Advanced mapping and object avoidance keeps it away from pet waste while allowing for direct cleaning of specific areas. Rubber rollers and good suction impressed us in testing. Self-emptying with 60-day disposal dock.
Somewhat pricey. Occasionally gets under rug edges.
Impressive suction power on hard flooring. Compact size and low profile allow it to get into hard-to-reach areas. Dual side brushes channel debris into suction port. Can be directed by remote control. Wallet-friendly.
Build quality isn't as robust as other models.
Lowest profile among tested models gets under furniture better than every other option. Impressive 2,000 Pa suction holds onto dirt and debris despite its thin profile. Can be guided to specific areas via remote control.
Lacks mapping. Side brushes tended to pop off during testing.
Offers 40 times the suction of entry-level Roombas. Removed almost all debris in our testing. Successfully cleaned corners better than any other model. Self-emptying with smart mapping.
Expensive. May be overkill for some smaller floor plans.
Includes 45-day disposal dock at lower price than some competitors. Removed 98% of dirt from multiple-pet household during testing. Easy to schedule. Includes mapping capabilities and app control.
Had trouble mapping during testing.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Cleaning up cat litter is one of those tasks that can seem never-ending. Your feline friend may have learned to take care of their business by themselves, yet somehow little pieces of grit and rock still end up surrounding the litter box on your floor or carpet.
Robot vacuums are ideal helpers for cleaning up cat litter because they are always ready to clean whenever needed. Instead of getting out the big vacuum or handheld every time your cat uses its litter box, a robot vacuum can tackle the mess for you. So, what’s the best robot vacuum for cat litter?
The BestReviews Testing Lab has evaluated more than a dozen robot vacuums, judging them on capabilities, performance and price, and paying close attention to how they perform with cat litter and pet hair. We’ve also extensively researched other models on the market we haven’t yet tested. We think the Roomba j7+ is the best choice for all-around cleaning, including taking care of cat litter, but all of the models we recommend can help turn a messy job into a breeze.
On September 11, iRobot released two new models ahead of the holiday season. Here's a look at what we know so far.
Battery life: 120 minutes | Dimensions: 13.7” L x 13.7” W x 3.4” H | Weight: 8.98 lb | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: Yes | Object avoidance: Yes | Scheduling: Yes
A high-end model that vacuums and mops, the Roomba Combo j9+ offers 100% more suction power than a mid-level i-series Roomba. Its mop pad, mounted on a robot arm, lifts completely out of the way on carpet, avoiding the dreaded damp-carpet problem common with other mopping robots.
An upgraded OS and visual navigation system allow the Combo j9+ to recognize things like toys, backpacks and pet waste and avoid them. Notably, it can recognize litter boxes, too, and it can learn to adjust its settings as necessary in those areas for a better clean. It comes with a self-refilling, self-emptying dock that also has usable surface space and an attractive woodlike finish.
BestReviews is currently testing this product; we will update our test picks when we're done.
Battery life: 120 minutes | Dimensions: 13.3” L x 13.3” W x 3.4” H | Weight: 7.5 lb | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: Yes | Object avoidance: Yes | Scheduling: Yes
The Roomba j9+ is the mop-less version of the Combo j9+. Like its sibling, it has twice the power of an i-series Roomba model, which, when combined with its dual rubber rollers, gives it excellent pickup on all flooring surfaces including hardwood, tile and carpet.
The j9+’s camera can recognize and avoid litter boxes, reducing the chances of unwelcome spills. At the same time, its proven dirt-detection and room-identification abilities let it learn which rooms and areas of your home to target for increased cleaning, and adjust its settings accordingly. Its redesigned auto-empty dock is over 8 decibels quieter than previous Roomba docks. Like the Combo model, the j9+ can run for about two hours before needing to recharge.
BestReviews is currently testing this product; we will update our test picks when we're done.
Battery life: 97 minutes | Dimensions: 13.3” L x 13.3” W x 3.4” H | Dustbin capacity: 0.4 L | Weight: 7.49 lb | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: Yes | Object avoidance: Yes | Scheduling: Yes
The Roomba j7+ is a top-of-the-line model from the pioneering robot vacuum company iRobot. It features vSLAM (visual simultaneous localization and mapping) to actively avoid obstacles and find its way around. Smart and powerful, it’s an excellent robot vacuum with several features that make it especially great at cleaning cat litter.
During testing, the Roomba j7+ removed all the cat litter we spilled on a hardwood floor except for one stray piece. Its suction power allowed it to pick up particles as small as table salt or as large as breakfast cereal from the carpet as well. In our tests, we noted that it transitioned easily from hardwood to carpet, which can be helpful if your cat’s litter box is on a mat. Its active object avoidance allowed it to swerve away from sudden obstacles, a relief if your pet has been extra messy or leaves a toy or two behind.
