A cat litter scoop with a battery powered vibrator carried in the
scoop handle which is actuated by a thumb operated switch. Upon
actuation, the vibrator imparts a high speed oscillatory movement
to the scoop about the longitudinal axis of the handle to accelerate
the manual steps of insertion, pushing, lifting and sifting associated
with the scooping motion employed with a standard cat litter scoop.
The scoop portion of the cat litter scoop is provided with a pair
of spaced transversely extending rows of elongated longitudinal
slots so as to define a solid web portion extending between the
rows of slots and transversing the scoop to enhance the structural
integrity of the scoop portion of the litter scoop.
1. A cat litter scoop comprising a handle portion and a scoop portion
carried by said handle portion, said scoop portion defining an open
forward end, a bottom wall, a pair of opposed side walls and a rear
wall, said bottom wall defining a plurality of spaced openings therein,
said handle portion defining a housing, a battery powered vibrator
mounted within said housing for effecting selective vibration of
said scoop portion of said cat litter scoop and a switch member
carried by said handle portion for activating said vibrator.
2. The cat litter scoop of claim 1 wherein said handle portion
defines a longitudinal axis extending therethrough and said vibrator
imparts oscillatory motion about said longitudinal axis to said
scoop portion of said litter scoop.
3. The cat litter scoop of claim 1 including openings in said side
and rear walls of said scoop portion and wherein said openings in
said bottom wall comprise a first row of elongated longitudinal
slots disposed transversing said scoop portion proximate said forward
end thereof, a second row of elongated longitudinal slots transversing
said scoop portion rearwardly of said first row so as to define
a solid web therebetween and a plurality of openings disposed laterally
of said first and second rows of slots.
4. The cat litter scoop of claim 3 wherein said vibrator comprises
a DC motor, a rotatable shaft extending therefrom and a weight member
eccentrically mounted on said shaft for imparting oscillatory motion
to said handle and scoop portions of said cat litter scoop.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to a scoop for sifting cat litter
for the removal of waste therefrom. Approximately thirty to thirty-five
percent of U.S. and European households have pet cats, the great
majority of which live inside the home virtually as members of the
family. The bathroom needs of these pet cats are typically accommodated
by the "litter box", usually a plastic tray into which
absorbent granulated clay litter is placed. The cats use the clay
litter for elimination and covering of waste. Absorbent clay litter
is the predominant material chosen by consumers for their litter
boxes. It is readily available in all manner of retail outlets from
the local supermarket to the pet shop.
Over the last 5 to 6 years, a new kind of clay litter has captured
about forty to fifty percent of this absorbent clay cat litter market.
This new clay litter is usually called "clumping" cat
litter. It is typically made with clay of the bentonite variety.
This kind of clay litter offers the unique feature of quickly forming
durable "clumps" when wetted, as when a cat urinates upon
it. These "clumps" are, on average, about the size of
a flattened golf ball from a single cat urination. The clumps "set
up" very quickly and become solid within about thirty seconds.
These solid clumps are easily removed, leaving the rest of the litter
bed clean and fresh. The result is better odor control, reduced
quantities of litter used, and a more sanitary litter bed for the
cats to use. It is usually necessary to scoop the litter pan twice
Clumping litters vary in the strength of the clumps formed. Many
form clumps that can break apart into smaller pieces. Houses with
multiple cats can experience clump breakage because of cats walking
on the clumps, disturbing the clumps when digging to cover a fresh
elimination, or clumps may break up when being lifted out of the
litter with a litter scoop.
The typical litter scoop in common use is a molded, plastic, slotted
scoop with a handle. The scoop portion typically measures about
four inches to five inches square or rectangular and has retaining
side walls on the rear and the two sides. The side walls are typically
one inch high. The front of the scoop is open. Both the bottom and
the side walls are perforated with slots which make the scoop approximately
fifty percent permeable to typical granulated clay cat litter. These
slots allow the cat litter to sift through the bottom and the sides
of the scoop and to fall back into the litter bed. Waste matter
and clumps remain inside the scoop so they can be moved away from
the litter box to a trash or waste receptacle. The slots in the
typical litter scoop which allow for sifting of litter are typically
long rectangular openings and the plastic grid structure elements
which form the slots are typically rectangular in cross section.
