Though a cat’s companionship is a pleasure many of us enjoy, the odorous task of cleaning its litter box is most certainly not. There is, however, a way to make this chore less dreadful. The best automatic litter boxes can keep a litter box clean without cat owners having to scoop the waste out themselves.
The best automatic litter boxes are set on a timer that automatically scoops out a cat’s waste. This action keeps the area around the litter box smelling fresh for longer and allows the cat to do its business without having to step into a dirty litter box. The cleaner the litter box is, the cleaner the cat will smell, too.
- BEST OVERALL: PetSafe ScoopFree Automatic Self Cleaning Litter Box
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Omega Paw NRA15-1 Improved Roll ‘n Clean Litter Box
- BEST FOR MULTIPLE CATS: Nature’s Miracle Multi-Cat Self-Cleaning Litter Box
- BEST ODOR CONTROL: LitterMaid Single Cat Self-Cleaning Litter Box
- BEST LARGE: Pet Zone Smart Scoop Automatic Litter Box
What to Look for When Buying the Best Automatic Litter Box
There are four key factors to keep in mind when shopping for the best automatic litter box for your cat. These considerations are the scooping time, the type of waste bin, how easy it is to clean, and the type of litter it requires.
When an automatic litter box cleans itself is one of the most essential features to consider. Most are armed with smart sensors that can detect when your cat has come and gone, activating the cleaning cycle after a specific amount of time has passed.
The time that elapses from the time your cat leaves the box and the beginning of the cleaning cycle is called the scooping time. Depending on the automatic litter box, this time can vary between 10 to 20 minutes. Many of the best automatic litter boxes have sensors that will not let the cycle begin if it senses the cat has returned to the box. Without this sensor, your cat could be injured or scared to use the litter box again if the cycle begins while your cat is in the box.
The best automatic litter boxes will have waste bins, but the bins’ size and ease of use are key factors to keep in mind. If the waste bin is small and there are multiple cats in the household, the bin might need to be emptied and cleaned often.
Take a look at where the litter box’s waste bin is located, too. If it is hard to reach, complicated to access, or too heavy to lift, emptying the bin might be more trouble than scooping out the litter yourself. A lightweight, easily accessible waste bin can be the difference between an automatic litter box that’s a worthwhile purchase and one that goes unused.
The waste bin and litter box will not need to be cleaned every time they are emptied. Every now and again, however, they will need to be deep cleaned in order to properly maintain the machine, and to ensure the health of the cat or cats that are using the litter box.
When shopping for an automatic litter box, check for hard-to-reach corners, tiny parts that might need to be removed and scrubbed, and intricate designs that might trap dirt and grime. An automatic litter box is not a time-saving device if it requires hours of scrubbing and cleaning. The best automatic litter box will have smooth surfaces, waste bin bags, and few miniscule pieces to scrub.
Not all cat litter is created equal, and not every automatic litter box can function with every kind of litter. By and large, the best automatic litter boxes require specific kinds of litter, and sometimes it’s litter that’s specific to the product or manufacturer. Before purchasing the litter box, make sure the required litter is not very expensive, hard to find, or dusty. Research the kind of litter the litter box’s manufacturer recommends so you know what you’re getting into.
Crystal litter and clumping litter are two of the most popular types of litter that are recommended for automatic litter boxes. Clumping litter is affordable, but it often produces a lot of dust and can stick to cats’ paws. Crystal litter is more expensive, but it’s cleaner on feline paws and the litter box itself.
Our Top Picks
Technology has certainly made many chores around the house easier, and automatic litter boxes are no exception. Read on to discover which ones can keep your cat and home clean and fresh.
This litter box from PetSafe has a smart sensor that detects when a cat leaves the box, and the cleaning cycle begins 20 minutes later. The sensor also tracks how often the cat uses the box, which helps owners detect feline health issues early. The ScoopFree comes in three colors and two entry options: The front-entry box is ideal for older cats who might not want to jump up, and the top-access box is excellent for younger cats. One benefit of the top-entry litter box is that it keeps litter from being tracked out of the box.
Blue crystal litter is required for this litter box to function correctly, and a package of litter is included with the purchase. This litter is virtually dust-free, but it can be more costly than other clumping litters. The waste bin is a tray on the bottom of the box that slides out and can easily be thrown away. The rake and tray will need to be cleaned every so often, but they are a breeze to wipe down and won’t take hours to scrub.