The Roomba j7+ features smart mapping that lets you specify Clean Zones and Keep-Out zones. You can use this feature to designate the area around the litter box as a zone the j7+ should clean directly, or, conversely, tell it to avoid the litter box or mat. The j7+ can be controlled from your smartphone via Wi-Fi and the iRobot Home app as well as Alexa and Google Home, allowing you to set up a command such as, “Clean up near the litter box,” with a Clean Zone and voice control. Based on our testing, the j7+ is the best Roomba for cat litter overall.
Read more: iRobot Roomba j7+
Best budget robot vacuum for cat litter
Battery life: 90 minutes | Dimensions: 11.8” L x 11.8” W x 2.98” H | Dustbin capacity: 0.3 L | Weight: 4.5 lb | Mapping: No | Self-emptying: No | Object avoidance: Yes | Scheduling: Yes
The ILIFE V3s Pro is a low-profile robot vacuum that stands a bit less than 3 inches tall. This lets it get places other robot vacuums can’t. Notably, it’s the only bot in our lineup that doesn’t use any sort of roller or brush, relying only on two side brushes and its own 1,000 Pa (Pascals) suction. The absence of a roller doesn’t seem to hurt its pet-related performance. Indeed, ILIFE claims doing away with a roller eliminates pet hair from being tangled. Having two side brushes helps funnel particulates, including cat litter, into the V3s Pro’s suction port.
Although the ILIFE V3s Pro is not a vacuum we personally tested, its performance with pet hair and cat litter has consistently impressed reviewers. Owners of the V3s Pro frequently cite its pet-related performance as one of the best things about it.
The V3s Pro also has an edge mode that can be helpful in cleaning the periphery of a litter box. Its included remote control lets you actually steer it to locations that need to be cleaned — an asset for litter removal. These features along with its budget price make the ILIFE V3s Pro a solid buy when it comes to cleaning up cat litter and other pet-related jobs.
Best low-profile robot vacuum for cat litter
Battery life: 120 minutes | Dimensions: 12.79” L x 12.79” W x 2.85” H | Dustbin capacity: 0.6 L | Weight: 5.73 lb | Mapping: No | Self-emptying: No | Object avoidance: Yes | Scheduling: Yes
At 2.85 inches tall, Eufy’s RoboVac 11S Max is one of the slimmest, lowest-profile robot vacuums on the market. At the same time, it’s got enough suction power to pick up debris like cat litter from carpet, even under pieces of furniture only cats could get into.
Like the V3s Pro, the RoboVac 11S Max comes with a steering remote control, so you can tell it exactly where to go. It also has an edge-cleaning feature as well as the self-guided general cleaning and spot cleaning common to most good robot vacuums. We tested the 11S Max and found it reliable on both hardwood and carpet. Its 2,000 Pa suction gives it superior power over many larger, expensive cleaners, and customer reviews are surprised that such a slim unit could handle so much pet hair and cat litter.
Though the Eufy RoboVac 11S Max is rated for 100 minutes of run time, it lasted an impressive 120 minutes during testing while picking up copious amounts of pet hair. Its side brushes swept debris successfully into its single brush roll — although we did note the brushes occasionally detached when the 11S Max tried to negotiate a transition from hardwood to tall carpet. (Eufy recommends this model for short- to medium-pile carpeting.) It's also worth mentioning that the 11S Max doesn’t have Wi-Fi or voice control. Fortunately, its remote control can serve as an alternative to traditional smart controls.
Best for carpet
Battery life: 107 minutes | Dimensions: 12.25” L x 12.25” W x 3.5” H | Dustbin capacity: 0.5 L | Weight: 8.15 lb | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: Yes | Object avoidance: Yes | Scheduling: Yes
The Roomba s9+ is one of the most powerful robot vacuums we’ve tested. iRobot doesn’t publish suction values for its Roombas, but with 40 times the suction of an entry-level 600-series Roomba, the s9+ powered over everything we threw at it.
In our cat litter test, the s9+ picked up almost all the cat litter we placed on carpet and did even better on hardwood — however, we noticed three or four particles scattered by its side brush. It also performed excellently on pet hair removal with both carpet and hardwood. Our test unit ran for one hour and 47 minutes before it needed charging, and took just under two hours to recharge.
A great asset of the s9+ is its corner-cleaning capability. Its unique D-shape allows it to get into corners in a way that round bots simply can’t. This comes in handy for pet owners whenever cat litter or pet hair is trapped in a corner. As with the j7+, you can designate Keep-Out Zones and Clean Zones for the s9+, which, for example, allowed us to send it to clean up a mess specifically under a kitchen table in our testing. The "Keep-Out" zones ensure your robot cleaner avoids places where it may frequently get stuck or make messes such as by your pet's water bowls. It also has Wi-Fi connectivity and is compatible with Alexa voice control. Overall, the s9+ is an outstanding self-emptying robot vacuum that excels at removing cat litter from your floors to keep them looking pristine.
