Introduction: CatGenie: Unclogging and Cleaning

Picture of CatGenie:  Unclogging and Cleaning

If you are the proud owner of a CatGenie, eventually you will probably have a clog. Cleaning up a clog can be a disastrous mess or no big deal... benefit from my experience and save yourself a world of grief.

Step 1: Safety, Disclaimer, and Tools


Cat crap is nothing to sneeze at. It can carry many diseases and make you sick. Wear gloves and wash your hands afterwards. If you're going to scrub vigorously you might want to wear a face shield. Although not absolutely required, I highly recommend shutting off the water line and disconnecting the power.


If you screw something up, I am not responsible. You assume all responsibility for your actions. Your mileage may vary. Look both ways before crossing the street. Don't drink and drive. Eat your veggies and above all, be good humans.


You need a drill (don't worry, you won't be damaging your CatGenie or voiding any warranties), a pitcher (for water), and maybe a towel. That's it.

Step 2: Get at the Impeller

Picture of Get at the Impeller

The first thing you've got to do is get rid of the nasty mess in the CatGenie. This is easier than it looks with the simple application of a (corded or cordless) drill - no bit required.

To use the drill you have to get to the impeller, which involves removing the "hand" (the scoop) hood and the motor assembly. No tools are required for this - just lift them off.

Step 3: (Try To) Get Rid of the Yuck

Picture of (Try To) Get Rid of the Yuck

We're now trying to empty out the yuck soup. This is where the drill really shines - empties 'er out with no muss, no fuss.

You'll notice that there is nothing in the drill and the chuck is fully open so there's nothing sticking out. Make sure that the drill, if reversible, is set in the forward direction.

Place the drill end-down on the impeller gear, and pull the trigger gently... the impeller will spin up from the friction and, if you're lucky (I wasn't), force the yuck soup out the drain line, allowing you to disassemble further for cleaning. I would caution you against too much speed on the drill - you could have splashage, and we don't want that. We REALLY don't want that.

Should you be unfortunate enough (as I was) to get no drainage, you'll have to purge the line.

Step 4: Clearing a Clog

Picture of Clearing a Clog

Sadly, our line has a solid clog. we'll have to blow out the line. Take the end of the drain tube and hold it up to your mouth, and blow really hard.


Hold the end of the drain hose up to the sink or bathtub faucet as shown, do your best to make a seal with your hand, and (once again gently) turn on the water. This will blow the clog out of the line so you can drain the yuck.

After you've heard a gurgle or two from the CatGenie, hook the drain line back over the toilet. Repeat the routine with the drill to finally get rid of that nastiness. Try not to look into the toilet... it's kinda gross.

Step 5: Disassemble for Cleaning

Picture of Disassemble for Cleaning

Now that it's empty, we need to further disassemble our CatGenie for better cleaning. I'm going to do a complete tear-down on this one for your benefit, but you could just put it back together and run another cycle at this point if you choose.

To take the upper housing off remove the hand by pressing down on the black clip at the back. It'll slip right off. Then, push the arm back as far as it'll go - you'll hear a "clunk" when it's all the way down. This keeps it from hanging up on the housing.

To remove the upper housing, hold down the impeller with your thumb and with your other hand, reach to the back side and pull up on the lip. If you don't hold down on the impeller you'll just lift the whole CatGenie off the ground.

Step 6: Further Disassembly...

Picture of Further Disassembly...

Lift out the bowl and set it aside - NOT ON THE FLOOR! Preferably on an old towel or you can sit it on the open toilet. I prefer the toilet method.

Now; underneath the bowl will be a layer of - let's just say "residue". I add some clean water to the bowl, loosen it up with a toilet brush and repeat the drill operated emptying process. Once you've got the base clean(ish), add some more clean water - this will act as our sink for cleaning the rest of it.

Step 7: Cleaning the Impeller and Housing.

Picture of Cleaning the Impeller and Housing.

