Guide To Choosing The Best Litter Box For Your Cat(s)
The key to finding the right litter box for your cat is putting your furry friend’s needs first without disregarding your own. You need a litter box that is both spacious and comfortable and easy to clean. One that suits your cat’s habits and personality but does not negatively impact the cleanliness of your home.
In this guide, we will introduce you to the advantages and downsides of the most popular types of cat litter boxes, highlighting their compliance with the expectations and needs of both cats and cat guardians. Once we help you discover what kind of litter box is most likely to work for you and your cat, we will move on to the key characteristics that you need to take into consideration when choosing the best litter box for your buddy.
Types Of Litter Boxes
The litter box market is getting increasingly difficult to navigate, with new types of litter boxes cropping up on a regular basis. Some of these litter boxes are more cat-friendly, others are more owner-friendly. We will focus on the 8 most common types of litter boxes nowadays and tell you what kind of cats and guardians they are best suited for.
- Open-Top (Uncovered) Litter Boxes – Open-top or uncovered litter boxes feature the simplest, most basic design and they are normally more affordable than other solutions. They are usually rectangular in shape and made of plastic, with walls of different height. Being tray-like, with no hood, they best suit the needs of cats that do not like enclosed, claustrophobic spaces and do not seek too much privacy. They allow for maximum ventilation and let the cat guardian easily keep track of the amount of waste in the litter box. However, open-top litter boxes may not work as well for shy cats who like to go in private or cats that spray too high when they go. They also allow odors to spread more easily across the room. They usually require scooping, although some models employ the sifting method. It is further important to note that the open-top design makes the waste easily accessible to other pets and children. Wall height is of particular importance in open-top litter boxes. Low walls normally result in more mess around the box while high-walled boxes are not suitable for small and elderly cats. Open-top litter boxes can be reusable or disposable. Reusable ones require some maintenance, but disposable ones are not as eco-friendly, they are more prone to damage, which may result in spillage, and they usually cost more in the long run.
- Covered (Hooded Or Dome) Litter Boxes – Covered litter boxes feature a hood or a dome and provide a higher level of privacy in comparison to open-top models. Cats enter the box through an opening on the side. The hood is normally detachable, allowing for easier cleaning and litter replacement. Covered litter boxes are commonly made of durable plastic. In contrast to uncovered models, this type of litter boxes is best suited for cats that value privacy and spray high when they go. Due to the presence of a hood or a dome, odors are mostly locked inside the litter box. However, there are 3 major issues with covered litter boxes. First of all, they can sometimes be quite claustrophobic. Second, they lock the odors in, which can be unpleasant for the cat. Third, they make it harder to see how much waste there is in the box. Plus, with the hood/dome, there are more parts to clean, which is definitely something you want to keep in mind.
- Top-Entry Litter Boxes – Top-entry litter boxes constitute a subtype of enclosed litter boxes, whose main distinctive feature is an opening on the top. To use a top-entry litter box, the cat must jump on top of the box and into the opening. With top-entry litter boxes, most of the odors remain inside the box and other pets and children cannot access its content easily. This type of litter boxes is only recommended for strong, healthy, and agile cats that can easily enter and leave the box. It is a bad choice for small and elderly cats. Just like with hooded and dome litter boxes, the sometimes stinky interior may be uninviting and unpleasant. Plus, the design may make the cat feel trapped. Not to mention that you are much less likely to scoop often since the waste is not in plain sight. If you opt for a top-entry litter box, be sure to choose a model that features good odor control and one that is large enough for your cat to feel comfortable.
- Hidden Litter Boxes – Hidden litter boxes are favored among cat guardians who value aesthetics. These are litter boxes transformed into or hidden inside an aesthetically appealing piece of furniture, such as a wooden cabinet or a large flower pot. While they look great, they do not suit the needs of all cats, as they keep the odors inside and they are often claustrophobic. From the cat guardian’s perspective, they can sometimes be more difficult to clean, especially in comparison to open-top litter boxes. Thus, if you want your litter box to look amazing, hidden models are the way to go, but only if your cat likes enclosed spaces and does not mind the odors and you do not mind investing some extra effort into cleaning and maintenance.