Some of the best automatic litter boxes cost a considerable chunk of change. Omega Paw’s affordable self-cleaning litter box eschews moving parts and uses gravity to clean the litter box. The box cleans itself when it is flipped over. Once it’s flipped back, its tray catches waste and simply needs to be pulled out and emptied—there’s no need to worry about electrical parts failing and needing to be replaced.
The Roll ‘n Clean’s waste bin is on the small side, but it can contain the waste of one average-size house cat when it’s cleaned every day. The inside of the litter box will need a deep clean now and then, but it’s easy to disinfect and clean the box’s smooth bottom. The sifting grate that separates the waste from the clean litter can sometimes clog, thereby requiring some effort to clean.
There is no need to buy particular litter for this box; any clumping litter will do.
This automatic litter box from Nature’s Miracle is extra large and can keep up with the demands of a multicat household. A smart motion sensor detects when a cat has come and gone and will start the cleaning cycle automatically. There’s also a button pet owners can push to activate the cleaning cycle manually. The rake pushes the waste into the bin at the box’s front, where the odor is controlled with carbon filters.
Not only does this box include a litter scoop, a paw-cleaning ramp, and carbon filters, but it also comes equipped with LED lights on its sides that make it easy for cats to find the box at night.
While Nature’s Miracle recommends using their brand of litter, it is not necessary for the box to function properly. Any clumping litter will work with this automatic litter box.
Deep cleaning this litter box is a little more complicated than it is for competitors’ self-cleaning litter boxes, because there are grooves and tight corners on this one that will need to be scrubbed. On the upside, this box’s rake and waste bins are removable, which makes cleanup a little more manageable.
This automatic litter box controls odors and keeps the home smelling fresh with a sealed waste bin lined with carbon filters. LitterMaid’s automatic litter box uses a smart sensor to detect when a cat has come and gone and will start the cleaning cycle. With a push of a button, the cleaning cycle will start manually.
Included with the purchase of this litter box is a scoop and rake cleaner, a paw-cleaning ramp, and carbon filters to help with odor.
Any clumping litter that the cat is already used to will work with this automatic litter box. The mechanical rake pushes the waste into the bin at the front of the box.
Deep cleaning the LitterMaid automatic litter box is a little more time-consuming with the grooves and tight corners that will need to be scrubbed. However, the rake and waste bin are both removable which makes cleaning them much easier.
Measuring approximately 27 inches by 17 inches, this large automatic litter box rakes and scoops out cat waste so you don’t have to. Using a smart sensor, it begins a cleaning cycle 15 minutes after the cat exits the box. The rake then filters, scoops the clumps, and dumps them into the lined waste bin. The liners included with the litter box allow cat owners to empty the bin without ever having to touch the litter and keep the bin clean. The bin is also fixed with a carbon filter to keep odors down.
Deep cleaning the Smart Scoop won’t be too time-consuming—the waste bin is lined, and the box’s bottom is smooth. Other than the rake, which might require extra time to clean, this box’s parts should be easy to disinfect and maintain. The Pet Zone Smart Scoop doesn’t require particular kinds of litter to function. Any clumping litter will do.
FAQs About Automatic Litter Boxes
After learning about the useful features some of the best automatic litter boxes have, you might still have some questions. Here are answers to cat owners’ most frequently asked questions about automatic litter boxes.
Q. What type of litter should I pick for an automatic litter box?
Most automatic litter boxes require a specific type of litter and will indicate which kind in the product’s instructions or description. For the most part, clumping litter is usually recommended with these litter boxes because it is easier for the rake to pick up and clean.
Q. Where should I place my cat litter box in my home?
The best place for a litter box is private, quiet, and out of the way. Many cat owners choose to put their litter box in the bathroom. This seems like a natural place for it to go, but remember that the cat will need access to it at all times, so the bathroom door will need to stay open.
Q: How do I help my cat get used to its new fancy toilet?
Slowly integrating a new automatic litter box is the best way to go. Slowly start to add litter from the old box into the new box. Do not set the automatic function to the “on” position while the cat is adjusting to this new device. Most automatic litter boxes have a button that allows users to manually start a cleaning cycle. This allows the cat to get used to the box before it starts moving and making noise. Once the cat has started to use the new box regularly and comfortably, you can then turn on the automatic function.