Some gadgets are iconic embodiments of their time. They often fill a need we never knew existed, then quickly become items we can’t live without. Others are smart toilets for felines. Guess which category Catolet falls into.
Newly launched on Kickstarter, Catolet is an automatic smart litter box for cats and small dogs that doesn’t require any filler. Instead, it acts (a bit) like a human lavatory by connecting to the water supply and sewage system for flushable waste disposal. (The Catolet must be hooked up to your plumbing to work, although most people should be able to do it themselves, courtesy of the kit that ships with the device.)
Rather than asking Fluffy or Fido to sit on a toilet seat, the Catolet is based around a smart porous conveyor belt system. Urine passes through the belt, while solid waste products are conveyed into the main basin after built-in motion sensors have determined that your four-legged friend has concluded its business. They’re then run through a shredder, and dispatched into the sewer. Finally, the belt is cleaned and returned to its starting position. There’s even a mobile app that lets you customize the experience for your pet and will message you in the event of a “sudden situation,” whatever that may be.
“There are many automatic trays on the market, but they have a number of problems: some of them require a filler, they are large in size, and usually of high cost,” Tatyana Bayramova, creator of the Catolet, told Digital Trends. “Together with cat breeders, we decided to create a tray without those pitfalls. Our target market are cats and small dogs owners who like technology devices and gadgets. We want to offer them a modern device that will help them in their pet caring routine.”
As much as we’re tickled by the idea of a smart cat toilet, this could turn out to be a great product if you’re the kind of person who totally can’t stand having to deal with a litter box. (Although explaining the miniature toilet next to your regular one could be all kinds of awkward!)
You can currently pre-order one on Kickstarter, where prices start at $159. Shipping is set to take place in April 2018. Cat or small dog not included.
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Reduce Your Cat’s Carbon Paw Print With CatGenie’s Self-Flushing Litter Box
TreeHuggers everywhere are working to lighten the carbon load on the planet. Some of us are doing a little, others a lot. Whether it’s through offsetting your flights, taking public transport or by buying energy efficient light bulbs, there are some simple things we can do that can make a big difference.
But have you ever thought about your pet’s carbon footprint, err paw print?
Take cats. Some 40 percent of all Americans own at least one, and not all of these cats are permitted outdoors for various reasons. Keeping them inside spares them from contagious diseases and accidents, and helps protect songbirds as well. However, the huge quantity of cat litter they produce is a burden on the environment.
Cats need to dig, so they need a litter box. But one ounce of cat urine consumes three ounces of clumping cat litter, which must be hauled to the dump. The standard clumping litter is not biodegradable and is made from sodium bentonite which has been linked to cat deaths (the link points to a TreeHugger forum discussion about this issue). The source of todium bentonite? Strip-mines in Wyoming and Brazil. Can you believe that we are strip mining for cats?
According to CatGenie, inventor of a new self-flushing cat box, millions of tons of used cat litter ends up in American landfill sites. CatGenie’s solutions? Their appliance, which is likened to a toilet for cats, uses washable, litter-like granules that are permanent. Liquid waste drains through them while the machine scoops out solids and liquefies them into a poop puree for easy drainage. The granules are then washed and dried.
A New Appliance?
Normally we do not advocate buying a new appliance to fill one specific need, but we do think the CatGenie, despite using water and chemicals to biodegrade cat feces, may be a better solution to your cat’s litter box. For cats, says the company, “it’s a roomy cat box filled with fresh, clean litter-size granules that are comfy for digging and covering.
“For cat lovers, the CatGenie is a washing, drying cat sanitation appliance. At least once a day, CatGenie automatically washes.”
The CatGenie adds the company has a magical “GenieHand” that scoops, scrubs and scours the granules and box interior and then a blowing function dries the granules. Located just outside of Philadelphia near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania (it was developed in Israel and tested on Israeli cats) the machine can be purchased online.
Now we haven’t done a carbon audit on CatGenie to see how much less carbon intensive their device is on the environment than self-clumping litter but we imagine it is significant.
We were concerned though about toxoplasmosis and the environmental hazards of flushing cat fecal puree down the drain. Here’s what CatGenie’s marketing rep Steven says in reply:
With regard to Toxoplasmosis, it is almost a non-issue for indoor domestic cats. Additionally, even if a cat does get the parasite and sheds the oocysts (eggs) which is what causes the concern they only do this for 2-10 days 1 time in their entire life. Thus an individual cat passes oocysts into the human environment for only a small fraction of its entire life span.
Indoor cats that do not hunt are even less likely to get it, and cats that come from shelters have usually had it already (remember they only get it 1x in their lifetime). Because oocysts are passed unsporulated and noninfectious, contact with fresh feline feces (<1 day old) of an infected cat is not a risk. Since the CatGenie is cleaned at least 1x every day and in the rare situation where a cat that is passing oocysts use it, the feces are flushed out of the home before there is any issues.