Okay, now it gets really nasty, so glove up.

The impeller is in a housing that, like everything else with the CatGenie, lifts right out without tools. Once lifted up, gently tip the top toward you so it will drain completely. There's some nasty water in there.

You'll notice on the water drain that there is a red washer. This washer is important. Your CatGenie WILL NOT FUNCTION without it. I know, it happened to me. Pull it off and set it aside, and don't forget to put it back on when we're done.

Grab the impeller housing firmly with both hands, hinged side away from you, and open it like you would a book. This exposes the impeller and all-important water sensor. The impeller is held in place by a plastic clip. DO NOT over extend this clip when releasing it. It looks fragile to me, and I think it wouldn't be difficult to break it off. Move it just enough to the right to release the retaining clip.

Now remove the water sensor. Grab the top of the left end and move it towards you and to the left. It should pop free. Pull the other side to the right - it'll pop free in your hand. Clean it off and put it aside somewhere. REMEMBER where you put it, because it's damn near invisible when you're looking for it.

Step 8: Scrub-a-dub Dub

Picture of Scrub-a-dub Dub

Using your toilet brush that you've specifically dedicated for this purpose, scrub the impeller housing clean in your improvised CatGenie sink. Scrub gently rather than vigorously as you don't want to have it flinging all over the place.

Snap the impeller and the water level sensor back in place, then close your freshly cleaned poopinart (sorry - impeller assembly), snapping it shut securely.

Check the hole the poopinart goes into for granules - a few is okay, but too many in the bottom and it won't seat properly. Lots of granules? Add water and dump them into the toilet.

Reinstall the ever-important red washer, and slide the whole assembly back into the lower housing. Spin the impeller with the drill again to empty out your wash water, rinse and repeat.

Place the bowl back on the center spindle; it should spin freely. Put the upper housing back in place. Now, you're probably thinking you should put the hand back on the arm, but that's a baaaaaad idea. Since all the granules are wet, when you run a cycle (to clean those nasty pellets) they'll stick together in a mass and you'll lose a couple of handfuls down the impeller. Granules are expensive. Losing them is bad.

Step 9: Inspect and Reinstall Motor Assembly

Picture of Inspect and Reinstall Motor Assembly

The motor assembly houses all the electronics, motors, sensors and whatnot to make the CatGenie work it's magic. If it doesn't work, nothing works.

Okay, pick up your motor and look at the bottom. The little red nipple is also a critical component - it directs the cleaning solution into the water during the wash cycle. A spare of these is also included from the factory. They thought of everything didn't they? Anyhoo, pull this nipple off and rinse it with fresh water, hold it up and look through it to be sure its clean, then reinstall. I've had one get clogged and solution flooded (okay, not "flooded" - how about "ended up in") the area where the base sits. Thanks to thoughtful design, however, none of it went on the floor.

Before you put the motor back in it's place, inspect the base area for granules. ONE granule in this area can keep your CatGenie from seating properly and it won't power up, so check very carefully. Put the motor back where it goes, and put the hood back over the hand area.

Step 10: Run and Reinstall Hand - the Home Stretch.

Yes, I know the hand is still not installed. Trust in me, young padawan.

Push the start button to start a cycle. Pick up the hand, stand there and watch as the arm extends and the bowl goes around. Its not fun, but its strangely fascinating in a weird way. Its really an amazing machine.

Don't install the hand until the water starts to run. This signals the end of the poop-scooping cycle, so you won't lose any granules after this. Once the water starts, hold the hand down there and let the arm extend itself into it's hole in the hand. It'll click nicely when it's seated. Let go and go on about your day - your work here is done! The CatGenie will complete the cycle normally and resume normal operation.

Now, if you didn't manage to get the hand reattached before the arm extends too far, do as the Guide says on the cover and Don't Panic. The hand must be installed for the CatGenie to successfully clean and dry the granules, so take off the hood and motor. It will power off, but that's okay. Taking the motor off disengages the drive mechanism for the arm, and you can just lift it up manually and attach the hand.

