Are Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes Safe For Cats?

May 29, 2018

Self-cleaning litter boxes have many upsides – and not just from the cat guardian’s perspective. Sure, they make life easier for the cat guardian since they do the cleaning themselves and sometimes even take care of waste elimination. However, they also make life nicer for the cats because the little furry fellas always have clean toilets at their disposal.

Nonetheless, self-cleaning litter boxes are appliances that use electrical power, they have rotating elements and chutes, and generally, they can seem dangerous in comparison to a plain, classic litter box with a scooper. To put our readers’ minds at ease, in this article, we address the most common concerns expressed by cat guardians and provide concrete facts about self-cleaning litter boxes’ potential impact on the safety of their four-legged users.

Litter Boxes Safe For Cats

Shock Hazards

Cat guardians are often afraid that if their cats use a self-cleaning litter box unattended, they may play with electronic parts they are not supposed to touch. While this is a reasonable fear, the truth is that in self-cleaning litter boxes, electronic components are concealed, so cats or children cannot come in contact with them.

The best self-cleaning litter boxes like Litter Robot are designed with a complete awareness of cats’ natural curiosity, which is why their electronic elements are hidden within solid plastic constructions that are hard to break and can only be dismantled by an adult human with proper tools. Thus, as far as shock hazards go, as long as you opt for a high-quality litter box, there is nothing to worry about.

Cleaning Cycle Interruption

Another common safety-related question is what happens if a cat jumps inside the litter box during the cleaning cycle. In most self-cleaning litter boxes, the cat area rotates during the cleaning process and if it kept rotating with the cat inside, injuries could happen. However, the creators and manufacturers of self-cleaning litter boxes are aware of this issue and they have come up with a perfect solution to this problem – cat motion sensors.

If you have ever checked out some of the more popular self-cleaning litter boxes, like CatGenie or Nature’s Miracle, you may have noticed that their cleaning cycle is or can be cat-activated. This is made possible by the existence of sensors that detect cat motion. These sensors do not only instruct the device to start the cleaning cycle once the cat leaves the box but also let it know it should pause the cycle if the cat re-enters.

Basically, if your cat jumps into the litter box mid-cycle, the box will just stop what it is doing and resume after its sensors detect that your friend has left the box.

Materials & Sanitizing Liquids

Old-fashioned litter boxes feature simple designs with one or two elements and they are usually made of pet-safe plastic. Furthermore, with these models, the cat guardian is in charge of cleaning and choosing the sanitizing liquids to use when scrubbing the litter box.

On the other hand, self-cleaning litter boxes contain multiple parts made of different materials and they may even require the use of special sanitizing liquids without giving the cat guardian the freedom to choose whether to use it. Thus, some cat guardians fear that not all elements of these electric appliances are cat-safe and they are afraid that the sanitizing liquid may be toxic.

Generally speaking, all the elements of a self-cleaning litter box may not be cat-safe, but for a litter box to be cleared for cat use, all external elements that cats may come in contact with must be free from toxic or otherwise harmful components. The same goes for sanitizing liquids.

That being said, we do not recommend purchasing self-cleaning litter boxes put on the market by lesser-known manufacturers since not all manufacturers are responsible and trustworthy. To be on the safe side, choose one of the top-rated litter boxes from trusted manufacturers, so you can be sure the litter box has been properly tested.

Materials cat size

Cat Size

Finally, there is the important question of whether cats of all sizes can safely use self-cleaning litter boxes. Unfortunately, the answer is no. Namely, different self-cleaning litter boxes use different cat motion sensors that may not detect the movement of cats of all heights and weights.

For example, a young kitten may be too small for the sensor to detect it. This can be extremely dangerous, so be sure to check the recommended cat size before purchasing. If your cat is too small, he or she can still use a self-cleaning litter box, but you need to start the cycles manually and keep the door closed during cycles, so your tiny friend does not walk in while the litter box is still in the process of cleaning.

Bottom Line

Not all self-cleaning litter boxes out there are safe for cats or suitable for cats of all sizes. However, there are several excellent self-cleaning solutions on the market that are completely safe to use and there is no reason why you should not enjoy the benefits of having a no-scooping, self-cleaning or even self-flushing litter box.

With the best self-cleaning litter boxes, there are no shock hazards or toxic materials and liquids to worry about. Plus, they are equipped with cat motion sensors that pause the cleaning cycle should the cat decide to enter the cat area during the cleaning process. They may not all be suitable for small cats and kittens, but this problem can be solved by starting cleaning cycles manually instead of choosing automatic or cat-activated start cycle options.

Thus, self-cleaning litter boxes can be perfectly safe for your cat; you just need to pick the brand you can trust.

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