11 Best Self Cleaning Litter Boxes: Your Buyer’s Guide

self cleaning litter box for kitten

123RF (Ysbrand Cosijn)

Cat owners know that the worst part of having cats as pets is dealing with the litter box. Even with only one cat, the litter box needs attention a minimum of once a week. In the interim, visitors to your home can detect the presence of a litter box long before your kitty kid has made an appearance to say hello, sometimes even when using a litter box furniture enclosure.

The strong smells and generally unpleasant business of cleaning a litter box will keep some people from considering a cat. However, automatic or self cleaning litter boxes do exist, and they can make your life with Fluffy as easier and less smelly. They come in a variety of styles and cleaning approaches so you can choose the version that works best for your lifestyle. If you love cats but hate litter boxes, discover the best self cleaning litter boxes to eliminate the hassle of cat cleanup.

Which self cleaning litter box is best?

Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Nothing to clean or empty
  • Fully automatic
  • Washable Granules are permanent
Price: $292.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
LitterMaid Multi-Cat Self-Cleaning Litter Box Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Automatic rake removes waste
  • Slightly cheaper than other units
  • Battery back-up
Price: $161.76 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Quiet, continuous operation
  • Inexpensive
  • Uses less litter
Price: $54.74 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Simple setup
  • Timer has three different settings
  • Includes a health counter
Price: $169.95 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Quieter motor
  • Kit includes anti-tracking mat
  • Components can be removed for cleaning
Price: $121.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
  • Large capacity
  • Uses regular trash bags
  • Easy to assemble
Price: $449.00 Shop now at Litter-Robot Shop now Read our review
Omega Paw Self-Cleaning Litter Box Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Cheaper than other options
  • Easy to use and assemble
  • No proprietary peripherals
Price: $35.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Easy assembly
  • Choice of six colors
  • Simple operation
Price: $74.18 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Catit SmartSift Litter Box Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Self-sifting lever
  • Only needs to be emptied about once a week
  • High sides reduces tracking
Price: $71.34 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
SpeedySift Cat Litter Box with Disposable Sifting Liners Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Novel liner approach to self cleaning
  • Very high sides
  • Construction clamps liners in place
Price: $49.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Pet Mate Arm & Hammer Large Sifting Litter Pan Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Dirt cheap, comparatively
  • Extremely simple to use
  • Antimicrobial surface
Price: $16.83 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. CatGenie Self Washing Self Flushing Cat Box

    Pros:
    • Nothing to clean or empty
    • Fully automatic
    • Integrates with bathroom or laundry room to flush waste
    • Washable Granules are permanent, saving money on litter
    Cons:
    • Requires a cold water line
    • Expensive
    • Each CatGenie is only good for 1-2 cats
    • Cleaning cycle takes 30 minutes

    The CatGenie is the first self cleaning litter box many shopper encounter, and for good reason. It’s among the more expensive options, but almost certainly has the most advanced approach to getting rid of cat waste.

    The CatGenie uses so-called Washable Granules in place of litter. These granules are permanent, so rather than changing them out when they’re dirty, the system uses a cold water hook up to wash them and liquefy the waste for disposal in a drain or toilet. The machine then heats and dries the granules so they’re ready for the next use. It’s a very advanced system that requires only the addition of SaniSolution every so many washes.

    This does require both a cold water line and a drain or toilet in addition to an outlet to work. If you really hate cleaning the litter box, this is the only solution that means you never have to empty any kind of waste storage compartment. You can even get a dome cover for it to give your cat more privacy or side walls to prevent granule loss due to digging.

    VideoVideo related to catgenie self washing self flushing cat box2018-10-27T17:39:38-04:00

  2. 2. LitterMaid Multi-Cat Self-Cleaning Litter Box

    Pros:
    • Easy-to-remove disposable waste receptacles
    • Automatic rake removes waste
    • Slightly cheaper than other units
    • Battery back-up for power outages
    Cons:
    • May require cleaning to remove blockages
    • Some concerns about motor strength
    • Typical lifespan of 2-4 years
    • Loud motor

    The box itself is very large and includes a ramp with a cleaning pad to trap litter as your cat leaves. The manufacturer claims that it holds 50 percent more litter than other automatic boxes. LitterMaid even makes their own cat litter made just for the unit.

    Another well-known option is this LitterMaid unit. Considerably less complicated than the CatGenie, this automatic litter box works by passing a rake through regular litter to push waste into a compartment.

    To empty the waste compartment, simply remove the disposable receptacle and throw it away. Carbon fiber filters help keep the smell down in the meantime. This is a solid performer that requires much less fuss than the CatGenie. I’ve seen this in action and it exceeded my expectations for durability and effectiveness.

