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Caturday 285

Posted on November 26th, 2022

Dave!This was an eventful couple week to be my cats... what with all the construction fixing my home.

For the most part, Jake and Jenny spent their days hiding in the storage closet in my bedroom. I am always sure to take their food up to them... have a litterbox available... and check in several times to make sure that they're not completely catatonic. Which is a distinct possibility given how terrified they are of strangers.

The worst part was when the electrician actually had to go into my storage closet in order to replace the light switch. Poor Jenny backed herself so far up against the wall that she ended up looking like a little puffball...

Jake and Jenny cowering in a closet.

Jake held out as long as he could... then made a mad dash for it, running past me, the electrician, and one of his nine lives.

He did recover enough that he was up for watching television with me that night though...

Jake watching Dr. Manhattan on TV.

By the next morning, they were both back to their normal, abnormal selves. Jake got a paw massage, which he liked a little too much...

Jake falling asleep while getting a paw massage.

Fast-forward to today, and I arrived home from my Thanksgiving adventure over the mountains. As I was unloading the car, Jake was unloading my first load of stuff, including a box of toys I bought them for the holiday. I guess he smelled the catnip?

Jake unloading his Thanksgiving Day presents.

Jake unloading his Thanksgiving Day presents.

Jake unloading his Thanksgiving Day presents.

Jake unloading his Thanksgiving Day presents.

Remind me to disinfect the countertops.

Jenny is very particular about her toys. Most she won't play with. Some she hates so much that she dumps them in the water fountain. This time she only dumped one in the water... an astro mouse or something. The rest she was indifferent towards.

Except one.

I got a jumbo-sized catnip toy that she attacked immediately. She was biting it and kicking it with a dedication usually reserved for her brother...

Jenny with her catnip kicker.

Jenny with her catnip kicker.

And now? I'm off for a warm winter's nap.

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Caturday 284

Posted on November 19th, 2022

Dave!I tried different "automated" litter boxes which self-clean so I don't have to scoop. Not that I mind doing it, but Jenny is very particular about having a clean litter box in which to do her business. If the litter box is dirty, the poor thing will hold it as long as she can... wandering from box to box hoping to find a clean one... then go on the floor when she finally can't hold it any more. I really don't want my sweet girl go through that, so I pay the massive cost for the only automated boxes I trust to do the job... Litter-Robot.

I started with the Litter-Robot 3. It was great. But I started having random "BONNET REMOVED" errors soon after purchase, which would render the unit nonfunctional. I followed all the advice that Litter-Robot Customer Service gave me, but nothing solved it. This was so worrying to me due to my constant travels that I ended up buying a second just in case the "BONNET REMOVED" error happened while I was gone. This error itself is inexplicably stupid. Who wouldn't put the bonnet back on after taking it off? It's huge. It's not like you'd forget or not notice. But despite tons of people having this problem, there was never a permanent fix offered... and nobody ever offered up any hacks to solder a jumper or disable the faulty sensor, so it kept happening.

Enter Litter-Robot 4.

I waited for reviews before I even considered spending SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS buying one. When the reviews came and nobody mentioned any BONNET REMOVED errors, I wrote the Litter-Robot Customer Service and specifically asked if the problem had been solved. About all they would commit to saying was "We've improved the product in many ways." Hardly the assurance I was looking for.

Worried that the cats may resist the new machines, I started by replacing only one of them so they would have a choice. Jenny noticed something had changed immediately...

Jenny looking in the Litter-Robot 4

Jake took a bit longer before he realized it...

Jake looking in the Litter-Robot 4

In any event, there was no adjustment period. I transferred the litter from the old Litter-Robot to the new so that the smell would reassure them what it's for. But I don't think it was necessary, as they both took to it immediately and the Litter-Robot 3 was forgotten.

After a week of use, here's the positives...

