Our evaluations and opinions are not influenced by our advertising relationships, but we may earn a commission from our partners’ links. This content is created independently from TIME’s editorial staff. Learn more about it.
Joy, my 11-year-old Korat cat, is more than happy with doing her business in a simple blue plastic litter box. But when I had the opportunity to test out the fully automatic, Wi-Fi enabled Litter Robot 4, I was absolutely excited to hand over cleanup duties to this high-tech cat box. The Litter Robot boasts an odorless and quiet self-cleaning litter box experience that will store a week’s worth of Joy’s mess, while sending me regular updates about her potty frequency and weight, but how does that all work in reality?
After several weeks of Joy putting the Litter Robot 4 to the test and me scrutinizing it after every use, here are our thoughts about the machine, its many features, and if it’s worth the high price for admission to the fanciest litter box on the market today.
- Practically silent operation
- Genuinely helpful, information-packed, and user-friendly Wi-Fi-enabled companion app
- No assembly required and easy to set up
- Odorless and roomy waste tray
- Effortless maintenance
- Works with all clumping litters
- It’s a pricey indulgence
- Despite its compact base, its height may be a problem for some small or cluttered households
Litter Robot 4 Unboxing
Litter Robot 4 price
At $699, this is hands-down the most expensive self-cleaning litter box to date. However, pet owners who genuinely love their feline friends, and see the value of a permanently clean cat box (as well as the benefits of minimizing the grossest aspect of cat ownership) will find that the Litter Robot 4 is worth its weight in gold
Litter Robot 3 vs 4: What’s new?
The Litter Robot 4 features a few significant improvements over its prior iteration (the Litter Robot 3 Connect) that makes the newer model worth investing in due to the relatively small price difference.
The Litter Robot 4 features a wider entryway than the third edition, which makes it more comfortable for cats of all sizes to climb inside its globe, especially bigger and heavier cats.The fourth edition also has a noticeably larger waste storage bin, extra room for litter so owners won’t have to refill it as frequently, and its “Quiet Sift” technology, which makes each cycle practically silent. Perhaps the biggest difference is that the Litter Robot 4’s “OdorTrap” system is impressively adept at sealing away the nose-burning stench of up to a week’s worth of cat waste for a much fresher-smelling home.
In addition, the Litter Robot 4 sports superior sensors that actively monitor for your cat’s presence, so it knows when to start its cleaning cycle, meaning you’ll feel safe leaving your cat unsupervised with it. It also monitors litter and waste bin levels, while keeping tabs on your kitty’s weight. While the Litter Robot 3 will send a notification to your smartphone when the waste bin needs to be emptied, the Litter Robot 4 notes and presents much more useful information.
How does the Litter Robot 4 work?
After connecting the Litter Robot 4 to your home’s Wi-Fi, setting up its companion app, and pouring enough clumping litter to reach its clearly-marked fill line, it’s ready for your cat.
It tookJoy a few days to give the Litter Robot 4 more than a passing glance, but as manufacturer Whisker suggests, allowing your cat’s original litter box to get a little nasty will help to convince them that their new robotic toilet is worth trying. Once your cat enters the Litter Robot 4, a special sensor notes that its globe has been entered, and a counter ticks down from seven minutes after the moment they leave before starting the cleaning cycle.
The interior of its globe slowly rotates, both sifting clumps and poop from litter, while dumping waste into a hole that appears when the drum rotates to a specific point. This process is practically silent to the point that Joy was never spooked by the cleaning cycle, but slightly curious, and the most noticeable sound was the gentle sliding of the fine, yet dust-free litter Whisker included for testing purposes.
It is an understandable concern for some pet owners that a cat could get hurt if they reentered the self-cleaning cat box during the cleaning cycle, but the Litter Robot 4’s sensors actively track movement and will instantly stop if anything enters the globe during the cleaning process. This will pause the device for another seven minutes before resuming the cycle, so if safety concerns are keeping you from upgrading to a self-cleaning litter box, the Litter Robot 4 is your best bet.
