Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes: Ranked and Rated

Written by Abby Parks
Updated: November 24, 2022
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Key Points

  • The #1 Best Overall self-cleaning litter box is the LitterMaid® Multi-Cat Self-Cleaning Litter Box.
  • Cats are very clean pets, and appreciate a litter box that is fresh, sanitary, and comfortable to maneuver in. For cat owners, a clean box means and odor-free house. Self-cleaning litter boxes keep the box fresh without as much effort from the owners.
  • Self-cleaning litter boxes can’t do all the work, but it will do the task of scooping the litter. You’ll still need to buy litter, clean and replace waste boxes, sweep litter from the floor, and dispose of litter.
  • Introducing your cat to a new self-cleaning litter box will involve letting the cat examine it as you remove it from the box, setting the new box up next to the old one with your cat’s favorite litter in it, and letting the cat get accustomed to using it without the self-cleaning function on for a couple of weeks.

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.

  1. LitterMaid® Multi-Cat Self-Cleaning Litter Box
  2. LitterMaid® Multi-Cat Self-Cleaning Litter Box
    • Automatic scooping cat litter box designed for multiple cats over 15 lb.
    • 4 waste receptacles, 4 carbon filters, 1 scoop and rake cleaner, 1 paw cleaning ramp included
    • Smart detection motion sensor
    • Dimensions 27 x 18 x 10 inches
    Check Amazon
  3. Pet Zone Smart Scoop Automatic Litter Box
  4. Pet Zone Smart Scoop Automatic Litter Box
    • Easy-clean automatic cat litter box
    • Includes 6 no-touch waste bags, rake, odor eliminator carbon filter
    • Runs on electric power through included adaptor plug
    • Dimensions 26.5 x 16.88 x 7.63 inches
    Check Amazon
  5. PetSafe Simply Clean Automatic Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box
  6. PetSafe Simply Clean Automatic Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box
    • Affordable pricetag in the self-cleaning category
    • Rotation feature separates the waste from the clean litter maximizing your litter purchases
    • Odor-absorbing technology and carbon filters mean no bad odors to contend with
    • Slow-moving motor means it won't scare your kitten
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  7. Cat Genie Self-Washing Self-Flushing Cat Box
  8. Cat Genie Self-Washing Self-Flushing Cat Box
    • Self-scooping and self-washing cat letter box
    • Liquifies and flushes waste from the box and your home
    • Hot air dryer to dry granules at end of each cycle
    • Washable granules mean no need for purchasing cat litter
    Check Amazon

Top Picks for the Best Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes: Ranked and Reviewed

#1 Overall Best: LitterMaid Multi-Cat Self-Cleaning Litter Box

Our choice for #1 Best Overall, the LitterMaid Multi-Cat Self-Cleaning Litter Box, is a great value and large enough for most cats. It’s easy to use and uncomplicated. This affordably priced box, which is available in blue or taupe, is great for homes with large or 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 and its waste receptacles have odor-control carbon filters.

Some customers complained that the litter box was noisy. Other’s indicated that it stopped working after six months.

Pros and Cons of the LitterMaid Multi-Cat Self-Cleaning Litter Box

ProsCons
This large self-cleaning litter box is affordably priced and perfect for homes with large or multiple cats.The unit is noisy.
You can set the unit to run automatically or manually, plus you can use any hard clumping litter.Some buyers reported that their unit stopped working after six months of use.
It features high walls to keep litter from scattering and it’s waste receptacles have odor-control carbon filters.
Best Overall
LitterMaid® Multi-Cat Self-Cleaning Litter Box
  • Automatic scooping cat litter box designed for multiple cats over 15 lb.
  • 4 waste receptacles, 4 carbon filters, 1 scoop and rake cleaner, 1 paw cleaning ramp included
  • Smart detection motion sensor
  • Dimensions 27 x 18 x 10 inches
Check Amazon

2. Best Fully Automatic: Pet Zone Smart Scoop Automatic Litter Box

The Pet Zone Smart Scoop Automatic Litter 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. This fully automatic box comes with a month’s supply of the bags, and you can order more online. This litter box, which features a carbon filter to trap odors, works best with a lightweight clumping litter.

