Best Top-Entry Litter Boxes

Written by Kellianne Matthews
Updated: December 8, 2022
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Key Points:

  • The #1 Best Overall top entry litter box is the IRIS Top-Entry Cat Litter Box.
  • 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 one of the not-so-fun parts of sharing your home with a furry feline. Having the right tools, however, can make all the difference between a clean home and one overrun with litter and odor.

A great option is using a top-entry litter box. These allow your cat to enter and exit their bathroom space from the top of an enclosed litter box. The sides are typically high with an open top or a smaller entry/exit hole for your cat to use. When a cat exits a litter box, they shake off litter from their paws, which often ends up scattered all over the floor. However, with a top-entry litter box, the litter will fall right back inside the box when your cat jumps out.

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

  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
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  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
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  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

Top Picks: The Best Top-Entry Litter Boxes Today

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

The best overall entry litter box is the IRIS Top-Entry Cat Litter Box, with grooved ridges and an excellent design. This box has a large opening on the top so it works for both small and large cats. The top of the lid has grooved ridges as an extra step to catch litter and clumps that your cat shakes off before they jump down. It also looks great with three color options and a complimentary scoop that you can attach right to the box. The box is rounded with a modern and sleek appearance.

This box is designed to help keep litter off the floor and to keep other curious pets out of the litter box. The sleek sides of the box also keep dogs from getting into the waste, and it allows your cat to have more privacy while they are doing their business. This is especially helpful if you have multiple pets.

The IRIS litter box is also much larger than many other options, providing more room inside the box for bigger cats. The box is 14.56 inches tall, 20.47 inches long, and 16.14 inches wide. It also comes in different colors, so you can choose one that best fits with your home decor: black with a grey lid, gray with a white lid, white with a tan lid, and orange (or peach) with a grey lid.

In addition, this box is one of the easiest litter boxes to clean! The box itself is rounded with an oval shape, so there are no corners or crevices for litter and waste to get stuck in. The smooth plastic construction also keeps litter and waste from sticking to the sides or floor of the box as well.

However, some customers reported that it can take longer for some cats 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. In addition, since the box is tall and has slippery sides, it might be difficult for older cats with arthritis.

Pros and Cons of the IRIS Top-Entry Cat Litter Box

ProsCons
This box is larger than many others on the market, with lots of room inside for larger breed cats.It may take some cats a little longer to get used to the new setup.
The opening at the top is large, making it easy for both big and small cats to enter and exit the box.This box is taller and has slippery sides, so older cats with arthritis may have a hard time jumping in and out of it.
The lid has grooved ridges to help catch any scattering litter when your cat jumps out.
The box comes in different color options.
The design is modern, simple, and sleek.
The box is tall with smooth sides, helping to keep dogs and other pets out. This also provides your cat with more privacy when they are in the box.
This box is easy to clean. The interior is rounded, without any corners for waste and litter to collect in. The smooth plastic also keeps litter from sticking to the inside of the box.
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
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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 has a more utilitarian appearance and only comes in gray, but it sure gets the job done. The box is quite large, measuring 20.29 inches long, 15.07 inches wide, and 15.2 inches tall, so it can accommodate large cats. It also has an open rectangular shape that allows plenty of room for your cat to do their business and cover it.

The walls are tall, offering your cat privacy while they are inside. This also helps to keep any curious canines from getting into the box. Since this box is quite tall, however, it might pose a challenge for older cats with arthritis. The box also has a textured lid to catch extra litter, which then falls back into the box. The enclosed design helps to keep your cat from kicking litter out of the box as well. The best is mostly easy to clean, although some customers reported that it has a ridge in the floor where litter clumps can get stuck.

This top-entry litter box has a hook for a cat litter scoop, although it does not come with its own scoop. However, 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.

Pros and Cons of the Petmate Top-Entry Litter Pan

ProsCons
The box is fairly easy to clean.There is a ridge inside where litter clumps can get stuck.
It has a large and spacious interior, making it a great option for larger cats.The box only comes in one color, and has a basic, utilitarian appearance to it.
There is a hook on the outside of the box where you can hang a litter scoop.It does not come with a litter scoop, so you will have to purchase one on your own.
The tall walls provide privacy for your cat and keep dogs out of the litter box.The height of the box could pose a challenge for older cats with arthritis.
The textured lid helps to keep cat litter off your floor.
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 their treats, the Modkat XL Top or Front-Entry Configurable Litter Box can work as a top-entry or front-entry litter box based on what works best 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 can work for either configuration, so all you have to do is fill it with litter and let your cat start using it.

The box itself has a modern, modular design, with sleek white sides and a grey, textured lid. The top lid is texturized with small holes to catch extra litter. The sides are also rounded to help keep litter clumps from sticking, making the box easier to clean. There is a hook on the outside of the box where you can hang the included litter scoop. The box is also very sturdy, so it will last for a long time.

The price for this litter box is higher than many other options but it is still a great choice due to its larger size and versatility. The box measures 21 inches long, 16.3 inches wide, and 17 inches tall. Many customers with cats over 13 pounds found that the larger size of this box was a must for their pet. It can also be a great option if you have multiple cats. 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 also great choice for picky cats.

Customers have reported that liners can sometimes be tricky to find in stock, and they can be pricey. However, the liners are washable and can be reused over and over again for several months.

Pros and Cons of the Modkat XL Top or Front-Entry Configurable Litter Box

ProsCons
This box is large and roomy, making it a great choice for large breed cats.This box is much more expensive than other options available.
It is sturdy and well-made.Some customers had trouble finding liners in stock at various times.
You can use it as a top-entry box, or as a front-entry box.
The box has a sleek, modern design.
The lid is textured to catch extra litter when your cat gets out.
The sides are smooth and rounded to help with cleaning the box.
It comes with a reusable liner.
It comes with a litter scoop and has a hook on the outside to hang the scoop on.
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 PetSafe ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box 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. The box is easy to set up, and it also records how many times your cat visits the litter box.