    There’s a cheaper single cat version, as well, if you only have one pet.

  3. 3. PetSafe Simply Clean Self Cleaning Litter Box

    Pros:
    • Quiet, continuous operation
    • Good price
    • No specialized refills or bags
    • Uses less litter
    Cons:
    • Only designed for cats up to 12 pounds
    • Bowl design limits box space
    • Movement may bother some cats
    • Use of cheap litter may cause waste to clump under sifter

    Using a rotating litter bowl, this unit continuously removes waste from the litter. The bowl moves very slowly, completing one rotation per hour. Waste doesn’t sit in the litter growing foul smelling bacteria, which extends the life of your litter considerably.

    The waste bucket can be lined with any plastic bag to make removal easy. This also has the advantage of not requiring specialized extras like some of the other units.

    Unlike the LitterMaid, the motor on this unit is extremely quiet. It’s also a more compact design, so this would be a good alternative for homes where space is tight. If the constant motion bothers your cat, you could consider plugging it into a timer to control when the unit is on.

  4. 4. ScoopFree Ultra Self-Cleaning Litter Box

    Pros:
    • Simple setup
    • Easy disposal of waste
    • Timer has three different settings
    • Includes a health counter to identify possible problems with your cat
    Cons:
    • Proprietary litter and trays are pricey — calculate your current litter usage to compare
    • Moisture lock crystals means it can’t be used in a humid environment like the bathroom
    • Rake depth may be an issue
    • Some reports that crystals don’t eliminate odor

    Combining the rake design of the LitterMaid with proprietary crystal litter trays, this PetSafe model gets slightly higher reviews. The disposable trays come filled with PetSafe’s crystal litter, ensuring that the unit will work as intended.

    When the tray needs to be replaced (every few weeks or as needed, depending on your cat), lift the unit, remove the tray, and cover it with the included lid. The entire tray goes into the trash.

    This self cleaning litter box includes a sensor that detects when your cat has entered the box. In turn, this begins a 20 minute timer which will trigger the rake to move the waste into the trap. Tray refills also come in both lavender and dye-free, recycled versions.

    You can also get a matching anti-tracking mat. If your cat doesn’t require the hood, you can save a little money on the hoodless version. This is probably the simplest and most elegant of the automatic cat box solutions and will get you started the quickest.

    VideoVideo related to scoopfree ultra self-cleaning litter box2018-10-27T17:43:43-04:00

  5. 5. OurPets SmartScoop Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Box

    Pros:
    • Quieter motor
    • Relatively inexpensive operation
    • Kit includes anti-tracking mat
    • Mechanical components can be removed for thorough cleaning
    Cons:
    • Waste receptacle moves with rake, which could lead to greater malfunction
    • Somewhat smaller than LitterMaid
    • Bags may need to be emptied daily
    • Rake may catch and fling litter outside the box

    The automatic rake system is clearly a popular solution when considering an automatic litter box and this unit is no exception. This one is most similar to the LitterMaid, using a sensor, time delay, and powered rake to push solid waste into a bag-lined receptacle. The two are so similar, the product description takes a shot at the LitterMaid in saying, “Over four times quieter than another leading brand with no disruption for cat or consumer.”

    Compared with the PetSafe ScoopFree Ultra, the refillable elements of this model — including the carbon filters and no-touch bags — are much cheaper, however, so the price will soon be offset compared to litter tray/refill combos for similar models. This is a good alternative if the LitterMaid didn’t work out for you.

    VideoVideo related to ourpets smartscoop automatic self-cleaning litter box2018-10-27T17:44:36-04:00

  6. 6. Litter-Robot III Open-Air

    Pros:
    • Large capacity
    • Built-in privacy
    • Uses regular trash bags
    • Easy to assemble
    Cons:
    • Expensive
    • Large unit
    • Overfilled receptacles could smear on the side of the globe
    • Only good for cats up to 15 pounds

    If you don’t like the design of the metal rake units, you could step up to this high-tech, appliance-level solution. Aimed at multi-cat households, this one features a large integrated litter pan. The entire globe rotates, filtering out waste and depositing it into the large receptacle on the bottom of the unit, which you can line with a regular trash bag.

    They’ve recently updated this to the III Open-Air model, which is larger than previous models. Other improvements include a drawer full indicator, three, five and seven-minute clean cycle settings, an automatic LED night light, self-adjusting cat sensor, and eight-hour sleep mode. You can purchase an accessory battery back-up separately from the manufacturer’s website, as well.

    The sensor on this model is a pressure switch on the bottom of the pan, which can be activated by cats weighing five pounds or more. After a cat departs, the globe begins its rotation based on the number of minutes you’ve chosen.