Read more: iRobot Roomba s9+
Battery life: 90 minutes | Dimensions: 12.9" L x 12.6" W x 3.5" H | Dustbin capacity: 0.16 L | Weight: 5.87 lb | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: Yes | Object avoidance: Yes | Scheduling: Yes
Self-emptying robot vacuums are good with cleaning up after pets because you don’t have to touch any dirt. They pick up hair or pet litter, store it in their dustbins, and expel them into their disposal docks, which you can empty at your convenience. The Shark IQ Self-Empty XL is one of the most full-featured bots we tested, offering a lot at a mid-range price. Even better? Its base doesn't require replacement bags which can be expensive over time.
We tested the Shark IQ XL in a pet-friendly environment with plenty of hair, cat litter and toys. The Shark IQ impressed us in every aspect, removing an estimated 98% of all dirt and debris from carpet and laminate floors with no problem. We never ended up having to clean the brush roll either, giving credence to Shark’s “self-cleaning” roller claim.
Customer reviews of this model that mention cat litter are significantly in favor of the Shark IQ XL, with specific mentions of it cleaning up non-clay litter with ease and doing well in homes with multiple pets. A mapping robot with row-by-row cleaning, the Shark IQ Self-Empty XL supports no-go zones to keep it away from your pet bowls or other sensitive areas, and it’s easy to schedule as well.
Battery life: 94 minutes | Dimensions: 13.34” L x 13.26” W x 3.63” H | Dustbin capacity: 0.5 L | Weight: 7.44 lb | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: No | Object avoidance: No | Scheduling: Yes
The Roomba i4 EVO is one of our favorite robot vacuums. While it lacks some of the more advanced features of other Roombas and competitor models, such as object avoidance, it does a solid job on the essential things, and it comes with enough smarts to make it a superior choice over more basic models.
The Roomba i4 EVO performed well in our cat litter test, removing almost all of the generic clay cat litter from vinyl plank floors with limited scattering the first time it rolled over it, and finishing the rest on the next pass. It did a similarly thorough job with other particulates on both hard flooring and medium-pile carpet, including dry rice, coffee grounds, table salt and breakfast cereal. Pet owners will also love that it removed everything in our pet-hair test on both surfaces. It ran for 92 minutes before needing to recharge, and recharging took one hour and 59 minutes.
The Roomba i4 EVO, which is an upgraded version of the original Roomba i4 from 2021, supports smart mapping and row-by-row cleaning for efficient area coverage. It can be controlled from the iRobot HOME app and via Alexa, Google Assistant and, in a more limited way, via Siri. Though not a specialized model, the i4 EVO has enough advanced features to make it a solid pick for pet owners.
Read more: iRobot Roombo i4 EVO
Best basic robot vacuum for cat litter
Battery life: 75 minutes | Dimensions: 13.4" L x 13.4" W x 3.54" H | Dustbin capacity: 0.35 L | Weight: 6.77 lb | Mapping: No | Self-emptying: No | Object avoidance: No | Scheduling: Yes
An entry-level model released by iRobot in 2021, the Roomba 694 may not seem like a cat litter specialist at first glance, especially compared to the other models in this roundup. We’re including it here, however, because of its basic competence and reliability. It does what it needs to do, doesn’t need a lot of extra controls to do it and provides effective basic cleaning.
In our cat litter test, the Roomba 694 removed all the clay litter from vinyl plank flooring with just a faint trace of grit left behind. This is despite having the lowest suction power of all the models we tested. The 694’s spot-clean mode was effective in tackling most localized messes we tested it on, although like other models, its side brush was prone to scattering cereal and dry rice out of its immediate reach. The 694 ran for 75 minutes during testing, a little less than iRobot’s claim of 90 minutes, which we attribute to the extra power it used in spot cleaning on carpet.
One drawback of the non-mapping Roomba 694 is its semi-random bump-and-go navigation. When it comes to cleaning up around the litter box, this cleaning method might seem haphazard, although the 694 made its way around edges well in our tests. Wi-Fi compatible, it supports scheduling and voice control. It’s also built tough and easy to and clean.
Read more: iRobot Roomba 694
We tested robot vacuums in real-world environments, both in general cleaning and standardized scenarios. We used commonly found household items, such as salt, dry rice, ground coffee and breakfast cereal to simulate dirt and debris and noted the robot vacuums on thoroughness, performance and accuracy.
