Cleaning out your cat's litter box is no doubt among the least pleasant of your duties.
Did you know you can catch diseases from your cat's litter? For example, toxoplasmosis is a parasite that can be passed to humans via cat litter. Just one more reason you want to find a way to make the job as clean, safe, and easy as possible, right?
So how can you do it?
You can get an automatic litter box. These boxes do the cleaning for you, and make it easy to get rid of the gross stuff. They're the ideal solution for keeping your home clean no matter how many cats you have.
There are a lot of litter boxes on the market, but only a few that are "automatic". We've done the hard work and research to find only the best automatic litter box options for you. We combed through thousands of automatic litter box reviews and compared the pros and cons of each to make sure we bring you only the best automatic litter boxes out there.
What did we find?
Check out our list below to find the automatic cat litter box that suits your needs best!
Incredibly affordable, easy to keep clean, pellets allow urine to pass through while keeping fecal matter on top of the box, built-in odor control, easy to use, no moving parts to break, comfortable for your fur baby, and easily accessible.
Not really "automated"; you have to scoop the cat poop yourself.
Operation: This litter box has no automated features, but it is designed to be incredibly easy to clean. The extra-large pellets allow the urine to pass through, where it is absorbed by the odor-controlling Breeze Litter pad beneath. The cat poop will sit on top of the pellets (requiring you to scoop it), but you can simply remove the litter pad, dispose of it, and insert a fresh one. Quick, easy, and hassle-free!
The litter box can be used in households with multiple cats, though it will require more frequent maintenance if you have more than one cat. Users recommend trying different types of litter to find the one that works best for your cats and their bathroom habits.
Features: You may find the odor-controlling pads only last for a few days (most users report 5-7 days max), but they're fairly inexpensive to replace. Purina also offers a wide range of cat litters to choose from, so you can experiment to see which one suits your home best. As long as you scoop the poop fairly quickly, you won't have to worry about the litter box smelling up your home. A great way to eliminate the stink of cat urine!
Price: At $30, this is a very well-priced litter box. It will still require a bit of effort on your part (to scoop the poop and change the pad), but it's an excellent option if you just have one cat!
No electricity or water required, easy to keep clean, incredibly cheap, minimizes odors very effectively, minimal effort required, lightweight, and durable.
Connecting hooks that hold the box closed are poorly designed, so litter box may spill.
Operation: This is an incredibly easy litter box to use: simply roll it over once, and the sifter will catch all the clumps and poop. All you have to do is empty the litter pan, give it a quick rinse, and replace it. You've now got a clean litter box!
For those who want to save money AND time, this is the perfect compromise. It's not fully automated (you have to roll it over), but it will make the task of cleaning the litter box so much easier. It's a lightweight, durable litter box that's surprisingly spacious—it can accommodate up to 2 cats at once. If you have large cats or multiple cats at home, this is the box for you.
Features: There are no moving parts on this litter box, so nothing to break down or fall apart. The plastic screen is tough, the scoop slides in and out easily, and the litter pan is able to handle almost any type of litter.
The only potential flaw is in the hooks that keep the box closed when you roll it over. Many users have commented that the hooks come apart, so there is a risk of the box spilling. Just keep an eye on those hooks to make sure they stay closed, and you'll never have to worry about messes.
Price: At just over $40, this is a total steal. You get a quality litter box at a great price, and it seriously cuts back on the effort required to keep your pet's box clean. What's not to love?
Can accommodate up to 3 cats, incredibly clean, regularly washes out the litter, no litter dust, setup is fairly simple (may require some DIYing), well-designed, and built to last.
Runs as loud as a quiet dishwasher and can smell bad between usage and cleaning.
Operation: This is the cat equivalent of a luxury toilet! The CatGenie connects to your cold water system (may require a bit of fiddling if your hoses are old), and it automatically "flushes" after every use. The water that eliminates the waste will also clean the litter. The result: cleaner litter that reduces the risk of both pet and human disease.
The self-cleaning system is beautifully easy to set up, and it is fully automated—no user interaction required! All you need to do is clean up the occasional litter spills around the CatGenie and add more litter when it runs low.
Features: This kitty litter box uses a special (pricey) type of permanent litter, rather than the disposable cat litter you're used to using. It will last for much longer, will rarely need refilling, never needs to be changed, and is 100% free of dust. If any litter goes down the drain (with the flush), it will biodegrade within 9 months—reducing the risk of clogged drains.