  • Litter-Robot 4 is much more attractive than the previous versions. The old one was kinda industrial and sad. The new one is sleek and beautiful. Plus... instead of the sickly tan/grey color, you can choose either white or black. I went with white since it will show litter dust less and be easier to spot when it's dirty and needs to be wiped down.
  • The opening is larger. Jenny, in particular, seems to like this better even though she's a smaller cat than Jake by a third.
  • The latest version is incredibly quiet. I can barely hear it, even when I'm in the same room. Instead of having both units side-by-side in my living room, I've got the second unit in my office next to my bedroom. Haven't been woken up by it yet (and you can program quiet hours if it still bothers you, which I doubt).
  • There's a new feature which measures the level of kitty litter in the unit and alerts you when it's getting low. This is very cool and much appreciated. Furthermore, it seems to be fairly accurate in letting you know when it's time to add more.
  • The waste drawer is smaller, but deeper, and it is filled up from the middle instead of always piling up in the side of the drawer. Since the waste level is measured by the same laser which measures the kitty litter level, it's far more accurate than the old photo sensor (but still not perfect).
  • The nightlight is much nicer for the cats, making it easier for them to see inside and less wary about entering when it's nighttime.
  • The odor control is even better than before, having the filter above the drawer instead of in front, which is far more logical. You also have the option of using odor-trapping pods instead of filters which is even better. I don't smell anything after the air clears once the unit cycles... even after one of Jake's infamous toxic dumps.
  • I've already had some firmware updates, which means that they are still fine-tuning to make the product work better. That's nice.
  • Despite the problems you're about to read below, it's still the best automated litter box I have ever used (and I had four before I found Litter-Robot).

Here's the negatives (photos to follow)...

  • The interior of the globe is smaller by about an inch in both directions. My cats can still use it, but Jake is noticeably less comfortable, and spends a lot more time than he used to trying to scratch over his waste because he has less space to operate.
  • If a cat steps on the step to look inside without entering, the unit will think that a cat has entered and trigger a cycle. Hell, if you fart in the general direction of the unit, it will think that a cat has entered and cycle the unit. This is frustrating because it results in unnecessary cycles. You'd think that you could set a threshold so that anything under a certain weight is ignored because it's clearly not your cat.
  • The little fence that snaps on the front to keep the kitty litter inside is included now (it used to cost $25), but it doesn't stay on. Jake snaps it off every time he uses the box. The old one never came off. This could be because he has less room to scratch and is pawing at it, but it's a pretty serious design flaw.
  • The units goes offline at random and are brain-dead about trying to reconnect to WiFi once they go back online. When I am away from home I want to keep track of what's going on with the Litter-Robots, so I've had to install smart plugs so I can remotely cut the power then restore the power so they will go online again. Until next time.
  • When the unit goes offline, you lose the history from that time.
  • The bonnet... which has always been problematic... has a new problem. It doesn't fit well and doesn't stay closed. The little tab on the top snaps into the slot as it's supposed to (but pops back out any time a cat uses the units and it cycles.
  • Apparently the units will eventually be able to track which cat is using the Litter-Robot based on their weight. This is a feature which is "coming soon." The problem is that sometimes the weight doesn't get recorded. Pair this with the whole "offline" nonsense, and I actually have less of an idea as to what's going on with my cats' potty habits than I did with my Litter-Robot 3 boxes. Hopefully the update will disregard false positives... or at least allow you to flag them so you can train the system how to recognize your cats.
  • Litter can still be tracked out of the box fairly easily. Furthermore, since the globe is smaller and the fence won't stay on, litter gets tossed out of the box more than with the old one.
  • There's no stairs you can buy to accommodate older cats or cats who are uncomfortable with jumping/climbing in and out. The stairs I got for my Litter-Robot 3's were ugly and klutzy, but they worked. Maybe if the step on the drawer protruded a little more it wouldn't be necessary. I may have to build some kind steps myself, which might be tricky because I don't want to interfere with the operation or weight sensor.

This is a screen capture showing how one of them is offline. They were actually both offline until I power-cycled the first one...

Litter Robot App Screen Capture showing one unit is offline.

As you can see, the unit went offline sometime after 11:11am, and I've lost all data from then until I cycled the power at 7:10pm. I have no idea why it's saying a cat was detected at 7:12, because neither of my cats are even in the room. I can only guess that I farted in its general direction, and that was enough to make it think a cat is taking a dump...

This is the tab of the bonnet which will not stay locked into the slot. I keep putting it back in only to have it pop out the next time the unit cycles. Incredibly frustrating...

Bonnet hood won't stay latched.

The bonnet itself is ill-fitting all the way around, with gaps and seams that don't match up...

Bonnet hood not flush.

Bonnet hood not flush.

But, to be honest, I can handle the bonnet being poorly constructed... just so long as I don't get those idiotic "BONNET REMOVED" errors that plagued me for years with my previous units. It seems inconceivable that something costing $700 is so poorly constructed, and I can only hope that it stays operational despite it all.

And that's that. A lot of plusses. Some hefty minuses. But an overall good product that I can't imagine being without.

Pretty sure my cats can't imagine it either.

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Caturday 283

Posted on November 12th, 2022

Dave!My cats have been more than a little upset about being trapped in my bedroom while workers are here to tear apart my home and take all my money. I can honestly say that I'm not a fan of it either.

