The CatGenie "Smart Chip" cartridge - your opinion

The CatGenie is the only self-cleaning box on the market. An evolution of the LitterFree design, it connects to your household plumbing.

What is your stance on the CatGenie "Smart Chip" cleaning solution cartridges?

I don't care and don't really see it as an issue
48
37%
I don't agree with the smart chip cartridges, but will probably buy a CatGenie anyways
49
38%
I don't agree with the smart chip cartridges, and will not be buying a CatGenie because of it
32
25%
 
Total votes : 129

Re: The CatGenie "Smart Chip" cartridge - your opinion

Postby 56Effie » Mon Jun 23, 2008 3:19 pm

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Re: The CatGenie "Smart Chip" cartridge - your opinion

Postby justinharlow » Mon Jun 23, 2008 4:08 pm

Mad, Ol' Cat Lady wrote:I don't know about a complete substitute, but I add in white vinegar every few washes to help clear out any smell and it does a good job of freshening up the CG. If I had my choice, I would buy sani-solution that was largely white vinegar since it is a safe and very effective cleaning agent.

Dawn :)

I think that something like Odo-Ban (you can get it from Wal-Mart os Sam's Club) is perfect. It's basically the same chemical that CG uses. If you buy this stuff in bulk, you are looking at maybe $1.00 per refill.
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Re: The CatGenie "Smart Chip" cartridge - your opinion

Postby Mad, Ol' Cat Lady » Mon Jun 23, 2008 4:24 pm

I put it in on the first or second wash and by the time the third wash goes (which is water only and no sani-solution anyhow) through and it dries, there is little to no smell left. My cats never seemed to mind the smell of it and it pretty much clears out the nasty old box smell if i let it sit for ten minutes then restart the cycle. I have six cats now and over the past two years I have had the CG, I have had an additional two that we found homes for and none of them ever seemed to mind the very faint smell of white vinegar.

I use to rinse my dog in a 1:3 solution of it with water because he had such bad skin allergies and it helped him greatly. This was recommended by an alternative medicine vet who was the only one who ever made a large difference in the comfort of my dog regarding his allergies. Maybe they were all use to it from the weekly washings my dog received before he lost his battle with cancer.

Also, I use a vinegar and water solution on my floor when I can find it since it cleans and shines up wood flooring very well and doesn't leave a toxic residue which my cats would then walk on and later lick off their paws. Could be this also that makes them not care about the tiny amount used in the CG.

Dawn :)
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Re: The CatGenie "Smart Chip" cartridge - your opinion

Postby 56Effie » Mon Jun 23, 2008 6:20 pm

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Re: The CatGenie "Smart Chip" cartridge - your opinion

Postby Pelvis Popcan » Tue Jun 24, 2008 4:31 am

56Effie wrote:It worked! I read a full cartridge and wrote to and empty one. Filled with water and plugged it in to the catgenie. Worked like a charm. Now to get something other than water to refill them with!

Craig


Some instructions for others on how to do it would be nice. Could a device be made for someone to purchase? If it just reads then reflashes, it would be perfectly legal, as long as it doesn't contain any proprietary data.

As for solution substitutes... this is my understanding, I could be wrong:

With the LitterFree, the granules were not bio degradable. They were supposedly made of a combination of plastic and ceramic, so a bacteria / enzyme based cleaner worked very well. This would be a product like Simple Solution or Nature's Miracle. I personally used Simple Solution and had great results.

Now, with the CatGenie, supposedly the granules are bio degradable. This would seem to indicate that if you did use a bacteria / enzyme based cleaner, it would cause the granules to erode and/or degrade over time. However, I say this needs to be tested. My gut feeling is that the granules would NOT degrade... but of course, there's no way to be sure unless someone tests it.

As to the solution that the CatGenie uses... I believe, according to the info that has been posted, that the solution is an antibacterial ammonium based disinfectant commonly referred to in the industry as a "Quat". Apparently, this is what many veterinary clinics use to disinfect their kennels in between uses. However, I have no idea as to what specific brand or type of product to search for, and how much of such a product to dilute before refilling. You certainly wouldn't want it too weak or too strong, as it could harm your pet.

