Guide To Choosing The Best Self-Cleaning Litter Box
All self-cleaning litter boxes are advertised as user-friendly, hands-free solutions that can make your life easier and poop-and-scoop-free. In reality, however, they are not all as perfect as they seem and they may suffer from design flaws, lack of efficiency, maintenance issues, and general inadequacy for cat needs. To help you easily identify the optimal self-cleaning litter box, we bring you a full list of qualities that a self-cleaning litter box needs to possess in order to be labeled as the best of the best.
Efficient & Reliable
Automatic litter boxes lack human sight and intelligence, so they rarely do as good of a job as humans. Some of them have rakes that easily break and do not pick up all the waste, others cannot remove large clumps, and some only keep the surface clean, letting urine accumulate at the bottom of the tray.
The best self-cleaning litter boxes use advanced, thoroughly tested technologies for separating clean litter from waste that allow them to leave no clump unscooped. Furthermore, their cleaning cycles are fully automated and easily programmable, so you can rely on them to keep the litter box clean round the clock without manual intervention.
There are 3 main factors that determine whether a self-cleaning litter box is perfectly safe for your feline friend. First, the litter box needs to be made of pet-safe, non-toxic materials. Second, it must not feature any sharp or protruding elements and exposed electronic components. Third, it needs to employ a system that stops the cleaning cycle if your cat enters the box, such as a motion sensor system or a safety bar. Only when all of these criteria are met can you be sure that your cat can safely use the litter box unattended.
Just like humans are picky about where they do their business, cats like their toilet environment to be pleasant and comfy. The problem with most self-cleaning litter boxes is that they are designed to be convenient for the cat parent at the expense of the cat’s comfort.
When choosing the best self-cleaning litter box for your feline companion, be sure to pick one that is designed with cat preferences in mind. While cats can get used to strange designs, they are unlikely to settle for a litter box that is uninviting, uncomfortable, too claustrophobic, not spacious enough, and looks more like an enemy than a safe space for taking care of toilet needs.
When we say well-designed, we do not just mean that the best self-cleaning litter boxes should feature modern, sleek designs that are pleasing to the eye. What matters more is whether the litter box is easy to get in and out of regardless of cat size, whether it features a nightlight for cats with poor eyesight, whether its sides are high enough to accommodate the needs of side pee-ers, and whether it comes with a mat or a paw cleaning ramp to minimize tracking. The presence or absence of these elements determines whether your cat can use the new litter box with ease and whether you need to do some extra cleaning around the litter box, which would diminish the usefulness of the device.
Not all self-cleaning litter boxes are suitable for cats of all sizes. Some are perfect for small and medium-sized cats while others are particularly designed for large cat breeds. To be sure that the self-cleaning litter box of your choice is large enough to let your cat move around comfortably, you should pick one that is at least 1.5 times the length of your kitty.
One of the main reasons why cat parents opt for self-cleaning litter boxes is because they can help with odor elimination. However, not all automatic litter boxes excel at odor control. The easiest way to determine whether you can trust your cat’s new litter box to keep the unpleasant smells away is to check whether the waste is fully eliminated via flushing or the waste compartment is closed and equipped with a carbon filter. Anti-microbial protection, compatibility with highly absorbent litters, and sanitization systems are also great bonuses.
No one likes a noisy appliance and this is especially true for cats. While it is normal for a self-cleaning litter box to produce some noise during the cleaning cycle, high noise levels can intimidate your cat and prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep.
When choosing the best litter box for your pal, it is wise to pick one with short cleaning cycles and noise levels equal to those of appliances your cat is used to, such as a dishwasher. It is also important to note that the best self-cleaning litter boxes often come with sleep timers that prevent the device from cleaning while you are asleep.
Easy To Set Up & Use
Some self-cleaning litter boxes can be used straight from the box, others require the assistance of handyman to set up. Some are easy to program, others come with 100-page user manuals that can give you a headache. To save yourself the trouble, check user instructions before you make a purchase, avoid self-cleaning litter boxes with complicated manual settings, and opt for models with simple control panels or user-friendly apps or those that do not require any special programming.
