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Cat Litter Robot - a space-age cat toilet!

Before explaining about this robot feline lavatory, here's some history of beliefs about the future:

Future technology sometimes brings surprises, but this thing is not sci-fi, it is reality of the present day, in the zero-zeros decade. In the 1960s it was generally believed that by the time we got to the 1990s and 2000s we'd be living in a space-age futuristic world. Space 1999, 2000AD, 2001 a Space Odyssey? Well, now in 2009 surely there'd be flying cars, high-speed monorail trains, holidays on the moon, etc? No? Give it time; future things will happen, but it may take longer than had been expected. However, although space travel hasn't kept pace with sci-fi expectations, computer hardware has in many ways overtaken what was expected. When travelling back in time to the 1970s, it's easier to get people to believe you've travelled back in time than it is to convince them you've got a Gigabyte on a little pen-drive.

Bring on the automatic cat toilet!:

So, anyway, about this picture, which shows a cat peering out of the cat-toilet, and the history of cat toilets: Throughout history, people have always co-existed with cats. There have been cats about in Ancient Egypt, the Roman Empire, the Dark Ages, Medieval times, and in the more modern era. However, in the old days, if you didn't have the facility to let your cat out to dig in the garden, you'd have to provide a "litter tray" toilet arrangement, so the cat didn't have to shit on your carpet. Well it sort-of worked, and you'd see the cat ritualistically digging in a square-foot of cat-litter tray which was the surrogate for the outside world. The trouble is, you'd have to clean it out. Not nice. Especially as, for some quaint traditional reason, cat litter trays were often in the kitchen, where you prepared food, rather than in the toilet, which would have made more sense. You go to the toilet; the cat goes to the toilet. Do you see what I mean?

Anyway, futurists have been on about robots improving domestic life for years. Robots will do the housework! The earliest application of this, in common belief at least, is the "robot vacuum cleaner". It's a little vehicle which drives around your house sweeping the carpets. Oddly, though, many other household applications for early robot technology aren't thought about. Well here's a robot which will muck-out the cat litter tray, thus saving you from having to perform that menial task yourself. It's a "Litter Robot" by Automated Pet Care Products, and consists of a machine which seems to have an uncanny resemblance to the "pod" in 2001 a Space Odyssey, as in "Rotate the Pod please Hal". However the Litter Robot is a futuristic space-age cat toilet! I am not kidding you, and this is not April 1st. This is a genuine item, and you can pay out a few hundred dollars and get one of these, and you'll never have to muck out a cat litter tray yourself again!

What happens is, the machine stands there somewhere in the house, in the toilet, or in the kitchen if you want to be traditional; wherever you like in fact. When the cat wants to go to the toilet, it finds there's no old-style cat litter tray and instead there's this thing that looks like a spacecraft. Curiosity being what it is, the cat climbs in and finds the floor inside includes cat litter. It's dark and quiet inside, so no-one's going to mind, and you can guess what happens next. ... Then, after that, the cat leaves the unit and walks away.

Precisely seven minutes later, if undisturbed, the space-age cat toilet or "Litter Robot" starts to self-clean. It's a bit noisy, like a miniature automatic washing machine, and no cat is going anywhere near it while that's happening! Soon, everything has been sorted out and it's back to where it was before, in quiescent mode, waiting for the next arrival of a cat.

If you would like to get one of these machines, for shipping to any destination in the contiguous United States, you can visit Automated Pet Care Products and look for the "Litter Robot".

Another points of note:

* The cat does not need to insert any coins into the machine, unlike an equivalent of those modern public conveniences in cities. However, the idea of self-cleaning public lavatory has more similarity with the Cat Litter Robot, than a "litter tray", which is just cat litter in a tray. The Litter Robot is a toilet for cats

* If you're thinking "You've got to be joking! There's no way I'm going to get MY CAT to go near any such robot machine!", you may be intrigued to hear that the cat-psychologists at Automated Pet Care Products have got this sussed, and have described various cunning psychological techniques to persuade the cat to use the Litter Robot. OK, you'd be a bit nervous yourself if you were expected to shit in a spacecraft, but folks seem to cope on long-haul aircraft flights, and the arrangements there are a bit odd.

* There are movie-clips of cats using these machines at the Automated Pet Care Products website. It's all done with reasonable dignity for the cat, and it's not voyeuristic at all. However it nobbles the sceptical view that the whole thing is impractical.

* "Rotate the pod please Hal" ... NO! Cancel that request! DON'T rotate it while I (the cat) am inside it! ... You'll be relieved to hear that no cats have been found to have been "rotated" or otherwise caught-up in the workings of the Cat Litter Robot machine. And in case you're wondering Cat Litter Robot *if they have a 100% reliable record and have never made a mistake, it's more that the Cat Litter Robot is programmed not to go into a spin-cycle if there are any cats anywhere near it. In fact, there's a countdown timer so the machine only starts up its litter-recycling processing after seven minutes of "no cats detected". For a cat to foil this, it would be like a burglar trying to avoid being caught by PIR (passive infra-red) intruder detectors. If the machine is disturbed, for example by a cat poking its nose into the opening, the countdown is stopped and reset. The robot is not exactly "Three Laws Safe", but it is intrinsically designed never to harm a cat!

* Yes, it does need emptying, but so does a vacuum cleaner bag, every now-and-then. It's like "changing a kitchen garbage bag". Anyhow, it's a lot better than shovelling shit. In effect, it's like the way office equipment only needs emptying/refilling/dealing-with every now and then; like a hole-punch, etc. What happens with the Cat Litter Robot is that most of the actual cat litter is recycled around. (there are diagrams at the site under the heading "how it works").

* If you want to find out more, see Automated Pet Care Products, and see about avoiding having to muck-out your cat!

* Picture of the Litter Robot for demonstration purposes : Cat not included.