One of the most tedious things about living with a feline friend is handling litter box cleanup. Cats need an appropriately sized, somewhat private, and fairly clean space for addressing their bathroom needs, which is why many cat owners opt to use litter boxes that essentially clean themselves. Automatic cat litter boxes are available in a variety of price points, sizes, and styles, including smart litter boxes, which hook up to Wi-Fi and allow you to control certain elements of how it functions, like scheduling cleanings. Self-cleaning litter boxes are a favorite in multi-cat homes, and among people who aren't around to clean messes right after they happen.
What to consider when purchasing a self-cleaning cat litter box
Cleaning: Although the entire appeal of a self-cleaning litter box is that, well, you don't have to clean it, you will still need to do some upkeep on it to keep things running smoothly and to ensure that your cat will continue using it. Baking soda can help eliminate bad odors from litter boxes, and removing pee that may not be picked up by the self-cleaner will keep the litter box suitable for your cat. Solid waste that's stored in the box should be removed on a regular basis to ensure that the cleaning mechanism works properly.
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Multi-cat Households: If you have more than one cat in your home, you likely have more than one litter box. You might be able to get away with fewer litter boxes with a self-cleaning model, but this will only be true if the box is truly kept free of poop and pee, and the litter is refreshed periodically to ensure freshness. Automatic self-cleaning litter boxes for multiple cats are usually a bit larger in size and allow for up to several weeks between cleaning as they're able to store more waste than standard boxes.
Litter: Many self-cleaning cat litter boxes recommend using crystal cat litter for the best results, although some can work with standard clumping cat litter. If your self-cleaning machine calls for different litter than what you have on hand, don't attempt to use it, even for a short amount of time—it's best to keep using your standard litter box until the litter runs out, or donate unused litter to your local shelter or rescue.
Now that we've outlined what to look out for when shopping for a self-cleaning cat litter box, here are the best options on the market:
The best self-cleaning litter box for clumping litter
This automatic litter box system works by using a sensor that becomes triggered once waste is identified, then activates the box's cleaning cycle. Unlike many self-cleaning litter boxes, this box doesn't require crystal litter and works with any lightweight clumping variety. It also helps to control odor thanks to carbon zeolite technology and calls for disposable no-touch litter bags with a one-month supply of bags included with purchase. Because this litter box sits fairly low to the ground, it could be an ideal choice for senior cats or cats with limited mobility as it doesn't require jumping into and is recommended for cats over six months old. It's available at Amazon and Chewy and comes with a one-year limited warranty.
The best self-cleaning litter box with disposable trays
A classic product that's been beloved by many cat owners for years, this scoop-free litter box offers weeks between cleanings thanks to the disposable crystal litter trays. The trays are lined with plastic to prevent leaking, and the crystal litter is dust-free, making a clean environment wherever you keep your litter box. Safety sensors inside of the box ensure that scooping only occurs after your cat has used and left the box, and trays come with a lid for easy disposal and replacement.
The best Wi-Fi-enabled self-cleaning litter box
If having a bit more control over your litter box and its functions is what you're looking for, this self-cleaning option helps you do that with a Wi-Fi-enabled app. The box itself is weight activated and cleans as soon as your cat steps out, where it then sifts waste into a drawer that's fitted with a carbon filter to keep odors under control until you empty it. The app helps you see how often the box has been used and how much waste has been collected for optimum upkeep. This is one of the best self-cleaning litter boxes for homes with multiple cats as it can support up to four felines, and is designed with an automatic nightlight for evening use.
The best less expensive Wi-Fi-enabled self-cleaning litter box
For anyone looking for smart technology that coincides with their litter box, this is the same scoop-free litter box as listed above but it comes with a Wi-Fi-enabled app. The app can be used to track your pet's health and restroom patterns, making it easy to spot changes in their habits which could be a sign of infection or other health concerns. You can also use the app to check that the litter box is still functioning if you're away from home, and program it to send notifications for things like scheduling cleanings or replacing litter trays.
The best budget-friendly self-cleaning litter box
This option is not exactly self-cleaning in the way that many of the litter boxes on this list are, but it will allow you to clean a litter box without having to scoop, making it a manual self-cleaning device, if you will. This box is fully enclosed with a front-entry opening for your cat to climb into. On one side of the box is a grate for your cat to stand and eliminate on, and under it is where you keep their litter. When you need to remove waste, simply rotate the box onto its side, shifting the remnants into a waste drawer which you can remove easily and empty as needed.
The best self-cleaning litter box for odor control
For a kitty litter box that looks out of this world, this waste receptacle not only cleans itself after your cats use it, but it's also stylishly designed to look natural in just about any room of the house. After the waste has been removed and stored in a separate compartment, the odors are contained thanks to a bamboo carbon filter. This machine is quiet, so no worries about loud whirring in the middle of the night. Although it offers privacy for single cats, this box can support up to four feline friends.
The best covered self-cleaning litter box
For a covered litter box that won't break the bank, this option from PetSafe offers privacy and odor control in an accessible way. Using plastic-lined, disposable litter trays, this litter pan doesn't require plastic liners like many traditional litter boxes do. Waste is removed only after your cat has left the box thanks to a sensor that triggers the sifting mechanism, and litter trays can be left for weeks in between replacing when used for a single cat.
The best semi-automatic litter box
Another self-flushing litter box that requires just a minimal amount of human intervention, this semi-automatic item works somewhat like a composting bin in that it needs to be turned to sift out solid waste and clumps. This is a nontoxic bin made of resin PP material and is recommended for single-cat households with cats under 18 pounds. To use it, simply tilt the bin downward and fill it with your litter of choice, be it crystal litter, clay litter, clumping litter, or another type of litter. After your cat has used it, flip the bin back so that the solid material sifts out and lands in a tray. Then, remove the tray to empty it, and replace it before sifting again. This litter box assembles in minutes and no tools are required, but your cat will need to climb into it, so it may not be a practical choice for cats with limited mobility.
The best ultra-quiet self-cleaning litter box
Another litter box with smart technology and designed to look great in any room of the home, this automatic litter box is app-enabled for a hands-free, worry-free experience. The app can send you real-time notifications, schedule cleanings, and even measure your cat's user data, like frequency and length of use. This litter box is designed with four safety sensors, and is extra-quiet, measuring only 47 decibels. You can use any type of clumping litter to collect your cat's waste, which is then kept in an odor-controlled storage bin until you're able to toss it.