petsafe scoopfree Ultra self-cleaning litter box review
The litter box in one form or another has been around since cat litter was invented back in 1947. And since then owners have had to scoop, sift and scour and of course deal with the fourth “s” word, smell!
That is until now. Self-cleaning cat litter boxes are taking the cat industry by storm, and one of the more popular ones on the market is the PetSafe ScoopFree Ultra Self-Cleaning Litter Box.
The product is simple and effective and removes much of the human element from the cleaning process, which is a huge benefit to those cat owners who are sick and tired of doing it all themselves.
All you need to do is plug the ScoopFree into an outlet, slide in the special crystal cat litter tray, set the timer and let it do its thing. It automatically senses your cat and will start cleaning 20 minutes after he is finished.
The crystal litter absorbs odors and wetness and dries out the solid waste. The cleaning process involves a rake system that sweeps waste into a covered trap. If you don't like the idea of crystals replacing litter, you may like to check out our reviews of the Litter Robot or our Cat Genie ratings to see the top two auto litter boxes in the industry.
There is an Original and an Ultra version, with the Ultra adding a privacy hood, adjustable timer and a Health Counter that keeps track of how often your cat uses the litter box. This can help alert you to any potential health issues.
Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons…
Pros of Petsafe Scoopfree Automatic Litter Box
Ease of Use
The PetSafe ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box is very easy to use, especially compared to some of the more elaborate products on the market today that have drainage systems and numerous components involved in the cleaning process.
Once the box is plugged in, there’s nothing else to do. If you have the Ultra model, you just choose how long after your cat uses it before it starts to self-clean. On the Original model it’s 20 minutes. Then you just have to dispose of the waste after the self-cleaning process is completed. That’s all there is to it. There’s no extra programming and no additional steps.
unique disposable litter
Unlike some of the other brands that use clay or clumping litter, the ScoopFree uses a special crystal litter that offers 5 times as much odor control, while absorbing urine and drying out solid waste.
It is also 99% dust free and is low-tracking, so it won’t stick to your cat’s feet. For those of you who have found pieces of litter all over the house, this is certainly a welcome change.
It also lasts up to 30 days with no maintenance required. After the 30 day period you just put the lid on the disposable litter tray, throw it out and replace it with a new one.
several configuration options
PetSafe realizes that when it comes to litter boxes pet owners and cats have unique needs. To that end they offer several variations of the ScoopFree Litter Box. There’s the original model, as well as an Ultra model with a privacy hood and a Top-Entry Ultra model so cats can enter from above if they prefer.
All models come in your choice of two colors: purple and taupe. There’s premium blue crystal litter, lavender and sensitive white, and you can buy the trays in various pack sizes and save 10% with autoship.
So the company really gives you a lot of options unlike many others that just offer one product without any customization.
not noisy like other brands
One of the drawbacks of many automatic self-cleaning cat litter boxes on the market today, especially the more intricate ones, is that they are very noisy. This is not only a problem for owners, but also for cats that might get scared by the loud noises and not feel comfortable using the litter box.
The gentle raking of the litter by the ScoopFree is relatively quiet, and it doesn’t start cleaning until your cat has left the box. So, by the time the self-cleaning process is activated, your cat is already off doing other things. This eliminates the intimidation factor, which is a big issue for many cat owners.
know exactly when it's time to change the litter tray
Unlike many of the competitors out there where you need to figure out when it’s time to change the litter, the ScoopFree gives you two telltale signs.
First, just keep your eye on the color of the crystals. As they absorb urine they begin to turn a yellow color. If most of the crystals seem to be yellow that means they’ve reached their saturation point and won’t be able to continue absorbing any more moisture. Along with that you may notice a urine smell, which is further indication that it’s time to change the tray.
The second indicator is a full waste trap. You may notice that the purple lid does not close completely, and this is a sign that the waste trap is full. You may also notice odors or pieces of the solid waste jutting out.
So, there’s no more guessing when it comes to when to change the litter box. If you see yellow crystal, a full waste trap and/or any odors emanating from the PetSafe ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box, it’s time to replace the disposable tray.
infrared sensors detect your cat's presence
As we mentioned above, we like the fact that the ScoopFree will not start cleaning until your cat is no longer in the litter box. It is able to do this because of its built in infrared sensors.
So even if your cat goes back in after leaving, he will trigger the infrared sensors and the cleaning process will not start again for 5, 15 or 20 minutes, depending on what you have it set to.
you never have to scoop waste
Even with the more complex self-cleaning litter boxes that have a lot of functionality, you still need to scoop or dispose of waste, often on a daily basis. With the PetSafe ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box you can leave it alone for 20-30 days, and all of the waste is deposited in the covered trap. The trap is part of the disposable tray, so you never really come in contact with the waste. Just cover the tray with the lid and throw it out.
great auto-ship option
PetSafe is one of the few companies that offers auto-ship for their litter trays so you don’t have to keep ordering month after month. They also give you a 10% discount for that service and free shipping, so there’s really no reason not to take advantage of that.
