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Your adorable feline deserves the absolute best cat toys, beds, and collars money can buy, and providing a litter box that automatically cleans itself up after they use it doesn’t just ensure that your kitty has a pristine cat box every time they need to take care of business, it helps to cut down on your daily chore list too. Imagine how nice it would be to come home to an odorless home, with the health benefits of your cat’s always-clean box, and the simplicity of emptying a tidy waste collection bin once a week, and you’ll understand why a self-cleaning litter box is worth looking into.
As helpful and hygienic as these robotic litter boxes are, they are far more expensive than the plastic tray you and your cat are likely used to, and it would be a bummer to be stuck with an underwhelming model for the price of admission. That’s why we personally tested the best-reviewed self-cleaning litter boxes alongside our own furry little test subjects, while rating them across multiple categories including odor control, noise level, convenience, and of course, how our feline friends felt about each model. We put everything from advanced web-connected models to relatively simple, yet reliable clump-rakers through their paces to find the top robotic cat boxes on the market.
What to consider when buying a self-cleaning litter box
There are a few key essentials when it comes to choosing the best self-cleaning litter box. Keep the following in mind as you’re making your selection.
Size and capacity
Larger cats will need a bigger self-cleaning litter box to comfortably accommodate them, and it may be best for tiny kittens and senior cats to use a lower-lying traditional model for easier entry and exiting.
Since multi-level and multi-cat homes will likely need several cat boxes to make potty time as stress-free for your felines, self-cleaning models can get expensive quickly.
Some key technological features to look for to make cleanup a snap include smartphone-connectivity, so you receive alerts when the litter is low or the waste storage bin needs to be emptied. You can also look for some type of companion app that collects and displays data on your cat ranging from their weight to how often they go, and an extra-quiet cleaning cycle so you aren’t disturbed when it activates at 3 a.m.
Most self-cleaning litter boxes are designed to be used with clumping and odor-absorbing clay-based litters. These advanced cat boxes are rarely compatible with wood-based and non-clumping litter types, and some specifically require specialized kitty litter, so keep that in mind when comparing models.
The best self-cleaning litter boxes offer gracious trial periods with a money-back guarantee to ensure that you and your cat are happy with it. This becomes even more important when you consider these robotic helpers can easily cost between $200 and upwards of $600 for a premium edition.
The top self-cleaning litter boxes
There are a great number of self-cleaning litter boxes on the market, but we narrowed down the list to our top picks so you can find the best fit for your household.
Best premium self-cleaning litter box: Whisker Litter-Robot 4
First and foremost, yes: At this price, the Litter Robot 4 is expected to impress, and thankfully it excels in every category we tested for. This sizable litter box is a snap to set up; just plug it in, fill its large round opening with clumping litter, and download the iOS or Android companion app (the app worked flawlessly with the iPhone we used for testing purposes). While its impressively big waste bin can go up to a week without being emptied, the Litter Robot 4 easily accommodates up to four cats- although you will have to empty it much more often if you own several cats.
Whisker’s smartphone app is intuitive, easy to use, and the information this advanced litter box collects and sends your way is more beneficial than you may expect. The user-friendly app sends alerts about the Litter Robot 4’s litter level, when the waste bin needs to be emptied, and an integrated “SmartScale” that weighs your cat every time they step in, which will help you to regulate their cat food for a healthy weight. A few of the many aspects you can control with the app include a night light, a timer to clean sooner or later after your cat is finished, and the ability to activate the cleaning cycle at the tap of a button.
The Litter Robot 4 sports an innovative design when compared to other self-cleaning litter boxes, as its cement-mixer-like drum rotates shortly after potty time to sift clumps and poop away, while preserving a lot of clean litter as it cleans. While all self-cleaning litter boxes move waste to a self-contained compartment to minimize odor, the Litter Robot 4’s carbon filters go above and beyond to virtually eliminate cat box smells in your home. One thing that surprised us was just how tall the Litter Robot 4 is, but since its wide opening and integrated stairs make it extremely easy for cats to intuitively use, it doesn’t take up any more floor space than the average litter box.
Some of the self-cleaning models we tested were remarkably noisy, however the Litter Robot 4 runs extremely quietly and if your cat box is stationed in a relatively secluded part of your home, chances are good that you won’t hear it at all; making it a top pick for cat owners who don’t even want to think of the litter box more than once a week. The Litter Robot 4 looks very similar to its predecessor, but this model sports numerous upgrades over the Litter Robot 3 including a wider entryway, advanced litter and waste tracking, and an optimized design and safety features for cats of all sizes to comfortably use.
