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Is the Litter-Robot 4 worth it? Helpful thoughts from a longtime Litter-Robot household

We’ve been a Litter-Robot household for nearly five years. We purchased two Litter-Robot 3 models back in 2019. And then in 2022, we were asked to be beta testers for the Litter-Robot 4 and received a free one for testing and feedback. And today, I’d like to share our overall experience with the Litter-Robot 4 and the Litter-Robot 3.

Buckle up, because we’re going in-depth! Check out the table of contents below to see what I’ll cover in this Litter-Robot review. It’s a lot, so skip to any section that catches your eye.

And if you think you’re ready to buy, use our affiliate link for $50 off the Litter-Robot 4 for you at the end of the review.

Woodrow and Sophie investigate the Litter-Robot 4. Dexter peers into the litter closet, where we keep the unit.

Disclosure: Some links below are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase. As an affiliate for Litter-Robot, I am able to offer you $50 off the purchase of a new unit.

A little background on our cat household

When I purchased the Litter-Robot 3 in January 2019, I had five cats at the time (sadly, one has since passed). I bought two units, one for upstairs and one for downstairs.

I joked that 3.5 out of 5 cats used the Litter-Robot 3. Our senior cat Harley was the holdout, so I had to keep a regular litter box in the house for him. But because of that, Dexter (our second oldest cat), mostly used the regular litter box, too. I have seen him use the Litter-Robot occasionally, which is why he is noted as the half-cat.

Senior cat Harley oversaw the setup.

After using the Litter-Robot 3 for a few months, I wrote a review about our experience. I said that I was happy with Litter-Robot 3 and I’d keep the units even though only 3.5 cats used them. I liked that it still reduced the overall need for scooping, which was my original goal.

Traditional litter box vs. automatic litter box

Chances are if you’re reading this review, then you’re looking to ditch your traditional litter box, like I was. Too much bending and scooping, right?

But in case you’re not familiar with what one is, an automatic litter box (aka a self-cleaning litter box) scoops your cat’s waste automatically and dumps it into the waste compartment of the unit – either by sifting or rotating, etc. An advanced automatic litter box will also tell you when the waste drawer is full, so you know when to empty it.

Compared to a traditional litter box, the automatic one will always have a clean bed of litter for your cat, which is ideal in a multi-cat household or if you have a single cat and are away for extended periods.

There are countless traditional litter boxes on the market of all shapes and sizes – certainly plenty to pick from. But automatic litter boxes are growing in popularity, and there are way more on the market today than just a few years ago.

Pros and cons of buying an automatic litter box

Before we get to the Litter-Robot 4 specifically, let’s start with the general pros and cons of an automatic litter box.

Pros

  • Clean litter is always available: After each use, the automatic litter box will remove your cat’s waste. So next time they use it, or if you have a multi-cat household like us, there will always be clean litter.
  • Odor control: The clumps are dumped into a separate compartment, so your cat’s waste isn’t sitting out in the open waiting to be scooped.
  • No more scooping for you: As the cat parent, you won’t have to bend over and scoop constantly. Nor will you need to worry about scooping while you’re out of the house.
  • Smartphone notifications: Depending on the brand you buy, some automatic litter boxes have apps for your phone. You can be notified when your cat uses the litter or when the waste compartment needs emptying. Some automatic litter boxes even weigh your cat! (Yes, Litter-Robot’s Whisker App does this and more.)

Cons

  • They can be pricey: The most obvious con is that automatic litter boxes can be expensive. At its core, it’s a high-tech machine. So naturally, they can be costly.
  • Needs to be near an outlet: Unlike traditional litter boxes that can be placed anywhere, automatic ones need electricity, which means they have to be near an outlet. And if your power goes out frequently, the unit won’t function as intended – instead, you’ll be left with an expensive traditional litter box. (Although some, like Litter-Robot, have a battery backup option.)
  • May scare timid cats: If you have a skittish cat, the unit’s movement may scare them away. Most companies recommend an introduction period (which I’ll discuss later) to get your cat comfortable using their new bathroom.
  • Mechanical issues: With a traditional scoop and dump litter box, the worst thing that can happen is the scoop may break (it’s happened to me, anyone else?). But with a high-tech automatic litter box, there’s the potential that something mechanical or electrical could break. Hopefully, that won’t happen. But if it does, you’ll want to consider the unit’s warranty and what their customer service is like.

