Cats litter

Unbiased PetSafe ScoopFree Litter Box Review

Jan 27, 2021

Unbiased PetSafe ScoopFree Litter Box Review

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Overview Of The PetSafe ScoopFree Litter Box

PetSafe ScoopFree Litter Box
Brand
Overall Score
Pros
  • Automatic 20-minute delay timer, efficiently removes waste
  • Quiet operation compared to other models
  • Disposal of used litter is very easy – simply replace the tray
  • Does a great job of containing litter to resist tracking
  • Low maintenance, very reliable function
Cons
  • Silica gel litter reaches saturation point sooner than advertised
  • May need to replace litter trays sooner than 30 days
  • Some cats may not like silica gel litter
  • Replacement litter trays are fairly expensive
Pros
  • Automatic 20-minute delay timer, efficiently removes waste
  • Quiet operation compared to other models
  • Disposal of used litter is very easy – simply replace the tray
  • Does a great job of containing litter to resist tracking
  • Low maintenance, very reliable function
Cons
  • Silica gel litter reaches saturation point sooner than advertised
  • May need to replace litter trays sooner than 30 days
  • Some cats may not like silica gel litter
  • Replacement litter trays are fairly expensive
Easy to Use
Odor Control
Convenience
Noise
Price

Cats are the ideal companion. Sure, they can be a little standoffish at times and some have a tendency to be a little… ornery. All that aside, however, they are highly adaptable and make all-around great pets.

As much as we love cats, there’s one thing no cat owner likes – scooping the litter box.

Sure, it’s convenient to have a pet that does his business without having to be taken outside. The tradeoff, of course, is that you have a pet who does his duty in the house and it’s your job to clean up after him. It’s not fun but it’s a necessary evil any cat owner has to endure.

Unless you invest in an automatic litter box.

If you’ve never tried an automatic litter box before, you’re missing out – seriously. They take all the hassle out of cleaning the litter box by literally doing it for you.

Automatic litter boxes come in all shapes and sizes, so if you’re going to give it a try we recommend shopping around to see all the options. To help you out, we’ve tested and reviewed one of the most popular models out there – the PetSafe ScoopFree litter box.

We tested the PetSafe ScoopFree litter box for several weeks to bring you this honest review.

The PetSafe ScoopFree Litter Box Explained

Background on the PetSafe ScoopFree Litter Box

The story of PetSafe, the creators behind the ScoopFree automatic litter box, started in 1991 and, over the past three decades, this company has grown to become the largest manufacturer of electronic pet training products in the United States.

PetSafe is owned by parent company Radio Systems Corporation, the name behind some of the most recognizable pet brands in the world. Here are a few you may recognize:

This company is run by pet lovers for pet lovers. Their products are thoughtfully developed with input from industry professionals and consultants including the world’s top trainers, veterinarians, and behaviorists to ensure optimal function and efficacy.

PetSafe operates under core values based on the acronym T.H.E.W.I.L.L. Here’s what it means:

  • Try a lot of stuff and keep what works.
  • Honesty – Integrity is more important than short-term profit.
  • Environment – PetSafe creates an environment of openness, equality, and teamwork.
  • Win-Win-Win Solutions to every problem or opportunity.
  • Improvement – Continued improvement in the company and products.
  • Listen – Listening to customers, associates, and vendors to keep improving.
  • Last – Products built to last.

Not only does PetSafe continually work to honor their commitment to honesty and an attitude of constant improvement, but they are committed to their customers as well. Customer Care is available six days a week via phone or email to answer questions and address issues.

The PetSafe ScoopFree automatic litter box features a rake that activates 20 minutes after your cat uses the litter box, sweeping solid waste into the waste compartment.

View Premium Crystal Litter On Chewy

What Is The PetSafe ScoopFree Litter Box?

When it comes to litter boxes, PetSafe offers a variety of options.

The Deluxe Crystal Litter Box System is designed for use with PetSafe’s proprietary Premium Crystal Litter. It includes a pee pad as an added layer of protection, catching any urine the crystal cat litter doesn’t absorb immediately on contact.

If you’re interested in automatic litter boxes, your options are the Simple Clean or the ScoopFree.

The Simply Clean Self-Cleaning Automatic Litter Box features a continuous, slow-moving conveyor system that sifts the litter to remove waste. So as not to disturb your cat, it moves slow enough that it only makes one full rotation every hour. This litter box can be used with any clumping cat litter.

The PetSafe ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box comes in several iterations.