This litter box does require special litter, which is expensive and not all cats like it. The litter also doesn’t have as much odor control as traditional clumping litter, which can become a problem if you leave it for long period of time without emptying it. In addition, some customers reported that the cleaning rake does not always get all the waste, and sometimes can get clogged. However, if you want something that lessens the chore of cleaning the litter box, this is our top pick.

Pros and Cons of the PetSafe ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box

ProsCons
You don’t have to scoop and clean this box every day — the litter box does that for you.This litter box requires special litter which is expensive, and some cats do not like it.
The box has a sensor that detects when your cat is in the box, so you don’t have to worry about them getting hurt when it’s cleaning.The special litter does not have as much odor control as traditional clumping litter.
It is easy to set up.The rake doesn’t always get all of the waste, and it can get clogged.
It records how many times your cat visits the box.
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 lid also swivels to allow for easy emptying and cleaning without the need to spread out all over your home.

The box is tall with sleek sides and a textured top for catching extra litter. There is also a hook on the side to hang the included litter scoop for easy storage. You can choose from three different colors: black with a light grey/white lid, grey, and white with a light grey lid. The walls are sleek and rounded to help keep litter clumps from sticking, making it easy to clean as well. The litter box also comes with a reusable liner that is rip-resistant and easy to clean.

This box is not as large as some of our other choices, but it is still a good-sized box for many cats, with a square-design that measurse 16 inches wide and 15 inches tall. The tall sides also provide privacy for your cat and protection from other curious pets. However, the large size can pose a challenge for small kittens and older cats with arthritis. In addition, there are small rubber feet on the bottom of the box to keep it in place, just in case your cat exits with extra enthusiasm.

This litter box is pricey but still gets rave reviews from customers. 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.

Pros and Cons for the Modkat Top-Entry Litter Box with Scoop and Reusable Liner

ProsCons
The lid is textured to collect litter when your cat jumps out. It also swivels for easy access and cleaning.Since this box is tall, it can be challenging for small kittens or older cats with arthritis to get in and out of.
The box is sleek and modern, so it can look good in your home without drawing too much attention to it.If pee gets below the reusable liner, you will need to take everything out to clean the box.
It is large and can accommodate many larger cats.
The tall sides provide privacy and keep curious pets from bothering your cat or their waste.
The box has sleek, smooth interior and rounded sides that make it easier to keep clean.
It comes with a scoop and a hook to hang it on.
It also comes with a reusable liner.
There are small rubber feet on the bottom of the box to help keep it in place when your cat jumps in and out.
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

How to Choose the Best Top-Entry Litter Box

When selecting a top-entry litter box, there are many important factors to consider, such as:

  • Your space
  • Appearance and features
  • Your cat’s temperament
  • Safety and functionality

Let’s look at these in more detail:

Your 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 to get in and out of the box. Some boxes also have swivel lids and storage handles for scoops, which can save space in a small home or apartment.

Appearance and features

Not all top-entry litter boxes are made equal. Many are sleek and modern, and 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 sometimes are basic and/or 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. If the box is going in a back laundry room, you may not be as concerned with how it looks. But if the litter box is going in your living room, you might want one that is concealed or matches your decor.

Your Cat’s Temperament

Cats all have their own unique personalities and temperaments, and 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 the new setup 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 in a new litter box.

In addition, if you have an older cat, jumping up and into a top-entry litter box may be more of a challenge for their muscles and joints. On the other hand, a tiny kitten may not be able to make the jump just yet. You may want to get a set of pet stairs or adjust so that the box suits the individual needs of your kitty.

Safety and Functionality

It is extremely important that your cat’s litter box is safe and functional for them to use. Boxes that are made with materials that can hold up against wear and tear without cracking and breaking easily can provide peace of mind and a safe space for your cat to do their business. BPA-free plastic construction is a preferred choice, since these are certified and safe for your cat, and they are usually easier to keep clean.

In addition, make sure that the litter box is size-appropriate for your cat. This means that the entry/exit hole is large enough for your cat to enter and exit without any issues. In addition, make sure that the box is big enough for your cat to walk in and turn around.

How Often to Empty the Litter Box

Each type of litter box will come with specific emptying instructions; however, we recommend emptying the litter box daily. Cats are very temperamental and prefer a clean litter box, just like humans prefer using a clean bathroom. You should scoop your litter box(es) daily. In addition, you should regularly dump all the litter out of the box and wash the inside of the box with pet-safe soap and water.

If you have multiple cats, you should scoop litter boxes daily and consider putting out two (or more) litter boxes to ensure they always have a clean place to do their business. The general rule of thumb is to have one litter box for each cat you own, plus one extra. That means if you have two cats, you’ll need three boxes; if you have three cats, you’ll need four boxes, and so on.

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About the Author

I have been a professional writer for 10 years with a particular focus on nature, wildlife, anthrozoology, and human-animal relationships. My areas of interest include human-animal studies, ecocriticism, vulnerable species, pets, and animal behavior. I graduated from Brigham Young University with a master’s degree in Comparative Studies, focusing on the relationship between humanity and the natural world. In my spare time, I enjoy exploring the outdoors, watching movies, reading, creating art, and caring for my pets. Nothing brings me greater joy than a day spent in the company of animals.

Best Top-Entry Litter Boxes 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 in the new box that you used in the old one, 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 onto the lid and 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. They can also be smellier, especially if you do not empty the litter box often. The best litter box, however, is the one that your cat will use.

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