    Despite the high price tag, there are no proprietary peripherals to buy, and reviewers consistently comment on the reduction in litter use. It’s possible that this unit will pay for itself in a relatively short amount of time. Like the CatGenie, this is an advanced solution, but it could be the only one you ever need and gets the best reviews of all the automatic option on Amazon.

    VideoVideo related to litter-robot iii open-air2018-10-27T17:45:48-04:00

  7. 7. Omega Paw NRA15-1 Improved Roll ‘n Clean Self Cleaning Litter Box

    Pros:
    • Cheaper than other options
    • Easy to use and assemble
    • No proprietary peripherals
    • Requires no power
    Cons:
    • Not fully automatic
    • May still require supplemental scooping
    • Some clean litter may end up in disposal scoop
    • Concept may be better than the execution

    Somewhat similar in operation to the Litter Robot above, this self cleaning litter box uses a novel rotating motion to collect solid waste into a removable scoop. This design requires no disposable elements whatsoever, which cuts down on the overall cost of ownership.

    This is the newest version of this product, which offers a few improvements over the last generation. First, and quite simply, the handle for the scoop now features a thumb tab for better grip. In the previous version, complains about the separating grill breaking were common, so they’ve improved that, as well. In fact, all of the plastic has been upgraded for an overall more robust feel.

    There are a vew versions of this product, and the listings make them somewhat difficult to parse. This is the large size, which measures 23 by 19 by 18.5 inches and would be better for larger cats. The medium size measures 19 by 16 by 16.5 inches and is meant for small to medium sized cats. There’s also the Roll ‘N Clean Elite, which adds chrome touches and a litter catch step and comes in a more modern colorway.

    Since this is only slightly more expensive than a more-traditional covered litter box, I would consider this regardless of whether or not an automatic box is needed in your case. It will assuredly make cleanup easier, and compared with the expensive electric units, this offers a somewhat larger space for your cat.

    Because litter tracking is a concern, you might want to consider a litter mat.

  8. 8. Litter Spinner Quick Clean Cat Litter Box

    Pros:
    • Easy assembly
    • Choice of six colors
    • Simple operation
    • Uses any clumping cat litter
    Cons:
    • Not fully automatic
    • Expensive
    • Fit and finish issues
    • Litter spills out unless you rotate slowly

    This is another rotation-based litter box, one where the filtering grate is built right into the disposal scoop. That offers the advantage of being able to return clean litter back to the box if any lands in the scoop.

    An additional, if purely aesthetic, advantage of this model is that it comes in six different colors — black, green, hot pink, tan, white, and purple. It may not make a huge difference in terms of, you know, cleaning the litter box, but if you’ve got to match something in your home, this might be the way to go.

  9. 9. Catit SmartSift Litter Box

    Pros:
    • Self-sifting lever cleans litter without needing to open the lid
    • Only needs to be emptied about once a week
    • High sides reduces tracking
    • Uses any clumping cat litter
    Cons:
    • Not fully automatic
    • On the pricey side for what it is
    • Somewhat flimsy
    • Lid can be hard to remove

    The design of this model is a departure from the others on this list. Similar in some ways to the cheaper sifting cat boxes, this one uses an integrated lever to activate the sifting action. Once a day, simply lift the lever to clean the litter and reset it to leave the box ready for use again.

    The waste is deposited into a large bag-lined, slide-out receptacle below. When the tray is full, which takes about a week, just pull it out and throw away the bag. Compared to the two above, the operation is quite a bit easier. Litter tracking is also greatly reduced using this setup and it’s large enough for bigger cats.

    Proprietary liners and filters are available, and while they may ensure optimal usage, they may not be strictly necessary, either. The construction of this isn’t on par with a lot of the other options on this list, but experience seem to vary from unit to unit. Sometimes, it works perfectly as intended, and sometimes the lever is malformed and won’t lock. Addtionally, in some cases, some found that the grate was too small to filter without a little help from the scoop.

    That said, it’s about on par with the lower end of the cost spectrum for litter boxes with cleaning mechanisms, so you may be pleasantly surprised if you’re not quite ready to invest in a powered option.

  10. 10. SpeedySift Cat Litter Box with Disposable Sifting Liners

    Pros:
    • Novel liner approach to self cleaning
    • Very high sides
    • Construction clamps liners in place
    • Five year warranty
    Cons:
    • Not fully automatic
    • Requires proprietary liners
    • Made of corrugated plastic
    • On the small side

    For a completely different approach to the idea of self cleaning, consider this option from SpeedySift, which puts the onus on the liners rather than the box itself to separate waste. Whereas the rest of this list features some kind of mechanism on the box itself, this uses special liners to do the heavy lifting (no pun intended).