Some buyers have reported that the machine malfunctions and others say that it stops working entirely after a few months of use.

Pros and Cons of the Pet Zone Smart Scoop Automatic Litter Box

ProsCons
This litter box automatically cleans 30 minutes after your cat uses it.Some users report malfunctions.
You can use any lightweight clumping litter.Other buyers stay that the unit stops working after a few months of use.
Plastic bags allow you to clean the box without touching litter.
It Has a carbon filter to trap odors.
Best Budget Option
Pet Zone Smart Scoop Automatic Litter Box
  • Easy-clean automatic cat litter box
  • Includes 6 no-touch waste bags, rake, odor eliminator carbon filter
  • Runs on electric power through included adaptor plug
  • Dimensions 26.5 x 16.88 x 7.63 inches
Check Amazon

3. Best Budget Option: PetSafe Simply Clean Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box

If you’re on a budget, the PetSafe Simply Clean Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Boxis 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. According to the manufacturer, this litter box is easy to set up and use. But some buyers reported that it is too small and difficult to use.

Pros and Cons of the PetSafe Simply Clean Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box

ProsCons
This automatic, self-cleaning cat litter box features a round bowl and conveyor system.Some buyers report that the unit is too small.
It works with any clumping litter and has a high rim to keep litter from tracking or spilling.Others state that it’s difficult to use.
You use your own plastic bags as liners for easy cleanup.
Best Self-Cleaning
PetSafe Simply Clean Automatic Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box
  • Affordable pricetag in the self-cleaning category
  • Rotation feature separates the waste from the clean litter maximizing your litter purchases
  • Odor-absorbing technology and carbon filters mean no bad odors to contend with
  • Slow-moving motor means it won't scare your kitten
Check Chewy Check Amazon

4. Best No-Fuss Maintenance: Cat Genie Self-Washing Self-Flushing Cat Box

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 three cats can use one CatGenie, which is great if you have multiple cats. It’s not recommended for kittens under six months old.

Some customers say that the system “bakes” cat poo, which makes their home smell unpleasant.

Pros and Cons of the Cat Genie Self-Washing Self-Flushing Cat Box

ProsCons
This self-cleaning litter box features three automatic cleaning settings.It uses special CatGenie Washable Granules instead of litter.
It works for up to three cats.It’s not recommended for kittens under six months old.
Its odor-control granules are safe for sewers and septic systems.Some buyers complain that the system “bakes” cat poo, making their house smell unpleasant.
You can set it up in a bathroom or laundry room.
Delay options include 10 minutes, 30 minutes or “sleep time,” which is 10 hours.
Best No-Fuss Maintenance
Cat Genie Self-Washing Self-Flushing Cat Box
  • Self-scooping and self-washing cat letter box
  • Liquifies and flushes waste from the box and your home
  • Hot air dryer to dry granules at end of each cycle
  • Washable granules mean no need for purchasing cat litter
Check Amazon

Cleanliness Matters

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?

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.

Our Hands-On Experience

We researched 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.

We find 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.

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.

Up Next…

About the Author

Abby Parks has authored a fiction novel, theatrical plays, short stories, poems, and song lyrics. She's recorded two albums of her original songs, and is a multi-instrumentalist. She has managed a website for folk music and written articles on singer-songwriters, folk bands, and other things folk-music oriented. She's also a radio DJ for a folk music show. As well as having been a pet-parent to rabbits, birds, dogs, and cats, Abby loves seeking sightings of animals in the wild, and has witnessed some more exotic ones such as: Puffins in the Farne Islands, Southern Pudu on the island of Chiloe (Chile), Penguins in the wild, and countless wild animals in the Rocky Mountains (Big Horn Sheep, Mountain Goats, Moose, Elk, Marmots, Beavers).

Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes: Ranked and Rated 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.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.