Having a feline companion can be a truly wonderful experience. Cats are truly the best pets – cuddly, affectionate, goofy, and mysterious. Whether they are large breeds or small, their antics will soon have you giggling (or cursing!). But as wonderful as these fur babies can be, cleaning your cat’s litter box is never a fun task. And leaving it unattended is unhealthy for your kitty – and for yourself.
Thankfully, in this age of technology, there are now litter boxes that offer high tech solutions to handling this unpleasant chore. Automatic self-cleaning litter boxes detect when your cat has used them and do the cleaning for you — eliminating the need for daily scooping. If this is one of your most-hated chores, or it’s something you simply don’t have enough time for, automatic litter boxes can be well worth the money.
To find the best self-cleaning litter boxes, we ran tests in our Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab for set-up, easy clean-up and clump removal. In our pet-free Lab, we simulated a cat using the litter box with water and a small box. We also interviewed cat owners who currently use self-cleaning litter boxes, researched their favorites, and cross-checked online reviews of the most popular choices.
Here are the self-cleaning litter boxes that the Good Housekeeping Institute recommends:
How do self-cleaning litter boxes work?
Almost all self-cleaning litter boxes require clumping litter, either your favorite brand or a specific type recommended by the manufacturer. These boxes use sensors to detect when your cat has used it and when it leaves. Shortly thereafter, the cleaning cycle begins. For most litter boxes, a rake sifts through the soiled litter collecting any clumps left by the cat and depositing them into a receptacle at one end of the box.
Our top recommendation, the Litter-Robot 3 Connect, rotates to sift out the clumps and then drops them into a receptacle. The receptacle closes — containing odors and clumps — and a signal alerts you when it’s time to empty it. Self-cleaning litter boxes have electric motors that activate the cleaning mechanism, so they do create a little sound.
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BEST OVERALL SELF-CLEANING LITTER BOX
One of the highest rated — and most expensive — self-cleaning litter boxes, the Litter-Robot 3 Connect allows you to monitor your cat’s bathroom habits (and the level of waste in the receptacle) via its Wi-Fi-enabled app. This litter box works with any premium clumping litter and is ideal for any cats between 5-20 pounds as well as multiple cats, though not for kittens. It is substantially larger than other enclosed litter boxes, so consider your available space.
Its cleaning mechanism is slightly different than other automatic boxes: The globe rotates after use and deposits clumps and waste into the receptacle below the box. Bells and whistles include a night light, sleep mode, and an additional cycle timer. Additional accessories are available, like a ramp to help your cat get into the box more easily, a fence to stop litter being kicked out while kitty is covering its business, and waste drawer liners which make emptying the waste drawer easier for you.
The Litter-Robot 3 Connect has a 90-day money-back guarantee, and an 18-month warranty. In our Cleaning Lab tests, it was easy to set up, worked smoothly, and completely removed the “clumps” we created.
- Completely removed clumps in Lab tests
- Fence guards litter from being kicked out
- Works with any clumping litter
- Large — takes up a lot of space
BEST VALUE SELF-CLEANING LITTER BOX
Simply Clean Self-Cleaning Automatic Litter Box
The budget-friendly PetSafe Simply Clean Automatic Litter Box is ideal for smaller cats (up to 15 pounds) although it should be left unplugged for kittens less than 6 months old. The whisper-quiet, slow-moving conveyor system operates constantly, sifting the clumping litter of your choice to remove the waste, completing a full rotation each hour. Recycled plastic bags can be used to line the waste container, eliminating additional cost for accessories. This litter box comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee and a one-year warranty.
- Conveyer sifter operates constantly to eliminate waste
- Not suitable for cats over 15 pounds
BEST LARGE SELF-CLEANING LITTER BOX
Multi-Cat Self-Cleaning Litter Box
As its name indicates, the LitterMaid Multi-Cat Self-Cleaning Litter Box is designed for use with multiple larger cats (weighing over 15 pounds). High walls keep cat litter from being kicked out while your cat is covering, and the paw-cleaning ramp helps ensure litter is not tracked out of the box. The electric rake operates through any clumping litter and the receptacle stores up to a week’s mess. Carbon filters in the self-contained waste receptacles keep odor contained with the clumps.