Litter-Robot 4: Setting it up and how it works

Now that we know the general pros and cons of automatic litter boxes, let’s look at the Litter-Robot 4. Here’s a super scientific look at how to set up the unit and how it works.

Setting up Litter-Robot 4:

  • Open the box.
  • Remove the entire unit from the box.
  • Place it where you want it to be, ideally where your current litter box is located.
  • Add litter to the unit’s max fill line (but don’t overfill it).
  • Plug it in and press the power button.
  • Download the Whisker app if you choose to.

As you can see, the setup is super easy. It comes fully assembled!

Great, now it’s set up. But how does it work?

  • Your cat needs to use the facilities.
  • They enter the unit, do their business, and leave.
  • The unit waits 7 minutes before cycling (preset time, but it can be changed up or down).
  • The globe rotates to sift the waste clumps away from the clean litter.
Clump passing over sifter screen.
  • The clumps fall into the waste drawer at the bottom of the unit.
The dump port at the bottom when the globe turns.
  • The globe returns to its original position with a clean bed of litter.
Clean litter returning to the unit.
  • Everyone is happy.

Here’s a short video of the Litter-Robot 4 in action.

Features of Litter-Robot 4

Let’s take a look at the specific features that, in my opinion, make the Litter-Robot 4 stand out, even far above the Litter-Robot 3. First, let’s start off with the basics.

Basic Features of Litter-Robot 4

Globe and bonnet: The globe is the portion that rotates to separate the waste clumps away from the clean litter (via the sifter screen), and it is housed within the bonnet. Since the globe is housed completely inside the bonnet (a change from Litter-Robot 3), there are no moving parts on the outside of the unit, making it safer. Note that the globe is removable from the bonnet and lifts out for cleaning.

Here’s what it looks like with the bonnet open and then also removed.

Waste Drawer: The globe has an opening (that Whisker calls the dump port), and while cycling, the clumps fall through the opening into the waste drawer. The unit comes with a few waste drawer liners. I personally use a regular 13-gallon trash bag, which works just fine.

Control Panel: The control panel buttons sit at the top of the unit, making them easy to reach. They’re clearly labeled as well. The buttons are Power, Cycle, Reset, Empty, and Connect. Next to the buttons is a light bar that changes color or flashes depending on what the unit is doing at the moment or if there’s an issue (more on that later).

The control panel buttons are fairly self-explanatory. But just in case, here’s what they do:

  • Power: Turns the unit on and off.
  • Cycle: Starts a cleaning cycle.
  • Reset: Anytime you do anything (add new litter, empty waste drawer, move the unit, clean the unit), this button will reset the unit’s weight sensors. This button will also pause a cycle, and if pressed again, will cancel the cycle.
  • Empty: Empties the clean litter into the waste drawer for disposal (the unit will turn in the opposite direction of the sifter screen).
  • Connect: Used for connecting to WiFi, which you will need to connect to the Whisker app.

Night Light: We keep our units inside two different closets. So, the night light feature is nice to have. Even though cats are better than us mere humans at seeing in low-light conditions, it’s still helpful for them to see where they’re going. The night light is especially helpful for senior cats or ones with vision problems.

Sleep Mode: Like I said, we have our Litter-Robots inside two closets. But if you have a small apartment or your unit is in a bedroom, you can turn on sleep mode so the machine will not cycle for a certain period of time.

I’ll be honest. The Litter-Robot 3 is much louder than the Litter-Robot 4. And before we put the Litter-Robot 3 in a closet, I took advantage of the sleep mode option.

Advanced Features of Litter-Robot 4

Now, onto the advanced features that I feel make this model stand out. Some of those new features include safety sensors. Check out what each one does.

Curtain Sensor: At the top of the opening, the unit has a curtain sensor that can detect when a cat goes in and out of the globe. This safety feature ensures that the globe won’t start cycling with them inside. Also, if the globe is mid-cycle while dumping waste, and something passes by the curtain sensor, the unit will stop moving for safety. It will resume after 15 seconds of no more motion.

The curtain sensor is located on the inside at the top of the opening facing down.

Weight Sensor: The Litter-Robot 4 has weight sensors on the base of the unit. This is another safety feature to inform the unit if additional weight is inside during a cycle period. If so, it will stop cycling.

