Tomorrow's Litterbox: Neakasa's M1 Open-Top Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box Review - House Digest (2024)


Tomorrow's Litterbox: Neakasa's M1 Open-Top Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box Review - House Digest (1)

Nancy Sheppard/House Digest

ByNancy Sheppard/

My household consists of my husband, me, our two teenagers, our old hound dog, a bunch of fish and snails, and four cats. Yes, you read that right—four cats. In my 41 rotations around the sun, I've probably spent a total of three months without a feline family member. Needless to say, cleaning at least one litterbox is part and parcel of my daily routine. Like many other cat owners out there, every member of my family has a bit of litterbox fatigue. The constant bending, scooping, and smells emanating from the boxes get to be a bit much. I've always been curious if robot litterboxes could help alleviate some of this, but have been hesitant to take the plunge because of the hefty price tag for something I feared would be a bit gimmicky.

Enter from stage left: the Neakasa M1 Open-top Self-cleaning Cat Litter Box. Reading the description on the company's website, I thought, "This litter box sounds too good to be true." It claims the box works well for multiple cats, has little to no odor, eliminates scooping altogether, and helps track household cats via an app. What made me even more curious is that the price of this litterbox was lower than comparable ones from other brands. Take a journey with me on my family's first two weeks checking out the Neakasa M1 Open-top Self-cleaning Cat Litter Box.

First Impressions

Tomorrow's Litterbox: Neakasa's M1 Open-Top Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box Review - House Digest (2)

Joshua Sheppard/House Digest

When the box arrived at my front door, I enlisted my husband, Josh, to bring it into the house since the shipping box was bulky (though not heavy). Before assembling it, I was expecting to have to put all sorts of little parts and whatnot together, but boy, was I wrong! The litterbox was mostly already assembled. All I needed to do was snap on its four legs, put the custom-sized trashbag in a silicone drawer, and slide the drawer into a slot beneath the box itself. The setup took all of maybe ten minutes (and that was because I kept rereading the directions in disbelief that it was that easy).

Because the M1 is much larger than traditional litter boxes, it would not fit in any of our home's smaller bathrooms or laundry closets. Ultimately, we put the M1 in our master bedroom. I was concerned about how odiferous the box would be. Also, the directions state that the M1 requires granular litter, like bentonite or mineral sand. I was worried about how this would impact my mild allergy to the dust given off by these varieties of litter.

Another worry concerned the height of the box's entrance. It sits a little higher, which is okay for three of my cats. However, our 7-month-old tortie wonder kitten, Rosie, was born without one of her hind feet, making getting around a little more difficult for her. To accommodate her, we fashioned a step stool out of a plastic food storage container.

All of this aside, I was excited to try it out. My husband and I did not have any issues setting up the app on our respective phones (Josh has an iPhone, while I have an Android). It connected seamlessly with our M1 over WiFi, and I registered all four of my cats using their images and current weights. Now, it was time to check out all of the features and functions.

The future of litterboxes

Tomorrow's Litterbox: Neakasa's M1 Open-Top Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box Review - House Digest (3)

Joshua Sheppard/House Digest

Given that I am used to conventional litter boxes, I assumed that all of the features would be overwhelming at first. Once again, Neakasa proved me wrong. The app is an exceptional tool. Once each cat is registered with their current weight, the box automatically detects which cat is in it. The app updates the cat's current weight, the frequency at which they use the box, and how long they stay in it. This is extraordinarily helpful for tracking any changes in your cat's toileting habits and collecting data to take to the veterinarian. Having lost a cat to diabetes, I can appreciate how this would've helped us detect it earlier for treatment intervention. Better yet, you don't need to be hooked up to the same WiFi as the box to receive up-to-date information, either. You can check it anywhere you have a signal for your mobile device.

Neakasa isn't lying when the company claims that this is a no-scoop box. In the app, you can set up specifics for waste emptying. I set mine up to clean two minutes after a cat exits the box. When that magical time comes around, it tilts back, collects all of the non-clumped litter into a shelf, dumps the clumps into the silicone drawer, and then swerves back into place, ready for the next cat. A huge bonus – it is very quiet when it goes through this process. You can set it up so that if the box detects a cat approaching or in it, it will automatically stop the cleaning mode for safety's sake. The app will also help you monitor the litter level and when the silicone drawer needs to be emptied. Check out the video below of one of my M1's cleaning cycles.