- Sifting Litter Boxes – Sifting litter boxes come in both open-top and covered variations. They eliminate the need for scooping and allow you to separate the waste from the clean litter via manual sifting. That way, they facilitate and speed up the cleaning process and they help you save in litter, as no clean litter goes unused. They generally do not have any major shortcomings and their suitability for different cats is dictated by the design.
- Corner Litter Boxes – Corner litter boxes are designed to save space. They are usually made of plastic and they are always triangular in shape, so they can fit in a corner. You can opt for an open-top or covered corner litter box. They usually require scooping. They are often designed to suit the needs of elderly cats and kittens and they normally feature a rather conventional design, so it does not take long for cats to get used to them.
- Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes – Some of the best litter boxes out there fall into the self-cleaning or automatic category. These litter boxes do all the work for you and only require you to top up the litter and throw out the waste as needed. They are usually more expensive than other types of litter boxes due to the technology they use. If you wish to forget about scooping and sifting and do not mind spending more cash, this is the kind of litter box you want to get. You just need to make sure that it is quiet and inviting enough for your cat to get used to it problem-free.
Key Characteristics Of A Litter Box
Each type of cat litter boxes has its own distinctive features. Still, no matter what kind of litter box you opt for, there are a couple of essential properties that you should pay attention to when making your choice. Let us take a look at the key features the best litter box for your cat needs to possess.
- Size – When choosing the best litter box for your cat, you should first check whether the size of the litter box fits the size of your cat. Bigger is always better and the box should be at least 1.5 times the length of your furry friend. It is important that your cat can freely move inside the box, choose the best spot, and dig anywhere he or she wishes, without being limited to the central position. Other than length, height is another dimension that you should look into, as different heights suit cats of different sizes and preferences. If you have a small cat, a kitten or an elderly cat that has difficulty jumping, you should choose a litter box with lower sides of about 3 inches or a litter box that has one side lower than the other. Higher sides (4 inches or higher) and enclosed litter boxes are recommended for cats that stand up when they go and do not mind jumping or climbing. Essentially, it is important to make sure that the box is as spacious as possible, easy to enter and leave, and suitable for your cat’s urinating preferences.
- Materials – When it comes to litter box materials, any kind of pet-safe, durable plastic is a good choice. Basically, what matters is that it is easy to clean, non-toxic, and not particularly prone to damage. Sturdy, BPA-free plastic materials meet all of these criteria, which is why they are among the most common materials used in the production of cat litter boxes. Depending on the model, rubber can be used as well, particularly in self-cleaning litter boxes. Thus, material-wise, we recommend choosing litter boxes primarily made of plastic materials that are smooth (i.e. easy to clean), durable, and cleared for animal use, with no harmful substances that can jeopardize the cat’s health.
- Design – When we say design, we do not only mean how well the litter box matches your sofa. The design needs to be ergonomic, safe, and inviting in order for the litter box to be suitable for any cat. While it is fine if a litter box features a modern design, it should not be too unconventional. Otherwise, the cat may find it too strange or even frightening and may choose to do his or her business elsewhere. If you want to avoid investing a lot of effort into training, choose a litter box that is similar in design to the one your cat is already used to. Furthermore, make sure that the ergonomic standards are met, as there are many litter boxes that are designed to be attractive but do not suit the psychological, physical, and physiological needs of the majority of cats.
- Odor Control – It happens too often that cat guardians primarily focus on preventing unpleasant odors from spreading across their home, but as we pointed out earlier, cats hate smelly spaces, too. Thus, the best litter boxes are the ones that have both internal and external odor control. Complete odor elimination is not possible, but carbon filters, anti-microbial, non-stick surfaces, absorbent liners, and similar solutions do help minimize unpleasant scents in the litter box and the room where it is located. The best litter boxes do not only feature filters but employ solutions that prevent mold/microorganism growth, which is greatly responsible for the smelliness of the litter box. No one likes a stinky box, so keep this in mind when shopping for your cat’s new toilet.
