Introduction: CatGenie: Solving the Disappearing Granule Problem
An unknown percentage of CatGenie owners, myself among them, have received a bowl (the part that holds the granules) that was not quite perfectly round. When the bowl isn't round the granules can get forced up under the rim of the upper housing (or "brim" in CatGenie terminology) at which point they travel around the lip of the bowl, get dislodged by the processing unit and collect in the base.
This may not seem like much of a problem to the unenlightened observer, but at twenty three bucks a box these granules are competitively priced with most illegal substances. Unnecessary waste of this precious commodity causes unneeded expense as well as wasting perfectly good granules.
The photos below will give you some idea of the scale of the problem - please keep in mind that this illustration represents an accumulation of about three days' running - or to put it another way, twelve cycles. Replenishing at this rate would be very cost prohibitive.
Anyway - I've solved the problem. One could, of course, call CatGenie and just get a new bowl sent out - but there's no guarantee the new bowl will be better - or one could implement my solution. Its cheap, easy and it works.
Step 1: Disclaimer, Safety and Required Equipment
While I do not believe anything in this Instructable is warranty-voiding (no hole drilling, for example) you follow these instructions at your own risk. I am not liable for your death, loss of injury or income, spousal abuse or vague feelings of unrest you may feel because you did or did not follow the steps herein. Caveat Emptor, buyer beware, don't feed the tribbles and above all, be good humans.
This Instructable requires the use of a cutting implement and chemical adhesives. Perform only in a well ventilated area, wear gloves and be careful. Use common sense and be careful. Seek medical attention if you are injured. Don't drink and drive.
Everything you will need is shown in the photo below: a silicone baking sheet, your CatGenie upper housing ("brim"), some 3M Contact Adhesive, a boxcutter (or other cutting tool), a Sharpie (or other marking implement), a ruler and a foam brush or other similar applicator.
Feel free to make substitutions, although as to the adhesive I can state for the record that hot melt glue and carpet tape are poor choices - they don't stick to silicone well.
Step 2: Mark Your Mat
For demonstration purposes only, I have selected a green silicone baking mat. I bought it at Wal-Mart in a 3-pak of green, blue and clear. They're cheap, especially when compared to the cost of granules.
For your purposes, I highly recommend using the clear opaque mat. If you're careful with the adhesive the modification is nearly invisible.
From the approximate center of the long edge of the mat, measure toward the middle five-eighths of an inch or so and make a mark. Measure an additional inch and make another mark.
Step 3: Arc Your Mat
Using your eyeballs specifically calibrated for this purpose, draw an arc from each mark towards the ends of the mat. Use a nice, gentle arc and try to keep the spacing between the lines at about an inch.
You'll notice that I had to make a correction or two to get it to look right. Feel free to follow my stellar example.
Step 4: Cut Your Mat
Because the inner side of the upper housing is curved we must cut our mat to match if we want our modification to fit properly all the way round.
Cut along your marks, being careful not to cut through into a good kitchen table or any other furniture that will earn you a whack to the back of the head and an angry look.
Step 5: Mark the Length on the Housing
On the upper housing there is a stalagmite-looking projection that the arm rides against. Turn the housing upside down and our stalagmite now looks like a hole. This hole is going to be our starting point.
With one hand, hold one end of the arced piece of mat against the lip of the housing, with the inner arc upward. With the other hand follow it down to the other end of the mat, and (releasing the start end) mark it there.
This gives us the area of the housing to apply the adhesive to.
Step 6: Sticky Business - Applying the Adhesive
On the surface you just marked, cover this area liberally with adhesive. Set aside to dry.
Take your little arc and put it on the big piece of waste mat that we're not using. It'll make a great work surface for applying the adhesive. Now, on the large, outer half of the arc apply the adhesive. Leave the small, inner half clean. Set aside to dry.
Step 7: Break Time!
According to the directions on the can, we're supposed to wait until both of the surfaces we want to bond are dry to the touch. Don't worry - it only takes a couple of minutes.
Since we're almost done, now would be a good time to do a little cleanup: put the tools and adhesive away, throw away any trash and take a little break.
Ready? Let's move on...
Step 8: Stick It On
Do not accidentally touch the two surfaces. They will bond instantly and will remove the adhesive when you try to pull them apart, after which you'll have to reapply.
Taking special care to keep the two surfaces from accidentally touching and screwing up all your hard work (can you tell this has happened to me?), start at one end and stick them together. You want to try to keep any of the adhesive from showing, so go slowly, working your way to the other end.
Once you have it stuck on, stand back and admire your handiwork.
Step 9: Reinstall and Reap the Savings
The only step left is to reinstall your modded brim onto your CatGenie. There are no special instructions - it works the same as it did before.
Now, however, this improvisational flange will stay pressed against the side of the bowl, keeping out all the little escape artists and preventing their escape. They'll have to get out the normal way - on the bottom of cat feet.
A Word Of Caution:
You may be tempted, since you have all this extra silicone mat, to continue this modification all the way around the circumference of the brim, sealing the little buggers in for all time. I strongly advise against this. I tried it this way, and the increased friction from the flange kept the bowl from rotating CCW. The friction was so great that I could not turn the bowl. It may not seem like much, but it adds up.
I hope this Instructable helps - Enjoy.