Automated, self-cleaning litter boxes promise to relieve cat owners from one of their least favorite tasks, but are they all they’re cracked up to be? Here’s our guide to self-cleaning litter boxes and our top four overall picks.
Cats don’t need a lot of maintenance, but one of the most important parts of cat ownership is scooping the litter box. A clean, sanitary litter box is important to keep your cat healthy. It’s also the only way to keep cat odors from taking over your house.
Felines are fastidious, and they hate using dirty boxes. Think about it. You don’t want to use a dirty, unsanitary bathroom, and neither does your precious pet. Keeping that box clean, however, is one of the least enjoyable aspects of living with a kitty. Can a self-cleaning litter robot lighten the load?
Our Hands-On Experience
We tested many self-cleaning litter boxes. With so many on the market, we decided to narrow it down by litter type. We wanted to stick with boxes that used regular litter you can buy easily. Price was also important, and all the boxes on our list offer excellent value for any budget.
Our testers found that most cats responded well to the top litter boxes we chose. Some owners reported difficulty getting older, nervous kitties to use the boxes. In those cases, it was too stressful to continue trying to get them to switch. It’s a decision only you can make for your pet.
The two reviewers who were lucky enough to try the CatGenie self-flushing “kitty toilet” were thrilled with the results. They liked that it was easy to set up and had several ways to personalize the frequency of cleaning, flushing, and washing. On the downside, it requires hooking up to your water system, and it is triple the price of the other boxes.
Product Reviews: Top 4 Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes
#1 Overall Best Self-Cleaning Litter Box: LitterMaid Multi-Cat Self-Cleaning Litter Box
- MULTI-CAT SELF-CLEANING LITTER BOX: This litter box has automatic scooping with a rake that removes waste for a clean, fresh start. It is designed to be used with multiple cats over 15 lb.
- LOW MAINTENANCE: When used as directed, the LitterMaid Multi-Cat Self-Cleaning Litter Box requires no daily scooping, meaning you have a scoop-free clean up for up to 7 days
- ODOR CONTROL: Once the rake removes waste, the waste receptacles with carbon filters keep mess and odor contained.Easy Set-Up - Hassle-Free Assembly
- LITTER BOX DESIGN KEEPS AREA CLEAN: Designed with high walls to prevent litter scatter and a paw cleaning ramp to help prevent tracking around the box
- ACCESSORIES INCLUDE: 4 waste receptacles, 4 carbon filters, 1 scoop and rake cleaner, 1 paw cleaning ramp
Our overall favorite is a great value and large enough for most cats. It’s easy to use and uncomplicated. This affordably priced box is great for houses with multiple cats, but it’s a good choice for anyone. It can be set to run automatically or manually.
You can use any hard clumping litter with this box. It uses an automatic scooping mechanism with a special rake. The box has high walls to keep litter from scattering.
- Can be set to run automatically or manually.
- Uses any hard clumping litter.
- Large size makes it ideal for large cats and multiple-cat homes.
- Waste receptacles have odor-control carbon filters.
- Comes in blue or taupe colors.
Click here to check out LitterMaid Multi-Cat Self-Cleaning Litter Box on amazon.com.
- HANDS-FREE WASTE DISPOSAL - Self cleaning cat litter box with a smart sensor for triggered activation of cleaning cycle. Includes one-month supply of no-touch plastic cat litter bags to use with your cat litter box. Great alternative to traditional cat litter boxes.
- MESS AND ODOR CONTROL - Automatic cat litter box with angled deflector with fins and raised height ensures cat litter clumps stay inside cat litter box litter pan. Cat odor is eliminated with carbon zeolite technology in this automatic litter box. For best results, use lightweight cat litter or less dense cat litter.
- CONVENIENT, COST-EFFECTIVE, EASY TO CLEAN - Being able to choose your favorite lightweight clumping cat litter reduces waste making this litter box much more budget friendly. No need to buy specialized or costly crystal cat litter for your large litter box. Other leading self cleaning litter box and automatic litter box can cost $600.00 annually in refills for one cat. Easy disassembly for cleaning and maintenance with modular components. Clean with pet-friendly soap and water.
- QUIET - Four times quieter than other leading brands of cat litter box automatic self cleaning with no household disruption for your cats or you. Perfect self cleaning litter box for multiple cats or just a one cat household kitty litter box.