So, as you can see there are a ton of pros when it comes to the PetSafe ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box. Now let’s take a look at some of the cons…
Cons of the scoopfree cat box
it's not cheap
Although it has a lot of great features, it is a bit pricey compared to some of the other self-cleaning litter boxes out there.
The Original model is about $145. The Ultra and Top-Entry Ultra are about $175. The replacement litter boxes cost about $17, so you’re better off getting the 3-pack or 6-packs which are not only cheaper per box, but also come with the auto-ship option for the additional 10% savings.
There are definitely less expensive litter boxes on the market, but they may not offer the functionality that you are looking for.
crystals may not be ideal
Although the special crystal litter offers a lot of benefits, it is not as comfortable as other varieties such as clay, so your cat might not enjoy the experience as much.
The crystals can be harder on your cat’s paws and for cats with sensitive paws this can be an issue. They are also more problematic if your cat ingests a large number of them.
litter tray is not very deep
One of the other drawbacks of crystal litter is the fact that urine can pool up if there isn’t a deep enough layer of the crystals. The disposable tray on the PetSafe ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box is quite shallow, so this could be an issue for you, especially if you don’t change the trays often enough.
For cats that use it more frequently or for multiple cats, you may have to change the tray every couple of weeks rather than monthly just to ensure that the boxes are clean and odors aren’t accumulating.
So, as you can see there are some drawbacks to the PetSafe ScoopFree Self-cleaning Litter Box. But this is the case with all of the products on the market. They all have their pros and cons, and it’s just a matter of deciding if the benefits outweigh the potential drawbacks.
care and maintenance
As with all self-cleaning litter boxes, taking proper care of the ScoopFree will ensure that it will not only function properly but also last longer. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of the product.
Try to place the litter box in areas without a high humidity level. If there is moisture in the air it shortens the life of the special crystals. So, avoid basements, bathrooms and showers if possible, just to maximize usage.
Only use the special disposable crystal litter trays with the ScoopFree…don’t use any other products. Any other type of litter or box will not work with and just cause problems for you.
It’s a good idea to stir the crystals about once per week, just so the saturated crystals are more evenly distributed. This is especially helpful for infirmed cats, those that urinate more often and those that tend to urinate in the same exact spot each time.
Try not to overuse a tray as that could cause leakage. As we mentioned above if you see many yellow colored crystals it’s time to change the tray. Your cat will also appreciate a clean, dry litter box, so try to figure out the ideal disposal schedule.
The company recommends that you only use the ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box for cats over 6 months old. A kitten’s waste can be very runny so you will be going through a lot of disposable litter trays.
Also, it is recommended for healthy cats only. If your cat is not well it’s a good idea to take him to the vet first before using the ScoopFree.
Although the ScoopFree tends to be much cleaner than other self-cleaning litter boxes on the market, you should clean it every now and then just to keep it in tip-top shape.
Start by unplugging it and separating the unit from the disposable litter tray. Wipe all of the surfaces with a sponge or cloth using just mild soap and water…nothing harsh and definitely don’t use bleach.
You can use a sponge or cloth on the rake as well, or perhaps a soft brush. Also clean off the detection sensors to ensure that they are able to detect your cat’s presence properly.
Once everything is clean you should dry everything off, put the box back together and plug it in.
The ScoopFree is ideal for one or two cats, but if you have three or more it’s a good idea to purchase additional units to accommodate them.
It’s a good idea to place the new litter box in the same location as the existing one to help your cat get acclimated to it. It may take a little time for him to start using the new one if the old one is there, but to move the process along don’t clean the older one.
Cats don’t like dirty litter boxes, so this should encourage him to try the new one. Once he gets used to the new one and is using it more regularly you can remove the old one.
During this transition it’s a good idea to keep the PetSafe ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box unplugged as the raking may scare your cat initially. But once he’s using it regularly you can plug it in and let it self-clean. Your cat will appreciate the clean litter box.
Petsafe Scoopfree Ultra self cleaning litter box review conclusion
We have reviewed most of the self-cleaning litter boxes on the market today and the PetSafe ScoopFree is definitely one of the better ones.
As far as functionality it bridges the gap between the manual self-cleaning models and the more elaborate varieties. It’s very easy to operate and can be left for 20-30 days without having to touch it, unless of course it sees very heavy use or multiple cats are using it.
It’s also dust-free and clean, and you don’t have to come into contact with any waste. You simply cover the disposable tray and throw it out. So, that’s a big plus.
The only real negatives are the price tag and the fact that crystals might not be the best choice for cats with sensitive paws. But if you’re OK with the cost and sensitivity is not an issue, then this may just be the perfect litter box for you.
Take a look at the different options as far as the litter box and the crystal litter and decide which one suits your needs. Owner reviews of the PetSafe ScoopFree Ultra have been overwhelmingly positive so we’re sure you will have a very good experience as well.
Jackie Johnston is the founder of Cat Word – a community of cat enthusiasts with a mission to spread as much knowledge as they can throughout the world on every aspect of raising and nurturing cats! In her spare time, Jackie loves reading and spending time with her two sons Logan and Christopher, and of course with their furry felines Simba and Max.