The weight sensor also allows for the Litter-Robot 4 to keep track of your cat’s weight with SmartScale® (via the Whisker app), which can be helpful as a cat parent to know if your cat is losing or gaining weight, unbeknownst to you. If you have more than one cat, there needs to be at least one pound difference between them for SmartScale® to keep track properly.

Distance Sensor: This sensor is located at the top of the unit. When the globe cycles to dump the waste, the distance sensor keeps track of how full the waste level is in the drawer via the dump port opening. The unit will notify you when it’s full and needs emptying.

The distance sensor also keeps track of clean litter levels inside the globe. And if you’re using the Whisker app, you can keep track of those levels. Not using the app? Just look inside once a week to see if you need to add more litter (that’s how grandma used to do it!).

Woodrow checks the litter levels the old-fashioned way.

More Safety Features: The Litter-Robot 4 has anti-pinch safety features and overload and jamming detection. These both have to do with when the globe is rotating. Basically, the unit knows what’s going on and will stop moving if something becomes pinched or jammed during the rotation. It’s all designed to keep your cat safe.

Battery Backup: Remember in the pros and cons section when I mentioned if your power goes out? Well, you can buy an optional battery backup in case the power goes out to ensure your cat can continue being pampered in the way they’ve become accustomed. I don’t have the battery backup, so I can’t speak to it. But it’s available in the accessories section on the website.

Bezel Color Options: Whisker recently launched an exciting new option (end of September 2023)! They now have different colored bezel options, which is the outer circle area of the unit.

Whisker App: While connecting to the app is technically optional, it does enhance the overall experience of using the Litter-Robot 4. You can remotely control the unit from the app. And of course, some may find the notifications handy. And if you’re wanting to keep track of your cat’s weight, that’s done via the app.

Here are some screenshots from my profile in the app – a summary page and a look at the history.

Here’s what the screen looks like to remotely control the unit. And the other one is a pet profile page.

Litter-Robot 3 vs. Litter-Robot 4

I touched on a few changes in various sections above. But here are all of the notable changes and enhancements when upgrading from the Litter-Robot 3 (LR3) to the Litter-Robot 4 (LR4).

Globe Safety: The globe on the new model, which is the portion that rotates, is completely enclosed inside the bonnet, which makes it safer. With LR3, you could touch the moving globe on the outside. Now, to touch the moving globe, you’d have to put your hand inside the opening, and then it stops rotating since the curtain sensor catches the motion.

With Litter-Robot 3, the only way to stop the rotating globe was if a cat stepped inside, and the unit sensed the extra weight. While that still works, the curtain sensor is a definite upgrade for safety.

Control Panel Buttons: The placement of the buttons is much better on the Litter-Robot 4. On the older model, they were lower and you had to bend down to reach them. With LR4, the buttons are on top of the unit and easier to access. Unless you’re super tall, you likely won’t have to bend down to access them.

These photos show the difference in control panel placement. LR3 on the left, LR4 on the right.

Litter-Robot 3 control panel shown on the left unit.
Litter-Robot 4 control panel shown on the right unit (you can just barely see them at the top).

Light Bar: There was no light bar on the older model. Instead, the individual buttons would light up or flash. With the Litter-Robot 4, the light bar has various colors that will either light up as solid or flash depending on what the unit is trying to tell you (more on that later). You’d reference the light bar if you’re not connected to the Whisker app. And of course, it’s still helpful even if you use the app.

Waste Placement: One of the complaints (and I noticed it, too) about the Litter-Robot 3 is that the waste tended to build up on the left side of the drawer. I’d have to open it every so often and shake it so the clumps would distribute evenly into the drawer. Not ideal, right? The Litter-Robot 4 clump dumping is fairly centered (yes, I said clump dumping) – no need for that checking and shaking.

Sophie is trying to figure out where her poo went.

Waste Drawer Capacity: Regarding the size of the waste drawer, the Litter-Robot 4 drawer may look smaller, but it holds more waste. That means less emptying!

Litter-Robot 3 drawer on the left, 4 on the right.

Globe Entrance: This one isn’t a game-changer, but it’s worth noting that the opening to the Litter-Robot 4 is a little bigger. The LR3 opening was 10.25 x 15.25 inches, while the new model opening is 15.75 x 15.75 inches. If your cat isn’t into covered litter boxes, this size difference may help with that.