Once the hand is attached, leave it extended and replace the motor and hood. The cycle will resume where it left off, blissfully unaware you interrupted it.

I hope this Instructable helps you get more joy (or at least less hassle) out of your CatGenie - please feel free to leave comments and let me know what you think! For more of my CatGenie (and other) observations you can visit my blog at

- ScottSEA


qaz666 (author)2017-03-04

Thank you for the walkthrough but this was the most disgusting thing I had to do in my life. I'm scarred for life. Next time it cloggs, it's going directly in the garbage. I would clean 5000 regular cat litters before I would clean again the evil goop that hides inside that machine.

!Andrew_Modder! (author)2008-01-28

that is NASTY!!!

ScottSEA (author)!Andrew_Modder!2008-01-28

NOoo..... what's really nasty was the FIRST clog I had to clear. I still have nightmares....

Yotamar (author)ScottSEA2017-01-15


!Andrew_Modder! (author)ScottSEA2008-01-28


erick.mendes (author)2008-04-22

Offtopic: Om*g, you people got automatic cat toilets... I didn't even know it exist. IMHO, it seems a little, exaggerated... A little box and sand is all that takes for a cat to piss... why make things more complex?

Yotamar (author)erick.mendes2017-01-15

People who are physically handicapped are always able to stoop and lift and bend. This has been a wonderful solution for our household.

Spokehedz (author)erick.mendes2008-11-10

When you have 6 cats, you would be cleaning litterboxes every single day. If not more often. Not to mention about the disease and infections that can result from litterboxes with that many cats all using each others boxes. Or the bloody sand getting everywhere from catfights in the box. Add the fact that a GC is very cheap to operate (if you refill your cartridges, and keep the granuals in--both explained by ScottSEA) and can operate for days without human intervention. I'm not saying you would leave your cats unattended for weeks on end, but now I can leave my cats for 2 days (I have an automatic feeder as well) and not feel absolutely horrible about it. I still feel bad, but work needs me sometimes... And I don't care how good of a friend you are--nobody is cleaning litterboxes for you. So, yes. We have cat toilets. Why don't you move along with your completely useless comments and to back to Youtube where your kind are usually located. I know this is coming dangerously close to not being within the 'Be nice' policy--but Sheesh!

erick.mendes (author)Spokehedz2008-11-10

Ok, you got a point. For people who have cats living indoor it sure seems like a nice idea.

I just think that it's more water been used, more chemicals being thrown at the sewer system.

By now, I got 7 cats. As I live in a home, I let them make it in my backyard, as it is a big sandbox. Every weekend I catch their poops. By the way, I also got 5 dogs. So it's a zoo mess over here. : )

Ok, you wasn't really nice with me but I don't take those things serious.
IF you got time, and curiosity, take a look at my "family":

Cya around the web.
And btw, good luck unclogging your cat toilet! ; ) lol just joking, couldn't help.

proudsailor (author)2009-09-07

I am contemplating getting the CG. My question to all is whether it's really worth the $300plus investment. I have four cats, and since I'm newly retired from the Navy after 21 years, I have some catching up to do with family and such. That means a wee bit of travel for me, but not usually more than 4-5 days at a time. So, I can't decide whether to get the CG or just go with 4 litter boxes and hope for the best. Thanks in advance for any feedback from ya'll.

