By Natalia Hook
Being a cat person means being a litter box person. It certainly beats the alternative! Over the years, I’ve had litter boxes of many different styles. Some have worked well for my feline family, while others... Not so much.
Five major factors affect which cat litter box is best for you and your kitties:
3. Cat acceptance
5. Odor control
Of course, you can fully assess only size and appearance before you get it home, and have your fur babies put it to the test. Hopefully, an honest review of the PetMate Booda Dome Cleanstep litter box from my multi-cat household can help you fill in some of the blanks.
There are two styles of PetMate Booda Domes: the basic pod-like round model, and the fancier Cleanstep, which includes a built-in ramp entry. I selected the Cleanstep because, in my opinion, the design appears better for controlling tracked litter, and the base is wider and looks stable.
Size and Appearance
The Cleanstep is an attractive covered litter box. Its design is sleek and modern, and it comes in several pearly shades. (My Booda Dome is “titanium.”) That said, it’s unmistakably a feline bathroom. If you’re looking for a hidden litter box that no one will notice, this isn’t your box.
I also selected the no track litter mat accessory, which is a secondary litter collector, made from the same hard plastic as the Booda Dome Cleanstep itself. It attaches to the front of the base. It looks similar to the visual of a short walkway up to a porch.
The footprint is 22.5 inches by 22.5 inches, with a height of 19 inches. This sounds pretty generous, but keep in mind that it’s a litter box with a ramp, which is included in the measurements. This cuts down on the actual litter filled area inside, which is somewhat bean-shaped and measures 19 inches long by 12 inches wide at its widest point.
If you’re looking for a litter box for a large cat, the Cleanstep may be tight quarters. My 15-pounder, Atticus, had no problems, but I wouldn’t want to size up much from there. It has worked in my home as a litter box for multiple cats, but it’s not the only one (the other options are hidden litter boxes.) I probably couldn’t hide the Cleanstep if I tried. Round litter boxes don’t do corners well so it would be more difficult to tuck this out of the way than it would be with a square or rectangular litter box.
There are two separate pieces to the Cleanstep, as it’s a covered litter box. The base and dome fit together but don’t snap or lock. The top edge of the base fits snugly in the bottom edge track of the dome. I found that they fit together well. The top lifts off easily to scoop out the box, and I’ve never had an issue getting it back in place. There’s a handle for ease of removal. You cannot carry the entire box by handle — just the dome.
The base, dome, and mat are made of, as far as I can tell, unrecyclable plastic. The entire system is of average sturdiness — not flimsy, but not heavy duty, either. I’ve had no issues with cracking or breaking. I don’t think it would do well outdoors. All pieces are made in the U.S.A.
One huge plus with the construction is that liquids (such as cat pee) can’t get between the two pieces because the top edge overlaps the bottom piece. You just have to make sure that the dome is securely fitted to the base. This makes the Cleanstep an excellent litter box for cats that (ahem) tend to aim high when urinating. Not sure if you have a cat that aims high? Then you probably don’t! Lucky you! But if you do have a high-aimer, I’m sure you’re well aware of it, and I feel your pain. But, if your precious puss has urinated over the side of other litter boxes, take heart and give this one a try. It may put your litter box issues to rest. Forget about a litter box with high sides. The Cleanstep has you covered.
This is the litter box deal breaker. No hack can correct a cat’s instinctual opinion of potty arrangements. If you’re wondering if your cat will accept this new litter box, here’s my breakdown. Four out of my four cats were willing to use the Booda Cleanstep right away. I have one who prefers an uncovered box and chose that over the Booda, but she didn’t find the quarters so restrictive as to reject it outright. (For the record, she’s about 13 pounds.)
None of my kitties showed any hesitation at the mat or entry ramp. They recognized that this was a bathroom, immediately. To be objective, only one of the four has any behavioral urinary issues (I don’t count my little prince who aims high. That’s an unfortunate byproduct of his stature.)
Some cats prefer a secluded, covered box that provides them with privacy, while others feel trapped when enclosed, and opt for open litter boxes. If your felines have rejected covered boxes in the past, my best guess is that the Cleanstep will be no different. If your cats have never had a covered box before, you can try introducing the Booda Cleanstep without the cover on it, let them acclimate for a while, then add the cover.
The unit is pretty easy to clean. The surface is smooth and washes easily with mild soap on a wet sponge. The round shape of the base can make scooping clumped litter off the bottom take a little longer, but it wasn’t a big deal to me. If you have a smaller scoop with a rounded edge, it’s close to a non-issue. There are pan liners made specifically for the Booda Dome, but I didn't find them to be necessary.
In the never-ending quest for a litter box to prevent tracking, the Booda Dome Cleanstep has about the same limited success as other boxes I've tried. Neither the textured ramp entryway nor the mat completely controlled litter movement. My cats are on pelleted pine litter, but I still found bits of pellet and dusty residue outside of the box and off the mat. On the upside, the ramp entry blocked kicked litter from leaving the box, which is helpful.
Both the basic Booda Dome and the Cleanstep come with a charcoal filter to help absorb and control odors in the litter box. All models have the filter placement in the lid, but in newer models, the filter goes in from the outside. My Cleanstep has the previous design, which is basically a recessed area in the cover with a fold-up perforated plastic barrier that fits over it and holds the filter in place.
On my model, the snap-shut mechanism worked poorly, and after finding the charcoal filter laying in the litter a few times, I started fastening the plastic barrier in place with medical tape. This solved the problem and couldn’t be seen from outside the dome. The newer model won’t have this problem because its updated design prevents the filter from falling.
After the first two filter replacements, I didn’t keep up with it because there wasn’t an odor issue. When I tried it with no filter, there was no change. This leads me to believe that cleaning habits such as daily scooping and regular full litter changes have more of an effect on odor control than the charcoal filter does.
Overall, my experience with the Booda Dome Cleanstep litter box has been positive, and it gets my recommendation.
Pros: Attractive, good quality, easy to clean, high level of acceptance by cats, no odor issues.
Cons: Bulky, poorly designed filter placement (has been changed in newer models,) limited success of tracking control system, may be too small for cats above 15 pounds.
I rate the Booda Dome 4 out of 5 Stars!
Images used with permission, courtesy of Natalia Hook