Because pet owners have specific needs, we tested in pet-friendly households whenever possible and simulated pet scenarios when we couldn’t, using pieces of thread for pet hair, for example. We purchased generic bentonite clay cat litter for several of our litter tests, spilling it on vinyl plank flooring, and we tested other types of litter on carpet. We tested cat litter performance both with spot-cleaning mode and standard-cleaning mode on units that supported them.
We took note of battery life, charge duration and charging time, and we tracked navigation, object avoidance and cleaning pattern. Controls such as remotes and smartphone apps, including setup and any smart assistants supported, were thoroughly evaluated for ease of use and effectiveness. Finally, we noted cleaning and maintenance needs, including emptying dustbins, cleaning rollers and using automatic disposal docks.
Many robot vacuums don’t rely only on suction to collect dirt. Instead, they use a roller or combination of rollers to physically pick up dirt that is then caught by their vacuum suction. Rollers can play an important part when it comes to picking up cat litter. Those with bristles can brush carpet pile or hard flooring to lift up even the sand-sized particles of cat litter, while those with rubber rollers pick up the larger rice- or salt-sized pieces and guide them into the vacuum’s suction.
Some bots, however, don’t have rollers at all. The ILIFE V3s Pro, for instance, uses only two side brushes to sweep debris into the path of its suction mouth. Nevertheless, the V3s Pro is known to be particularly effective with pet hair and cat litter, especially on hard flooring.
Brush rolls with bristles are prone to getting jammed with pet hair. Rubber rollers, or no rollers at all, avoid that problem, providing better performance when pet hair and cat litter need to be cleaned.
Robot vacuums tend to use less power when cleaning hardwood and hard surface flooring compared to carpet. If you have cat litter on carpet, particles may sink into the pile, calling for stronger suction or bristle brush rollers. On hard flooring like hardwood, all the litter remains on the surface, but there’s a chance of particles being scattered inadvertently by the robot’s brushes. Generally, we like Roombas with gentle dual rubber rollers, like the j7+, s9+ and i4 EVO, for both carpet and hardwood, while the roller-less ILIFE V3s Pro works best on hard flooring.
If you have hard flooring that may scratch, such as real hardwood, some vinyl plank flooring, vinyl tile or laminate, you may want to ensure your robot doesn’t get litter stuck anywhere while it’s cleaning. Good robot vacuums are built with the intent to minimize scratches from any parts that come into contact with the floor. However, a particle or pebble of cat litter, including standard bentonite clay litter, caught in a brush roller, wheel or any other part of the undercarriage, may end up scratching your floor’s finish. To avoid this, check your robot after it’s cleaned up cat litter and remove any debris you see.
Aside from the brush roll or rollers, robot vacuums have other features that affect performance when cleaning up cat litter.
If you need to clean up cat litter, you probably need to clean up pet hair.
Pet hair can affect a robot vacuum’s cat litter performance by reducing the effectiveness of a robot’s suction and brush rollers. Rollers that are tangled with pet hair can’t pick up cat litter as effectively, and pet hair in the suction path inside the vacuum limits the unit’s ability to hold onto cat litter particles. Pet hair that makes it into a robot vacuum’s dustbin takes up a lot of space, which also reduces the bot’s ability to pick up and retain cat litter.
It’s a good idea to empty your robot vacuum after every job, either manually or with an automatic disposal dock if you have pets.
Robot vacuums should run for at least 45 minutes to an hour before needing to recharge, and many models last significantly longer. However, complex navigation and the need for stronger suction (such as when the robot is working on carpet) can use more energy and reduce charge duration.
When it comes to cleaning up after pets, it’s likely your robot vacuum won’t last as long as the manufacturer promised, since cleaning up both pet hair and cat litter can be more taxing on the robot.
All the recommended models that we tested (except the Roomba 694) lasted at least 90 minutes, with the Roomba j7+ and s9+ and Eufy RoboVac 11S Max lasting 97, 107 and 120 minutes, respectively. The ILIFE V3s Pro is rated to last about 90 minutes.
Low-cost robot vacuums are priced between $100 and $200, including our best budget pick the ILIFE V3s Pro. ILIFE vacuums are some of the best choices in this price range, whereas many other models are clones with dubious branding and support.
Midrange robot vacuums cost between $200 and $500, including the Eufy 11S Max and two good starter Roombas, the i4 EVO and 694. In this price range, you should expect to find reputable brands with good track records and support, with features like mapping, scheduling, app control and voice commands. Bots are well-made and generally last longer than a couple of years. Some Roombas last five years or more.
Above $500 are the top-of-the-line robot vacuum models. These tend to feature advanced navigation, such as vSLAM or LiDAR, that can actively evade unexpected objects in their path, and mapping that lets you designate target areas for specific cleaning as well as no-go zones. You should expect more self-emptying models in this price range as well; for instance, the Roomba s9+ with a Clean Base for automatic dirt disposal is one of the most expensive models we tested.
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