My Love-Hate Relationship with the Litter Locker

Wed, Nov 12, 2008

Litter & Hygiene

It took me a really long time to cough up the cash for this gadget. I though about it long and hard because I knew it was expensive to start with, plus the refill cartridges are also quite pricey, and I had read some negative reviews about it online. But I went ahead and got my very own Litter Locker because I had faith that it would help reduce litter odors. I’m not sure what it is about this product — perhaps it’s the marketing copy, to which I am particularly susceptible — but despite three very bad experiences, I somehow still love this thing.

Let me tell you what happened. I brought it home and set it up with the liner cartridge that it comes with. All went smoothly. I began using it and was very impressed by how it traps the odors inside the plastic liner. After you scoop, you have to turn the handle on the side which rotates the liner and sort of seals off the portion with the freshly scooped waste. The container itself is not air-tight, so the odor elimination comes from sealing the waste in the plastic liner. Not bad.

Since I have to scoop at least three times a day, I went through the first liner cartridge rather quickly. Okay…shell out another ten bucks for a refill. Hmmm, this could get expensive. But it’s worth it, I told myself.

I had read reviews that warned not to overload the Litter Locker or you could have a mess when you try to empty it. I very carefully emptied it before the handle became hard to turn, which is apparently an indication that it’s nearing capacity. So, one time I’m happily emptying my new toy and, plop, the sausage of poo falls awkwardly out of the flimsy plastic reel while I’m trying to get it into the garbage bin. But everything’s okay because nothing has actually fallen out of the liner, all toxic material is still contained. Good save!

So, I’m on my second or third ten dollar refill cartridge (because I’m too lazy to just order the 5 pack of refills from Amazon) and this time I fail to notice the little warning line that appears on the liner when it’s nearing the end. What happened next was an unmitigated disaster. I scoop and turn the handle as usual when suddenly the tension on the handle changes drastically. The flippin’ liner has come to an end and detached itself from the cartridge and now I have an OPEN sausage of poo and litter LOOSE inside my Litter Locker!! Holy CR*P! It’s EVERYWHERE! I take a deep breath and drag the whole mess outside and fling it into the trash bin. After an extensive clean-up and lots of deep breathing, I get the situation under control and prepare the contraption to be put back into action.

Keeping my faith in this little invention, I grab my last refill cartridge and pull off the plastic seal that keeps the liner carefully in place before use. I take hold of what I assume is the end of the liner, as I have done successfully before, but quickly realize that it is not in fact the end of the liner tube but somewhere in the middle. Knowing that I have to find the end or otherwise I will be wasting valuable liner, I start pulling at the liner material only to pull more from the center portion. The end is nowhere to be found! At this point I start panicking and begin to frantically pull at the liner, which unravels onto the floor. Now I’m just pissed, so like a small child having a tantrum, I tear at the liner, ultimately pulling the whole thing out of the cartridge! After reaching the very end of the liner and having destroyed the entire cartridge which is now useless, I sit sadly on the toilet lid thinking to myself, I should have just set fire to a ten dollar bill.

Since this incident, my beloved Litter Locker has been sitting alone in the office, waiting for me to give it another chance. I’m still deciding if the relationship is over or if it’s worth another shot. Tonight I noticed that the company who makes the Litter Locker is “A division of Angelcare Refills Company Inc.” REFILLS?! It’s actually in the manufacturer’s name? You’ve got to be kidding me. I think the love affair might be over.

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34 Responses to “My Love-Hate Relationship with the Litter Locker”

  1. 1

    I liked the idea of the litter locker until I realized two things: It requires the litter to be scooped several times a day (I have four cats!) and- much worse, in my eyes- it’s another excuse to use and throw away unnecessary plastic! What a horrible, eco-UNfriendly device :/ If they sold the litter bags in biodegradable corn bags (like I use for my trash), I might consider it. Until then, the idea of throwing away a ton of plastic is just too prohibitive.