The slots are generally parallel and are oriented in the direction
of the motion of the scooping action. The slotted bottom of the
litter scoop may be flat, or it may be arcuate so as to conform
to the arcuate motion typically used in the scooping of litter.
Typically, a cat litter pan will contain two to three inches of
clay cat litter or clumping clay cat litter. Scooping out solid
waste and/or clumps formed by clumping litter most typically requires
a four step scooping action by the cat owner. First, one must insert
the scoop into the cat litter and push the front end of the scoop
down into the litter until it reaches the bottom of the litter pan.
Then, one must push the scoop forward in and through the litter
until the litter scoop is full. This action brings solid waste and/or
clumps into the scoop. The fill scoop is then lifted upwardly, above
the surface of the litter bed and tilted backwardly so that clumps
or solid waste do not tumble off the front of the scoop. Finally,
the scoop is jiggled and shaken so that the smaller litter particles
in the scoop will fall back into the litter pan, leaving only clumps
or solid waste in the litter scoop. The jiggling and shaking continues
until no litter is left perched atop the slot grid members.
To provide a thorough litter box cleaning with the new clumping
litters, it is necessary to sift through a large quantity of unsoiled
litter to remove the clumped soiled litter. Consequently, a considerable
amount of vigorous sifting action is required which is difficult
for older cat owners and persons suffering from arthritis or other
joint problems. It would be very beneficial if a cat litter scoop
could be developed which made this task easier. The scoop of the
present invention achieves this result.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Briefly, the present invention comprises a cat litter scoop with
a battery powered vibrating mechanism carried in the scoop handle
which is readily activated by a thumb operated switch. Upon activation,
the vibrator imparts a high speed oscillation movement to the handle
and the scoop portion of the device carried by the handle. The vibration
is about the longitudinal axis of the handle, accelerating the manual
steps associated with the conventional manual scooping motion: insertion,
pushing, lifting and sifting. The scoop portion of the device is
also configured to facilitate the passage of non-soiled litter therethrough.
The result is a substantial savings in time and energy in the removal
of soiled litter from a cat litter box.
It is the principal object of the present invention to provide
an improved cat litter scoop particularly adapted for easing the
task of removing soiled litter from a cat litter box employing clumping
type cat litter.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a cat
litter scoop which facilitates the passage of unsoiled litter therethrough
during sifting to minimize the spillage of litter onto the floor
when the scoop is moved away from the litter pan towards the waste
It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a
cat litter scoop having a vibrating mechanism therein for imparting
an oscillatory movement to the scoop portion of the device to facilitate
the removal of soiled litter which is of simple construction and
economical to manufacture.
These and other objects and advantages of the present invention
will become readily apparent from the following description taken
in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the litter scoop of the present
FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the litter scoop of the present invention.
FIG. 3 is a sectional view taken along the line 3--3 in FIG. 2.
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the vibrator mechanism employed
in the present invention.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
The litter scoop device 10 of the present invention is preferably
formed of molded plastic and comprises a forward scoop portion 12
and a handle portion 14. The forward scoop portion 12 is defined
by a slotted bottom wall 16 and slotted side walls 18 and a slotted
rear wall 19 which project upwardly from the bottom wall 16. The
bottom wall 16 defines a plurality of parallel longitudinal slots
therein. These slots can be arranged in a variety of configurations.
In the preferred configuration illustrated in FIG. 1 the bottom
wall 16 defines a forwardly disposed transverse row of longitudinally
extending parallel slots 16', a second transverse row of longitudinally
extending parallel slots 16" and a plurality of aligned slots
16'" laterally spaced from the rows of slots 16' and 16".
