I entered a photo contest at pets-area.com with a photo of my oldest cat, Taz. Well the prize was a brand new Litterhouse from Litterhouse.com. The most fantastic thing is, my handsome guy won! He was named Cat of the Month for June! I received a email letting me know we won and how to go about having it shipped. The usual cost of the Litterhouse is $89.99, however it only cost the price of shipping which was $25.00 that they charged, for the contest I'm assuming, because regular shipping fee is much lower at $7.95. Shipping was very quick and arrived by UPS and was very well packaged. Assembly was not too bad and doesn't require any tools, the pieces just snap together. It resembles a large doll house and isn't too bad looking, and comes complete with instructions, choice of decals to use for the windows, and charcoal filter for the chimney. The house is rather large and the entrance will allow access to a large cat, in my experience, up to 25 pounds. (and my Taz being a Maine Coon is a big boy!)
But beyond the improved appearance of the litterhouse over a regular litter box, is the fact it helps reduce mess and litter waste. Everything is self contained and the ramp catches all of the litter that is tracked out of the box, so you can dump it right back in, which I love! Just lift the top by the gable handles, scoop, dump the try back in the pan, and replace the cover, that is it! Also the inner part of the lid has a ridge that fits around the edges of the pan, so it helps keep urine and such in the pan where it belongs. (A problem I had with a traditional covered litter pan I had that would leak under the lid rim around the back, no matter how tight I made sure the fit was.) So getting this new pan for Taz and the rest of my feline family was great and allowed me to toss out that old leaky pan! So, improved appearance, odor control, less litter waste, and still giving my cats their privacy, it couldn't have been a better prize!
Update On Aug 17, 2009: Even though I've had a relatively short time to evaluate this product (roughly about a month), I've had time enough to make a follow up evaluation. What I thought was a great product and great prize, was indeed a mistake, and I highly recommend avoiding this one, and I'll explain why. According to Litterhouse.com, this product provides a nicer looking alternative to traditional litter pans. It's design is not only suppose to keep mess down by having a interior walkway/ ramp that catches the litter tracked out by your cats use, it also has a inner lip around the inside of the house lid, that keeps the mess in the pan. By all appearances, it seems like it would be fantastic, but this is not the case.
Ever since I have set it up I've been experiencing problems. The interior walkway does catch the litter as promised, however, it is catching urine as well. One of my cats is hanging their bottom over the edge and urinating right in the walkway /tray. Something that never happened with the traditional hooded litter pan (with the snap clasps), with that style litter pan, the urine stayed in the pan and no "over the edge" urinating. Also, there is another problem with leaking around the right/ bottom end of the house(if you're facing the litterhouse, it would be the right side/end). So, it's leaking urine around the bottom right end of the house onto my floor, and as you can see I'm already faced with more work, and more mess having to go extra steps to clean this up. I'm a pretty reasonable person' and a once or twice incident is fairly acceptable. But the incidents are more than that, they are ongoing. Even in this amount of time that I've had it in use, to me it is unacceptable.
Upon receiving the litterhouse I made sure I followed the directions and snapped everything solidly into place. Everything is assembled correctly, and every time I clean the pan and walkway in the litterhouse, I make sure everything is seated and fitting properly when the lid (house) is put back on, but still it leaks. So I decided to write the company about these problems I was having. Even though I do understand there is nothing they can do about my cat urinating on the interior walkway / tray, there is however a problem with the litterhouse leaking around the inner lip and out of the end of the house. I also wrote that I felt that it was unfair, considering the problems, having to have paid $25.00 for shipping for a prize I won, vs. a paying customer who only pays $7.95 for the same shipping throughout Canada and the US.
Well, I did receive a prompt reply to my email from the President of litterhouse.com, Barb Bruce. The email stated how sorry she was to hear I was dissatisfied. Also she wrote,
"To address the shipping charge, we absorb some of the cost to ship to our customers who have paid the full price for the product. The contest winners have to pay the shipping cost. Yours was 25.00, no extra charges were applied. That was a condition of the contest, that we would not loose money on the shipping."
Yes, it was stated in the contest the prize winner paid postage, however it didn't states details or how much. I didn't find out it was going to be $25.00 until I received a email from litterhouse saying congrats, to confirm shipping address, to advise who their shipper was, and if I chose to use it, how to pay. I just assumed it was higher because they we're trying to recoup cost, but they never stated that prior to now.
Now as far as the leaking around the inner lip, down the side/end around the bottom, onto my floor. Well according to the presidents view on that, it was my fault. She wrote,
"Your leaking problem is due to the position of the walkway. It is important that the walkway be attached in the right place. The lip on the walls will only line up if the wall is not bowed (back wall). If the walkway sticks out in the back, the wall will bow. Again I am sorry you are disappointed, but the house won't leak if the base is position correctly."
I had already stated that everything was assembled correctly per directions, that I make sure it is seated properly and that everything fits and is aligned, and it still leaks! But as you can see this is the response I received to my problem. I followed directions and did everything correctly. There is nothing that I can do any differently than I am already doing, and is clearly another issue going on. But again, the president didn't address that possibility, and made it out to be my fault.
Needless to say, I'll have to deal with it a bit longer till I can afford to replace it with something else and disassemble it. Even though I am proud Taz won and was awarded a prize, the prize of the litterhouse was not worth it. If I had know the mess and extra work it would cause, I would have saved my $25.00 and not even had it shipped. It was not worth the price I paid and definitely not worth the $89.99 + S&H price regular customers are charged! I'm just glad I'm not a customer who paid full price and came to them with this problem. I am very disappointed.
So instead of "No more litter mess with the Litter House!" it should be " A LOT more mess with Litterhouse!!". I suggest if you actually pay the full product price they are charging, go buy a litterpan that scoops itself!
Update On Aug 18, 2009: I thought after 1 update I was locked out for making future updates but I guess I was mistaken! Well I wanted to be sure that I updated this review in all fairness to the President of Litterhouse and her company.After a few emails to Litterhouse.com, they did refund the $25.00 shipping fee via paypal. A resoultion I had not really hoped for. I merely wanted help and a solution to the leak problem. If that didn't work, as a last resort a refund minus the $7.95 would have been resonable. I just wish my encounter with Litterhouse would have been a better one, and I do thank Litterhouse.com for issuing the refund.