  2. 2
    Feline Slade

    I, too, have a love-hate relationship with my litter locker. However, I’ve perservered with it for over 4 years now. Things I have learned that I wish they would tell you: grab the plastic stuff from the inside rim of the cartridge and you will get the end of the liner 95% of the time. If the liner is really difficult to pull out of a full cartridge and keeps tearing, there’s an issue in manufacturing — I got a bad case of the blasted cartridges where every single one was self-destructing. Tie a secure knot at the end of the liner or face peril. Ultimately, it’s an expensive, sometimes frustrating gadget that still makes sense for me due to the remote location of my litterbox and the need to keep it clean for 3 cats. But, to be honest, had it not been given to me as a gift by a well-meaning sometimes-catsitter, I would never have entered into the love-hate relationship, either.

  3. 3

    Your experience seems to echo everyone else’s: the device is just too complicated to use. If you’re looking for a cheap alternative, I recommend a $10 diaper pail. Works like a charm! :-)

    By the way, I had to laugh at your story – it sounds like something that would totally happen to me!

  4. 4

    I had one for about a year until I got a second cat. I found with 2 it filled up quicker and I used more and more of the plastic refills. I think its a great product if you have one cat, but if you have more than one its just and expensive litter trash can. Also if someone had a baby they could use a diaper genie as a litter locker once their child is too old for diapers.

  5. 5

    We had one of these, and I thought it would be the perfect solution for our small apartment with inconveniently located trash dumpsters. Alas, I found the Litter Locker to be impractical. We had three cats at the time and two litter boxes that we cleaned twice a day. To avoid overloading the locker, you basically have to turn the handle every time you scoop a poo into it. That runs through those expensive refills fast. I was never able to get the litter out of the infernal thing without making a huge, horrifying mess, and I was never able to replace the cartridge with any success either. Plus, despite the waste being allegedly sealed in the plastic, I found that the locker itself and the back of waste smelled awful. We went back to using plastic grocery bags and leaving them by the back door to take out on the way to work in the morning. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than that darn Litter Locker.

  6. 6

    It also took me a long time to decide to shell out the money for this thing. It seemed like it would be a good idea. I had four cats when I bought it and I was going through the refills pretty fast. Then there was the smell factor once you opened it up-yuck. I now have seven cats and I can’t imagine dealing with it. So, while my litter locker sits unused in a cabinet, I am happy to scoop my World’s Best Cat Litter into the toilet and flush.

  7. 7
    Stephanie S.

    wow, thank you so much for this review. I’m not going to waste my money on it!

  8. 8

    Okay, well I guess I’m the only one who actually likes my Litter Locker. Yes, it’s a little awkward at times if you let it get too full before emptying, but my husband and I agree that it has made a huge difference in the litter box care.

    We live in a condo, and although we have our own garbage can as opposed to a dumpster, I hate putting litter in my trash can. It stinks on a good day, but when litter has been sitting in there for close to a week before we’re able to put out the trash, it’s horrendous. Far worse than when we open up the Litter Locker and dump it. Especially during the summer when our garbage can endures the 90º heat. Our Litter Locker sits inside all nice and cool and odor free. :)

    My only complaint would be that I hate that it uses plastic bags. I wish they would come up with an alternative, and I most definitely wish it was cheaper. The rings up here in Canada are anywhere from $12-$16 at most places, but I recently discovered, when Walmart has them in stock, they sell them for under $10. Woohoo!

  9. 9

    You simply must try the Litter Champ! I believe it is now available at Petco. I had the Litter Locker for close to a year when I finally decided I’d had enough and got rid of it. Soon after I read about the Litter Champ and managed to find one. It has saved my sanity!
    It is so convenient and easy to use (and empty), you will never want to use the Litter Locker again.

  10. 10

    I had the same experience that you did. After a couple of the bags ripped on me, I said forget it. Plus they were just too expensive.