Yotamar (author)proudsailor2017-01-15

It's super great as long as it doesn't get a hiccup. Then it's a little bit of effort. But definitely worth it.

acokefair (author)proudsailor2011-09-23

I purchased a CatGenie last November on the advice of a co-worker. We have 2 cats, and they LOVE this thing! They actually compete to see who can get in the box first after cleaning. We recently went away for 5 days, and the cats were fine with the Genie. i love the fact that there is no smell (the litterbox is in the laundry room). After 7 months of use, I just dissambled and cleaned the Genie for the first time.
Our cats are an 18 lb Siamese, and a 6 lb. Tuxedo, the Siamese is fat, so we do not free-feed the cats. For travel I purchased a Q-Pets automatic pet feeder from Amazon (just in case you need this, too!)
Enjoy your travels, Navy. Thanks very much for your service!

kadams74 (author)2016-06-17

OMG that made me LMAO right in the middle of the aisle at Walmart ????? (blow on it) bahahahaha

Yotamar (author)kadams742017-01-15

Yah!!!! That part really got me too!!! Bahahaha

Yotamar (author)2017-01-15

Oh em gee!!! Your humor is too funny!! Your instructions are spot on! I had already figured all this out before (except the drill part) and have dismantled my wonderous poopinator on several occasions. But your writing captured me with your humor and I HAD to read the whole thing! RICGL (you'll figure it Thank you for the smile after my back breaking yukfest.

AwakenCompassion. (author)2016-12-18

Thanks for the advice. My Catgenie was exactly like your picture above 5 minutes ago. I followed your advice. When I got to the Impeller, as I don't own a drill, I just used a pair of chopsticks to randomly stir the container beneath the brush...guess what? I got out 2 pieces of larger paper towels out... My smart cat must have done that. So, no more paper towels or toys around the Catgenie anymore...and chopsticks becomes handy...haha

DavidF466 (author)2016-10-03

We have not one, not two, but three of these magical crap palaces and one of our cats refuses to use any of them. This negates our ability to use them because she'll only use clumping litter (she's never been exposed to the joys of clay, compressed wood, corn cobs, or Evergreen if that's even still on the market). So, we had to retire all three of them after hand-cleaning (pausing while you take a moment to enjoy the thought of just how spectacular that experience was) all of them. Yes, three crap-tactular catgenies are collecting dust in our cellar and we're back to scooping litter boxes. Oh how I wish we could use them again, but our cat is the youngest and apt to be with us a long time - though it was touch and go there for a bit when we kept finding presents outside the catgenies. Not until we aimed one of our security cameras were we able to catch the culprit. Our friends thought we were strange for having self-flushing toilets for our cats and then thought we were even stranger when one of our security channels in our home was cat-crap TV.

If anyone is interested in buying one, two, or three gently used, well-cleaned catgenies, please let me know. For the right purchase price, I'll even throw in the shipping!

MarkB525 (author)DavidF4662016-10-12

Where are you located and what is your asking price per CatGenie?

DavidF466 (author)MarkB5252016-10-12

NW Chicagoland, Illinois. Willing to ship domestically. $150 for one, $250 for two, or $300 for all three. Shipping cost based on your location and your preferred shipping method.

T U Manning (author)DavidF4662016-10-15

I'm very interested in your Cat Genies! Are they still available? I'm new to site - if I'm not on here waiting, how am I'm notified when a reply is received? Thank you!

EdM14 (author)2015-12-21

My cat genie is making this horrible scraping or grinding sound during its cycle. Other than that, it appears to be working fine. Any others have this problem?

lamerc (author)2015-11-23

Thank you! Bowl was refusing to turn, found stuck granuales, now it's back to working fine! :-)

