simply work in two different ways.
The Litter-Robot is essentially a sifting litter box. It contains a weight sensor that detects your cat’s presence in the litter bed and initiates a cleaning cycle after a predetermined time when he leaves. The globe rotates, causing the litter to spill through a grate that lets clean litter through and traps clumps and solid waste. The globe continues to rotate until the clumps have been deposited in the waste compartment then it rotates back to the original position, returning the clean litter to the bed.
The PetSafe ScoopFree might also be considered a sifting litter box, but not really. It features a metal rake that moves across the length of the litter bed 20 minutes after your cat leaves. As it moves, it collects solid waste. When the rake nears the end of the track, magnets in the cardboard tray raise the lid so waste can be swept into the collection tray.
While both litter boxes initiate a clean cycle automatically, the Litter-Robot has the option to choose from different timing delays. You can program the waiting period between 3 and 15 minutes while the ScoopFree has a standard 20-minute delay.
Note: The updated PetSafe ScoopFree Ultra has an adjustable cleaning cycle delay period of 5, 10, or 20 minutes.
In terms of how long the cleaning cycle actually takes, these two units are pretty similar. The Litter-Robot’s cleaning cycle takes about 3 minutes and the ScoopFree just over 1 minute. If your cat gets curious and enters the box during a cleaning cycle, however, the unit will stop and wait.
This brings us to the question of how well either of these litter boxes actually work.
Both Mallory and I had similar experiences when testing both the Litter-Robot III and the PetSafe ScoopFree. We found that both units worked consistently and reliably with no jamming and no significant problems of any kind.
To some degree, the efficacy of these litter boxes depends on the type of litter you use.
The Litter-Robot III is designed to be used only with a hard-clumping clay litter. The sifting mechanism simply won’t be as effective if you use a low-quality clay litter, and you’ll end up wasting a lot of litter if you use non-clumping litter. Plus, the waste compartment will fill up with litter just about every time the cleaning cycle initiates.
The PetSafe ScoopFree is designed specifically to be used with crystal cat litter. Crystal cat litter is made from silica gel, a material that is highly absorbent. Not only does it absorb more moisture than clay litter, but it draws the moisture out of solid waste which makes it easier to scoop. The 20-minute delay on the ScoopFree gives the crystal litter time to work before the rake starts moving.
Both the Litter-Robot and PetSafe ScoopFree were prone to small bits of waste or clumps being missed during the cleaning cycle, but there weren’t any significant issues. If you notice this problem happening, you may simply need to do a little hand scooping in between the times you empty the waste tray.
Operation And Performance Winner: Litter Robot
3. Odor Control And Tracking
When it comes to odor control and tracking, there are significant differences between the Litter-Robot III and the PetSafe ScoopFree. The Litter-Robot III excels in the odor control department while the ScoopFree performs a little better in tracking.
The Litter-Robot is functionally a covered litter box, so that helps control odor. What really makes the difference, however, is the discreet waste compartment. It traps odors extremely well and by customizing the delay timer you can ensure that dirty litter doesn’t sit in the box too long.
Unfortunately, odor becomes an issue fairly quickly with the PetSafe ScoopFree. As the waste compartment becomes full, the lid may not close all the way which allows odor to escape. Once the crystal litter becomes saturated, you may also notice a strong urine odor developing.
This is more likely to be an issue in a multi-cat household and the best solution is to simply change out the litter trays more often.
As for tracking with the Litter-Robot, it depends somewhat on the type of litter you choose. Larger granules tend not to stick in your cat’s paws as much as finer granules. The Litter-Robot does have a built-in litter catcher, but it isn’t as effective as placing a litter mat under the unit.
The PetSafe ScoopFree does a little better in this area because the crystal cat litter comes in a larger granule size and your cat has to step up to get out of the litter box.
Odor Control And Tracking Winner: PetSafe ScoopFree
When it comes to maintaining the Litter-Robot III and the PetSafe ScoopFree, the tasks and the time commitment are very similar. In both cases, you won’t have to do much more than empty the waste compartment and refresh the litter tray.
With the Litter-Robot III, you’ll simply pull out the waste drawer and remove the liner or plastic bag to discard dirty litter. From there, just replace the liner and refill the litter bed to the recommended line.
With the PetSafe ScoopFree, you may need to empty the waste compartment if you have more than one cat. If not, the tray might be big enough to last until the litter becomes saturated with urine and you need to discard of the entire thing.
Both litter boxes do most of the scooping for you, but you may have to do a little hand scooping to remove smaller particles. If your cat tends to spray urine, you’ll also probably have to wipe down the inside of the litter box from time to time to prevent odor.
Maintenance Winner: Litter Robot
5. Overall Impressions
Generally speaking, both Mallory and I were impressed with these two automatic litter boxes. Both the Litter-Robot III and the PetSafe ScoopFree worked smoothly and reliably. They were also fairly quiet.