  11. 11

    Has anyone tried a diaper champ for scooping litter? I haven’t and I wonder what it would work like since it is designed to lock away odors, but it is still just dumping it into an easy to remove bag. There is one brand that lets you use regular garbage bags, so you could buy the diodegradable ones too and not have to buy the official liner bags for the diaper thing. Not sure of the name…

  12. 12

    I’ve been using the litter locker for 2 years now, without problems. I buy the refills, online, 5-6 at a time for around $6. It would be nice if they were made from a better “plastic”, but I would end up using plastic bags anyway, since I cannot flush the solids. I can’t imagine life without it. It really does seal up odors. And yes, the inside smells, so I don’t sniff it. problem solved.
    I hose it down and let it sit in the sun every once in a while, which helps. Also- the sun is a natural disinfectant — good for the cat box too.
    If you notice on the inside of the lid, it illustrates that you should only add 3 clumps at time before turning. This makes the bag last a bit longer — if you do a half turn, it will hold more, with no detrimental effect. So far, anyway. I do try to get as much mileage from those bags as possible.

  13. 13

    I have been using a Rubbermaid container lined with produce bag from supermarket and it works really well, find out from a great article about litterbox cleaning at

  14. 14

    I too have the love hate relationship/ On a good day it works brillantly. Some times you have to roll tons of the stuff before you get a good seal. Some times the seals does not work and pooh all over you kitchen floor. If you have a maine coon and more than one and a large wast pile it blocks and you cannot roll it. The cartriges are difficutl to fit and you end up with mounds of it round your neck.

    On the other side its great as keep smell in, easy to scope in and shut the lid. Fits tidy away. Rubbish men not to bothere as it bag saftly in the bin and not harm to envirmoment

  15. 15
    Victor Tabbycat's Mom

    I actually love it because the litter boxes are not in a bathroom and this holds a bag and seals in odors better than reusing grocery store plastic bags. Also, it meets our city’s “double-bag all pet waste” requirement.
    Yes, I wish the refills were cheaper (I get the 5-packs from Amazon) and I wish the refills were more bio-friendly. I’ve also had trouble training two teenagers to use it… one can’t seem to grasp the idea of tying knots in the ends of the bag; the other didn’t recognize when the bag ran out (or didn’t care) and kept scooping waste into the litter locker itself. Since we use clumping litter, the mess really wasn’t as bad as you describe, even with two cats. Handling the “sausage” of kitty waste is no worse than scooping doggy poo with a baggie, and it doesn’t spill if you’ve knotted both ends. Now that we have a 3rd litter box upstairs, I’ve considered getting another litter locker.

  16. 16

    I don’t understand this product. Isn’t this what plastic bags from the grocery store are for? It sounds like this is making more work out of the already heinous task of scooping poo.

  17. 17

    The litterlocker is AWESOME!! Would strongly recommend! I have several cats and boxes are scooped many times a day. What I do is tie a knot at the
    end of the bag cut it each time and retie the knot. Instead of wrapping it around and wasting the bag on the roller. You would be surprised at how long the cartridge lasts by doing this. It does the samething. Smell is contained until lid is opened. Hope this helps.

  18. 18

    A cheaper alternative to the official Litter Locker refills is to get Diaper Genie refills. These fit inside an empty Litter Locker refill cartridge (with some initial effort). You may still need to get an official Litter Locker refill now and again (every few months) since there is some wear and tear when jamming the Diaper Genie refill cartridge into your empty shell of a Litter Locker refill cartridge. Very curious about the Litter Champ, though…

  19. 19
    cat man

    Buy a beautiful stainless steel step can. These are available at Bed Bath and Beyond. Contains all odors, adds beauty to the home (and, it’s an extra trash can as well). It actually costs the same or less depending on size.

  20. 20
    Jenn C

    I’ve had a litter locker for more than 4 years. I recently realized that instead of buying the refill bags, you can just use regular small trash bags (or probably even the plastic bags you get when you go shopping at places like Target). The only thing is you can’t use the handles on the sides to rotate the bag, but I find that you don’t really need it…the odor is trapped in the locker without turning. Just take off the removable lid, place a plastic bag inside, making sure the top of the bag is sticking out over the top of the litter locker, and replace the removable lid, which will keep the plastic bag in place. Voila. Works like a charm.