I say to try testing Simple Solution and see if you notice any degrading and/or eroding of the granules over the next six months to a year or so. I don't have it handy at the moment, but I did request a MSDS from the company that makes Simple Solution and it was just as safe (if not safer) as the solution that the CatGenie uses.
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Re: The CatGenie "Smart Chip" cartridge - your opinion

Postby 56Effie » Tue Jun 24, 2008 10:33 am

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Re: The CatGenie "Smart Chip" cartridge - your opinion

Postby inseattle » Wed Jun 25, 2008 5:43 pm

I would be soooo happy if I could refill and reuse the cartridges with something hypoallergenic! I really, really, really, REALLY dislike the smell of their detergent. It makes my nose run and I sneeze for a while after each cycle. Plus the smell just ... lingers. I really, really, really dislike it! And since I work at home, that's 3 times a day that I have to deal with the stink of "clean". I preferred the stink of cat litter - at least I could do something about it.
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Re: The CatGenie "Smart Chip" cartridge - your opinion

Postby rfreese » Wed Jun 25, 2008 8:04 pm

I didn't take the survey because none of the options apply to me. I bought a CG used, with the dome for my 4 cats. 3 of them use it.

My take on the cartridges is that they need to be recyclable. Just let us mail them in for some credit, huh? They're so expensive. I have 5 in my garage now, I wish I could even turn them in with the rest of my plastic but our municipal recycling won't take it unless it's a bottle with an actual neck.

I have had a barely used one start beeping at me, and on a Friday night. HORRORS! Since you have to mail order them, THIS IS BAD, BAD, BAD NEWS. I was horrified to think that I'd have to manually run the thing 3 times a day with Simple Green, Odo Ban and a cordless drill until a new cartridge came - in a WEEK. Luckily the machine took pity on me and changed its mind about that cartridge.

Please get some kind of deal going with a pet supply chain. I can't imagine what would happen if I was out of town and my friend who feeds my cats didn't know what to do, or if both the current and the spare cartridge failed.

There has got to be a way to run just a rinse in an emergency. I mean, you're talking about ruining the trust of your animals and then they will destroy your house.

Anyway thanks for this forum. Looking forward to reading and sharing!
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Re: The CatGenie "Smart Chip" cartridge - your opinion

Postby mpire » Tue Jul 01, 2008 8:30 am

The problem is that when they stop using the cat genie, you pretty much gotta start all over again with the training.

Its very frustrating.

It would be different if we weren't talking about cat poo.
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Re: The CatGenie "Smart Chip" cartridge - your opinion

Postby justinharlow » Thu Jul 03, 2008 8:39 pm

56Effie wrote:Thanks, I'll check out your suggestions. Quat looks to be promising.

Here is some info about reseting the cartridge:

The CatGenie “Smart Chip” is a 24lc00 Serial Eeprom of only 16 Bytes. I used a USB Eeprom programmer to both read and write to the chip. There are 11 contacts on the front of the Cartridge. With the cartridge upright the left two Pads are Pin 5 on the Eeprom. Pads 4&5 are Pin 6, Pads 7&8 are Pin 7 and the far right Pads 10&11 are Pin 8. Using 4 wires I made the appropriate connections to my programmer’s socket. After that simple read and writes can be done using the programmers software. Very Simple! Below are two readings. The first is from a full cartridge, then again after one cycle.

New :xx xx xx 3C 3C 3C 3C 3C 3C xx xx xx xx xx xx xx
Used Once :xx xx xx 3B 3B 3B 3C 3C 3C xx xx xx xx xx xx xx
---Edited out useless info with xx

Note that the first one has 3C six times and after one cycle the first three changed to 3B. If you convert 3C from Hex to Decimal you get 60, 3B is 59.. Hmmm looks like a simple count down. Not sure what the other areas are, but I have some ideas.

Craig

Hi Craig. Thanks for what you have done here. Do you have any idea of exactly what the coding system is here? Maybe it doesn't matter if you can just reset the chip to the "new" setting, but I am curious about why only half of the bytes are altered. In any event, can you publish exactly what you did, what programmer you used, etc. so we can reproduce it? I'd love to build a little handheld, battery operated gizmo to reset cartridges. I sense there is a market for it...