JCPhlux made it! (author)2015-09-17


DoctorEvil30564 (author)2015-09-16

I was having problems with my bowl not wanting to spin when a cycle would run, so I followed your diassembly guide to troubleshoot. Before I finally did this, I would have to put my hand on the bowl and press and then pull it in the direction of the normal rotation and then it would start working for a cycle or two before it would do it again. This made me decide to try disassembling the CG to troubleshoot Sure enough there was a quantity of litter granules on the lip of the top piece of the bowl assembly that were causing the bowl to stick if the clump stopped at a certain place when the previous cleaning cycle ended. I am going to have to take it apart again as now I have a god awful noise during the drain cycle that is probably being caused by a foreign object being dropped into the impeller but now the bowl is spinning normally again. When the CG is running properly it is a awesome tool, but I really wish they could rework the scoop so it can catch more of the fecal matter, as if any small chunks break off when it is scooping if it will fit through the slots of the scoop the scoop action always shakes those little chunks loose and then they wind up going through the dry cycle and stinking up the house. I have a CartridgeGenius mod chip installed on mine so I now use odorban in my sanisolution cartridges and that does help quite a bit with the dried poo smell. If anyone has a good working modification for the scoop that they can share or create a instructible about this would be awesome.

mandaindeed (author)2015-09-08

Thank you so much for this!!!!

nixster54 (author)2015-05-05

I can't thank you enough. Last time this happened we were knee deep in it trying to empty it by hand and unblock it! Brilliant. Don't suppose anyone has any ideas how to stop it mashing the cat poo into small chunks and then heat drying it in the bowl? It smells worse than the cat doing it on the kitchen floor!

LillyDelvalle (author)2014-10-01

This was so needed, as my CG was loud, not draining, and even began to release a burnt, smoky sense. I thought there was no saving it, but needed to try as it is a $300 investment.
I carefully followed this tutorial. It really is very clear and simple to do. Now my CG is good as NEW! Thank you as much for

DoctorEvil30564 (author)2014-01-03

great instructions. I'm bookmarking this for later as I know at some point I'm going to have to do this to my catgenie

shortyfrlife (author)2013-11-27

I was brought to great your instructable after our CG start being deafening loud today during it's run. Thanks to your help we found a penny in there along with a lot of hair. Got it all cleaned out put back together but it is still making this horrible noise. It only seems to do it when it drains. Any ideas?

mr_beyer (author)2013-02-15

When I have to clean out a clog, instead of blowing water backwards up the drain I blow air using a vacuum cleaner. Once I get bubbles at the mulcher bowl it is clear. If I have to use my wet vac to drain it once I hit the clean and drain portion of the cycle I just empty the vacuum back into the bowl so it clears during the drain portion. The only problem I have is when it is a hairball. Sometimes it works, sometimes it really clogs it up and requires a disassembly.

jeff waldie (author)2008-12-14

Has anyone had the problem of the cartridges being half full (atleast) after 60 washes? I have cleaned the orange nipple and was wondering if there is anything else that needs cleaning to open up the cleaning fluid. Also, has anyone tried uncooked brown rice as a substitute for the granules?

abarbee01 (author)jeff waldie2010-04-13

Ok, I'm glad I'm not to the only one looking to save a little on the cost of granduales, I just got my catgenie about 3 months ago and have gone thru both boxes of catgenie granules (1 of my 2 cats has a hyperthyroid and on medicine but stool can be softer than a normal cats so more granules stick to it). But I just couldn't force myself to put perfectly good brown rice in the catgenie for my cats to poop on. So I instead went to Walmarts Craft section and got a bag of  100% polypropylene poly-pellets (the kind crafters use for small toys or cushions) their about the same size as the the catgenie granules but their shaped more like a half flat droplet (you know the shape you get if youve ever drop hot glue on a counter the resulting shape after its dry is round on top but flat underneath) so they don't "roll" around either. I tried them out for the first time last night and ran a cycle and they seem to be flowing thru the cleaning basket better than the original ones. I know these aren't as biodegradable are the original so I wouldn't recommend this for people w/ a septic. These seem to work for substitute catgenie granules until I can get the original ones again.

mewildetoo (author)2009-05-01

awesome instructions

Ladywyngs (author)2009-03-05

Absolutely the best instructions I have ever seen. I have been fighting with mine for weeks!! Thank you!!!!!

smummert (author)2009-01-20

Instead of using a drill at this point, figure out the diagnostic routine to run the drain motor. It starts by holding down both buttons for 4 seconds. Then you alternately press the Auto Setup and Start buttons.

irgeek (author)2008-11-11

You are correct to tell everyone that gloves and a face shield are a good idea, but cat crap can be very dangerous--especially to pregnant women and people who are HIV positive--because it may carry the parasite that causes Toxoplasmosis. You may want to edit the intro to inform people about that.