Key features of the Litter Robot 4
The Litter Robot 4 sports a number of improvements over the previous edition, but these are by far the most worthwhile standout additions:
Its cleaning cycle is so quiet, the only sounds I heard were the tiniest sounds of litter gently rotating around its interior and the faintest “plunk” noises of waste entering a freshly emptied bin.
Advanced odor control
One of the biggest upgrades between the Litter Robot 3 and 4 is how the waste bin of the fourth iteration tightly fits into the frame, effectively trapping odors inside this spacious drawer.
Its array of sensors aren’t just for ensuring that your cat isn’t inside during a cleaning cycle–they also collect data on how often the cat uses it, how full its waste bin is, and when its litter needs to be topped off, so cat owners barely have to directly interact with the Litter Robot 4 itself.
Although it doesn’t work on especially plush carpeting, the ability to keep tabs on your cat’s weight is handy for maintaining a healthy diet and catching any weight-related health problems as they may arise.
I tried both the fine, dustless Premium Cat Litter offered by Whisker, as well as my original lightweight and dustier clumping litter in the Litter Robot 4, and not only did both work equally well, its updated filtration screen eliminates dust blowback from the cheaper, self-cleaning litter boxes for a noticeably cleaner cat box area.
Litter Robot 4 dimensions
One of the first impressions everyone will have of the Litter Robot 4 is just how tall it is at 29.5 inches, and while the height of this self-cleaning litter box is nearly two and a half feet, its 22 by 27-inch base takes up about as much floor space as the average cat box.
In addition, its 15.75 by 15.75-inch entryway is noticeably wider than the Litter Robot 3’s opening, making the Litter Robot 4 the superior pick for accommodating bigger and wider felines.
For anyone curious if their smaller cat could easily access the Litter Robot 4, its step is 6.9 inches off the ground, and its entryway is set at 12 inches tall. This design works well for cats young and old, and while tiny kittens would have a difficult time using it, the Litter Robot 4 wasn’t designed to safely work for cats weighing 3 lbs or less. Don’t worry, they’ll grow into it soon enough!
One of my favorite aspects of the Litter Robot 4 is its aptly-named “QuietSift” technology, because unless you’re in the same room with it, you’re probably not going to hear or notice when it performs a cleaning cycle. If anything, the few times when I did notice a different noise in my home was when I distinctly heard the soft and almost soothing sound of kitty litter gently rotating within the litter box’s spacious drum.
If you’re concerned about a noisy, yet convenient self-cleaning Litter Robot 4 waking you up in the middle of the night, don’t be–the notification you’ll get on your smartphone afterwards will make more sound.
Litter-robot 4 app
Available for both iOS and Android devices, the Whisker app is straightforward, user-friendly, and presents all the information you could want about your cat’s litter box habits in one tidy package. You can set the app to notify you every time your cat triggers a cleaning cycle, the Litter Robot 4’s waste bin needs to be emptied, when you should add kitty litter to the globe, and if your cat has a worryingly severe weight change in either direction.
I fully personalized my account with an adorable picture of my little fuzzball, and it was fun to note Joy’s time of day potty preferences and that her weight is consistent. The low litter and full waste bin notifications were helpful and unobtrusive, and since the Litter Robot 4 did the vast majority of the work, I never felt inconvenienced when my phone poked me for a little cat box maintenance once or twice a week.
Once Joy began using the Litter Robot 4, the machine took care of nearly all of the work without any connection issues, mechanical problems, or performance-based problems. As a matter of fact, I rarely noticed the cleaning cycle until I received a notification on my phone, and my home was quickly rid of any trace of “cat odors” shortly after she abandoned her old litter box for the Litter Robot 4. Swapping out the waste bin’s full trash bag once a week is far more convenient–and far less unpleasant–than manually scooping poop and clumps into a plastic grocery bag once or twice a day.