Thanks for some great work

JEH
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Re: The CatGenie "Smart Chip" cartridge - your opinion

Postby 56Effie » Fri Jul 04, 2008 8:30 am

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Re: The CatGenie "Smart Chip" cartridge - your opinion

Postby JLo » Wed Jul 16, 2008 5:54 pm

I am new to this forum but have read several posts regarding the Cat Genie, specifically about the "Smart Chip". I have 4 cats and have owned the Cat Genie for a year and a half. First let me say, I LOVE MY CAT GENIE, or at least the concept. However I did not realize until I started reading these posts that the "Smart Chip" is not smart at all, my bad for not reading the fine print. I thought the smart chip was supposed to be determining how much solution was actually left in the cartridge, I did not realize it was hard coded to 60 uses, regardless of how much is left. I started searching on the internet for help as to why I was ending up with all of these half empty cartridges that would not work. So while I love the concept of the Cat Genie and I applaud the manufacturer for the product, I find it environmentally and financially irresponsible to produce a product that wastes consumables and does not provide a method of recycling/reusing the cartridges. I have no problem with paying for the solution, as long as I get the full use of the product. I am in a situation where I have a water softener, and just like you have to use less detergent in the washing machine, I believe so should you less solution in the Cat Genie. After about a week of use, the machine is unable to drain because when it washes it becomes to sudsie and the bubbles allow to much air in to be able to pump out the liquid. So I found that once a week or so it helped out if I would start a cycle, pull the cartridge out so no solution would be dispensed, pour a gallon or two of water in, and let the unit rinse itself out and flush all of the residue left by the solution. I now realize that I was using up a click or two on the "Smart Chip" even though I was not using up any solution. Now I will have to rethink this procedure.

Again while I love my Cat Genie, I certainly hope there is a Cat Genie II or deluxe or whatever in the works. I also hope they rethink this whole smart chip thing. There must be a better way to ensure they company has a revenue stream than this. I have had numerous problems with my Cat Genie (am on my third processing unit), but I would say the majority have been with the nature of the cartridge either not reading and having to be reseated over and over again, or the now dozens of cartridges I have that I should just throw away but seems like such a waste. It used to be that my cats all used the Genie with no problems until it started beeping. Now I have one that whenever it beeps, he goes somewhere else in the house instead.

I hope someone from product development of Cat Genie is monitoring this site and a "New and Improved" version is in the works. I would buy a new and improved version (expecting a little discount for loyal existing customers). If you are here are some suggestions:

-Trigger by motion occupancy and time of day (some of us are on time of use electric plans).
-Adjustable solution flow rates for soft water.
-Quick disconnects and valves for both in and out water (similar to those on canister fish tank filters).
-Consumables in recycleable materials.
-No electrical contacts with the cartridge (just causes problems).
-An air cleaning exhaust for the hood, triggered by motion and cycle status (which as an option could be another source of revenue).
-A larger cartridge/container for the solution.
-Adjustable alarms, volume, frequency, based on time of day, ability to stop the audible warning when the unit is occupied, etc.
-An LCD display with status and remaining consumables readout.
-A less sticky solution to prevent cats from carrying the "litter" out on their paws.
-A power switch on the processing unit for when you need to reset the unit.
-An LED light to illuminate the "toilet area" (we keep ours in a dark area).
-Market the supplies and unit through a major retailer.
-Include valves on the supply water splitter for times when you have to disconnect the unit.
-Change the drain hose to a smooth, clear hose to help identify and clear clogs (we did, it works great).
-Put a check valve on the drain to prevent fluid coming back down the hose.
-Setup manual functions for cleaning and maintenance, ie: Rinse, Fill, and most importantly Drain for those emergencies when you have to pump the unit out.
-Love the Dome, but make them in larger sizes, also offer larger lengths of hoses as an option.
-Handles for carrying the unit for cleaning and maintenance.
-Update the website to allow online express shipping options, including Saturday delivery.
-Make as an option a wifi interface that would allow status/alerts to be viewed from a web interface and email alerts. I would pay additional for this feature.

Sorry for the lengthy post. Hope somebody from Cat Genie is reading. Look forward to version II.

Thanks
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Re: The CatGenie "Smart Chip" cartridge - your opinion

Postby nokamoto » Mon Jul 21, 2008 12:53 pm

I for one am really happy joeonsunset posted the "secret" commands. Several times now I've used the drain command. In my house, usually somebody decides to use the toilet which squashes the drain hose while the CatGenie is washing; and also to do a plain water rinse when the litter looks overly soapy. Thank you, joeonsunset, for posting the commands.
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Re: The CatGenie "Smart Chip" cartridge - your opinion

Postby grey bush » Mon Sep 08, 2008 1:12 pm

this thread is awesome. I wish i knew more about eeprom programming
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Re: The CatGenie "Smart Chip" cartridge - your opinion

Postby justinharlow » Sat Nov 22, 2008 10:03 pm

I know exactly how to do it, and have been doing it for months on hundreds of cartridges. It is not for the electronically challenged, but it works great. I can give you the magic if you want.

JEH
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