FourLeggedHairy (author)2008-10-14

This drill spins the pump, if you call customer service they can do this using the catgenie itself. Of course, at 2 AM the drill may be a solution. They now have a free new designed hopper and pump called the Turbo something. Call for yours! I've had my catgenie from way back, very few issues and they have been great. ALL companies should take a lesson from Catgenie when it comes to customer service.

davidshq (author)2008-07-25

This is a great tutorial. Thanks a lot. Very detailed, great images!

Jeff Carr (author)2008-01-28

These things are fantastic. I haven't had a clog yet, but I'll be referring to this if I do. Thanks! I've been refiling my cartridges recently... I might have to post an instructable on that....

ScottSEA (author)Jeff Carr2008-01-28

Refilling your cartridges? You don't say! I would love to hear more about that (as I'm sure you're aware). Are you hacking the chip? I haven't had time/experience enough to look into it, but again: I would LOVE to see an Instructable on it!

Jeff Carr (author)ScottSEA2008-01-28

I didn't hack the chip so much as the actual unit. I just rerouted the sensors to a different chip. The unfortunate side of that is that now it can't tell if there is a cartridge in it or not... Plus, I haven't found a replacement chemical that works as well as the original yet.

mrbenz7 (author)Jeff Carr2008-04-16

How did you do this? I would love to know since my cat genie arrived with defective cartridges right out of the box! If there is someway to defeat the chip, any way to do this I might consider keeping it, but as of now, I'm soory I got it. It's made in China and i should have known better!

SaltCritters (author)Jeff Carr2008-04-04

How did you hack the unit? Please tell these beeping sani solutions are driving me nuts!

ScottSEA (author)Jeff Carr2008-01-28

I was told that the cartridge basically contains a similar solution to what your local vet uses to clean the tables and whatnot. Have you tried a Simple Green solution? Do you know what kind of chip is on the cartridges? I assume its an EEPROM, but which one? If I had the spec I might be able to re-increment the counter on a cartridge back up to 60, thereby maintaining complete functionality.

Sun Gear (author)Jeff Carr2008-01-28

when i got it i accidentally took off the nipple and flooded the processor and void the warranty luckily they gave us a knew one.

Jeff Carr (author)Sun Gear2008-01-28

They do have amazing customer service from everything that I've heard. Luckily I haven't had the need to use it.

ScottSEA (author)Jeff Carr2008-01-28

Yes, I love CatGenie's customer service. I've had a faulty cartridge and a water hose replaced without questions, and the replacement parts arrived in a couple of days. I can't say enough good things about CatGenie - or their people. Thanks for the great feedback.

winjama (author)ScottSEA2008-03-20

Thanks for a great Instructable. Wish I had read this about 2 weeks ago. I would have been a lot surer tearing into my own Cat Genie. My only problem with the unit is I live in Belize, Central America. They don't ship supplies/parts/etc., out of the US or Canada. But, that's my cross to bear for living in paradise. I'm really looking forward to an instructable on refilling the cartridges - even without a chip hack. Thanks again. Why doesn't the spell checker recognize "Instructable"?

ScottSEA (author)Sun Gear2008-01-28

I lost a nipple too... but found out what the problem was and installed the spare. They're easy to lose track of!

Deslv (author)2008-03-25

What would happen if some Drain-O or something like this would be added every so often to dissolve the hair?

About This Instructable




More by ScottSEA:Put Your CatGenie in "Tech Mode"CatGenie:  Resetting a SaniSolution CartridgeCatGenie:  Repairing (And Preventing) An Arm Rotation Pin Failure
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