- Cleaning – No matter how comfy or inviting a litter box may be, if it is not easy to clean, it will not work well for your cat. Cats prefer a clean litter box and if you dread the thought of cleaning it, you are not that likely to clean it as often as possible. Depending on your budget, you can opt for a self-cleaning litter box or any litter box that eliminates the need for scooping, such as a sifting-based model. If you make matters easier for yourself, your cat will benefit, too. If that means spending some extra cash, it is most probably worth it.
- Maintenance – Litter boxes greatly differ in terms of shape and structure. Some consist of a single tray, others contain numerous elements, most of which require regular maintenance. Unless you find washing and drying multiple components of a litter box relaxing, you might want to pick a litter box that consists of only a few parts without many curves and crevices. With such low-maintenance litter boxes, keeping your cat’s toilet clean and odor-free is much easier.
- Cat-Friendliness & Safety – If your cat chooses to do his or her business outside the litter box, it is probably because your pal believes that the box is neither safe nor comfy and inviting enough. Viewed from the cat guardian’s perspective, safety is reflected in the absence of shock hazards, sharp and protruding elements, and toxic materials. From the cat’s point of view, a safe box is the one that you can easily get in and out of, a box that is not too noisy, and a box that is comfortable enough to make you want to spend time in it even when you do not have to go to the toilet. When looking for the best litter box, be sure to view your top picks from both perspectives since only a cat-friendly litter box that makes your friend feel safe and satisfies general safety standards constitutes a good choice.
- Suitability For Kittens & Elderly Cats – The needs and preferences of cats change over time. Our feline friends grow old faster than we do and if you opt for a litter box that is built to last, make sure it is one that can accommodate the changing needs and habits of your pal. Kittens and elderly cats prefer low-sided litter boxes and they tend to find top-entry litter boxes difficult to use. They may have a hard time getting used to self-cleaning litter boxes, not to mention that not all automatic litter boxes are suitable for small cats and cats with health issues such as diabetes. Thus, you should not only think about your cat’s current preferences but base your decision on your friend’s future needs as well.
- Suitability For Multiple Cats – If you live in a multi-cat household, we suggest you consider investing in a litter box that is suitable for multiple cats. That way, you avoid having your home cluttered with too many litter boxes, especially if you follow the general rule of having spare litter boxes, that is, at least 1.5 litter boxes per cat (1 cat – 2 litter boxes, 2 cats – 3 litter boxes, and so forth). With multi-cat litter boxes, you have fewer boxes to clean, you save cash, and you also save on space. However, we only recommend getting a multi-cat litter box if your cats are used to sharing and a dominant cat is not likely to prevent others from using the toilet at their convenience.
- Litter Saving & Compatibility – A litter box by definition requires litter and if you need to buy a whole lot of fancy, pricey litter all the time, your wallet is not going to be happy. That is why you should never forget to check the recommended litters and see if the litter box employs some kind of litter-saving method, which is the case with most sifting and self-cleaning litter boxes. Some of the best litter boxes on the market allow you to save up to 50% in litter and do not force you to opt for the most expensive option, so you get to save cash and do not have to go litter shopping that often.
- Guarantee & Warranty – Unless you opt for disposable litter boxes, it is always wise to pick a litter box that comes with a money-back guarantee and preferably a warranty. Even if you pay attention to every detail, the litter box you choose may not live up to your expectations or your cat may have a hard time getting used to it. With a guarantee and a warranty, you never risk wasting any money on a product that does not work as well as expected and you are protected in case of manufacturing defects.
Best Litter Boxes of 2021
Now that you know what you should look for in your cat’s new litter box, it is time to find out what makes our top picks the best litter boxes on the market. Read the mini-reviews below and decide which one of our top-rated litter boxes best fits your cat’s habits and preferences as well as your needs and budget.
Luuup is an open-top, lift-and-sift litter box characterized by great ease of use. It consists of 3 identical trays stacked together, with the 2 bottom trays forming a solid base and the third, top tray used for sifting. Litter box cleaning is quick and simple and consists of lifting the top tray, sifting the waste, throwing it into the garbage bag, and placing the top tray at the bottom of the stack.