- CUSTOMER CARE & WARRANTY & Manual - One-year limited warranty on your automatic cat litter box. Your automatic litter box ships in brown drop-ship box. Download the instructions listed below in the Product Guides and Documents section
This box features a sensor that triggers it to clean up the mess 30 minutes after your cat uses the box. It includes a spot for plastic bags that allows you to collect the waste without touching dirty litter. The box comes with a month’s supply of the bags, and you can order more online. This litter box works best with a lightweight clumping litter.
- Automatically cleans 30 minutes after your cat uses it.
- Can use any lightweight clumping litter.
- Plastic bags allow you to clean the box without touching litter.
- Has a carbon filter to trap odors.
- Fully automatic.
Click here to check out Pet Zone Smart Scoop Automatic Litter Box on amazon.com.
- SELF-CLEANING LITTER BOX: Bowl rotates and sifts clumps from the litter, making a full rotation every hour and a half
- REDUCED ODOR: Waste bin is covered to help contain odor and a replaceable carbon filter acts as a second layer of odor defense
- WHISPER-QUIET: The motor is quiet, making it easy to forget about your cat's litter box the LED light ensures that the system is running
- EASY-TO-CLEAN: Waste bin can be lined with recycled plastic shopping bags or nothing at all for an eco-friendly, scoop-free cleanup
- PRODUCT SUPPORT: PetSafe brand's U.S. based Customer Care experts will be glad to help, call Monday through Saturday at PetSafe customer care
If you’re on a budget, this simple setup is a good value. This automatic litter robot features a round litter bowl with a high rim designed to keep litter inside. It uses a conveyor belt to deposit used litter into a receptacle. A carbon filter helps keep the bowl odor-free. An LED light lets you know the machine is working. This kit is easy to set up and use.
- Features a round bowl and conveyor system.
- Works with any clumping litter.
- Uses a covered waste bin.
- High rim keeps litter from tracking or spilling.
- Use your own plastic bags as liners for easy cleanup.
Click here to check out PetSafe Simply Clean Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box on amazon.com.
- Automatic cat box flushes waste away and washes itself clean
- Uses litter-like Washable Granules not clay litter to satisfy cats need to dig and cover
- Ideal for 1-2 & no more than 3 cats of average size and 6 months or older
- Requires hookup to cold water and electrical outlet
- Includes recyclable SaniSolution cartridge and 1 Box of Washable Granules. CatGenie is 19.25inches wide in front, 16inches wide bottom back, 17.5inches top back, 21inches high, 24.5inches deep allowing for hoses. Water Supply Hose 8feet long, Drain Hose 10feet long
For the ultimate in no-fuss maintenance, use the CatGenie self-flushing litter box. If your budget can stretch to this kitty toilet, you never have to touch litter or wash a litter box again.
It looks like a large, round box, but it hooks up to your water and electrical systems. It turns pet waste into a liquid and then flushes it away. It works just like a regular toilet. The CatGenie thoroughly washes and dries the granules, so your fussy feline always has a fresh, clean box to use. You can set it to clean automatically once a day or after every use. You can also clean it any time you want.
Up to 3 cats can use one CatGenie, which is great if you have multiple cats. It’s not recommended for kittens under 6 months old.
- Three automatic cleaning settings.
- Uses special CatGenie Washable Granules instead of litter.
- Works for up to 3 cats.
- Odor-control granules are safe for sewers and septic systems.
- Works in a bathroom or laundry room.
- Delay options include 10 minutes, 30 minutes or “sleep time,” which is 10 hours.
Click here to check out Cat Genie Self-Washing Self-Flushing Cat Box on amazon.com.
How To Use a Self-Cleaning Litter Box
The main thing to understand about self-cleaning boxes is they don’t do all the work for you. You still have to buy litter, clean and replace waste boxes, dispose of litter and sweep litter from the floor.
They can, however, end the task of scooping dirty litter. This is a big help, especially for owners who can’t easily scoop the box themselves.
How Does a Self-Cleaning Litter Box Work?
A self-cleaning box is a litter robot that scoops pet waste and collects it in a receptacle. An automatic litter box will begin sifting the litter and removing waste when a sensor shows that a cat is using the box. Some boxes wait for 15 or 20 minutes to make sure the cat has left the box before they start.
Other boxes require you to push a button or lever. With this type of box, you choose when to use the automatic cleaning function. This is helpful for people whose cats have difficulty adjusting to the automatic noise and motion of a self-cleaning box. You can set it in motion when your kitty is not around.
With all types of self-cleaning litter boxes, you must dispose of the waste that collects in a small bin or waste compartment.
Get Your Kitty Used To the New Box
As those of us who live with them know, getting a cat to try anything new can be difficult. If you want to encourage your feline friend to use the new litter robot, you will need patience. This process takes several steps, and skipping one will put you back at square one.