In terms of cat-friendliness, there are a few things to consider.
The PetSafe ScoopFree looks much like the kind of litter box your cat is used to, so the transition process may be quicker than with the Litter-Robot. The unit itself is fairly sizable, but the usable litter bed only measures about 14×14 inches which is a little on the small side. The litter tray itself is pretty shallow, so it may not be ideal for cats who like to dig.
Rather than a rectangular tray, the Litter-Robot is a big round globe. It’s a huge device but, again, the usable litter space is pretty small – the same 14×14 inches. It may also look a bit intimidating to some cats, so you may need to work with your cat to get him used to using the box.
Odor control is much better with the Litter-Robot, but if your cat tends to spray urine you might have a tougher time cleaning it out of the inside of the globe. Tracking is more likely to be an issue with the Litter-Robot, but odor will accumulate faster with the PetSafe ScoopFree.
Overall, in terms of performance, both units worked very well. Neither had issues with jamming and both setup and maintenance were pretty straightforward.
Before wrapping up, however, there’s one more thing to talk about.
One of the biggest add-ons you get with the Litter-Robot III that you won’t get with the PetSafe ScoopFree is the Litter-Robot Connect app. This app enables you to check the waste drawer level (and get push notifications when it starts to fill up) and track your cat’s litter box usage. You can set custom cleaning schedules, adjust the delay timer, and manually initiate a cleaning cycle.
While the PetSafe ScoopFree Original reviewed here doesn’t offer this feature, the newer PetSafe ScoopFree Smart Self-Cleaning Litter Box does. With the My PetSafe app, you can view your cat’s litter box usage, set reminders, and adjust the settings on your unit.
Overall Winner: Litter Robot
How Do They Compare In Cost?
Both the Litter-Robot III and the PetSafe ScoopFree are going to be a significant investment. The Litter-Robot III is going to be much more expensive upfront, but the ScoopFree might cost more over time.
The Litter-Robot III retails for $549 and you can choose from two colors: grey and beige. For an extra $50 you can double your warranty to give you three full years of coverage. You can also purchase an OdorTrap Pod for $20 and a roll of 50 waste drawer liners for $32.99.
The PetSafe ScoopFree Original sells for $149.95 on the PetSafe website. If your cat prefers a covered litter box, you can purchase a privacy hood for $19.99. The Second Generation ScoopFree starts at $149.95 as well but the ScoopFree Smart litter box is priced at $209.95.
One thing to keep in mind when comparing costs for these two litter boxes is the cost of maintenance.
Because the Litter-Robot III can be used with any clumping clay litter, you can control the cost. You’ll want to avoid cheap litters that don’t form hard clumps, but you don’t necessary need to go top-shelf.
The ScoopFree, on the other hand, is designed to be used with crystal cat litter. Crystal cat litter tends to be more expensive than clay and the cost really adds up if you decide to use the branded PetSafe disposable trays. These cost $20.95 each, but you can save with a 3-pack or a subscription.
With these factors in mind, it’s hard to say which litter box is going to be more expensive in the long run. If you’re willing to make a larger upfront cost, the Litter-Robot III might be the way to go. If you want to save up front but are able to budget for higher monthly costs, the PetSafe ScoopFree might work.
Which Option Is Right For You?
Having thoroughly tested both the Litter-Robot III Connect and PetSafe ScoopFree, we happily recommend either one. That being said, there are certain cases in which one option might be more appropriate than the other.
The Petsafe Scoopfree Might Be Right For You If…
- If you prefer something that looks more like a traditional litter pan.
- You have less vertical space to work with in your home.
- You want to streamline maintenance with easy replacement trays.
- You prioritize reduction in scatter and tracking over odor control.
- You’re not ready to make an investment over $250.
- You prefer crystal cat litter to clumping clay litter or are curious to try it.
The Litter-Robot III Connect Might Be Right For You If…
- You have a small cat or kitten who doesn’t mind covered litter boxes.
- You want the freedom to choose your own clumping clay cat litter.
- You’re interested in mobile app connectivity to monitor litter box usage and to get notifications when the waste drawer is full.
- You prioritize odor control over reduced tracking and scatter .
- You’re ready to make a significant investment over $500.
- You have plenty of floor space and want the freedom of choosing the location.
An automatic litter box is going to cost you more than a traditional litter pan, but you just might think it’s worth it. Whether it’s the time you save from scooping or the enhanced odor control, there’s a lot to love about self-cleaning litter boxes.
Both the Litter-Robot III and PetSafe ScoopFree offer some unique features, but there are more options out there. If you’re looking for something a little more complex than the ScoopFree, you might be interested in the CatGenie Self-Washing, Self-Flushing Cat Box.