    Essentially, this is a tight clamping, high-sided lid over a relatively conventional plastic cat pan. To set up, you’ll install a 14-pack of offset, stacked liners. Each liner has slits in it which is offset from the next to prevent litter and waste from penetrating the layers below. To clean the box, simply lift up one layer, let the clean litter filter through, and throw away the liner. It ships with four such packs, and replacements are available, of course.

    In the grand scheme of relatively complicated sifting and self cleaning litter boxes, this is about as simple and straightforward as it gets. That said, the top part is made of ugly and frankly cheap corrugated plastic. Considering that, the price is on the high side, certainly. However, the company offers a five year warranty, which suggests that the construction is up to the task.

    It’s certainly an interesting approach and may be worth considering if the rest of this list is just too involved for your liking.

  11. 11. Pet Mate Arm & Hammer Large Sifting Litter Pan

    Pros:
    • Dirt cheap, comparatively
    • Extremely simple to use
    • Antimicrobial surface
    • Use any litter you like
    Cons:
    • Stretching the definition of "self cleaning"
    • Sifting layer will need to be cleaned now and again
    • Won't always catch everything
    • Smaller than some standard litter boxes

    To be sure, this is a no-frills approach. Fill it with litter, lift the sifting layer when the litter needs cleaning, repeat. Some smaller bits of waste may still require intervention with a scoop, but for the most part, this will be better than going after each pile individually.

    If you’ve considered the rest of this list and aren’t yet ready to invest in overly complicated solutions, let alone those that require an outlet, you can always consider the tried-and-true, original “self cleaning” litter box.

    All the manual self cleaning litter boxes evolved from this basic premise, and the price is hard to beat. Aside from the very cheapest basic plastic litter pans, it’s very reasonably priced, and even cheaper than a few of those.

Automatic Self Cleaning Litter Boxes vs. Manual Self Cleaning Litter Boxes

Automatic self cleaning litter boxes use a power source to automatically remove clumps and waste from the box. These units generally work autonomously for up to a week without any intervention from you.

They're the most advanced style of litter box and usually only require you to empty a waste compartment or add more litter every so often. They're certainly much pricier than a simple covered litter box, but they'll save you from the dreadful experience of having to interact with dirty litter.

By contrast, manual self cleaning litter boxes require a little more work than the automatic versions. A manual operation is required to "automatically" sift the dirty litter out, making it easier to clean. It's certainly an improvement on scooping each pile out by hand and they're typically considerably cheaper than the fully automatic versions.

If your definition of "self cleaning" is quite liberal, you can get away with getting something that does this job for less than $20, though it's unlikely to solve the core problem. Spending a little more can net you some improvements in convenience, regardless of which style you choose.

How does a self cleaning litter box work?

Generally speaking, if you're looking at automatic self cleaning litter boxes, you're looking at options on this list like the LitterMaid, PetSafe Simply Clean, or PetSafe ScoopFree. All of these have the same central premise: a motor drives a rake through the litter and deposits waste into a holding container for you to empty at semi-regular intervals.

This removes the need for you to scoop regularly as these mechanisms either work on a schedule you set or use sensors to track when your cat leaves the box as a trigger to run.

The CatGenie and Litter-Robot have slightly different mechanisms. The CatGenie actually washes the waste out of the permanent granules and flushes them down the toilet. It requires a lot more setup, but is by far the most advanced solution on the market. The Litter-Robot rotates the entire cat box, which sifts the litter over a cleaning grate to remove the waste.

Do self cleaning litter boxes work?

The short answer is: it depends. Since you need to clean your litter box everyday to ensure your cat uses it properly, there's no question that more frequent cleanings will help matters. That said, anyone who has owned a robot vacuum (I currently have three, including the least-needy of the bunch, the Bagotte BG600 Robot Vacuum Cleaner) knows that all automated solutions require human intervention.

Ultimately, your search for an automatic or self cleaning kitty box is going to come down to a cross-consideration of cost and what type of intervention will be required. As you'll see when comparing these units, they're among the harshest-reviewed pet products we've written about, with nearly universally meager ratings, right down there with smart dog collars.

For the most part, this is a question of expectation. No litter box requires nothing from you, though the CatGenie comes the closest - after you give it an over-the-top bathroom installation. There are trade-offs with all of these units, and all of them require that you properly adjust your cat to them before use so as not to scare them off of litter boxes entirely.

With some trial and error, it is absolutely possible to find an option that will make your life easier in some regard. If you're after less-regular scooping, these can offer you a solution. If you're after total freedom from cat litter related chores, you probably have a few more years to wait for an AI-driven helper robot, the Rosie of cat maintenance.

See also:

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