The CatGenie is fairly noisy (it's been compared to quieter dishwashers), but it gets the job done! It will scoop out clumps, washes the litter, and even dries it to eliminate odors and makes the litter comfortable for your cats once more. It's just what you need to keep your home clean.
Price: $240 may seem like a high price to pay for a litter box, but not when you realize just how much time and effort it saves you. You'll never have to clean another litter box thanks to this bad boy!
Self-cleans for weeks at a time, hood gives your pet privacy as they use the bathroom, automatic rake can be set on an adjustable timer, cat-safe, uses crystal litter instead of clay, built-in health counter, and runs fairly quietly.
Crystal litter isn't as good at odor control, and there's no on/off switch.
Operation: This kitty litter box has a built-in raking system that runs on an automatic timer. You have 3 different timing options that will trigger the box to rake the litter and eliminate clumps and poop. It doesn't have a built-in on/off switch, but it will automatically turn off if your cat enters the kitty litter box mid-rake. It's cat-safe and user-friendly!
The plastic hood gives your cat privacy, and the enclosure will make them feel safe—encouraging them to use the litter box instead of spraying around your house. It will also prevent them from tracking litter around the house.
Features: One of the great things about this automatic kitty litter box is that it has a built-in counter to monitor how many times they use the bathroom. Frequent urination can be a sign of health problems, so the counter will help you keep an eye on your pet's health.
The box does use crystal litter, which isn't as good at absorbing cat odors. You may have to experiment with different types of litter to find the one that blocks the smells as effectively as possible. But thanks to the self-cleaning (raking) design, you'll only have to empty the closed waste compartment every few weeks.
Price: At $160, this is one of the better-priced automatic kitty litter boxes on our list. It's not as "high tech" as our top-rated one, but it does a good job of keeping your home clean and reducing messes. A good alternative at a much lower cost.
Cats are awesome. Their poop-filled litter boxes? Not so much.
Sure, you can probably send your cat outside to do his business, and it’s even possible to teach some cats how to use the toilet. Let’s be real, though: Most of us aren’t going to do either of these things. That means a litter box is your best option for collecting the poop bombs your cat creates - a self-cleaning litter box, to be specific.
Not familiar with this handy invention or trying to decide if your cat really needs one? You’re in the right place. Keep scrolling for answers to all of your questions and concerns about automatic cat litter boxes.
Sometimes, but can you really put a price on a device that eliminates your need to scoop smelly turds into a bag multiple times a day? Expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $300+ for your self-cleaning litter box (and remember, you get what you pay for).
We recommend the Purina Tidy Cats Breeze Litter System if you’re on a tight budget. It’s priced at around $30, and while it’s not actually an automatic litter box, it’s easier to clean than most traditional boxes we’ve seen. A special pad captures urine, so you don’t have to rake through mounds of clumped-together litter.
Possibly, but you’re also going to need an automatic feeder so your cat has plenty of food and water. We’ve talked to cat owners who claim they’ve left their cats home alone for a few days, but some experts don’t think this is a great idea. PetMD recommends having someone visit your home at least once a day, even if you use an automatic feeder and self-cleaning litter box, because illnesses and injuries can unexpectedly occur. Make sure your pet sitter has your phone number in case something goes wrong.
After spending hours upon hours researching pretty much every self-cleaning litter box on the market, we’re going to have to say yes. There are exceptions, of course - some automatic litter boxes stink (literally!). The majority of them live up to the hype, though.
Sometimes, but some models are less noisy than others. It’s normal for an automated litter box to make some noise. Think of it like this: You make noise when you clean the litter box, so you can’t expect a self-cleaning litter box to operate in silence.
However, a litter box that’s super noisy might need to be repaired or replaced.
Well, it’s no secret that puddles of urine and clumps of feces aren’t sanitary - no matter where you find them. However, a self-cleaning litter box removes waste quickly, so bacteria may be less likely to develop and thrive in the litter.
You can help make your cat’s litter box more sanitary by cleaning it regularly. We talk about that in the section titled “Cleaning Tips”.
Many people feel automatic litter boxes are superior to regular litter boxes, but that’s not always the case. Here are some questions to ask yourself if you’re considering a self-cleaning litter box:
If you answered yes to all of these questions, you’re an excellent candidate for a self-cleaning litter box. Just remember that you need multiple boxes if you have a large home or more than one cat.