Volume/Loudness: Hands down one of the biggest improvements from the Litter-Robot 3 to the Litter-Robot 4 is how much quieter the newer model is. LR3 wasn’t flat out loud, but you could definitely hear it from another room. Litter-Robot 4 is much quieter than the previous model.

Watch our comparison video to hear for yourself.

What’s with all the flashing lights?

Some of the most common questions about the Litter-Robot 4 are about the various control panel indicators and flashing lights. I personally have only experienced the standard ones (like cleaning cycle, drawer full, etc.).

But here’s a quick rundown of other indicators you may encounter on the Control Panel’s Light Bar (this is not the entire list of possibilities).

  • Solid Blue Light Bar: Ready to go!
  • Flashing Blue Light Bar: Empty me! The waste drawer is full.
  • Solid Yellow Light Bar: The unit is paused while cycling.
  • Flashing Yellow Light Bar: The bonnet is removed (the outer shell piece that goes around the globe). Put it back in place, and the unit will keep cycling after a few seconds.
  • Yellow “Round Robin” Light Bar: The unit is either in a cleaning or emptying cycle.
  • Yellow “Ping Pong” Light Bar Flashing: Whoops, the anti-pinch safety feature has been activated.
  • Solid Red Light Bar: The sensors detected a cat! Wait Time Countdown has begun.
  • Flashing Red Light Bar: The sensors detected a cat…for over 30 minutes! (Did they fall asleep on the toilet?)
  • Solid Purple Light Bar: Shhh, it’s sleeping (aka in sleep mode).
  • Momentary Flash White Light Bar: The Control Panel is in Lockout Mode.
  • Red Light Bar with Partial Flashing Yellow: There’s an obstruction or something is jammed.
  • Red Light Bar with Partial Flashing White: Where’d the globe go? The unit cannot detect the globe’s position. The unit will still continue to function in automatic mode, but you’d better contact customer service!

Comparing the Litter-Robot 4 to other automatic litter boxes

While I have never consistently used other self-cleaning litter boxes, I have tried three other brands. Without naming them directly (I’m not a hater), I will say that Litter-Robot 4 (and 3) outperform any other brand I’ve tried.

Two of the brands I tried were “rake technology” – meaning a plastic or metal rake was dragged through the bed of litter and pushed the clumps into a section at the rear of the unit. You can imagine that raking through waste might get messy. Those were a hard pass from me.

Also, neither one of these units had a big waste collection area. Perhaps that would be okay with one cat, but certainly not in my multi-cat household. On the plus side, both of these units were smaller than the Litter-Robot. If you are tight on space, that might work better for you.

The third and latest brand I tried had a similar rotating technology like Litter-Robot. However, it was poorly constructed, squeaky, and waste got inside the unit between the rotating portion and the back of the unit. I didn’t discover that right away. Needless to say, it was gross to clean up. And, I will tell you that this product is no longer on the market. The company decided to pull it and work on its design. Smart move. Take that as you will, but I just wanted to share some thoughts on other automatic litter boxes.

Woodrow is unsure of another automatic litter box.

Frequently Asked Questions about Litter-Robot 4

Having used the Litter-Robots for nearly five years now, I feel that I can confidently answer some questions that come up about the units. If you have any I haven’t addressed, feel free to leave a comment below, and I’ll do my best to answer!

How do I introduce my cat to the Litter-Robot 4?

The company recommends to 1) place the unit where the old litter box was, and 2) don’t plug it in for a while so they get used to using it without the automatic motion. Once it seems like your cat is good with the new setup, then you can plug it in.

When we first switched to LR, we placed the unit next to the old box and let the old box stay put for a bit. I also mixed in litter from that old box to the Litter-Robot, as recommended by Whisker. Three of my cats are fearless about investigating new items, and they took to it right away. Yes, when they first saw the motion, they were a little startled, but that didn’t deter them from using it.

Is cleaning the Litter-Robot 4 hard?

Yes and no. I only say yes because the globe (which is completely removable and can be submerged in water) is a little clunky to pick up and move around for washing. But no in the sense that you can get it wet and give it a good scrubbing when needed.

If you’re diligent about cleaning the globe often, a quick wipe-down inside is sufficient for a while. But you will definitely want to give the globe (not the base or bonnet) a good scrubbing with soap and water (just like you would a regular litter box).

I’ve done it two ways. Sometimes, I take the globe out back, hose it down, and scrub it. Other times, I’ve let it soak in the bathtub. Be sure to let the globe completely dry before using it again. I live in sunny Southern California. And if I clean it in the morning and let it sit out in the sun, it’s good to go by mid-afternoon. I also clean the drawer at the same time.

