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Ten years ago this week, Google announced the very first Android phone. I picked up that phone when it first came out and now, a decade later, I fired it up again to see how well it held up after all these years.
There’s no pleasant way to scoop cat litter, no matter how much money you spend. The Litter Genie might be the least annoying way to do it, though.
What’s the Litter Genie? In short, it’s a cat waste management system similar the self-container diaper pails with a built in bag distribution system that keeps odors contained, makes it dead simple to toss an old bag, and best of all it’s small enough to stay near your litter box wherever you keep it.
The promise is odor free litter disposal with once-a-week trips to the dumpster to dispose of cat waste. Given the price and the simple construction of the device is seems absolutely improbable that it would perform as advertised, but it’s one of the best cat-owner purchases we’ve made.
How the Litter Genie System Works
At first glance, the Litter Genie ($15) isn’t exactly intuitive. On the outside, it looks like a small trash can, but inside things get complex. The top half of the Genie houses a cartridge that dispenses one long, continuous bag that’s open at both ends. To set up the Genie, you feed the bag past a spring-loaded slider and into the base, then tie off the end of the bag.
As you use the Litter Genie, you’ll sift through your cat’s litter with the included scoop and drop the clumps in the top of the pail. When you pull out the handle sticking out of the front of the pail, your scoops will drop into the bottom of the bag. The handle then retracts as you release it, creating a seal in the bag, which largely locks the litter smell into the lower section of the bag. Just in case that’s not enough for you, the lid on the top of the pail adds an extra layer of odor protection.
Eventually, you’ll fill up the bag in the pail. When that happens, you fold the top half of the Genie open to reveal the full bag in the bottom section. A safety razor in the middle of the pail makes it easy to cut the bag at the top, then you can tie the top of the bag, sealing it at both ends, ready to be tossed in the trash. Then you can pull more plastic out of the bag cartridge and tie it off to create a new, empty bag.
Once You’re Used To It, You’ll Never Want to Go Back
Even with the above explanation, the Litter Genie will take a few minutes to figure out. You might need to get your hands on it for it to make sense. Once it clicks, though, the benefits are clear. Right off the bat, you’ll notice that the litter box area smells a little better. If you normally use a dedicated trash can next to the litter box, it’s probably open or only covered with one lid. The Litter Genie, on the other hand, has two layers between the clumps and the open air, which means you rarely smell the mess.
The bag situation is also much easier to deal with. As with any litter system, how long it lasts will depend on how many cats you have, but generally with one or two cats, you can expect to empty the bag every couple of weeks. Each bag cartridge can last up to two months for one cat, or one month with two.
Since the Litter Genie is relatively cheap, you can put one with every litter box in your house (if you have more than one). You also don’t need to save plastic grocery bags or drag your other trash cans from room to room. Since the Genie can hold a lot of litter before it needs to be emptied, you don’t have to walk bags outside of your house every other day to avoid stinking up the house. Short of getting a robot servant to scoop for you, using the Litter Genie requires the least amount of work possible to keep your litter box clean.
The Bags Cost Extra, But That May Be Worth It
Keeping your cat’s litter clean is going to cost you some amount of money or time. The Litter Genie can reduce how often you have to take out the used litter, which saves you some time, but you’ll end up paying for it in cold hard cash. The official Litter Genie refills cost $27 for a pack of four. All four refills will last up to two months with a single cat or one month for two, which means the bag refills cost around $3.50-6.50 per month. You can bring that price down, though, with third-party bag refills like ChoiceRefill’s bags that cost $21 for a pack of four.
This cost isn’t astronomical, by any means. If you use normal trash bags to empty your cat litter, it may even be cheaper. However, for most people the bags are going to be a bit more costly than what you’re used to paying. That may be a deterrent if you’d rather not add one more recurring cost to your pet maintenance bill.
On the other hand, you need to get rid of your cat’s waste somehow. The Litter Genie lets you keep the litter box in any room of the house (preferably far away from where you spend your time) without stinking up the place or forcing you to make too many long treks to scoop or take out the bags. That convenience may be worth a few bucks a month for you. It sure is in our house.
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According to most reasonable estimates, self-driving car technology is always about five years away from being good enough for everyone to use. That perpetual state of ambiguity might be helpful, though. According to a recent Pew survey, most people in the U.S. aren’t ready for them yet.