The litter box features an attractive, modern design and it is available in a lively white-turquoise color scheme. It measures 20.2” in length by 15.4” in width by 5.2” in height and comes with a handy 2.3” spill guard. It is suitable for cats of virtually all sizes but may not be comfy enough for the largest cat breeds such as Maine Coone.
Luuup is made of durable, pet-safe plastic with an anti-microbial, non-stick surface that minimizes residue, prevents microorganism growth, and reduces odor. It does not require the use of liners and works with all high-quality crystal and clumping litters. It is safe to use, easy to clean, and lets you save cash by maximizing the use of clean litter. Due to its minimalistic, open-top design, Luuup is easy to get used to and it is best suited for extroverted cats who do not like enclosed spaces.
Luuup comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee and a 30-day manufacturer’s warranty.
Litter Robot is an automatic, self-cleaning litter box for cats that employs a patented litter-sifting system, requires no scooping, and keeps the litter clean at all times. It consists of 4 elements, including the base safely concealing all 15 Volt DC control system components, the removable waste drawer within the base, the electronics-free rotating globe a.k.a litter chamber, and the protective bonnet over the globe.
Equipped with a weight-sensitive switch, that is, the Cat Sensor, the device detects when your cat enters and leaves the chamber. Once your cat takes care of business and exits the globe, a countdown timer starts, allowing the litter to clump properly before the 2.5-minute self-cleaning cycle begins. During the cleaning cycle, the clumps are separated from the clean litter with the use of a mesh screen and dumped through a chute into the waste drawer. Further, the clean litter returns to the bottom of the globe, leaving a clean and level bed for your cat.
Litter Robot is ergonomically designed, perfectly safe for your furry friend, and suitable for multiple cats. It is best suited for curious cats weighing 5+ pounds, but it can be used by smaller and timider cats if the cleaning cycle is activated manually instead of automatically. If you have 1 cat, you need to empty the waste drawer once every 7-10 days.
The most prominent characteristics of Litter Robot include an adjustable countdown timer, weight-sensitive Cat Sensor, solid construction featuring industrial-grade materials, low noise levels, sleep mode, great odor control with a large carbon filter, nightlight for older cats with impaired vision, full-drawer indicator, and backup battery.
Litter Robot does not require fancy liners; you can use regular garbage bags. In terms of litter, it is crucial to choose clumping litter, possibly of the high-quality clay kind. Litter Robot comes with a 90-day money-back guarantee and an 18-month full warranty.
Modkat Litter Box
Modkat is a minimalistic yet stylish litter box launched by ModProducts LLC, a New York company founded back in 2008. Its simple construction features a seamless base and a locking swivel lid. The base provides your cat with a cozy new bathroom while preventing accidental leaks and oversprays. The lid locks tightly in place and doubles as a walk-off mat, minimizing the presence of litter tracks in your home. It also grants easy access during scoop time.
Modkat comes with a proprietary reusable liner and a convenient scoop that can be hanged by the side of the box. The liner should last you for about 3 months. It is made of commercial-grade tarpaulin, which reduces odor absorption, ripping, and liquid penetration. Keep in mind that you can use the box even without liners.
The top-entry style allows cats to get in and out of the box without any difficulties while keeping your other pets (dogs) and children from getting inside and spreading litter all over your home or endangering their health.
If you’re not satisfied with Modkat Litter Box for whatever reason, you can return it within 30 days of the purchase date for a full refund. The price of the box is $89.99.
Nature’s Miracle is a self-cleaning cat litter box designed to minimize litter tracking in your home while servicing multiple cats. It was launched by Nature’s Miracle, which is owned by Spectrum Brands, one of the largest global consumer product companies. Nature’s Miracle litter box appears to be much more complicated than it really is due to its wide range of moving parts and available functionalities.
The centerpiece of this box is its automatic rake, which initiates the cleaning cycle on its own following the preset commands. When collected, the waste is discarded into a designated receptacle, designed for optimal odor control. Replaceable carbon filters are an additional barrier against unpleasant smells in your home. Once filled, the receptacle can be removed with ease. While removing the receptacles, you will not have to worry about dangerous microorganisms because Nature’s Miracle offers excellent anti-microbial protection.