First came the ScoopFree Original Self-Cleaning Litter Box. This litter box features an automatic rake system that activates 20 minutes after your cat uses the litter box. The automatic rake system sweeps waste into a covered compartment while the special crystal litter absorbs urine.

For cats who appreciate a little privacy to do their business, the ScoopFree litter box also comes in an Ultra design which includes a privacy hood.

Over the past few years, PetSafe has been redesigning their classic model and has released three new versions:

  • ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box, Second Generation
  • ScoopFree Top-Entry Ultra Self-Cleaning Litter Box
  • ScoopFree Smart Self-Cleaning Litter Box

The ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box, Second Generation is simply the most updated version of the original. It is sold with and without a privacy hood.

The ScoopFree Top-Entry Ultra Self-Cleaning Litter Box is simply an add-on top placed over the ScoopFree Ultra litter box. The special top-entry lid helps reduce litter scatter – when your cat jumps out the top of the litter box, any litter clinging to his toes will fall back into the litter tray.

The ScoopFree Smart Self-Cleaning Litter Box offers the same features as the second-generation ScoopFree automatic litter box, but it connects to the My PetSafe app. The app enables you to monitor your cat’s litter box habits and keep track of how full the waste compartment is.

How Does It Work?

To write this review, we purchased and tested the PetSafe ScoopFree Original Automatic Litter Box.

At first glance, it doesn’t look too terribly different from a traditional litter box. The plastic body features a rectangular shape with raised sides and a curved plastic lid at the front over the waste compartment.

To use the PetSafe ScoopFree Original Automatic Litter Box, you must purchase PetSafe branded litter and litter trays. These litter trays are made from cardboard and slide directly into the ScoopFree litter box. The open end is filled with PetSafe Premium Crystal Litter and the other end houses a covered waste compartment. These trays are disposable for easy cleanup.

Once you’ve assembled the PetSafe ScoopFree Original Automatic Litter Box, you simply plug it in and let it do its job. Your cat uses the litter box as usual and the ScoopFree takes care of the rest.

What makes this litter box work is the automatic weight sensor that detects when your cat enters the litter box. About 20 minutes after our cat leaves, the litter box activates and the rake moves across the litter bed, distributing urine and raking solid waste into the waste compartment.

The important thing to remember is that PetSafe Premium Crystal Litter is different from traditional clay litter. We’ll get into the details in a later section, but it doesn’t clump like clay litter – it works by dehydrating both solid and liquid waste.

In testing the PetSafe ScoopFree Original Automatic Litter Box, we found it to work very smoothly and it was surprisingly quiet as well.

The PetSafe ScoopFree litter box is incredibly simple to assemble. Simply remove it from the box, pour the litter into the litter tray, and position the housing over the tray.

How Much Does It Cost?

As you might expect, automatic litter boxes are a significant investment. If you think about it, however, it’s an investment that saves you a great deal of hassle and time. When used properly, an automatic litter box like the ScoopFree could save you money on wasted litter as well.

The PetSafe ScoopFree Original Automatic Litter Box is priced at $139.95 both on PetSafe’s website and Chewy (at the time of review). The Ultra model costs $30 more and prices vary for other models.

To give you a quick overview of the options, here’s how the various ScoopFree litter boxes are listed on the PetSafe website:

  • ScoopFree Original Automatic Litter Box ($139.95)
  • ScoopFree Ultra Self-Cleaning Litter Box ($169.95)
  • ScoopFree Top-Entry Ultra Self-Cleaning Litter Box ($174.99)
  • ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box, Second Generation ($139.95)
  • ScoopFree Smart Self-Cleaning Litter Box (199.95)

In addition to purchasing the ScoopFree litter box, you’ll also need to buy litter and litter trays.

When the ScoopFree Original was first released, PetSafe only offered disposable cardboard tray refills. Sold in 1-packs, 3-packs, and 6-packs, these trays were pre-filled with unscented (blue) or lavender scented (purple) crystal litter. You can also purchase bags of the crystal litter in 2-packs, though we assume these are intended for use with the Deluxe Crystal Litter Box System.

A single litter box tray refill costs $16.95, a 3-pack costs $49.99, and a 6-pack costs $93.95. If you purchase through the PetSafe website, you can receive 10% off with a recurring subscription.

In browsing PetSafe products on Chewy, we discovered that a third option in PetSafe Premium Crystal Litter is now available – a sensitive unscented formula. We also found that PetSafe has released a reusable litter tray. Priced at $49.99, it’s a considerable investment but could save you money over time.

