Best Top Entry Litter Boxes: Updated for 2022

Written by AZ Animals Staff
Updated: October 20, 2022

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Key Points:
  • Top entry litter boxes allow your cat to enter and exit from the top of an enclosed box, keeping litter inside the box while they do their business.
  • The lid of a top entry litter box often has grooves that catch litter trapped between your cat’s paws to eliminate the litter getting scattered on the floor.
  • Some top entry litter boxes have a larger entry/exit hole at the top and a smaller exit hole on the side so your cat doesn’t have to leap back out of the top.

Taking care of your cat’s waste is a part of having these furry felines in your home that no one can escape. Having the right tools for the job can make all the difference between a clean home and one overrun with litter and odor.

One great option is a top entry litter box that allows your cat to enter and exit their bathroom space from the top of an enclosed box. The sides are typically high with an open-top or a smaller entry/exit hole for your cat to use. This helps keep litter inside the box instead of scattered all over your floors. Litter that is normally shaken off as your cat exits a regular litter box will fall right back inside a top entry litter box.

Each cat has their own preferences, so we’ve compiled a list of the top five top entry litter boxes that we recommend keeping your kitty happy and your home clean, along with their pros and cons to help you make the best decision for your pet.

A-Z Animals Top Picks for Top Entry Litter Boxes

  1. IRIS Top Entry Cat Litter Box
  2. IRIS Top Entry Cat Litter Box
    • Grooved ridges make sure that all litter and clumps are shaken off
    • The large opening on the top works well for small and large cats
    • Complimentary scoop
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  3. Petmate Top Entry Litter Pan
  4. Petmate Top Entry Litter Pan
    • Rectangular footprint allows plenty of room
    • The box has a textured lid to scrape off extra litter
    • Budget-friendly price
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  5. Modkat XL Litter Box, Top or Front-Entry
  6. Modkat XL Litter Box, Top or Front-Entry
    • Work as a top-entry or front-entry litter box
    • Larger size and versatile
    • A great choice for picky cats
    • The design prevents litter tracking
    Check Amazon
  7. PetSafe ScoopFree Self Cleaning Cat Litter Box
  8. PetSafe ScoopFree Self Cleaning Cat Litter Box
    • Lessens the chore of cleaning the litter box
    • Mechanical cleaning part removes the waste
    • This litter box requires special litter
    Check Amazon
  9. Modkat Litter Box, Top-Entry
  10. Modkat Litter Box, Top-Entry
    • Does not take up a lot of floor space
    • The lid swivels to allow for easy emptying and cleaning
    • Top-entry design
    Check Amazon

How to Choose the Right Top-Entry Litter Box

When selecting a top-entry litter box, it’s important to consider your home’s space, the features that you want, and your cat’s temperament.

Let’s look at these in more detail:

Your Home’s Space

The litter box that you choose will need to fit in the space that you have available. When looking at dimensions, also consider if you will have to remove the top to clean the litter box or any space that your cat may need to jump up and down. Swivel lids and storage handles for scoops can save space in a small home or apartment.

Top-Entry Litter Box Features

Not all top-entry litter boxes are made equal. Many are sleek and modern, but some come in a variety of colors and have scoops that can be stored on the box as well. Others are more budget-friendly but more utilitarian-looking with a rectangular bucket shape. Consider the functional features that you want, such as extra storage or self-cleaning, as well as how you want the litter box to look in your home.

Your Cat’s Temperament

Cats all have their own personalities. A top-entry litter box may be a big change for your kitty. Some cats adjust quickly while others take longer to get used to the new setup. A top-entry litter box that can be configured in different ways can be a good way to introduce your cat to a top-entry litter box gradually. A budget-friendly option may also be your preferred choice if you want to let your cat try it before you invest a lot of money.

How Often to Empty the Litter Box

Each type of litter box will come with specific emptying instructions. We recommend emptying the litter box daily. Cats are very temperamental and prefer a clean litter box. If you have multiple cats, you should empty it daily and consider putting out two (or more) litter boxes to ensure they always have a clean place to do their business.