Since the box pretty much does everything on its own, all you have to do is thoroughly clean it once a month. The box can also be powered by 8 AA batteries, but they should only be used as a backup power source.
Nature’s Miracle litter box features a very modern design, its dimensions are 28.1″ in length, 17.6″ in width, and 10.1″ in height, and it only comes in one color scheme: black and white. It is 100% safe for your pets thanks to the motion sensors located on both sides of the litter tray. Once the automatic rake hits an obstacle, it will automatically start moving in the opposite direction.
Nature’s Miracle litter box costs $145.95 and it comes with a limited 1-year warranty that covers all defects in materials or workmanship.
Purina Tidy Cats BREEZE
Purina Tidy Cats BREEZE was made in cooperation with Purina and designed to greatly benefit both owners and their beloved pets. Tidy Cats was launched by the inventor of cat litter himself, Edward “Ed” Lowe.
This litter box system features everything you’ll ever need to make your feline friend as comfortable and happy as possible while saving a ton of time on cleaning his or her litter box. It includes a grated base, a litter tray, a removable sidewall, and a moisture pad tray. You can also order the fully hooded version of the box if your pet prefers more privacy. Purina Tidy Cats BREEZE comes with 4 moisture pads and one bag of litter (3.5 lb), which should last you for about a month.
The pads wick moisture from the litter tray and rid your home of any unpleasant odors. The pellets stick to the poop and filter the solid waste, which reduces the overall amount of dust by up to 99.99%. Additionally, they are rock-hard, so they will never disintegrate into sawdust and spread all over your home.
The removable sidewall is excellent in preventing pellet flinging and urine oversprays while allowing your cat to monitor its surroundings at all times and explore the box without causing any mess.
The overall design of Purina Tidy Cats BREEZE is quite minimalistic and unobtrusive yet modern and visually appealing. The box is definitely designed for smaller and medium felines; therefore, it will not take up too much space in your home. The system only comes in green & white.
Petphabet is a very simple and minimalistic litter box designed by a famous Canadian company with the same name. It was specifically created for larger cats but can also cater to two average felines without any problems.
The design of the box is pretty straightforward, consisting of two pieces of heavy-duty plastic, the main base, and the top hood. You can choose how to use the box, depending on your cat’s behavior and personality. If he or she demands privacy while visiting the litter box, just put on the hood. If not, you can simply take the hood off. Since the hood is transparent, it will allow your pet to monitor his or her surroundings at all times. It will also prevent any urine sprays and aggressive litter flinging.
Petphabet offers decent odor control on its own, thanks to its deep litter tray. The rest depends on the type of litter you choose. The plastic features anti-microbial technology, so it will eliminate any dangerous microorganisms commonly found in cat feces.
Petphabet is also very easy to clean and maintain since it does not have any elaborate parts or electrical components. Pethabet litter box costs $42.99 and it definitely offers more than enough utility and value to justify the price tag.
CatGenie is an advanced and unusually innovative cat litter box that does not even use conventional litter. It is fully automated, with the device completing the cleaning, waste flushing, and maintenance processes on its own, with no assistance from the cat guardian. It uses an eco-friendly litter replacement known as Washable Granules and a special pet-safe sanitizing liquid called SaniSolution that keeps the granules and the cat area clean and odor-free.
The device is shaped like a toilet bowl, with a base, brim, bowl, and cistern-like structure that hides the electrical components. It features a solid plastic construction and it is designed with pet safety and comfort in mind. It measures 24.5 inches in length, 19.25 inches in width, and 21 inches in height. The cat area measures 17 inches in diameter, which makes it suitable for cats weighing up to 20 pounds. It is best suited for cats aged 6 months or older, but it can be used by kittens over the age of 8 weeks, preferably with supervision. CatGenie can be used by up to 3 cats.
The key features of CatGenie include an automated cleaning and flushing cycle, 3 start cycle options (manual, automatic, and cat-activated), a cat motion sensor, an automated scooping hand, an impeller-equipped chamber for solid waste liquefaction, easy programming with a handy control panel, and a control panel child lock.
