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Your cat’s litter box is one of the clearest windows into his health. But while eyeballing urine clumps can help you make educated guesses about your cat’s wellbeing, it doesn’t give you any measurable data. And in multi-cat homes, you’re left to guess who did what in the litter box.
In other words, monitoring your cat’s litter box is important, but the way most of us do it is seriously flawed. Even the most diligent box-watching routine can’t give you all the numbers and information you need.
Toletta Litter Box Explanied
What if your litter box could give you real, trackable data and send it to your phone?
The Toletta is the most advanced litter box we’ve seen yet. In addition to giving you a clean, tidy litter box system, it provides the data you need to intelligently monitor your cat’s health.
After earning thousands of users and plenty of five-star reviews in Japan, the company is gearing up to introduce Toletta to the American market. In preparation for its U.S. launch, Toletta gave us the opportunity to experience what this litter box can do.
Over the last month, I’ve been trying this litter box with my two cats, Wessie and Forest. I’ve taken notes on both its smarts and its practical skills, evaluating its strengths in everything from odor control to facial recognition.
Keep reading to find out how Toletta works and how it could change the way you think about the litter box—and how you could get one of your own. Stay tuned until the very end of the article to find out how you could win a free Toletta system.
Before we jump into my experience with the Toletta litter box, let’s get some background.
The Toletta’s health monitoring power lies in its built-in camera and WiFi connectivity, which links it to a smartphone app. When paired with the app, Toletta becomes an in-home health center. Each time your cat steps into the litter box, the Toletta records video and transmits data about critical details like your cat’s urine volume, the length of time between your cat’s bathroom visits, and how much he weighs.
Thanks to facial recognition technology, it’s able to differentiate between cats, making it as useful for multi-cat homes as those with just one pet.
And by connecting you with a team of veterinarians, the Toletta helps you recognize and interpret fluctuations in your cat’s litter box activity. If something changes—say your cat’s urine output increases suddenly—Toletta’s network veterinarians will notice the change and tell you about it.
Though the Toletta’s health monitoring features are perhaps its biggest selling point, the way it handles litter is interesting, too.
Its design is one that Japanese cat owners—and anyone familiar with the Tidy Cats Breeze System—are used to.
Much like the Tidy Cats Breeze system, the Toletta litter box is broken into two sections. The top tray is grated, allowing urine to drop to the drawer below, where a puppy pad lies ready to absorb the moisture. A layer of litter sits in the top tray to handle odors.
In contrast to typical litter boxes, there’s no clumping, scooping, stirring, or scraping involved. When the litter box gets soiled, urine will drop to the lower tray and any feces remains on the top layer.
You’ll slide out the lower tray to remove urine and use a litter scoop to get rid of solid waste. For one cat, you’ll need to discard the pad once a week. The deodorizing litter pebbles that come with the box should last one cat for about a month.
Let’s talk about my experience using Toletta with my two cats.
The Toletta system came tidily-packed, adorned with notes about the proper use of different components, and swaddled in newspapers. Once I’d taken everything out of the box, the next step was setting it all up.
The Toletta app makes setup a cinch.
Before I was able to start using the Toletta system, I had to stack the litter tray on top of the sensing board, slide the lower drawer into the tray, and mount the light and camera unit on the back of the box.
Though the Toletta system is a little more complex than a typical litter box, it was easy to set up. The Toletta app provided clear, step-by-step instructions that made setup easy. I loved that the instruction guide used checkmarks to confirm that I’d completed each step.
After the main unit is assembled, it’s time to set up the WiFi connection. If you’ve set up a WiFi-integrated device like a robot vacuum or smart feeder before, this process is pretty straightforward. Again, Toletta’s clear instructions helped to keep things moving smoothly.
After everything is set up, Toletta asks that you introduce it to your cats. You’ll place your cat into the litter box and have him remain there for about 30 seconds while the system takes its first video. Toletta also allows you to create cat profiles, which have photos and details about your cat’s breed, weight, and age.
Once it had been calibrated to recognize my first cat, I poured the litter into the top tray.
This was my first time trying a litter like this and I was pleasantly surprised. For this review, Toletta shipped out a Japanese-style cat litter—a lightweight bag of deodorizing beads that looked a bit like lumpy yogurt-covered raisins. They were lightly scented but didn’t have any cloying aroma. And nope, no dust here.
The included bag fills the litter bed to about 1” deep, giving your cat just enough litter to dig around in while letting urine drop through to the absorbent pad underneath.
Once I’d gotten everything set up, it was time to put the litter box to work.
When plugged in and active, the Toletta’s camera light stays on, shining a blazing-white light that illuminates the room. While this glow allows you to capture clear, high-quality videos of your cat using the litter box at any time of day, it could make the Toletta a poor fit for bedrooms or other rooms that need to stay dark at night.
I placed the Toletta in the cats’ usual litter area and allowed them to gradually acclimate to it. They also had another litter box available in case they wanted to use an alternative, but it wasn’t in their normal bathroom area and was therefore less appealing.