How To Get Started?

To try the PetSafe ScoopFree Original Automatic Litter Box for yourself, you simply need to purchase the unit on PetSafe’s website or Chewy. The unit comes in a cardboard box only slightly larger than the litter box itself – we appreciated the conscientious use of packing materials.

Once we received our order, we opened the box and assembled the unit.

The PetSafe ScoopFree Original Automatic Litter Box is incredibly easy to set up. There’s virtually no assembly required – just take the litter box out and place the litter tray in it. Other than that, you simply need to plug in the AC adapter and you’re good to go.

Once you’ve assembled the unit, you simply let it get to work.

As previously mentioned, the PetSafe ScoopFree Original Automatic Litter Box features a sensor that detects when your cat enters the box. Twenty minutes later, the rake activates, sweeping across the litter tray to rake the waste into the compartment.

During that 20-minute delay, the crystal litter works to absorb moisture and odor. In addition to absorbing urine, the crystals start dehydrating the solid waste so the rake can move it more easily into the waste compartment where it stays until you discard the disposable tray.

The PetSafe ScoopFree litter box uses crystal cat litter only – PetSafe sells their own Premium Crystal Litter for use with this litter box.

What Kind Of Litter Works Best?

The PetSafe ScoopFree Original Automatic Litter Box is unique from other automatic litter boxes we’ve tried because it doesn’t use standard clumping clay litter. It uses PetSafe Premium Crystal Cat Litter.

So, what do you need to know about crystal cat litter?

Crystal cat litter is typically made from silica gel. Silica gel is what you find in those little packets that are stuffed into everything from shoes to food products. Simply put, it’s used to keep things dry.

PetSafe Premium Crystal Litter is low tracking and 99% dust-free. It absorbs urine on contact and dries solid waste, removing odors up to 5 times faster than clumping clay cat litter. A single bag is purported to last 30 days for a single-cat household.

This crystal litter comes in three formulas: Original, Lavender, and Sensitive.

Testing The PetSafe ScoopFree Litter Box

Having tested some pretty high-tech pet gadgets, I found the PetSafe ScoopFree Original Automatic Litter Box refreshingly simple. Compared to models like the Litter Robot, this automatic litter box was much more affordable, took up less space, and seemed to perform a similar task.

Perhaps the best part about the PetSafe ScoopFree Original Automatic Litter Box is how easy it was to set up. Because I ordered it from Chewy, it came in a very large cardboard box. The litter box itself was packaged efficiently in a box of its own – I simply had to slide the unit out of the box and place it where I wanted it. From there, it was as simple as adding the disposable litter tray and plugging it in.

By now my cats have used all kinds of different litter boxes and have tested just about every type of litter under the sun. I wasn’t surprised that it took a few days before they started using it consistently, but they didn’t seem to have any qualms about either the box or the crystal litter.

One thing I’ve noticed about my cats is that they tend to use different litter boxes for solid and liquid waste. They seem to prefer crystal litter for urine versus feces, so unfortunately, I had limited opportunities to test the waste collection feature of this litter box.

I found that the rake activated consistently, and the crystal litter did a good job of absorbing urine. That being said, I also found that the disposable tray didn’t last anywhere near the promised 30 days. I have three cats, so it’s understandable, but I did start to notice some urine odor after the litter became saturated about 7 to 10 days in. Given the near-$17 price tag on a single tray refill, I can see how using this litter box would get expensive fast.

PetSafe does now offer a reusable litter tray, but it is priced at $49.99. I experimented with ways to get a second use out of the disposable trays (including lining them with pee pads before pouring in the litter) but still ended up replacing them well before the advertised 30 days.

While testing the PetSafe ScoopFree Original Automatic Litter Box over the course of several weeks, we made a few other observations. Read on to see how this litter box performed in key areas.

Our test cats were a little skeptical of the box at first but quickly got used to it. They preferred to use it for liquid versus solid waste.

How Well Does It Handle Common Issues?

Every cat litter box is unique and that is especially true for automatic and self-cleaning litter boxes. This makes it difficult to make a direct comparison between different litter boxes, so we’ve done our best to describe the PetSafe ScoopFree Original Automatic Litter Box in terms of its performance in 4 areas: litter box odor, tracking and litter scatter, scooping and cleaning, and saving money/minimizing waste.