The device needs to be hooked up to a cold water line and waste-water drain and plugged into an electrical outlet in order to work. CatGenie comes with a 90-day money-back guarantee and a 2-year warranty.
PetSafe ScoopFree is a revolutionary self-cleaning litter box designed to provide your cats with a clean, odorless toilet at all times. Although it might seem like using this box is complicated, it is actually extremely easy to set up and use, even if you have never owned a self-cleaning litter box before.
After unpacking the box and installing the replaceable litter tray, all you have to do is plug it in, sit back, and relax. Its sensitive motion sensors, which are located on the inner side of the litter area, will detect your cat’s movement as he or she enters and leaves the box. Once the box is empty, the device will start a 20-minute countdown and initiate an automatic cleaning cycle. If your cat comes back during those 20 minutes, the sensors will detect this change and stop the countdown.
The automatic rake will sift through the crystal litter to even it out and push solid waste into the designated trap on the front of the box. The waste trap will seal any unpleasant odors and prevent them from spreading around your home. The litter crystals have an amazing capacity to absorb liquid and dehydrate solid waste. Apart from reducing the dust emanating from the box by 99%, they also contain urine smells and keep your home completely odor-free.
This litter box can cater to the needs of up to two cats, but it is not an ideal solution for larger breeds. It can be used by kittens as well, but you will need to manually scoop the waste until they are at least six months old. PetSafe ScoopFree litter box costs $129.95 and comes with a one-year non-transferable limited warranty.
PetSafe Simply Clean
PetSafe Simply Clean is a convenient and easy-to-use self-cleaning litter box designed to save cat owners a lot of time and money while allowing them to spend as much quality time with their pets as possible. Even though the box looks pretty complex at first, it is extremely easy to set up and use. After a couple of simple steps, your cats will be able to use their new self-cleaning toilet without any difficulties.
Once the device is plugged in, the circular litter bowl slowly rotates and pushes the soiled litter clumps onto the conveyor that transports them into the covered waste receptacle. It takes one hour for a complete circle, so your cats will not even notice the movement. The noise levels are pretty low for a motorized device, which is excellent news if your cat feels timid around electrical litter boxes.
You can use any brand of cat litter, as long as it clumps. Other types might clog the mechanism and result in the device malfunctioning. The waste receptacle can be used on its own, but you can also line it with a regular plastic bag for easier waste disposal.
PetSafe Simply Clean is designed to accommodate cats weighing up to 15lbs, so it is not ideal for larger breeds. The covered waste receptacle offers decent odor control, which you can further improve by adding some baking soda and clean litter to the plastic bag. Since it uses hard clumping litter, the device will not produce any dust during the cleaning cycle.
PetSafe Simply Clean costs $72.99 and comes with a 45-day money-back guarantee and a limited non-transferable 1-year warranty against any potential defects.
Omega Paw Litter Box
Omega Paw Litter Box is one of the best-selling self-cleaning litter boxes offering an impressive balance between price and utility. It is designed specifically for multiple cats and can service even larger feline breeds, unlike many of its competitors that cannot cater to breeds such as the Maine Coon.
This litter box follows the same principles implemented by fully automated, motorized self-cleaning litter boxes, like Litter Robots 2 and 3. However, Omega Paw Litter Box is manually operated, so there are no electrical components or control panels that are difficult to use.
Omega Paw Litter Box features 3 integral parts plus the scooping tray, which makes the assembly process much easier. The litter tray is spacious enough to allow your pets to comfortable move inside the box while maintaining their privacy. As for cleaning, all you have to do is roll Omega Paw Litter Box to the sides – and the sifting grate will do all the work for you. Once the waste is separated from the clean litter, it is dropped into an air-tight waste scoop, which you can then pull out and empty in the trash.
Omega Paw provides you with excellent odor control thanks to the aforementioned hermetically sealed scoop. The construction of the box minimizes the amount of dust released during each cleaning. This litter box does not use any filters or liners, meaning it does not feature any components that need to be regularly replaced.