1/29/17: The first production prototype has been modified and painted. It's working great! Here's a pic!
The PurrfectScoop Litter Loo is the only truly practical automatic litter box with an open, unenclosed design utilizing a superior sifting method of filtering litter. This new patented design (patent #7,647,889) combines the two basic requirements to have an effective automatic self-cleaning litter box:
- The litter box must work reliably every time
- All household cats must use the litter box
In order for an automated litter box to be 100% effective, one of the most important features of that litter box has to be that ALL household cats must be willing to use it. It had been my personal quest to find such a litter box. I previously used one of those popular self-cleaning litter boxes that used a rake to remove waste material from litter. We had limited success with the device for years, as it clogged frequently and was so cheaply made that it frequently broke. It broke no less than 6 times in completely different ways. It was also a very messy and disgusting process to unclog. The device was barely better than manually scooping litter. The device's most effective feature was to whine incessantly when it clogged to remind you to scoop the litter box manually.
Willing to pay $$$ for something that actually worked, we came across a far superior device that used a screen to filter out waste material from litter. This device consisted of a rotating globe resting on top of a base. It simply used gravity to separate the waste material from the litter. This very gentle process eliminated clogging that the other device could not avoid by forcing a rake through heavy, dense litter and clumps stuck to the bottom of the litter pan. We paid about $300 for this device, and we were quite impressed with its superior filtering design and operation — although we preferred the infrared sensor of the previous unit.
Although the clog-free operation of this new litter box was very impressive, there was a serious problem that I did not fully anticipate. We have two cats: one of our cats, Kirby, is very playful and outgoing; the other cat, Tasha, is quite a bit less outgoing. Kirby was willing to try out the new device, but Tasha wanted absolutely nothing to do with it, even though she had no problem with the previous raking litter box. We even tried extreme measures recommended on a website to confine the reluctant cat in the room with the litter box "for up to a month" (I kid you not). Desperate, we tried it for a few days. There was nothing else even in the room except a bowl of water, some food, and her bed. She first preferred utilizing the bed as a litter box, and when we took the bed away, she then used the vinyl floor. Tasha made it clear to us over the course of a couple of days that there was nothing we could do to convince her to use the new litter box, and we felt like we were doing more harm than good by teaching her to go on the floor instead of in a litter box.
In an attempt to partially salvage the situation, we tried two litter boxes; one open litter box for Tasha, and the enclosed litter box for Kirby. As you may have guessed, this was an almost pointless exercise. Given the choice between pooping in a cement mixer or an unenclosed litter pan, Kirby also chose the unenclosed alternative. This is why it's important that all cats be willing to use the same automated litter box. The cat's acceptance of the device is arguably more important that how effective the device is at filtering litter. Even an inferior design that is marginally better than manaully scooping will provide more value than a superior device that goes unused.
I simply hate repetitive chores. I'd rather spend the time up front to do something novel than to spend the rest of my life cleaning up poop. After much research, it was made clear to me that many, many cats simply will not use enclosed litter boxes. Manufacturers of enclosed litter boxes tout that cats like the "privacy" they provide, but in reality the enclosed nature of a litter box often causes far more harm than good. If all your cats will use an enclosed litter box, then it's a terrific choice. But the truth seems to be that unenclosed litter boxes are far preferred by cats over enclosed ones, and if a cat won't use the litter box, then it is a completely useless device. This point was driven home to me by our cat Tasha. This story turns out to be extremely typical, and is a problem that has, until now, gone unsolved by the industry. Even our adventurous cat Kirby preferred an unenclosed litter box when given the choice. The challenge was to develop a litter box that utilized the superior sifting method of filtering waste material from litter, but also to create a device where the litter compartment was not enclosed.Another advantage to this design is the simplicity in which the litter waste container is exposed during rotation, but is sealed up after the rotations are complete. This design virtually eliminates any detectable odor from the litter box. The combination of using a sifting mechanism to keep the litter area clean, and the mechanism used to house and expose the large waste receptacle creates a virtually odor-free experience, and can operate without having to be emptied for about two weeks for one cat, or one week for two cats.
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