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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

35 Models Considered
12 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
111 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for Best self-cleaning litter boxes

A cat can bring plenty of joy to your life, but there is one thing most cat owners don’t enjoy at all: cleaning the litter box. Unfortunately, if you don’t stay on top of that chore, your house can start to smell, which is why a self-cleaning litter box can be such a smart investment.

A self-cleaning litter box is like a regular litter box, but it contains sensors that respond to a cat’s use of the box. Instead of you scooping the mess, the box rakes or flushes the waste into a bin by itself. The next time your cat goes to use the box, fresh litter is waiting for them. As far as maintenance goes, you must empty the litter box waste bin periodically, but your contact with cat waste is minimized.

Want to cut litter box scooping out of your daily routine? Our buying guide can help you determine the best type and size of self-cleaning litter box for your cat as well as what features are must-haves to keep you and your kitty happy.

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While your cat is getting comfortable with their new self-cleaning litter box, offer praise after each use to promote continued use.

Key considerations

Semi-automatic vs. fully automatic

Manual disposal of soiled litter is required on a weekly or semi-weekly basis for nearly all of these products. Simply remove the waste bin or drawer and empty it into the trash. Some high-end models connect to your home’s main drain line to automatically flush dirty litter. For these products, you don’t need to physically remove the waste.

However, while most self-cleaning litter boxes require emptying the waste bin periodically, some create more work for the owner than others. The primary two types of these boxes are semi-automatic and fully automatic boxes.

  • Semi-automatic: Semi-automatic models typically call for the rolling or turning of a lever to separate waste from clean litter.
  • Fully automatic: Fully automatic self-cleaning litter boxes have an automatic raking system that pushes soiled litter into a waste bin, leaving you with the simple task of emptying the bin one or two times per week.

Fully automatic self-cleaning litter boxes usually cost more, though some cat owners feel the convenience is worth it. Semi-automatic self-cleaning litter boxes are a viable alternative for those on a budget.

Size

When you’re shopping for a self-cleaning litter box, it’s important to understand that it will almost certainly be larger than your current box. Self-cleaning models are larger than standard boxes because they contain a waste bin and a mechanism to maneuver soiled litter.

If you have a small home or a specific area where you want to keep the box, first measure your available space. Compare those measurements to litter box dimensions to make sure you can accommodate it.

Number of cats

Consider the number of cats in your home to make sure the box you’re looking at could handle the amount of waste it would get. Even self-cleaning litter boxes can get smelly and dirty.

In general, it’s recommended that you have one litter box for every cat. However, with a self-cleaning model, you can often get away with one box for every two cats. Check the product specifications to see how many cats the box is designed to handle.

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Did You Know?
If you can’t get your cat to use the self-cleaning litter box when the old box is nearby, stop cleaning the old box. Cats prefer to use a clean box, so this action could coax them into trying the new model.
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Features

Scooping time/timer

Most boxes have a sensor that prompts the raking mechanism to start after the cat leaves the box. However, some have an adjustable timer that allows you to set specific times for the box to scoop itself.

Waste bin

While you can find a few self-cleaning litter boxes that flush themselves via your home’s drain line, most boxes have a waste bin or drawer that must be manually emptied a few times a week. You may want to look for a model with a large waste bin, so you won’t have to empty it every day.

Noise level

Some self-cleaning litter boxes make quite a bit of noise when the box removes the waste. A noisy box could potentially scare your cat or disturb the people in your home. If you’re concerned about sound output, choose a product designed to make less noise.

Carbon filter

High-end self-cleaning litter boxes sometimes have a built-in carbon filter. The filter reduces odor even further.

Nightlight

Some self-cleaning litter boxes feature a built-in nightlight that may make it easier for your cat to find the box in the dark. Perhaps even more importantly, it can help prevent you from stumbling into it in the middle of the night.

Cats may have occasional accidents in the house as they transition to a self-cleaning litter box. Don’t yell at your pet if they relieve themselves on the floor. This may increase their fear and make them more reluctant to use the new box.

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Accessories

Cat litter: World’s Best Cat Litter Quick Cat Clumping Formula
This formula from World’s Best Cat Litter is one of our favorite cat litter formulas. Wood fibers and corn kernels blend to create dust-free litter that’s highly absorbent and can accommodate the output of more than one cat.

Cat tree: Go Pet Club Faux Fur Cat Tree & Condo
A cat tree can keep your cat entertained and active, so they don’t get into trouble around the house. We love this one from Go Pet Club because it features multiple levels and detachable ladders. It works well for heavier cats and kitties in multi-cat homes.

Dyk2
Did You Know?
Kittens shouldn’t use a self-cleaning litter box. Most manufacturers recommend that cats be at least six months old before using a self-cleaning model.
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Self-cleaning litter box prices

Inexpensive: The most affordable choices are semi-automatic models that require you to manually separate the waste from the clean litter. They’re usually on the small side, too. Prices for these items run from $20 to $65.

Mid-range: These are usually fully automatic models that rake waste into a bin. They typically don’t offer a timer, but they can often handle the output of two or more cats. These litter boxes range from $65 to $125.

High-end: The priciest self-cleaning litter boxes are fully automatic models that rake waste into a waste bin. A timer may allow you to choose how often the raking occurs. Up to four cats (and their output) may be accommodated. You can even find some high-end self-cleaning litter boxes that flush waste away, so you needn’t empty the bin yourself. These products cost anywhere from $125 to $499.

Tips

  • Place your new self-cleaning box next to the box your cat usually uses. This will help your kitty grow comfortable with it. For a week or so, allow your cat to choose between the two boxes.
  • Use the same type of litter in a self-cleaning box that you would in a standard box. (If your self-cleaning box requires you to use a new type of litter, sprinkle some of the new litter on top of the old formula to help your cat get comfortable with it.)
  • Don’t turn the box on right away. The noise of the cleaning mechanism could startle a skittish kitty.
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Some cats prefer using one litter box for solid waste and another for urination. Even if you only have one cat, you may need two self-cleaning litter boxes in your home.

FAQ

Q. Why should I buy a self-cleaning litter box?

A. The main reason most cat owners switch to a self-cleaning litter box is that it limits how much contact they have with their pet’s waste. With a self-cleaning litter box, you don’t have to scoop waste. Instead, you can just empty the bin into the trash.

Q. What type of litter should I use in a self-cleaning litter box?

A. It varies from model to model. Some of these boxes only work with clumping litter, but others work best with non-tracking litter or crystals. Read the instructions to be sure.

Q. Where should I put my self-cleaning litter box?

A. As with any litter box, a quiet spot where your cat can have a little privacy is the best place for a self-cleaning model. You should also keep the box as far from your cat’s food and water bowls as you can.                                                                                                                                                          

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