1. Litter Box Odor

As the owner of three cats, litter box odor is always a concern. Where this ScoopFree litter box shines is in the liquid- and odor-absorbing qualities of the crystal litter. This litter absorbs liquid on contact, helping neutralize ammonia odor, and dehydrates solid waste. Once the waste is scooped into the waste compartment, there’s little lingering odor to speak of.

If odor continues to be an issue, purchasing the optional privacy hood might help.

The only downside worth mentioning in terms of litter box odor is that the 20-minute delay may leave conditions a little unpleasant in certain situations. One of my cats has a sensitive digestive system and has been known to make some pretty smelly messes. I can imagine having a hard time surviving a 20-minute delay in the midst of such a smelly situation.

2. Tracking and Litter Scatter

I wasn’t surprised to find that tracking was less of an issue with the PetSafe ScoopFree Original Automatic Litter Box than with other litter boxes I’ve tested. The crystal litter comes in fairly large granules, so they don’t tend to get stuck in cat paws as easily as clay. The downside is that some cats with sensitive paws might not like the texture of the crystal litter.

If you find your cat still scatters the crystal litter, PetSafe not offers a Top-Entry version of the litter box. This model features an enclosed lid with a grated surface. Your cat has to hop up to exit the litter box and any litter trapped in its paws will either fall off or be caught in the grated lid.

3. Scooping and Cleaning

This is the area in which the PetSafe ScoopFree Original Automatic Litter Box shines. By utilizing crystal litter rather than clay, this litter box helps minimize the amount of dirty litter you have to deal with. Urine is absorbed on contact and during that 20-minute delay before the rake activates, the crystal litter starts dehydrating solid waste for more efficient removal.

As previously mentioned, my test cats preferred the litter box for liquid versus solid waste, so I had a limited ability to test the rake function. In terms of cleaning the litter box, however, it was very easy to remove and replace the disposable tray.

The only issue I started to have was with a cat who tends to spray urine. She sometimes sprayed over the back of the box and sometimes the liquid would seep down between the plastic housing and the disposable tray. Purchasing the privacy hood might help contain spay but I imagine you’d still end up having to wipe down the housing and the hood once a month or so.

I’ll also note that the rake didn’t always do a good job collecting smaller particles of waste. There was also an issue when one of my cats had some diarrhea and the waste was too soft to be raked up efficiently – it made a bit of a mess on the rake.

4. Saving Money and Minimizing Waste

When it comes to automatic litter boxes, most cat owners understand that there’s going to be a significant upfront cost. Compared to high-tech options like the Litter Robot (priced near $500), however, the PetSafe ScoopFree Original Automatic Litter Box itself is fairly affordable at $139.95.

The biggest issue with the ScoopFree litter box cost-wise is the cost of the litter.

A single disposable tray costs $16.95 or you can purchase a 2-pack of crystal litter bags for the same price. You can’t use the litter box without a PetSafe branded disposable or reusable tray. You may be able to use other crystal cat litters, but you’d have to buy the reusable litter tray for $50 to do it.

Overall, the PetSafe Scoop free is a decent automatic litter box priced under $150 for the original model.

Overall, Is the PetSafe ScoopFree Worth It?

The PetSafe ScoopFree Original Automatic Litter Box is a great product in concept, but I found a few issues where it didn’t perform quite as well as promised.

First and foremost, this litter box is indeed automatic – it rakes the litter twenty minutes after your cat uses the litter box and collects waste in a covered compartment. We found the raking mechanism worked fairly smoothly, though it sometimes left behind smaller particles of solid waste.

In terms of odor control, this litter box performed very well for the first week or so. After that point (especially in a 3-cat household), the crystal litter became saturated with urine and started to smell. It’s hard to say whether the disposable trays would last the promised 30 days in a single-cat household, but I suspect you’d end up replacing it around 3 weeks rather than 4.

I had no issues with the PetSafe Premium Crystal Litter. The larger granules did help reduce tracking, though the texture might be a little rough for cats with sensitive paws. I didn’t test the litter box with other brands of crystal litter, but it could work if you have the reusable litter tray.

Overall, I liked the PetSafe ScoopFree Original Automatic Litter Box but I wouldn’t say it 100% delivers on PetSafe’s promise that you can set it and forget it for a month at a time. Odor started to develop sooner than expected and I can see how the waste compartment might fill up quickly in a multi-cat household. Again, the biggest downside is the cost of the disposable trays.

View PetSafe ScoopFree Litter Box On Chewy

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Kate Barrington is avid pet lover and adoring owner of three cats and one dog, her love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. She has been writing about pet care and pet products since 2010
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