The Different Types of Top-Entry Litter Boxes: Pros and Cons Compared

The main types of top-entry litter boxes are those with extra-large cats and those with a smaller footprint.

Large Litter Boxes

Pros: Good for multiple cats, large cats can fit, more room for the cat to move around

Cons: Take up more space, often more expensive, harder to find

Small Litter Boxes

Pros: Take up less space, often cheaper, can come in multiple colors

Cons: Large cats may have trouble, will need to buy multiple for multiple cats

Our Criteria and Experience: How We Chose the Best

When making our recommendations for the best top entry litter boxes, we researched many products to find ones with the following features present:

  • Durability–the materials used in the construction of the box hold up against wear and tear without cracking or breaking easily.
  • Safety–the materials used are safe for your cat. BPA-free plastic construction was preferred.
  • Functionality–the litter box was size-appropriate for your cat; the entry/exit hole was large enough for your cat to enter and exit without issue; if self-scooping, the box functioned well without problems.
  • Aesthetics–the litter box was nice to look at, blending into home decor if necessary; available in an assortment of colors; modern designs.

#1 Best Overall: IRIS Top-Entry Cat Litter Box

The best overall entry litter box is the IRIS, for its grooved ridges and excellent design. It has a large opening on the top so it works for small and large cats. The grooved ridges on the lid are an added step to make sure that all litter and clumps are shaken off before your cat jumps down. It also looks great, with three color options and a complimentary scoop that you can attach right to the box.

Testers like that the box kept litter off the floor and other curious pets out of the litter box. Dogs weren’t able to get into the waste, an added bonus if you have multiple pets. Some cats did take longer than others to get used to the new setup, although the larger opening of the IRIS top-entry litter box does allow them more maneuverability than some other options.

Best Overall
IRIS Top Entry Cat Litter Box
  • Grooved ridges make sure that all litter and clumps are shaken off
  • The large opening on the top works well for small and large cats
  • Complimentary scoop
Check Chewy Check Amazon

#2 Best on a Budget: Petmate Top-Entry Litter Pan

For the biggest bang for your buck, consider the Petmate top-entry litter pan. It’s more utilitarian-looking and only comes in gray but it sure gets the job done. The walls are quite large and the rectangular footprint allows plenty of room for your cat to do their business and cover it. The box has a textured lid to scrape off extra litter, which will fall back into the box.

This top-entry litter box does not come with a scoop but you can find one at most pet retailers for just a few dollars. The budget-friendly price allows you to find the scoop that works best for you and replace it as needed, which many pet owners prefer.

Best on a Budget
Petmate Top Entry Litter Pan
  • Rectangular footprint allows plenty of room
  • The box has a textured lid to scrape off extra litter
  • Budget-friendly price
Check Chewy Check Amazon

#3 Best for Large Cats: Modkat XL Top or Front-Entry Configurable Litter Box

If you have a large breed cat or a cat who just loves its treats, the Modkat XL litter box can work as a top-entry or front-entry litter box based on what works for your kitty. It has two flaps that you can turn into an opening, one that is 8 inches across in the front and one that is 10.25 inches across on the top. The included reusable liner works for either configuration so all you have to do is fill it with litter and let your cat start using it.

The price for this litter box is higher than many other options but it is still the best choice for many due to its larger size and versatility. Testers with cats over 13 pounds found that the larger size was a must for their pet. If you have multiple cats, getting this XL litter box may be a better option than two or more smaller boxes. For cats that may have a difficult time transitioning to a top-entry litter box, we recommend letting them get used to the Modkat using the front entry first. When they are used to the box, you can move to the top entry. This is a great choice for picky cats.