- Great for multiple or large cats
- High walls and paw-cleaning mat prevent litter from exiting the box
- Carbon filters mitigate odor
BEST SELF-CLEANING LITTER BOX FOR ODOR CONTROL
ScoopFree Ultra Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box
$129.95 (24% off)
Say goodbye to bags of litter and litter dust! A consumer favorite, the PetSafe ScoopFree Ultra Self-Cleaning Litter Box uses pre-filled disposable trays of crystal litter, which have exceptional odor-locking and moisture absorbing properties. Available in two different colors, the hooded litter box also has a health counter to record often your cat uses it, to alert you to possible health problems.
Five, 10 or 20 minutes after your cat has used and exited the litter box (you get to set the timer), the automatic rake sweeps solid waste into the covered receptacle incorporated in the disposable tray and grooms the crystals so your cat has fresh litter for its next use. If a cat enters during the cleaning cycle, detection sensors automatically reset the rake’s timer.
Every few weeks (in a single cat household), simply dispose of the litter tray and replace with a new one. Because of the crystals’ moisture-absorbing properties, it’s best not to install this litter box in an area with high humidity, such as a bathroom.
- Pre-filled disposable litter trays absorb moisture and lock odors
- Automatic rake sweeps waste away
- Each tray lasts a few weeks
- Not for use in humid rooms
BEST LITTER-FREE SELF-CLEANING LITTER BOX
A.I. Self-Washing Cat Box
The CatGenie A.I. eliminates the need for litter completely. This revolutionary litter box uses special granules which are raked to remove solid waste, then rinsed with a sanitizing solution and blown dry, so your cat has clean fresh litter every time it goes. The granules are made from natural materials, which get broken down by bacteria in a landfill or septic tank, making them septic safe. Another consumer favorite, the litter box installs easily in your bathroom or laundry room, using a cold-water hookup and a drain to flush the waste – no plumber necessary. It’s ideal for multiple cats, large or small (but not kittens). A privacy dome can be purchased separately.
The CatGenie app allows you to monitor the frequency of your cat’s bathroom visits, which can help detect early health issues, and provides status updates on the cleaning cycles. (If you don’t need the app, the CatGenie 120 is a lower cost option.) You can select whether you want the cleaning to take place every time your cat uses the litter box or at set times throughout the day. The washable granules (which are biodegradable if flushed) and SaniSolution need to be replenished a few times per year. This litter box comes with a 90-day money-back guarantee and a 2-year warranty.
- Hooks up to cold water to flush waste
- No litter necessary
- App compatability
BEST SELF-CLEANING LITTER BOX FOR FRESHNESS
Multi-Cat Self-Cleaning Litter Box
Nature’s Miracle is well known by cat owners for their odor control products, and this automatic litter box is no different. A motion sensor detects when your cat has left the litter box, and a rake automatically scoops clumps into odor-controlled receptacles – carbon filters work to keep odor contained. The extra-large box accommodates larger or multiple cats, and its high walls prevent litter from being scattered. A paw-cleaning ramp limits tracking, although most reviewers recognize that a larger mat is necessary to prevent all tracking. Although you can use any premium clumping litter, for an additional fresh linen fragrance, you can use its brand of super-absorbent clumping cat litter. The removable rake makes clean-up a breeze, and a handy scoop and rake cleaning tool is included.
- Carbon filters keep odor contained
- Motion sensor-activated cleaning rake
- May need to purchase additional litter mat
Tips for using self-cleaning litter boxes
- Empty the waste receptacle regularly, and occasionally clean and maintain the rake and other parts of the cleaning mechanism, as required.
- Add a small amount of your cat’s waste taken from another litter box to the new self-cleaning one to help your cat identify this box for its use.
- Leave the power disconnected from the new box and manually scoop the litter for a few days until your cat is regularly entering and using it. Once your cat is comfortable, reconnect the power so the mechanism automatically cleans the litter box.
- Take note of your cat’s size and weight to ensure the box you select works for your cat. Self-cleaning litter boxes are not well-suited for kittens, so you may want to wait until your kitten’s first birthday before buying one.
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