As for my concern regarding the box's odor enveloping my bedroom, Neakasa is right — the silicone drawer is well-sealed, so very little odor escapes. The only time we noticed it was right before it needed to be changed. Comparing it to the conventional litter box our two other cats use, it's a night-and-day difference.

While Neakasa states that this box can go up to 14 days without needing the silicone drawer emptied, we found that not necessarily true. However, we aren't sure about the number of cats that the 14-day interval is supposed to be for. In the first two weeks, we changed the bag three times. But breathe that in for a second, my fellow conventional litter box brethren: We only had to empty the clumps three times in two weeks for two (of my four) cats. So even if it didn't last a full 14 days, this was a massive difference from having to scoop and throw the trash out several times each day.

The downsides

Tomorrow's Litterbox: Neakasa's M1 Open-Top Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box Review - House Digest (4)

Nancy Sheppard/House Digest

Overall, I found this box to meet its promises. Initially, my cats found it a bit of a novelty, liking to jump in and out of it and toss litter out at a passerby. However, they never went back to their old litter box. With the step stool we fashioned, Rosie was able to get in and out of the box easily. I highly recommend this if you have a cat with gross motor challenges.

Also, make sure you place the box near an electrical outlet. This is probably all too obvious, but you need to plug it in. If you don't have an outlet nearby, plan on getting an extension cord for your ideal placement.

The clay litter that Neakasa said was required turned out to be a bust. After the first two nights of waking up with itchy eyes and a plugged-up nose, I was almost ready to throw in the towel. Josh took mercy on me and did some research, finding that other robot litter boxes state you can use corn-based clumping litter, like Nature's Miracle's premium clumping corn cob litter, which did the trick. It is a little more expensive than clay clumping litter, and the box doesn't retain it as well as the alternative, but it is definitely worth not having challenges from the clay dust.

While it is super cool that the M1 notifies you when you need to change the bag in the silicone drawer, the app doesn't do a good job of really letting you know how full it is. The app either states that it is normal or full but not anything in between. This makes it difficult to monitor its status. When the drawer is full, the box makes itself completely and immediately inaccessible by pivoting in a manner that the cat cannot use it. This can be a bit of a nuisance, having been woken up in the middle of the night to empty the drawer so my cats could continue to use it. I can see this also being a challenge if we were away from home, not knowing if it was close to full. The work around is just to look at how full the drawer is before leaving the house for any extended period and deducing whether or not it will need to be changed while you're gone.

Lasting Impressions

Tomorrow's Litterbox: Neakasa's M1 Open-Top Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box Review - House Digest (5)

Nancy Sheppard/House Digest

I think the M1 delivers on everything Neakasa promises. The odor is slim to nil, it needs minimal maintenance, it works very well for multiple cats, and I can monitor how my cats are doing in the app. If anything, I think Neakasa undersells just how awesome this product is. My cats love it. It's so much easier to maintain than a conventional litter box. I have peace of mind by being able to track their toileting habits, and it is just an amazing time saver.

Look, we all know that our pets require an investment. And while robot litter boxes may seem like a really large one, the Neakasa M1 gives so much for the cost. When you think about the money you spend buying litter, new pans, and scoopers, not to mention pain relief medicines from the backache of constantly bending over, and all of the other issues involved with a conventional litter box, it adds up over time. The cost of the M1 would end up being a better value.

The "downsides" are minimal and can be worked around quite easily. I was the biggest skeptic before trying this product out, but now I want to get a second one for my two other cats. It is that great of an investment for your feline family members, yourself, and your home. And even better? You'll spend less choosing this box than its competitors. Don't be afraid to take the plunge; you can purchase the Neakasa M1 litter box from the company's website, now on sale for $499.99.


Tomorrow's Litterbox: Neakasa's M1 Open-Top Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box Review - House Digest (2024)


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