In a nutshell, the Litter Robot 4 is a breeze to set up and it reliably cleans up after my cat for a consistently sanitary litter box area.
Ease of use/User friendliness
Although the Litter Robot 4 isn’t technically a “set it and forget it” self-cleaning litter box, it’s so hands-off and incredibly simple to use and maintain, it feels like it is. The companion app does an excellent job of holding your hand throughout the setup process, and its data and notifications are clearly presented and easy to retrieve when you need to scroll through your cat’s usage data.
Once you connect the Litter Robot 4 to your home’s Wi-Fi and fill the globe’s litter compartment, it’s good to go for a week, at which point you simply empty its litter tray, replace the liner with a new bag, press the “Reset” button, and you’re all done with your cat box chores for another seven days. However, this model was designed to accommodate up to four cats, so you’ll naturally need to empty it more frequently if you own multiple cats. Unless you completely forget to empty it or add more litter as needed, the Litter Robot 4 is practically infallible.
Keeping the Litter Robot 4 up and running is extremely easy and is far less work than maintaining or cleaning a basic litter box. When you receive a notification via the Whisker smartphone app or notice that the large LED light on the device blinks blue, it’s time to empty its waste tray. This model includes a few tray liners, and small to medium-sized trash bags are the perfect fit when those run out after a few weeks. Simply pull back on the tray, pull out the bag, wrap another around the edges of the tray, reinsert it, and you won’t have to deal with your cat’s business for another week.
The only other aspect of a Litter Robot 4 that you’ll need to maintain is its litter level, and that’s as easy as topping off the interior to cover the boldly labeled “MAX FILL LINE” without overdoing it, so you don’t waste any litter during the next cleaning cycle.
Just don’t forget to tap the Reset button on the unit, to recalibrate its sensors so it continues accurately monitoring your cat’s weight on the app.
Ease of cleaning
As advanced as it is, the Litter Robot 4 is still a cat box, and accidents happen. Thankfully, its components are easy to take apart and cleaning up is as straightforward as wiping down nasty spots with paper towels, soap, and water. As long as you keep the sensitive electronics on top of the device dry, the rest of the machine is a breeze to tidy up.
I’ve never had a bad cleaning cycle, as every time I pass by the Litter Robot 4, Joy’s high-tech toilet looks clean and her litter is fresh. Even if an accident happened, both the rubbery interior and hard plastic exterior would be easy to wipe clean, so I’m pleased at how tidy her cat box is.
Outside of the brief seven minutes between Joy leaving her waste in the litter and its being sifted away to the airtight waste bin, I never had the chance to smell the signature foul scents that come with cat ownership. The Litter Robot 4 absolutely excels at odor control.
I particularly appreciated the sizable box and layers of padding within to protect the Litter Robot 4 during transit. This 24 lb litter box sports solid construction, and every component–from its buttons and plastic shell, to the smooth mechanical operation within the globe that unfailingly disposes of cat waste at a moment’s notice–all feels like it was built to last.
Litter Robot 4 design
Whether you order the black or white edition, the first thing that stands out about the Litter Robot 4 is its height, but since its base is approximately the same size as a traditional litter box, it being the tallest cat box you’ll ever own shouldn’t be an issue unless your home is extremely tight on space.
The two elements of the self-cleaning litter box that your cat will directly interact with are the step and the litter-filled globe. The low-profile yet wide step is perfectly positioned for cats of all ages to effortlessly walk up to the globe, and the ridged texture helps to knock off a few more grains of litter before it’s tracked onto the floor. Although Joy is a slim and petite cat whose body didn’t come close to touching the globe’s interior, I believe she felt more comfortable using the Litter Robot 4 because of its taller and wider entryway.
The globe holds up to ten pounds of kitty litter, so even if your cat has an issue about stepping onto unusual surface textures such as the rubberized interior of the globe, they’ll be walking on plenty of litter if you maintain your device.