Both Wessie and Forest used the Toletta box on the first day it was in the house. Over time, however, I noticed that Wessie was the only cat using the Toletta box. Forest preferred to use the Litter-Robot upstairs.
The Toletta litter box did a good job of controlling odors.
Along with daily scooping, the deodorizing beads kept fecal odors at bay and the puppy pads locked in urine odors. You’ll have to change the puppy pads once every week or so—more for multiple cats—and it’s a much tidier task than the old-fashioned litter dump.
And when it’s time to throw out all of the litter, it’s fairly easy to lift off the walls, remove the tray, and discard the litter in the trash. The litter used in the Toletta system is significantly lighter than clay, so disposal is no longer a back-straining task.
There was a lot of scatter and cleaning up the pebbles was a challenge.
Though we often associate larger litter granules with less scatter, I found that this litter did quite a bit of it.
Whenever my cats used the litter box, they launched a spray of litter beads out the front and onto the mat. Because I’m using a honeycombed litter trapper, the beads got lodged in the holes and were pretty difficult to remove.
Unless you find a way to return these beads to the box—which could be challenging depending on where you have the box located—you’ll eventually find your litter bed getting lower and lower. This type of shrinkage means a less comfortable cat, less odor control, and more frequent refills. It could also affect Toletta’s measurement system.
How does the health monitoring system work?
About 20-30 minutes after a cat used the box, I received a notification on my phone and was able to view their activity in the Toletta app. The untrained facial identification system initially confused Forest for Wessie, but after a few visits and a few corrections, it was correctly identifying both of them.
Along with video and photos of my cats using the litter box, each log brought insights about their activities in the box. With each visit, the Toletta sends important information like your cat’s weight, urine volume, and urine frequency.
In addition to a newsfeed of reports detailing each visit to the Toletta, the app has several tracking tabs. The graph tab lets you track trends in your cat’s weight and urine volume. The calendar page lets you add more depth to Toletta’s health tracking, allowing you to enter details about your cat’s meals, health status, stool consistency, and other information.
Over time, I started to notice patterns in their output. Wessie appeared to use the bathroom about three times a day—twice for pee, once for poo. His average urinations measured around 70ml.
Later on, changes in this pattern could indicate health issues like diabetes or kidney disease. And instead of leaving you to analyze these patterns, Toletta gives you access to a team of veterinarians ready to identify concerning fluctuations and trends.
Towards the end of my testing period, I got an example of how Toletta’s health monitoring system can help.
One night, I received an email from the Toletta team saying that they’d noticed a sudden increase in Wessie’s urine output. One of their veterinarians had analyzed the situation, they said, and it looked like an environmental change rather than a health issue, but they wanted to check in nonetheless.
The veterinarian was cc’ed into our email thread and would be in touch to help me determine what had happened and if I had reason to worry.
Here’s what the email said:
“Your toletta’s data showed that Wessie’s urine volume has increased rapidly. As a result of analysis by our veterinarian, it is thought that it is due to changes in the environment rather than diseases. Or might be false detection of toletta. Is there anything that you think might be the reason for this? In Japan, veterinarian asks this to toletta’s users directly by LINE app, but since it’s not launched in US so I asked by e-mail. Hope Wessie is OK.”
Fortunately, Wessie was okay. He’d been frisking around all day and I hadn’t noticed anything unusual. The vet later confirmed that the data most likely pointed to litter sandwiched between the sensor plate and litter box. But receiving that email let me know that I had an expert in my corner. A real veterinarian was keeping an eye on Wessie.
Of course, Toletta isn’t a substitute for taking your cat to a veterinarian. You’ll still want to take your cat to a vet if it looks like something is wrong. Those early warnings, though? They’re invaluable.
How much does Toletta cost?
Again, the Toletta system is currently only available to customers in Japan. On Amazon.co.jp, the Toletta box costs ¥ 10,780—about $100 USD.
In addition to the upfront cost of the box, you’ll also pay a monthly fee for the tracking services built into the Toletta app.
The basic plan costs ¥ 1,111—equivalent to $10.52—for the first cat, with discounted rates for each additional cat. Customers can also opt in to the premium plan, which gives you access to in-home vet examinations. The premium plan starts at ¥ 2,222—about $21—per month. The unit is covered by a one-year warranty.
Overall, is the Toletta system worth it?
When it comes to in-home health tracking, the Toletta litter box has no equal.
This litter box combines clean, convenient design with powerful health monitoring in a way that nothing else on the market does.
The Toletta allows you to effortlessly track metrics like weight, urine volume, and more without changing anything in your cat’s routine. And because it connects you to a network of veterinarians ready to identify and analyze changes in your cat’s litter box habits, using Toletta gives you peace of mind that ordinary litter box monitoring never could.
Though Toletta isn’t yet available in the United States, you could win it for free!
If you’d like to be among the first U.S. cat owners to experience the clean design and smart insights of the Toletta system, this is your opportunity to do that for free. Through October 31st, 2020, you may fill out a short survey to enter our Toletta giveaway.
Three winners will receive a Toletta litter system—including the litter unit, a one-year supply of litter and pads, and a lifetime subscription to the app—100% free of charge.