Additionally, the CatGenie does kill many other types of bacteria that are much more common and is a clearly better alternative to sending wasteful and bacteria filled litter to the dump. The EPA recommends that the best way to handle pet waste is to flush it. The biggest risk to people and the most common occurrence of toxoplasmosis comes from people eating uncooked meat and digging in the garden.
We continue to improve the CatGenie and are reducing the plastic used in the disposable cartridges and will be reducing waste of those cartridges by 50% in the next few months combined with looking into producing them as biodegradable like our Washable Granules.
See a film about how CatGenie works:
If the infomercial on CatGenie still hasn’t sold you, there are some environmentally-friendly cat litter solutions. Here are a couple:
World’s Best Cat Litter —— A dust-free litter is made from absorbent corn protein and other fibres which is flushable and biodegradable.
Swheat Scoop —— This is a clay-free and chemical-free litter made from wheat. It also biodegrades and is safe for both sewers and septic tanks. Clumping well, Swheat Scoop can also be tossed in the compost heap.
Win a CatGenie
Have an idea for reducing your pet’s carbon paw print? Enter the contest to win a free CatGenie, retail value about $300. Put your ideas in the comments section and we’ll choose the one we like best in one month.
How to Maintain Your Kitten’s Litter Box
Getting a new kitten or cat can be an exciting time. As you and your family get to know your new furry friend, it is important to establish good habits in offering the proper care. Proper care of your cat includes the maintaining of a clean litter box to help keep your cat happy and your house clean.
Spot-Cleaning the Litter Box Every Day
Try different kinds of litter. When you home the kitten, ask the previous owner what sort of cat litter the kitten is used to, and offering that litter to start with. Some kittens can be very fussy about what they pee and poop on, and you don’t want to change too many things for the newbie in the house. Give the kitten a few days to settle in and become confident where the tray is, then you can start to think about changing over litter for whatever reason. Some types of litter are designed to clump or deodorize any smells from your cat’s waste. You or your cat may find a certain type of litter to be best. Review the following types of litter to learn which you and your cat may prefer:
- Litter that is safe for kittens. Find a litter that is made of larger, more coarse ingredients such as pine. Many litters will also say “safe for kittens” on the packaging. Some litters however may not be appropriate for kittens, such as clumping-type litters or litters that produce a lot of dust. Clumping-type litters may be ingested by your kitten and can cause stomach discomfort.  Overly dusty litters are bad for your kittens lungs and might cause respiratory problems.
- The scoop-able or clumping-type of cat litter. This types makes cleaning easy and requires less thorough replacement than other types of litter. These are also good at reducing the odor and well-liked by most cats.
- Non-clumping litter. This type is good at removing odors and is usually less expensive than the clumping type. However, urine might saturate the litter and cause frequent, full changes of the litter.
- Crystal-based/silica gel litter. This type of litter is highly-absorbent, sucking up moisture, urine, and odor. Once the crystals fully absorb, you will need to change the full amount of litter.
- Plant-based/bio-degradable litter. These may be pine pellets, wheat, and/or corn that neutralize the odors. This type is that it does not create as much dust or tracking as other litters. Plant-based litter may be a safer option for cats with respiratory problems.
Scoop any clumps. Using a scooper made of metal or sturdy plastic, remove all the clumped urine and the feces. Keeping the box free of waste will prevent odors and encourage your cat to use the litter-box.
- Scoop at least once a day, more if you have multiple cats.
- Make sure to remove all waste.
- Clean your scooper to prevent the spread of bacteria.
- For the sake of the hygiene of garbage collectors, put the waste in a dog poop bag and knot it before putting it in the trash.
- If you use flush-able litter, flush waste down the toilet.
- Always wash your hands after cleaning the litter-box.
- You may want to try wearing gloves.
Maintain the litter level. After scooping the litter-box or cleaning it, make sure to fill it up with an adequate amount of litter. Your cat may have its own preference when it comes to litter depth, so pay attention to its usage.
- Make sure the litter stays about two inches deep, as most cats prefer this.
- Some cats with long hair may prefer shallower litter.
Replacing the Litter Entirely
Replace the litter. Dump out the old one entirely, replacing with fresh, unused litter. The number of cats you live with, the number of litter boxes available to them, and the type of litter you use, will determine how often you have to replace the litter.
- Replace non-clumping-type litter twice a week at least.
- For the clumping-type litter, if you scoop the litter box everyday, you can replace it every two to three weeks.
- If you notice an unpleasant odor or a lot of clumps, replace it sooner.
Scrub the box. Every time you replace the litter, wash the box thoroughly. You can use some mild detergent like dish soap and warm water. The packaging labels usually tell you if the product is mild or not.