- Place it in a private location. Cats like privacy when they use a litter box. Always place litter boxes in a private, quiet location and away from their food bowls. Kitties need to see if other animals or people are approaching their boxes, and they like having escape routes in case they need to run.
- Let your kitties see and smell it. Before you start using it, take the box out of its packaging and let your cat examine it. Chances are he or she was already curious about what was in the package.
- Place it near the old litter box. Let your cat continue to use the old litter box, but leave the new box next to it. Don’t turn it on or run it during this time. Let your kitty get used to having it there.
- Run the box. Once your cat is used to having the other box around, run it once or twice a day. This will help your cat get used to the noise of the box. Don’t do this while your cat is in his box or near it.
- Fill the new box with litter. Use your cat’s favorite litter in the new box. If you see your kitty using the new box, you’re on the way. Let your cat use the new box for a few days without running the motor. If you happen to be there when your cats are using it, praise them profusely.
- Start the self-cleaning. After two weeks of letting your cat use the new box without running it, start running the self-clean function. Leave the old litter box in place for the first month or two. If you see your cat consistently using the self-cleaning box for a month, it’s safe to remove the old box.
Are There Any Boxes That Flush?
There is one litter box that not only self-cleans but flushes the waste. The CatGenie self-flushing cat box hooks up to your home’s existing water line. It uses self-washing granules that you don’t need to replace. We’ve included it in our product review.
Litter for a Self-Cleaning Litter Box
Most of these boxes use the same scooping litter that you can use in regular boxes. Your regular brand will work in most of the boxes.
If you’re using the CatGenie flushing box, you must use the odor-control CatGenie flushable crystals.
How Do Cats Respond to Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes?
We had mixed reports from our testers. Overall, pets who have naturally adaptable, curious personalities were more willing to give the new box a try. Older cats and those with skittish personalities were less likely to appreciate a change in their box or routine.
Based on their reports, we recommend using a self-cleaning litter box that is quiet and uses your cat’s favorite litter.
Our testers also found that most cats disliked any self-cleaning litter boxes that had covers. As with regular litter boxes, cats preferred to use uncovered, open-air boxes.
When Should You Use a Self-Cleaning Litter Box?
There are some situations where a self-cleaning litter box is essential, and others where it just makes life with your furry friends more pleasant. Here are some situations where you should probably buy one.
If You’re Away From Home Often
If you work long hours and have other commitments that keep you away from home, a self-cleaning litter box is a big help. It will do the scooping while you’re away.
If You Have Multiple Cats
There’s an old saying that cats are like potato chips: You can never have just one. If that fits you, a self-cleaning litter box can help cut down on a lot of your work.
Cat experts recommend a box for each cat plus one extra. This helps keep the boxes clean and prevents cats from fighting with each other over access to the litter box.
If You Have Physical Limitations
If squatting on the floor and scooping is hard for you, a self-cleaning litter box is a necessity. People who can’t reach the box because of physical limitations can enjoy cat companionship more easily with one of these boxes.
Keep It Clean
Self-cleaning cat litter boxes are ideal for people with several cats or anyone who wants to make life with a cat easier. They cut down on litter smells and make it easier to give your cats the clean, sanitary litter box they deserve.
Last update on 2021-11-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes: Reviewed for 2021 FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Do self-cleaning litter boxes take special litter?
Some of these products require special litter, but we didn’t include these on our list. Many of them use scented or “crystal” litter types, which many cats dislike. We felt getting kitties to use a new litter system would be hard enough without also introducing a new litter. It’s far more convenient to use regular clumping litter.
How often should you change a self-cleaning litter box?
Like any litter box, your self-cleaning box needs regular maintenance. You should wash it once every two weeks. After unplugging it, remove the litter bowl or box. Wash it in warm water and mild soap. Let it dry before refilling it with fresh litter. This is sanitary for your pet, and it helps cut down on odors.
Are self-cleaning litter boxes worth it?
A clean litter box makes life easier for you and your pet. If keeping it clean is difficult for any reason, a self-cleaning litter box is worth it. These boxes save you time and effort. They also ensure your kitty never has to worry if you’ll have the time or ability to keep the box clean.
The boxes on our list—except the CatGenie—all cost under $150. We think they’re an affordable way to make life with a cat easier and more pleasant.
Are self-cleaning litter boxes bad?
The only bad thing about them is getting your cat used to them. It takes time and patience to get your cat used to the new machine. Once they start, however, they tend to like having a consistently clean, fresh litter box.