Although self-cleaning litter boxes do the scooping for you, they still require occasional cleaning and maintenance. The amount of effort you need to invest in keeping your cat’s self-cleaning litter box full functional differs greatly from one model to another. The best self-cleaning litter boxes have very few parts that require cleaning and replacement and they only need to be cleaned about once per month. If you are on a really tight schedule, the best choice is a self-cleaning litter box with an automated maintenance process.
Self-cleaning litter boxes normally cost more than conventional models, which makes sense since they cost more to manufacture and they employ innovative technologies that often require years of hard work to develop and perfect. However, unless the device is efficient, durable, and covered by a lengthy warranty, it is not worth the extra cash. Be sure to factor in the price of the necessary accessories, maintenance costs, and average lifespan when determining whether a self-cleaning litter box fits your budget and whether the higher price is actually justified.
The only way to know for sure that you have picked the best self-cleaning litter box for your cat is to test it. That is why we always advise our readers to pick a litter box that comes with a money-back guarantee that provides enough time to properly test the device and determine whether it truly works as expected.
Best Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes Of 2019
After weeks of meticulous research, we have selected the top-performing self-cleaning litter boxes that meet or exceed all of the key criteria described above. All that is left for you to do is decide which one of them perfectly meets your expectations as well as your cat’s needs and preferences. Get to know our top picks better with the mini-reviews that follow and choose the absolute best self-cleaning litter box for your feline friend.
Litter Robot is a highly advanced self-cleaning litter box that boasts a modern design, a patented litter-sifting system, and amazing odor control. It features a spacious rotating litter chamber covered with a protective bonnet. The chamber sits on top of a base that keeps all the electronic components hidden and stores the removable waste drawer.
The litter box uses motion sensors to detect your cat’s movement. The sensors let the device know when it is time to clean and also prevent the globe from rotating with your cat inside. The self-cleaning cycle lasts only about 150 seconds and during that time, the clean litter is separated from the waste via a mesh screen and the waste clumps are dumped into the waste drawer via a chute. Once the waste is removed, the globe moves back into its original position, pouring the clean litter back into the chamber and leaving the litter bed dry, level, and ready to use.
Litter Robot is designed to suit the needs of cats weighing 5 or more pounds and it can be suitable for large cat breeds. If the cat weighs less than 5 pounds, the cleaning cycles need to be started manually, as the sensors are weight-activated. The litter box can be used by multiple cats, preferably up to 3. With 1 cat, the waste drawer only needs to be emptied once every 7 to 10 days.
The key features of Litter Robot include patented litter-sifting system, cat motion sensors, adjustable timer, quiet operation, sleep mode, excellent odor control with the closed waste drawer and large carbon filter, nightlight, backup battery, full-drawer indicator, and sturdy and durable construction made of pet-safe and industrial-grade materials.
With Litter Robot, you can use just about any high-quality clumping clay litter and regular garbage bags instead of more expensive liners. Litter Robot comes with a 90-day money-back guarantee and an 18-month full warranty.
Nature’s Miracle is a self-cleaning cat litter box particularly designed for multiple cats. Unlike many of its competitors, it efficiently reduces tracking and it does a great job at preventing odors from spreading across the room. The key component of Nature’s Miracle is an automatic rake that scoops the waste and drops it into a covered waste receptacle that is easy to remove and empty.
The litter box is incredibly simple to use, there are no complicated settings, and apart from removing waste, it only requires cleaning once a month. It is perfectly suited for small and medium-sized cats, but it cannot accommodate larger cat breeds. Its dual sensor system keeps your cats away from harm, as it prevents the rake from moving further once it encounters an object other than a waste clump.
The crucial characteristics of Nature’s Miracle include fully automated cleaning cycle, cat-safe and cat-friendly design, motion sensors, anti-microbial protection, 3-in-1 odor control, paw-cleaning ramp attachment, sleep timer, backup batteries, and limited noise.
With Nature’s Miracle, you do not need to spend money on liners and you can use any hard-clumping litter. If you want to play it safe and ensure optimal operation, you can opt for the company’s proprietary litter brands.
Nature’s Miracle is an unusually affordable self-cleaning litter box and it comes with Amazon’s 30-day money-back guarantee and a limited 1-year warranty that covers defects and malfunctions not caused by improper use.