Best for Large Cats
Modkat XL Litter Box, Top or Front-Entry
  • Work as a top-entry or front-entry litter box
  • Larger size and versatile
  • A great choice for picky cats
  • The design prevents litter tracking
Check Amazon

#4 Best Self-Scooping: PetSafe ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box

If you like the idea of not cleaning up litter on the floor, imagine not needing to scoop the litter box at all! The Self-Cleaning litter box from PetSafe features a top entry to keep extra litter in the pan and a mechanical cleaning part that removes the waste so you don’t have to. The solid waste is swept into a container by the litter box itself. Don’t worry –there is a sensor to make sure that your cat is out of the way before it starts moving. Liquid waste is absorbed into the special crystal beads in the pan. Every few weeks, you replace the crystal litter and the process begins again.

This litter box does require special litter, which is expensive and not liked by some testers’ cats. It also doesn’t have as much odor control as traditional clumping litter, which can become a problem if you go weeks between emptying it. If you want something that lessens the chore of cleaning the litter box, this is our top pick. For high-performing top-entry litter boxes, look at our other recommendations, even though you will still have to scoop them.

Best Self-Scooping
PetSafe ScoopFree Self Cleaning Cat Litter Box
  • Lessens the chore of cleaning the litter box
  • Mechanical cleaning part removes the waste
  • This litter box requires special litter
Check Amazon

#5 Best for Small Spaces: Modkat Top-Entry Litter Box with Scoop and Reusable Liner

If you are short on space, a litter box that has a top-entry design to keep your home or apartment clean is essential. The Modkat litter box includes a reusable liner and scoop without taking up a lot of floor space in your home. The fewer litter box accessories and tools you need to find storage for, the better! The lid also swivels to allow for easy emptying and cleaning without the need to spread out all over your home.

This litter box is pricey but still gets rave reviews from testers. The main complaint is that if pee does get below the reusable liner, you will need to take everything out to clean the box. Because of the liner and lid, it’s not hard to do but does add to the chore of keeping the litter box clean. If your pet tends to keep their pee on the litter, you won’t have this issue very often.

Best for Small Spaces
Modkat Litter Box, Top-Entry
  • Does not take up a lot of floor space
  • The lid swivels to allow for easy emptying and cleaning
  • Top-entry design
Check Amazon

Summary of the Best Top Entry Litter Boxes

RankBest ForProduct
1OverallIRIS Top-Entry Cat Litter Box
2BudgetPetmate Top-Entry Litter Pan
3Large CatsModkat XL Top or Front-Entry Configurable Litter Box
4Self-ScoopingPetSafe ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box
5Small SpacesModkat Top-Entry Litter Box with Scoop and Reusable Liner

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About the Author

AZ Animals is a growing team of animals experts, researchers, farmers, conservationists, writers, editors, and -- of course -- pet owners who have come together to help you better understand the animal kingdom and how we interact.

Best Top Entry Litter Boxes: Updated for 2022 FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Do cats understand top-entry litter boxes?

Cats understand the concept of a litter box but their preferences will vary. Many cats like being enclosed and will use a top-entry litter box. Kittens or older cats with mobility issues may have a harder time getting in and out of the box. One of the best ways to ensure a smooth transition is to use the same kind of litter as they have gotten used to in your old litter box setup.

What is the point of a top-entry litter box?

A top-entry litter box cuts down on the litter that is scattered around when your cat uses the box and steps out. With a top-entry litter box, cats will jump onto the top of the box and down into the litter pan. After using it, they will jump out and back onto the top of the box. This ensures that any extra litter is brushed off and falls back into the pan. Many top-entry litter boxes also have textured tops to catch any litter or clumps.

Do cats prefer open or closed litter boxes?

Each cat has their own preferences. Some like open litter boxes, especially if that is what they are used to or what they have used since they were kittens. Other cats transition to a closed litter box and actually prefer the privacy that it offers. Generally, cats like to be able to see their surroundings and will keep their heads up and out of the litter box, whether it is open or enclosed.

Are open or closed litter boxes better?

Open litter boxes are usually easier to clean and cheaper to find and replace. They can be scooped without taking any parts off or having to move the litter box itself. Closed litter boxes can keep the surrounding area neater but may be harder to clean and smellier, especially if you do not empty the litter box often. The best litter box, however, is the one that your cat will use without going in an area that they shouldn’t.

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