  21. 21
    Sharon LaGreca

    I have had mine for about 3 – 4 weeks and have 7 indoor outdoor cats and scoop 2 litter boxes several times a day, the other has natural pine litter which many times they will use to pee in which is better than clogging up and taking up space in my litter locker. The pine breaks down naturally and doesn’t smell at all. I love the litter locker, I haven’t really had any problems with it. I just open very carefully and don’t throw it in the trash the way they tell u to. I carefully open and remove sides and condense the waste before I cut and knot so not to waste more bag than necessary. I was shocked to see the cost of the refills though! They range from 5.99 with 5.00 shipping and handling all the way up to 14.99. Stop and shop sells them for 8.99 each and walmart for about 9.99. I guess I will have to break down and buy the 5 pack to save money. I am still trying to find a better deal though. Well I am going to check into that diaper genie refill thing. Thanks for all the useful info.
    Sharon & the oh too many critters

  22. 22
    Will N

    If a Litter Locker is a “big purchase,” you can’t afford 2 cats. My problem was finding the end of the bag to start with. After deliberating I discovered the “end” was the innermost rim of plastic–so going slow and knowing which to tug at first solved that problem. The other lesson I was slow in picking up was that the locker wasn’t meant to be completely filled before you emptied it. Now, with 2 big cats, I routinely cut out a week’s “load” before I haul our garbage to the dump. With a scissors it’s easy to lift of the top (a bit) and cut the plastic with just enough room to tie a knot. Once removed I tie another know and attach to spindles again. Bingo. After a year we have never had cat stools loose in the Locker (or anywhere else…). It DOES require some sense of touch, however, to realize you have a problem or have come to the end of the roll. The solution would be to WATCH the goings on when you turned the handles and notice the bag coming to its end so you could tie your knot. But laziness prevents this precaution. On the other hand, we live out in the country on 8 acres yet the Little Woman won’t allow the dumping of the dumps discretely under some of our thousands of pine trees… But that’s a whole different kettle of fish.

  23. 23

    we like our locker — fyi, the bags have black marks on them when you get near the end of the roll — watch for it and you’ll avoid having the bag give out on you in mid-scoop!

  24. 24

    Interesting .. a “diaper genie” for cats.

  25. 25

    I just bought the litter locker today and am really confused. Maybe I’m not using it right. It’s set up fine, but I scooped the poop away and did a small turn. When that failed to move the poop, I turned it a full turn (that was an oops) and upon check, the poop moved down–however, it isn’t sealed. Is it supposed to be a sealed bag, or should the bag be open, waiting more poop?

    When I knotted the bag, I stuck the knot under the bag holder (or whatever it’s called–inside the LL with a pretzel-like design on it). the bag is secure, but I don’t know if that’s proper. HELP!

  26. 26
    Happy Locker User

    I have been using the litter locker since around 2001, and it has been awesome. Sure, I have experienced many of the accidents that many of you mentioned in the comments, but I learned from those accidents and soon turned it into a very positive experience. I hope the following may help and may inspire you to give the locker another try.

    ALWAYS TIE THE KNOTS TIGHT LOL Can’t emphasize that enough… when you place a new reel in the locker, make that knot LARGE (so it stays behind the “paddle” of the wheel mechanism and doesn’t come loose) and TIGHT (for obvious reasons LOL).

    When the reel gets too hard to turn, then open the locker, pull down on the reel plastic to get enough plastic between the reel and the last lot of “stuff”, and cut the plastic, and tie it tight.. very tight. EXTREMELY tight :)

    Then, put a garbage bag on the floor, opened up, and carefully remove the whole wheel mechanism (with the wrapped “stuff” still attached) and place the wheel and plastic into the garbage bag. Once it is safely in the garbage bag, remove the two halves of the wheel, leaving the coiled plastic full of “stuff” behind in the garbage bag.

    Then put the wheel back in place, tie a large, tight knot in the open end of the plastic draping down from the reel, just as if you were installing a brand new reel, and close the locker. and you are done.

    Hope that helps anyone that has found the locker frustrating to deal with, and hope you will maybe give it another chance. and, no, I don’t work for any company connected with the locker, just a happy, satisfied user since around 2001.