CatGenie is a rather extraordinary self-cleaning litter box. It does not only scoop the waste automatically but also washes the basin and flushes the waste on its own, requiring absolutely no human assistance. What is particularly surprising is that it does not even require manual maintenance, as the manufacturer provides affordable maintenance cartridges that you just need to insert every 2-4 months to keep the litter box running smoothly.
Instead of regular litter, CatGenie uses a special eco-friendly litter alternative called Washable Granules. It kills germs and odors and dissolves any remaining waste with proprietary pet-safe sanitizing liquid known as SaniSolution. Its design is unique as well, as it is shaped like a toilet bowl to emphasize its flushing function. The usable cat area is extra-spacious, measuring 17 inches in diameter. This makes CatGenie suitable for cats of all sizes, including particularly large cats weighing up to 20 pounds.
CatGenie can be used by kittens over the age of 8 weeks. However, for kittens aged 8 weeks to 6 months, cat parent supervision is advised. The litter box is suitable for multi-cat households and it can be used by up to 3 cats that do not mind sharing.
The most prominent features of CatGenie include automated scooping, sanitization, flushing, and maintenance, 3 start cycle options (manual, automatic, and cat-activated), cat motion sensor, special chamber for solid waste liquefaction, user-friendly control panel, and control panel child lock.
The litter box does not require the use of liners and it exclusively uses Washable Granules. It is outlet powered and it needs to be hooked up to a cold water line and a waste-water drain. CatGenie comes with a 90-day money-back guarantee and a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty.
PetSafe ScoopFree is a self-cleaning litter box that is easy to use and boasts top-notch odor and tracking control. The setup takes only a minute since you just need to install the disposable litter tray and plug in the device.
The litter box relies on motion sensors to know when your cat is inside the box and when to start the 20-minute countdown before the cleaning cycle. It uses an automatic rake to collect the solids and dump them into the covered waste trap. If your cat re-enters the litter box during the countdown or cleaning cycle, the sensors will prevent the rake’s movement and stop the timer.
PetSafe ScoopFree is suitable for up to 2 cats and large enough to accommodate the needs of small and medium-sized kitties. Cats over the age of 6 months can use it independently while younger kittens should not use it unattended and it is best to start the cycles manually until they grow up.
The most important characteristics of PetSafe ScoopFree include user-friendliness, minimized maintenance, fully automated cleaning, great odor control, and leak-proof trays. With the company’s proprietary litter crystals, there is up to 99% less dust than with other brands and there are virtually no urine odors.
This litter box uses disposable litter trays that come with their own liners and it is recommended to exclusively use PetSafe’s proprietary litter crystals for optimal odor control and functioning. PetSafe ScoopFree litter box is one of the most budget-friendly self-cleaning litter boxes on the market and it comes with Amazon’s 30-day money-back guarantee and a 1-year limited warranty.
LitterMaid is one of the best-known self-cleaning litter boxes, highly praised for its user-friendliness and easy maintenance. It is perfectly safe, it automatically scoops the waste, and it effectively reduces tracking and minimizes odors.
The litter box uses a dual sensor system to detect cat movement. When your cat exits the litter box, it starts a 10-minute countdown before the cleaning cycle. The cycle is brief and not particularly noisy. During the cleaning process, the automatic rake scoops the waste clumps and drops them into a covered disposable waste receptacle. Once the waste is safely stored, the rake reverses its movement, evening out the litter and returning to its original position.
LitterMaid is suitable for multiple cats and its cat area is spacious enough to accommodate larger cats, even those weighing more than 15 pounds. The litter box should not be used by kittens under 6 months of age due to the use of clumping litter. The most prominent features of LitterMaid include quick automated scooping cycle, easy weekly waste disposal, carbon filter for maximized odor control, good tracking control with the paw cleaning ramp, and safety bar on the rake that stops the cleaning cycle if your cat enters the litter box.
In addition to your LitterMaid litter box, you get a full accessory pack including 4 waste receptacles, 4 carbon filters, 1 scoop and rake cleaner, and 1 paw cleaning ramp. The litter box can work with any high-quality hard-clumping litter. If you want to reuse the disposable waste receptacles, you can use regular garbage bags as liners.
LitterMaid comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee and a 1-year limited warranty.