- Empty all the litter in the box.
- Gather your detergents and a disposable sponge or cloth.
- Avoid using detergents that contain ammonia, bleach, citrus oils or those with strong smell; these substances could turn cats away.
- Some cleaning products, including laundry detergents, toilet-bowl cleaners, and disinfecting wipes, can be toxic to cats. Check the label for any warnings such as “”Keep pets and children away from area until dry”
Consider using a liner. A litter-box liner may make it much easier when it comes time to replace the litter. Litter-box liners are designed to hold the litter, just like a bag, making for easy removal and disposal.
- Use a litter-box liner for easy disposal.
- In many cases, the liner ends up being shredded by cats,
- Some cats hate liners, and the use of them may possibly deter your cat from using the litter box.
Maintaining a Pleasant Litter Box Environment
Purchase a covered litter-box. Covered litter-boxes are a great option to help keep the area surrounding the box clean. Keep in mind the advantages and disadvantages of a covered litter-box:
- The cover may prevent a lot of litter from escaping the box.
- Some cats may even prefer covered litter box.
- You’re more likely to forget to clean because it’s out of your sight.
- It traps more odors inside. Therefore, frequent cleaning is necessary.
- If your cats are large, it may not have enough room.
Consider litter mats. Litter mats are a simple method you can make use of to help contain any mess around the box. They are used to collect any excess litter that you cats may push onto the floor.
- Place the litter mat underneath the litter-box to catch any litter that may fall outside the box.
- Litter mats may be placed just outside of the litter box opening.
- Alternatives to the commercially-available mats are small cuts of carpets, rags or towels.
Keep the litter-box in a quiet place. Cats appreciate a quite, private bathroom experience. Try putting your litter-box in a place that is removed from the busy areas of your house.
- Keep small children away from the litter-box as they may disturb the cat or try to play with the litter-box.
- Avoid interrupting your cat when they are using the litter-box as this may discourage future use.
Troubleshooting Litter Box Problems
Observe your cat. Keep an eye on your cats usage of the litter-box. Notice when they may or may not be utilizing the box. There may be many causes as to why your cat is not using the litter-box, such as:
- The litter-box needs cleaning.
- The litter-box is in a busy area.
- The cat doesn’t like the type of litter you have selected.
- The litter-box isn’t big enough for your cat.
- If you can’t find a reason, talk with you veterinarian.
Adjust to your cats’ needs. There may be a time when your cat refuses any litter you offer. This situation arises most often with outdoor cats. Try the following ideas to get your cat using the litter-box again.
- If your cat used to be an outdoor cat and likes to use houseplants as bathroom, try mixing some potting soil in the litter.
- If your cat rejects all the commercially available litter, sand may work.
- If you have a kitten, consider using non-clumping litter such as a pelleted litter (e.g. newspaper pellets).
- Make sure to discard the entire litter when needed to maintain cleanliness.
Don’t buy scented litter. Although convenient, scented litter can deter your cat from using the litter-box. Try some other methods to reduce any unpleasant odors.
- Sprinkle a thin layer of baking soda at the bottom of the litter box.
- Keep up with the cleaning of the litter-box.
Stick to one type of litter. Once you find the one that your cats like, look no further. Switching the litter type may cause your cats to stop using the box. Keep your litter choice as consistent as you can.
- If your favorite type is discontinued, try to make the new one as close as you can to the original.
Provide a sufficient number of litter boxes. One litter box per cat is not always true – in fact, it is often insufficient. The amount you should place in your home depends on the number of cats you live with you. Not having enough litter boxes around your house may result in house soiling.
- If you have more than one cat, provide boxes in several locations so that no one cat has to wait in line.
- The general rule is one box per one cat plus one more.
- Provide at least one litter box on each floor in the house.
- It’s best not to place all the boxes in one location.
- Make it as convenient as you can for your cat to make use of your litter-boxes.
Pick the right type of box. There are many types of litter-boxes to choose from. Most features on litter-boxes are for the owner and some of these features may not be enjoyed by your cat. You may need to try different kinds before finding the right ones for your cats.
- Keep in mind the basic size and shape of the litter-box.
- Research features on litter-boxes such as covers, air purifiers, or built in cleaning mechanisms.
Place litter-boxes in the best places. There are some general rules about where it is best to place a litter-box for your cat. Following these guidelines can help ensure that you cat makes use of the litter-boxes and avoids having accidents.
- Don’t put the litter box close to its food or water.
- Spread the boxes out. If you have multiple boxes, put them apart from each other so that the cat will always have at least one close by.
- Put it in a quiet space. Cats don’t like being disturbed while using the bathroom.
- Try to find a place that will make it easy for you to clean it. It may be tempting to put it out of direct sight, however, it then becomes easy to forget to clean it.