- Weight: 24 pounds
- Dimensions: 27 inches (width) x 22 inches (depth) x 29.5 inches (height)
- Power source: Wall outlet
- Colors available: Black, White
- Advanced smartphone companion app tracks litter consumption, usage, and when waste bin needs emptying
- Extremely quiet operation
- Minimizes odors
- Optimized for up to four cats
- Expensive compared to other brands
Litter-Robot 4 Automatic Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box, Black
Best smart home-ready self-cleaning litter box: Smarty Pear Leo's Loo Too
Sharing a similar rotating design and being in the same price range as the Litter Robot 4 is naturally going to draw some comparisons, but Smarty Pear Leo’s Loo Too brings its share of unique ideas and features to the table to differentiate itself. The Loo Too also holds up to a week’s worth of waste for maximum convenience, however its most impressive unique feature has to be its programmable ultraviolet light, which sterilizes the waste bin of odor-causing bacteria and nasty viruses.
Leo’s Loo Too also sports a user-friendly smartphone app that makes monitoring your cat’s litter box maintenance needs, weight, and how often they go a snap, however it is the only model on our list that features optional voice controls. Smart homes utilizing Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa will enjoy activating and programming their self-cleaning litter box on command just as easily as their TV, speakers, and other smart gadgets.
It runs impressively quietly, is available in four stylish color options, and sports a pair of charcoal filters that work well at keeping litter box odors trapped within the unit. One particularly useful feature is how the Loo Too is easy to disassemble for a complete cleaning and that it’s just as simple to snap it back together. While this self-cleaning litter box will work well for the vast majority of cats ranging from kittens to adults, extra-wide cats may not appreciate its relatively narrow entryway.
- Weight: 39.2 pounds
- Dimensions: 24 inches (width) x 22 inches (depth) x 27.6 inches (height)
- Power source: Wall outlet
- Colors available: Avocado Green, Baby Blue, Pretty Pink, Leo Gray
- Handy smartphone app tracks usage and serves as a remote control
- Spacious interior
- UV light and carbon filters provide a hygienic and nearly odorless litter box
- Huge waste bin
- Narrow entryway
Leo s Loo Too by Casa Leo - No Mess Automatic Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box Includes Charcoal Filter Built-in Scale Smart Home App with Voice Control
Best budget self-cleaning litter box: PetSafe ScoopFree Complete Plus Self-Cleaning Litter Box
Its low price point and novel use of crystal litter sets PetSafe’s ScoopFree Complete apart from other competing self-cleaning litter boxes, and while it’s not the most advanced model on our list, it’s a well-made chore reducing and odor minimizing contender.
This robotic litter box uses a sanitary system where you pull out the waste trap drawer, insert the cardboard tray loaded with crystal litter, and simply dump the entire tray into the trash and replace it once it loses its effectiveness. Not only does this system practically ensure that you’ll never come into direct contact with dirty litter, crystal litter lasts for far longer than you may expect. If you’ve never used crystal litter before, here’s how it works: your cat uses the box, and the litter absorbs urine while pulling moisture from poop within minutes, taking nasty litter box odors with it. This litter type is essentially dust-free, doesn’t stick to paws like clumping litters tend to do, and is surprisingly effective at eliminating odors even before its robotic arm rakes away waste into its storage bin.
Although this affordable model doesn’t feature a fancy smartphone app, it does have a digital LED counter that notes how many times your cat visits the box each day, the lowest price of every model that made our list, and features a pair of optional plastic add-ons for cats who prefer the additional privacy of raised walls or a topside entryway.
- Weight: 18.64 pounds
- Dimensions: 27.56 inches (width) x 19.1 inches (depth) x 6.25 inches (height)
- Power source: Wall outlet
- Colors available: Gray
- Crystal litter lasts surprisingly long before it needs to be replaced
- Top and front covered addons available
- Impressive at eliminating odor
- Requires crystal litter to operate properly
PetSafe ScoopFree Complete Plus Self-Cleaning Litter Box, Front Entry
Best value self-cleaning litter box: Whisker Litter-Robot 3
If the Litter Robot 4 sounds like your dream self-cleaning litter box, but would be willing to part with a few features to save $150, the Litter Robot 3 is another consideration. The Litter Robot 3 is extremely similar to the fourth iteration, but there are a few key differences between the two.