There are two ways that you’ll interact with the Litter Robot 4: Its control panel and waste tray. The waste tray is situated on the base of the unit and does a phenomenal job of sealing in the stench of multiple days of cat waste, yet getting it open is as easy as tugging a drawer open.
After its initial setup, you probably won’t use its control panel often, but between its boldly labeled buttons and large, color-coded LED indicator light, whatever function you need the Litter Robot 4 to perform is rarely more than a single press away. I cannot attest as to how Joy feels about it, but one of my favorite design choices is the automatic night light that shines from the top of the globe when the sun goes down. Not only does this make it easier for your kitty to find the bathroom after dark, it’s a pleasant glow in your home when you get up in the middle of the night.
Is the Litter Robot 4 for you?
Although the Litter Robot 4 is a premium piece of technology that minimizes the most unpleasant part of owning a cat, $700 is admittedly a steep price for entry.
With that said, the most advanced litter box on the market is worth the cost for that continuously clean cat box, which leads to a cleaner-smelling home, a healthier cat, and one less chore in your daily routine. The Litter Robot 4 is an especially attractive option if your busy schedule keeps you out on the town and would love the luxury of coming back to a fresh-scented home, you own several cats and are tired of the constant cleanup, or need the ultimate vacation-friendly litter box.
I’m not the only one impressed by how effective, convenient, and valuable the Litter Robot 4 is, as these verified buyers are happy to share their own experiences:
JM: “Kind of expensive initially but 100% worth it in my experience. I have had the LR4 for 9 months. My cat is great and didn't need any help knowing where to go. I just put a little dirty litter in the robot and tossed her old one. No hesitation but maybe the fact that we were using a top entry box before helped. Once I figured out that my sensors were getting dusty and to just wipe them off usage has been pretty problem free. My favorite feature is the built in scale that lets me get real time info about my cat. 9 months ago she weighed 17.5 pounds and today she weighs 12.1. We are so proud of her and being able to monitor the rate she was losing weight was key to her success. Also uses way less litter. So initially expensive but will pay itself back in time and litter saved.Ps. We live in a small apartment and while it is big the footprint is about the same as a normal litter box and the design helps it blend into the background.”
Rusty W.: “Game changer. The litter robot 4 is a game changer! I have 2 cats that use it. They took right to it without any issues. I now change the bag once a week instead of cleaning the box on a daily basis. Gone are the days of sifting through the litter and breathing in the litter dust. I highly recommend the litter robot!”
Jennifer: “No regrets. I cannot say enough good things about my Litter Robot 4. So glad I splurged and made the purchase. My 1 year old cat made the transition with no issue. His birthday gift (and mine) ! hahaha. I have since rescued a 7 week old kitten and she was so curious about it and after seeing her brother use it, To say I was shocked when I got a 2.1 lbs alert is an understatement. I thought the dog was trying to get into it that I had to set a camera up. Two weeks later, she quit using her manual scoop box and solely uses the Litter Robot. If you are thinking about getting one, DO IT!!!!!”
Alternatives to Litter Robot 4
This colorful alternative sports a similar self-cleaning design, a convenient W-Fi enabled smartphone companion app that notes how often kitty uses it, while weighing your cat, and a fully-enclosed interior that cats who value privacy will appreciate. All in all, Smarty Pear’s Leo’s Loo Too is a solid alternate option to consider.
Some of the other standout perks of this automatic litter box include a sizable waste bin, an especially quiet cleaning cycle, and an innovative odor control method that bombards stench-causing bacteria with ultraviolet light, killing them in the process. Perhaps the biggest difference is that Leo’s Loo Too was designed to integrate with Google Home and Amazon Alexa, which allows owners to clean the litter box via voice commands.
Although the Litter Robot 3 lacks the latest premium features incorporated into the Litter Robot 4’s design, the third Litter Robot is still a quality self-cleaning cat box and well worth your consideration. Available in gray and beige, the Litter Robot 3 uses the same Whisker app to let owners know when their cat has used the machine and send a handy notification when its waste bin is ready to be emptied, and its odor-control system utilizes a carbon filter to minimize smells.