Jenny is outright pissed. She meows at me to let me know exactly what's on her mind, then avoids me like the plague for hours.

Jake is tougher to figure out because he bounces back from it quicker. I know he's upset... but then he will climb up next to me on the bed, shit down, then hang out for a while. But he still has attitude...

Jake looking up at me while sitting down getting pets.

Jake sitting down staring out into space.

This week it was especially great, because some birds fighting outside distracted him from his morning ass-wiping...

Jake looking up surprised.

I'd show you a photo of Jenny, but she's still holding a grudge.

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Caturday 282

Posted on November 5th, 2022

Dave!This is not Saturday. It's Sunday. Because I knew that I had the end of Daylight Saving Time to deal with. This is the worst day of the year for my cats, because meals will now be served an hour later until Daylight Saving Time comes back.

But on top of DST ending... we also had our first real snow. This is always entertaining because my cats forget what snow is since the snow left the last time. Jenny takes longer to warm up to it than Jake, who was right outside being fascinated...

The drama around breakfast not happening when expected eventually passed, and all was forgiven when Jake and Jenny decided to hang out while I was working...

UNTIL LUNCHTIME, THAT IS!!

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Caturday 281

Posted on October 29th, 2022

Dave!The cats have put up with a lot these past weeks. A lot of strangers coming and going as I have work done and repairs made. Even pre-pandemic when I had a steady stream of visitors, they were having none of it. And now, after years of lockdown, they're even more nervous about strangers as they were before.

The good news is that Jake and Jenny always recover fairly quickly. 20 minutes after everybody leaves, they're down investigating what happened while they were hiding in my closet upstairs.

AND DESTROYING EVERYTHING THAT'S NEW!

There's paper on the floor to protect the hardwood outside my bathroom. Knowing my cats would be curious, I dropped a towel over the edge so they would leave it alone.

At least that was the plan. Jake pulled the towel back while Jenny ripped the paper up...

I could be upset about it, but then Jenny comes running to snuggle up next to me, looks up at me with that sour little face, and there's just no way I can be mad...

Jenny being adorable.

Though getting then to snuggle against me is getting tougher and tougher as it gets colder and they want to spend all their time on the warming pads...

I'm not offended in the least. Them liking the warming pads saves me a fortune in heating costs over the winter.

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Caturday 280

Posted on October 22nd, 2022

Dave!To say that this past week has been a trying time for my cats is a huge understatement. And they never let me forget it.

Fortunately, as of yesterday, they have the run of the house again... save for the downstairs guestroom, which has been used as storage for all the crap in my kitchen while it was being repaired and the cupboard frames repainted.

They are not happy about this.

They are not happy at all about this.

Jake squawks at the door on occasion, but it's Jenny who is beside herself with rage about the fact that there is a room denied her. She meows at the door. She comes and meows at me. She paces in front of the door for 10 minutes. Then she sits in front of it for ten minutes. Then she starts meowing again. She is NOT a happy camper.

Because she's not used to being denied anything.

Meanwhile upstairs...

I still haven't moved the second water fountain back to the kitchen. This morning there was a line. Jake waited patiently while Jenny tested the water...

Jenny dipping her paw in the water fountain while her brother waits.

Examined the room...

Jenny looking around while her brother waits.

And looked like she was going to puke in the bowl...

Jenny with her paw over the bowl while her face is in the bowl while her brother waits.

Then he finally couldn't sit through any more of this nonsense and crowded his way in after five minutes. Five minutes!

Jake crowds in next to Jenny to drink... AT LAST!

But, hey. Any time they're not trying to get in the guestroom is a good time!

   

Caturday 279

Posted on October 8th, 2022

Dave!Remember how last week I was lamenting that Jenny is ignoring me because I put the warming pads out?

Well, now the newness of the warming pads are over for her. She'll still lay on them, of course, but she's back to preferring my body heat again because I'm more comfortable, I guess. And she has a total routine for it most days...

Jenny gets comfortable snuggling up against me.

But she ends up getting a little too comfortable, because her claws come out. She doesn't "make biscuits" like Jake does, but she does like to dig into me when she's really happy to be here and the scratches are good...

Jenny with her claws out.

Once I say "Ouch!" she actually knows to stop clawing me and turn her attention to getting the smell of me off her paws!

Jenny with her claws out.

Eventually she's ready for belly rubs...

Jenny flopped over and ready for those belly rubs.

At which point she's just minutes away from curling up and going to sleep...