As for the rest of the unit (base and bonnet), you can dust it with a cloth and use the Whisker cleaning spray or wipes (or whatever you have on hand that is pet-safe).

Here’s what Whisker says about their cleaner: It is “all-natural, fragrance-free, and specifically formulated for pet messes. The bio-enzymatic technology utilizes non-pathogenic (“good”) bacteria to digest organic material, stains, and odors caused by urine, feces, vomit, and saliva.”

Whisker cleaner and other accessories.

What litter should I use with the Litter-Robot 4?

In general, Whisker recommends clumping clay litter. I personally use Arm & Hammer Slide. I’ve never tried anything else with it.

Whisker says that silica gel litter beads and crystals can be used if they’re small enough to pass through the sifter screen. But they don’t recommend corn or wheat litters because they might not work well with the screen.

The no-no litters that are not to be used are:

  • Strictly absorbent, non-clumping or loose clumping ones
  • Newspaper-based litters
  • Pine-based litters
  • Absorbent wood pellet litter

Whisker has its own “Premium Cat Litter for Litter-Robot” that you can subscribe to for repeat deliveries. You can purchase Litter-Robot starter bundles that include a bag of their litter if you want to try it before subscribing.

How often do I have to empty the waste drawer?

That really depends on how many cats you have and how often they go to the bathroom. According to Whisker, they say, “For two average-sized cats, twice per week is typical. For a single cat, once per week is usually sufficient.”

Can I use regular trash bags instead of their liners?

Yes! While the unit comes with a few liners (and you can order more), I use regular 13-gallon trash bags, the kind with the drawstring, so it’s easy to tie shut. The liners it comes with do not have a drawstring.

A regular 13-gallon trash bag in the waste drawer.

Is the Litter-Robot 4 worth it?

In my opinion, yes! Being a Litter-Robot household for nearly five years, I have never once had to contact customer service about repair or warranty issues. And when I purchased the Litter-Robot 3 models in 2019, I did pay for an extended warranty for peace of mind. But I never had to use it.

Should I upgrade from Litter-Robot 3?

Eh, if your LR3 is working well, I say you don’t need to rush out and upgrade. While the Litter-Robot 4 offers some impressive upgrades, the core of what it does is still automatically clean your cat’s litter box. And that’s exactly what LR3 does. But if you’re super into tech or want a quieter unit, you may consider upgrading to the Litter-Robot 4.

Where to buy Litter-Robot 4

While Litter-Robot 4 is sold in some retail locations (they just debuted at some PetSmart stores), you can also purchase the Litter-Robot 3 model from Amazon or Costco.

However, your best bet is to purchase directly from the company’s website at litter-robot.com. And if you do, use my affiliate link to get $50 off Litter-Robot 4!

If you’re looking for deals or sales, you will want to check the Litter-Robot website and watch for any deals on bundles.

Whisker has a new Best Friends® Bundle, where a portion of sales are donated to the animal welfare organization. This bundle is near and dear to my heart since two of my cats were foster-turned-resident cats from Best Friends Animal Society.

Whisker also has starter bundles, clean bundles, furniture bundles, double bundles, and more.

litter-robot 4 and accessories and bundle options
There are many bundle options to choose from.

Save $50 off Litter-Robot 4!

Get $50 off Litter-Robot 4 by using our affiliate link! (Good on new models only, USA only.)

***affiliate link***

And again, if you have any questions that I haven’t answered, feel free to ask in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer them!

And if you’ve made it this far, thanks for sticking around! I hope you’ve found my review of the Litter-Robot 4 (and 3) helpful!

Sophie tells Woodrow to get his own Litter-Robot 4!

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5 Comments

  1. Hi there your review really solidified the fact that I am wanting to purchase this new version of the whiskers robotic litter box. I’ve been trying to use your link for the $50 off and can’t seem to get it to work. Do you have any extra info on how to get that? Thanks, cat house 5

    1. Hi Carolyn, if you click the very first link in the blog post, which is in the third paragraph, it should work. You won’t see the discount until you go to checkout, I think. Let me know if it works!

  2. Hi there!
    I’m traveling to the USA and would like to buy one and bring it to my home. LR it’s not in my country. Can I disarm it and carry it in my luggage?