The Litter Robot 3 has a narrower entry way that an extra-wide cat might be unhappy with, a weight based safety sensor that has difficulty with sensing cats weighing 5 pounds or less making it a no-go for kittens, as well as a slightly louder cleaning cycle. Although this version includes a Wi-Fi controlled smartphone app, it lacks the advanced data tracking present in the Litter Robot 4, such as its litter level and waste bin alerts.
On the other hand, the Litter Robot 3 shares the same multi-cat capacity, expansive waste bin, efficient waste-sifting design, a similar odor-trapping technology, and customizable timer as the Litter Robot 4, so if you can live without the extras introduced with the latest edition, the Litter Robot 3 is still an excellent overall pick.
- Weight: 24 pounds
- Dimensions: 24.25 inches (width) x 27 inches (depth) x 29.5 inches (height)
- Power source: Wall outlet
- Colors available: Beige, grey
- Excellent at trapping odors
- Near-silent operation
- Comprehensive data-collecting smartphone app with useful push notifications
- Rugged design
- A fairly tall model compared to other designs
- Narrow entryway
- Weight-based sensors aren’t compatible with kittens
Litter-Robot 3 WiFi Enabled Automatic Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box, Beige
How we tested and selected the best self cleaning litter boxes
To find the best self-cleaning litter boxes on the market, we spent a long time researching big and small pet brands, their offerings, and user reviews online, while testing the most promising robotic cat boxes for usability, convenience, and general satisfaction. In addition to considering each product’s overall value, we knew it was essential to take into account how our feline co-testers seemed to like or dislike each self-cleaning litter box.
How do self-cleaning litter boxes work?
Although the exact process differs slightly from model to model, most self-cleaning litter boxes are lined with fine clay-based litter and are equipped with a motion sensor that detects when a cat enters, as well as a timer that activates after a set time when the cat exits.
This process turns on the cleaning mechanism, which separates waste and litter clumps into a contained bin. The cleaning mechanism and its sound level varies been self-cleaning litter boxes, however a robot arm that rakes across the litter box to collect waste and a rolling “cement mixer” design that effectively sifts poop away from the clean litter are the most common options.
Where does the waste go in a self-cleaning litter box?
The vast majority of self-cleaning litter boxes feature a chamber that stores clumps of litter and waste. Many cat owners prefer to line this waste bin with a bag to easily pull out and throw away the entire compartment’s contents all at once while keeping the bin clean.
Some internet-connected models will send a notification to your smart device when this waste receptacle needs to be emptied, however cat owners will less advanced models will have to learn how often to clean out this container by paying attention to their cat’s bathroom habits.
Is it worth buying a self cleaning litter box?
No one enjoys leaning over a smelly cat box to sift out waste by hand, so a quality self-cleaning litter box is well-worth the investment for keeping a hygienic home and reducing one of your smelliest daily chores. The only caveat is that we highly recommend buying a high-end self-cleaning litter box, because especially inexpensive models tend not to last nearly as long, and they don’t include handy features found in pricier cat boxes such as smart phone functionality or premium odor control.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Do you need special litter for the Litter-Robot?
No. Any clumping clay litter will work with the Litter-Robot, but premium litter works even better when filtered through its screen.
However, the Litter-Robot will not work with wood pellet, non-clumping, or paper-based litter varieties.
Is it OK to scoop a litter box once a week?
No. It’s recommended that you should scoop your cat’s litter box once or twice a day, for your cat’s health and to prevent ammonia and feces odors from accumulating in your home.
The good news is that self-cleaning litter boxes do the dirty work for you and although their waste-collection containers will need to be emptied on a weekly basis to keep the machine working at peak efficiency, they are much easier to maintain than a traditional cat box.
Can two cats share one self-cleaning litter box?
As long as the manufacturer notes that it was designed for multiple cats.
It is best to keep at least one traditional litter box in your home per cat just in case both need to go at the same time and don’t plan on sharing, however premium self-cleaning litter boxes like the Litter Robot 4 and Litter Robot 3 were designed for up to four cats per unit. If you need additional litter boxes, spread them evenly around your home and across multiple levels to prevent accidents and discourage bad behavior like seeking other places like a closet or under a bed to do their business.
Do automatic litter boxes smell?
Although many automatic litter boxes excel at trapping cat waste odors in sealed containers and there are many odor-reducing clumping litter brands available that will help to minimize the aroma, there isn’t a model on the market that is capable of completely eliminating cat box smells.
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