It's not quite as fresh-scented or quiet as the fourth edition, but the Litter Robot 3’s stench reducing, automatic cleaning, and ability to accommodate up to four cats per model matches the Litter Robot 4, and for $150 less, too.
Final verdict: Is the Litter Robot 4 worth it?
If you’re the type of pet owner who invests in the healthiest food, premium kitty litter, and spares no expense for your cat or cats, the Litter Robot 4 is certainly worth it. Is it expensive? Absolutely. However, providing a continuously pristine and hygienic litter box is a major way to support your cat’s long-term health in a convenient device that you’ll barely notice in the background, until your phone reminds you of your weekly chore.
My own Joy prefers the permanently clean Litter Robot, and I enjoy the combination of time saved from a daily task and an odor-free home that no one would expect harbors up to a week’s worth of cat poo. The app-based monitoring is more useful for keeping tabs on my cat’s bathroom habits than I would have expected, and we can’t imagine going back to that blue plastic tray after getting used to this level of high-tech luxury.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
How to clean the Litter Robot 4
Despite how advanced the Litter Robot 4 is, it’s still a cat box and things happen, but the good news is that deep cleaning the device is a straightforward process.
- Cycle the Litter Robot 4, empty the waste bin’s contents, and collect the remaining litter in a new trash bag by pressing the “Empty” button
- Press the “Power” button to turn off the device and unplug it. It’s easy to spot-clean nasty spots with mild cleaning sprays or soap and paper towels, but there are latches on both sides of the globe so you can disassemble it and give it a comprehensive cleaning if you have to
- Once the globe is dry, reassemble the Litter Robot 4, and plug it back in
How to reset the Litter Robot 4
Every time you add litter or empty its waste bin, you should press the bold “RESET” button on top of the Litter Robot 4. This calibrates its weight and distance sensors to accurately read your cat’s weight and ensures that it will sense your cat when they enter the litter-filled globe.
In addition, pressing and holding the Reset button for three seconds toggles its automatic night light–a handy feature if your Litter Robot is close to a sleeping space!
How to empty the Litter Robot 4
Emptying the waste bin is as simple as pulling it out like a drawer and replacing its garbage bag liner, but whether you need to move or fully clean the Litter Robot 4, it’s a snap to completely empty it.
- First, run a normal cleaning cycle by pressing the “Cycle” button and emptying the remaining waste from its bin.
- With a fresh trash bag to catch and preserve the remaining clean litter, press the “Empty” button: The Litter Robot 4 will pour the entirety of its litter into the waste bin, allowing you to toss it all out at once, or keep it for later after you move or deep-clean the litter box
How to connect the Litter Robot 4 to Wi-Fi
Adding a Litter Robot 4 to your home’s Wi-Fi network is just as easy, if not easier, than any other smart home device.
- Download the official Whisker app for iOS or Android and create an account
- Enable Bluetooth on your smartphone and follow the app’s simple onboarding instructions
- Scan the QR code on the rear of your Litter Robot 4 when prompted by the app, enter the password for your home’s Wi-Fi network, and wrap up the setup process
Note: When your Litter Robot 4 arrives, its LED light will blink yellow. This means that it’s actively searching for a Wi-Fi network to connect to, but if yours is a different color, press and hold the “Connect” button on the device for three seconds to activate this Wi-Fi seeking mode
How long does the Litter Robot 4 last?
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to know exactly how long this impressive, self-cleaning litter box will last in your home, however Whisker includes both a 90-day trial period to ensure that you and your cat like the machine, as well as a 1-year warranty.
The warranty covers accidental damage, live customer support, shipping fees for repairs, power surges, mechanical and electronic failures, and more. Whisker also offers a comprehensive 3-year warranty for $100 when you purchase a Litter Robot 4.
The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.