As seen in FIG. 2 elongated slots 16" are greater in length
than 16' so as to define a solid transverse web 21 extending across
the scoop bottom wall 16 forwardly of the midpoint thereof to enhance
the structural integrity of the scoop portion 12. The outermost
lateral slots 16'" are further reduced in length to provide
solid sections 23 therebetween and adjacent the scoop side walls
18 to further enhance the structural integrity of the device. The
upstanding side walls 18 and rear wall 19 are provided with a plurality
of vertically disposed slots 18' and 19', respectively. Slots 19'
are positioned on opposed lateral sides on a centrally disposed
solid wall portion 19" for additional structural strength at
the juncture of the handle and scoop portions of the device.
In the preferred construction of scoop portion 12 the bottom wall
16 is separated by web 21 into a forward portion 25 and rearward
portion 27. Portion 27 is inclined upwardly with respect to a central
longitudinal axis passing through the handle portion 14 of the device
10 at an angle of about 5.degree.. The forward portion 25 of bottom
wall 16 is inclined upwardly from said axis at an angle of about
15.degree.. The forward edge 29 of side walls 18 is inclined rearwardly
at an angle of about 40.degree. with respect to a vertical axis
passing therethrough. As seen in FIG. 2 the upper edges of slots
16', 16" and 16'" in bottom wall 16 are radiused to facilitate
the passage of the small unsoiled litter particles through the slots
to minimize spillage on to the floor when the scoop is moved from
the litter pan to the wash receptacle. While other scoop and slot
configurations can be employed, the above described configurations
are both highly effective in sifting waste from the litter while
providing the scoop portion of the device with strong structural
The handle portion 14 of the litter scoop device 10 is hollow so
as to define a housing for the vibrating mechanism 22. The lower
end of the handle is preferably open to allow for the insertion
of the vibrating mechanism 22 and a cover (not shown) is removably
attached to the handle so as to fully encase the vibrating mechanism
while defining a lower surface for the handle portion 14.
The vibrating mechanism 22 comprises a DC motor 24 a battery 26
preferably an AA battery, and a push button on/off switch 28 which
projects through the upper surface of the handle and is disposed
at the "thumb" position to facilitate movement between
the on and off positions. The switch may be provided with high and
low speed settings. The battery 26 is held between contact members
30' and 30" which are in electrical communication with DC motor
24 via leads 32' and 32". An eccentrically mounted weight 34
preferably formed of lead, is mounted on the motor shaft 36 as seen
in FIG. 2. Shaft 36 is substantially coincident with the central
axis of the handle portion 14. Motor 24 is rigidly affixed within
an enlarged portion 14' of handle 14 and is disposed adjacent the
interior handle walls of the scoop such that vibration of the motor
14 is transmitted to the handle portion 14 and thus scoop 10.
Upon moving the switch 28 to the on position, DC motor 24 electrically
communicates with the battery power source 26 causing rotation of
shaft 36. The off center mounting of weight 34 on shaft 36 causes
vibration of the motor 24 and of the entire scoop 10 in the nature
of an oscillatory motion about the longitudinal axis of the handle.
As the forward portion of the scoop 12 is caused to vibrate, the
finer unsoiled litter particles will pass through the various slots
in scoop portion 12 leaving only the soiled "clumps"
remaining within the scoop portion 12 for easy disposal.
In an alternate embodiment of the invention, the litter scoop 10
may incorporate a modular design for the DC motor 24 switch 28
battery 26 contacts 30' and 30" and wires 32' and 32".
In such a configuration these components could all be self contained
in a modular unit which would be readily snapped into and out of
the handle portion of the scoop. Such a configuration would allow
for the scoop to be completely washed if desired by the cat owner
after removing the vibrating unit so that there would be no damage
to the vibrating unit.
Various other changes and modifications could be made in carrying
out the present invention without departing from the spirit and
scope thereof. Insofar as those changes and modifications are within
the purview of the appended claims, they are to be considered as
part of the present invention.