Jenny sleeping next to me.

Yesterday she didn't even go through her routine. She just curled up and immediately fell asleep...

Jenny sleeping next to me.

In that photo, she actually started snoring a little bit, which is about the cutest thing ever.

Wildfire smoke this past week has been about as bad as it gets. I'm hacking up a lung most nights, because I spend all day on drugs to keep me from coughing at the office and don't want to overdo it by being drugged up 24/7. And yet... Jake has been playing nursemaid to me the entire time. I get home feeling awful and he's checking in on me from the minute I step through the door.

And at night? He's next to me when I go to bed...

Jake next to me at night.

And still there when I wake up in the morning...

Jake next to me in the morning.

Which is nice, but I feel terrible for him because what he likes most during the moderate temperatures of Autumn is to be outside. But because of the smoke I have the catio closed off. And so he's at the door crying all the time... and even attempting to get the door open. But, alas, I worry about his little kitty lungs outside...

Jake trying to get out to the catio.

Jake trying to get out to the catio.

I finally relented yesterday because the smoke was not as bad in the morning (I could see the nearby hills!), and he was out there until lunch...

Jake sitting out in the catio looking at the back yeard.

There are times I really wish I could explain to my cats why I do what I do... because it's always in their best interest in keeping them safe. But, alas, they just have to be mad at me when I deny them what they want.

Such is the life of a pet owner.

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Caturday 278

Posted on October 1st, 2022

Dave!This past week I finally set out the warming pads so I don't have to go bankrupt trying to keep the house warm enough for the cats to be happy. For two days neither Jake or Jenny had found them. Even when I tried to make them aware. But nope. So far as the cats were concerned, they didn't exist.

Until one day they did.

Jenny was walking across the couch so she could snuggle up against me as she's been doing. But once her paws touched that warming pad, I ceased to exist. Now you couldn't get her off the thing even if you used dynamite...

Jenny on the Warming Pad!

Jenny on the Warming Pad!

Jenny on the Warming Pad!

Jenny on the Warming Pad!

Remember the good ol' days when Jenny thought I was the best thing going...

Jenny snuggled up next to me.

Jenny snuggled up next to me.

Jenny snuggled up next to me.

Well those days are gone.

The other day I had to have a contractor come look at my house so he could write up an estimate for some work that I am not comfortable working on. The minute I opened the door, Jake and Jenny were running upstairs at top speed. I still leave the door to the storage room propped open so they have a "safe space" to hide out in. After the contractor left I ran up to make sure they were okay...

Jenny hiding behind boxes in the closet.

Jake hiding between boxes in the closet.

But no worries... the minute it was lunchtime, they were barreling down the stairs as if a stranger had never walked in the house.

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Caturday 277

Posted on September 24th, 2022

Dave!Saturday was made for staying in bed with the cats.

Which is easy to do when I awoke to my cats giving each other head-baths.

I recorded a dozen minutes of it for no reason other than it made me happy to do so...

Jake licking Jenny's head.

Jenny licking Jake's head.

It was genuinely sweet. And went on for a full 16 minutes.

Then Jake used Jenny as a foot rest so he could wash his foot, and... well... it was good while it lasted.

Jake licking his foot.

Jake's foot left on Jenny after cleaning.

Jenny, of course, acts like a little lady and washes her gams without assistance...

Jenny licking her very long legs!

Jenny glaring at me while her leg is still suspended in mid-air.

Jenny plopped down sitting.

I swear... seeing her sour little face is about the best thing I have.

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Caturday 276

Posted on September 17th, 2022

Dave!I have got to remember to wake Jake up if he's sleeping before I go to bed. If I don't, he wakes up and sees that everybody is gone, then starts crying and crying. Eventually he calms down after I yell down a few times... but it still makes me feel bad.

And speaking of feeling bad...

This is what I do when I walk into a room where one of the cats are sleeping and unintentionally wake them up. But then I'm all "Why do I feel bad? All they DO is sleep!" Plus the fact that they can fall asleep again almost immediately. A talent I sure wish that I had.

Lately when I've awakened in the morning and am heading down to feed the cats, my bedroom, the hallway, and all the way down the stairs is littered with toys...

Toys everywhere!

When I get home from work I put them back in the toybox... only to find them dragged back out the next morning.

When I look at the security cameras, I see that it's Jake. He spends hours pulling toys out. Not all at the same time... sometimes he takes breaks between trips... but still. That's a lot of time...

Jake hauling toys.

No idea what's going through that furry little head of his.

Not this is anything new.

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