Some self-cleaning litter boxes run on batteries. There are also automatic litter boxes that use power cords connected to an electrical outlet, and we’ve even seen some luxury litter boxes that connect directly to your home’s pipe system. They’re basically the cat version of toilets.
Nowhere near his food! Make sure you place the litter box in an area he frequents but not somewhere he’ll be bothered by other cats or family members. Most cats don’t like an audience while they do their business (can you blame them?).
Choosing an Automatic Litter Box
Look for features that make your life (and your cat’s) easier. Here are some popular features that pet owners like:
You may also want to look for a litter box that’s lightweight and easy to assemble. We’ve seen some that are tricky to install.
We recommend the ScoopFree Ultra Self-Cleaning Litter Box. We ranked it as the Best Automatic Kitty Litter Box Overall on our list of the best self-cleaning litter boxes. It costs around $160, a price that falls somewhere in the middle when it comes to other litter boxes.
If you don’t mind investing in a higher-priced box, we suggest the CatGenie Self Washing Self Flushing Cat Box. At $240, it certainly isn’t cheap - but we awarded it the Most Complete Automatic Litter Box. It connects to your water system rather than relying on a plug or battery, and the machine flushes itself after every use. It doesn’t require any cleaning on your end - well, unless you count the litter your cat tracks through your home.
Check out the Omega Paw Roll'N'Clean Self Cleaning Litter Box if you’ve got more than one cat. You have to flip the box yourself when it’s time to clean the litter, but the box effectively combats odors. Also, it’s large enough to hold 2 cats at the same time, so you don’t have to deal with any feline fights for a turn in the box.
Some experts recommend having at least 1 litter box per cat, plus 1 extra litter box. Your cats might still end up sharing some of the boxes, but let them make the choice.
If you don’t have enough litter boxes, your cats will surprise you with thoughtful gifts around your home. It’s super hard to remove the stench of cat pee from carpets and couches, so try to prevent this issue by having plenty of litter boxes around your home.
They don’t have to be unless you know for a fact that your cat adores a specific box. If you’ve got multiple cats, you may find that they each have their own preferences.
If your cat recently joined your family, you may benefit from having different litter boxes. It gives your cat several options, so he’s (hopefully) less likely to go to the bathroom outside of his litter box.
Amazon.com carries several of the best automatic litter boxes we reviewed in our list of faves. You can also find automatic litter boxes at some pet stores and veterinary offices.
Check the instructions for your litter box. If you’ve misplaced them, you can request new ones by contacting the company that made the box.
Some automatic litter boxes work with any kind of litter, but the CatGenie Self Washing Self Flushing Cat Box requires a special litter. The good news is that the litter is permanent (the machine washes it after your cat does his thing), so you only replace it a couple times a year.
The ScoopFree Ultra Self-Cleaning Litter Box uses crystal litter, so don’t add regular litter to this box. It’s important to only use litter designed for your cat’s box because the wrong litter can damage a self-cleaning system.
Depends which litter box your cat uses. In the question above, we mentioned that pet owners only replace the litter for the CatGenie Self Washing Self Flushing Cat Box a couple times a year, that’s because the automatic litter box is connected to your home’s water system. So it cleans the litter each time your cat does his business.
However, you won’t get that lucky with most self-cleaning litter boxes. Expect to change the litter at least once every couple of months, possibly as often as every week or two. However, replacing the litter in a self-cleaning system generally isn’t much of a hassle because the litter isn’t horribly smelly or clumpy.
Bentonite clay is found in more than 3 out of every 4 commercial cat litter options. It’s a mineral that attracts liquid molecules, so it effectively absorbs odors and wetness. Some brands also add silica (yep, the same stuff in the packets you find in food and shoes) because it shares similar properties with bentonite. You can usually find silica in crystal litter.
Other ingredients found in litter include:
Some people use newspaper or sand in their pet’s litter boxes, but we don’t recommend either of those. Many cats don't enjoy peeing on newspaper, and sand doesn’t trap odors very well.
We commend your desire to go green, but we have to warn you that cats don’t always appreciate your planet-friendly practices. If that doesn’t deter you from using ecofriendly litter, here are some options:
Keep in mind that many of these options suck at masking odors. You might want to keep your cat’s litter box away from areas you frequent or invest in plenty of nontoxic room sprays.
Sure, if you enjoy cleaning up random poop all over your house. Cats generally don’t enjoy trying new food or new litter, so make sure you gradually transition to a different brand. You can mix a bit of the old litter with the new litter and continue adding more of the new stuff each day. This gives your cat time to adjust. Just be careful - your cat might end up hating both brands.