  27. 27
    Happy Locker User

    To Whitney… hope I can help you with your question…

    you are doing it right… when you pour in the ‘stuff” into the open pastic, and turn the wheel until the ‘stuff’ goes under the wheel, the plastic that is full of ‘stuff’ is now closed off, underneath the wheel. As you add more ‘stuff’, and turn the wheel some more, it all coils up around the wheel, and seals in the smells.

    you don’t need to tie a new knot every time you place some litter or ‘stuff’ in there… just make sure the initial knot is large and tight, so that it will stay behind the “paddle” part of the wheel mechanism, when you turn the wheel.

  28. 28

    I’ve had a big success with this and yes, a couple of times I failed to notice that the bag ran out but by paying just a bikt more attention, I simply empty this once a week (3 cats) and it lasts until about week 4 when I have to check carefully before I turn the handle. I wish the end fill mark was vivid but hey….

    Now, has anybody bought the new litter locker 2? Looks like the cartridge is smaller. I’ll appreciate any comments because I’m getting ONE MORE cat and I might want a second locker.

  29. 29

    I have the Litter Locker II and it is AMAZING!
    Never have accidents, superior smell control.
    Best thing to have happened to cat owners since scoopable litter!

  30. 30

    Can anyone recommend unofficial alternatives for the Litter Locker II refills?

    I mail-ordered the Litter Locker II via Amazon USA but it would be cost-prohibitive to do the same for every refill given that I live in Costa Rica.


  31. 31

    I think the whloe idea is awesome. Have been using the lockers for a couple three years. Just a neat way to do business. I too have experienced some of the challenges that have been documented. Good lessons learned.
    My real concern now is I’m having a very hard time locating the refills at the local establishments – just bought the last two on a clearance rack at the pet store and the price went up from the $10.99 i was programed to pay…. Hench my search of the web and finding this site. All is not lost; refills are available.

  32. 32

    I had the original Litter Locker and it was OK but sometimes didn’t turn like it was supposed to. The Litter Locker 2 is much better because it’s smaller and doesn’t turn. I’m having problems getting refills in Canada without paying big bucks but the 2 is much easier to just use regular bags in. I like it beacause when the weather is crappy or cold you don’t need to take a bag of cat poo out to the garbage. It great too for in our RV since we travel with 2 cats. I can scoop as many times a day as I need to. The cartridge in the 2 is smaller because it doesn’t need to turn. I’ve heard there are some diaper locker refills that work too but I’m not sure what brand. Overall it’s worked great for me but the 2 is a much better design.

  33. 33
    LaurieAnn Lepoff

    I’m still using the original litter locker. It works great for sealing off odors but is designed to waste as much plastic as possible and the refills are no longer available. My solution was to take out the gizmo that rolls up the waste and just let the waste fill the loose bag until there is no more room. then tie it off and start over. the bags last WAY longer and there is no need to use the roller unless you want to waste plastic. I bought as many refills as I could when they stopped making it, and now that I’m running out, I looked on line. Found something called Litter locker compatible refill liner from Wrapooh at Haven’t tried it yet, but it’s 10 times the amount of the old refills, costs 16.49 with a ridiculous $11 shipping charge. STill a huge bargain compared to the old refills.

  34. 34

    So I am NEW to this whole Litter Genie / Litter Locker / Litter Champ idea, after recently seeing an ad or commercial for the Litter Genie. I haven’t yet purchased one, but hope to do so in the next couple of days. I was reading a blog post from a Dad about the original Diaper Genie, and he was complaining that the revised models of the Diaper Genies were not as effective because you couldn’t spin the top, which spins the bag to help “seal” the current waste deposit off. I REALLY like the idea of being able to spin the bag in some way… as otherwise… it kind of is no different than buying a dedicated cat poo trash can with a lid. Does anyone know if the Litter Locker is the only litter disposal device that spins the bag? I’m kind of set on that idea. =) Any advice or input would be GREATLY appreciated!

    BTW… to the author of this post… THANK YOU for the laughs! I know you weren’t laughing at the time… but we cat owners have all experienced those awkward moments and your writing style captured it perfectly. =)

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