Swapping out one litter box at a time is another option if you’ve got multiple boxes. Add the new litter to one box, but don’t touch the other box(es). See how your cat reacts before you decide to switch all of the litter.
Yes, but nowhere near as often as you need to clean a traditional litter box. Review the instructions for the litter box to figure out whether you need to disassemble the box to clean it. Some litter boxes connect to your water system and rinse the interior, but you still need to clean the exterior. Dust can build up over time, and your cat might knock litter around the box.
Some pet owners say they have to clean the rake of their self-cleaning litter boxes because it ends up coated in poop. This generally happens with low-priced models that don’t have a built-in box cleaning system.
Sometimes dish soap and water will do the trick. If your cat’s box smells really funky after you remove the litter, you may need to soak it in a solution of vinegar diluted with water.
You can spray the outside of the box (including the lid) with a nontoxic all-purpose spray unless the instructions for the litter box advise against it. Always review the instructions before you clean the box; some cleaning products can damage the box or fade its materials.
Some automatic litter boxes clean themselves with water from your home’s filtration system. If yours doesn’t, check the instructions for the box to find out how to clean it.
You may need to do some (or all) of the following:
Consider wearing gloves when you clean your cat’s litter box to protect yourself from exposure to feces-loving bacteria.
It’s not a bad idea. Most cat litter absorbs liquid, so it might be harder for it to absorb cat urine if it’s already wet from water.
You can dry the litter box with a washcloth, towel, or paper towel. Make sure you wash whatever you use to dry the box (unless it’s a disposable towel).
Potential Issues and Concerns
Changing the litter might help, especially if you buy a litter that clumps better. You can also place a mat under and/or near the litter box to capture stray litter.
However, switching your cat’s litter might result in a new problem: Poop outside of the litter box. Read the question titled “Can I switch cat litter brands?” for tips on transitioning to a new litter.
Start by checking your litter box, especially if you’ve got a self-cleaning machine. It shouldn’t smell awful because it’s cleaned regularly, but sometimes poop gets wrapped around the rake or your cat sprays the walls of the box.
If the litter box seems okay, you can try replacing the litter. Do this as a last resort; cats don’t always react well to new litter.
You can try adding baking soda to the litter box or installing an air freshener near the box. Baking soda absorbs odors, and air freshener masks them. Diffusing essential oils or burning candles in the room with the box may also help. Avoid spraying essential oils directly into the box, as this can irritate your pet’s skin or cause breathing issues.
If you’re curious about the safety of litter boxes, we’re guessing you’ve heard about toxoplasmosis, the disease that comes from touching cat poop or feline butts. We’re hoping you don’t intentionally do either of those things.
With that being said, no litter box is 100% safe for pregnant women. Many women find it difficult to move easily during the end stages of pregnancy, so it’s easy to slip or bump into things (like the poopy part of a litter box). However, automatic litter boxes are less likely to have clumps of poop than traditional boxes because the machine rakes away waste on a regular basis.
Whenever possible, delegate litter-related tasks to a family member or friend. If that’s not an option, wear gloves and a mask whenever you clean up after your cat.
Probably not. Many boxes have a sensor that tracks when a cat enters and exits, so you shouldn’t have to worry about the rake smacking into your cat while he does his thing.
If an issue does occur, we recommend contacting the litter box manufacturer right away. Many boxes are backed by warranties, so you can get a new one if yours isn’t working right.
Give her time to adjust. Your cat isn’t used to a noisy litter box that grabs poop, so it might scare her for a while.
Consider unplugging the box or powering it off while your cat adjusts. That can help you determine whether it’s the noise or the box itself that’s scaring her.
Unfortunately some cats never fully adjust to self-cleaning litter boxes, but many of them do okay. Keep at least one extra litter box (a regular one) in your home while you try to help your feline friend get used to the automatic box.
Has your cat ever used the litter box at your home? A new cat might not know to use a litter box (even if she used one at her last owner’s home), so you have to train her. You can do this by placing her in the litter box after eating or drinking. If she soils furniture or rugs, spray them with an enzyme-removing product so she doesn’t keep using your entire home as her personal litter box.
If your cat used to drop deuces in the litter box with no issues, the issue could be physical or emotional. Here are some possible reasons why your cat may not be using the litter box anymore:
Schedule an appointment with a veterinarian if the problem continues. Your cat may have a medical condition that requires immediate attention.