There are many, many perks to owning a cat. Earning a cat’s love is a very special thing and they make great, loyal and loving companions (when it suits them), but there is one major drawback to having a cat. The litter box. Having a cat in a city apartment means you need to consider a litter box when making the decision to get a cat. Where will it go? Will it smell? It’ll be in view the whole time to anyone that stops by…
Many people also work long hours and I know several cats that will only use a litter box once and then refuse to enter it again. This results in poop on the floor when you get home from work if your cat has had to go twice through the day. Not the best welcome home present you could ask for. For some, this consideration alone is enough to deter them from getting a cat at all. However, there is a solution. Enter; the self cleaning, automatic cat litter box.
Self Cleaning vs Automatic
There’s a small distinction between a self cleaning and an automatic litter box. Self cleaning can refer to litter boxes such as the Omega Paw Self-Cleaning Litter Box. This litter box is self cleaning in that you don’t need to scoop it out, but it’s not automatic. You have to pick it up and roll it. There’s a filter inside that then separates the loose litter from the clumps and compartmentalises the waste.
An automatic litter box requires no input from you, other than to empty the waste tray when it gets full. Systems like the Litter Robot III detect when your cat goes in and out by noting the weight change in the box. Once your cat leaves, it then automatically rotates and sifts the litter from the clumps, dumping the clumps into a drawer for you to deal with later. You don't have to be involved in the process at all.
For the most part, though, the phrases can more or less be used interchangeably.
Fully automatic self cleaning
Stores clumps in carbon filtered drawer
Large entrance for easy access
Uses regular litter and liner, no extra accessories needed
Suitable for cats weighing more than 5lbs
Super easy to use, just roll it
Filters clumps out of clean litter into separate container
Covered to contain litter and smells
External motor unit, which can be removed for easy cleaning
Rakes litter into disposal tray
Carbon filter to reduce smells
Comes with litter mat and 6 months supply of bags and filter
Crystal litter dehydrates waste
Uses pre-filled, disposable trays so no bags or waste compartments
Adjustable timer for cleaning cycles
Re-usable litter is sanitised during cleaning cycle
Environmentally friendly litter
Flushes waste down the drain, so no need to ever scoop or empty
Requires access to water pipe
Optional cover for privacy
Best Automatic Cat Litter Boxes
It appears that not all automatic cat litter boxes are created equal. When you buy one of these, you're quite often making a significant financial investment in dealing with your cat's waste. So to help you make the right choice, we've put together some reviews of the best of the best automatic kitty litter boxes.
How It Works
When your cat enters the Litter Robot III, it senses the change in weight (as long as your cat is heavier than 5lbs). This also lets it know when your cat leaves again and a timer starts, giving the litter enough time to clump. The cleaning cycle then starts, rotating the globe and separating the clumps out into a drawer with a carbon filter. The globe returns to its starting position and is clean and ready for the next use.
- Fully automatic, self cleaning system
- Flashing blue light indicates the drawer is full
- The control panel locks so that children and cats can’t accidentally (or not so accidentally) press buttons
- Has an 8 hour sleep mode setting so that it doesn’t go off in the night
- 90 day money back guarantee
- 18 month warranty
- Several people have said that the Litter Robot III does not contain the smell from the cat waste
- As with all electronic devices, it’s prone to some glitches. It sometimes stops mid cycle, leaving the litter box unaccessible for the cat
- The waste tray shows full when it’s only have full and many people have said they’d rather it allowed the tray to fill more so they had to empty it less often
- It sometimes doesn’t register lighter cats, even though they exceed the minimum weight requirement.
How It Works
The Omega Paw Self-Cleaning Litter Box works just like a regular covered litter box, except when it comes to cleaning it. There’s not scooping involved, you just pick it up and roll it. Internal filters then separate the clumps from the clean litter, storing the clumps in a tray to be emptied later. The clean litter ends up back in the box, ready for its next use.
- Covered litter box to contain litter and odours and give your cat some privacy.
- Self-cleaning without needing electricity.
- You can clean and add more litter without having to disassemble to whole box
- Incredibly easy to use
- Great price for a self-cleaning litter box
- Emptying the waste tray is super easy
- Several people have said that they use less litter overall after getting this litter box
- The clips connecting the top and bottom seem to be a bit temperamental, according to many reviews
- Only works well with clumping litter, not so much with lightweight litter
- Wet clumps sometimes get stuck to the bottom, but seem to come off with a good thump
- Some litter can escape out of the side with the tray as it doesn’t have clips on that side
How It Works
This automatic kitty litter box uses a motor unit to move litter along a track and into a waste container. The motor unit is outside of the actual litter box to stop litter getting into it and clogging it up. It does this on a timer of 15 minutes after your cat leaves the box. The litter is raked and the clumps are collected into a lined tray for easy emptying. A carbon filter in the tray helps reduce odours. For single cats, a bag lasts about a week and the filter should be changed monthly.
- Comes with 6 months supply of bags and filters and a litter mat
- Is completely automatic
- Doesn’t take up much space
- Quick and easy to set up
- Reduces the amount of time spent litter cleaning significantly
- If your cat likes to pee in the corners, the rake can sometimes miss these clumps. Especially if the litter clumps in the corner behind the rake
- Some people have had issues with the rake getting stuck and spilling litter over the side
- The motor makes a noise when it goes off and for some people this can be annoying
How It Works
Load the ScoopFree Ultra Self-Cleaning Litter Box with a pre-filled tray full of crystal litter then just plug it in and leave it. After your cat uses the tray, a 20 minute timer starts, giving the crystals enough time to soak up any moisture and odour and dehydrate the waste. A rake then passes through the litter, separating the waste into an enclosed tray. When the tray is full, usually after a couple of weeks, just put the lid on it, throw it away and put a new one in. The crystal litter absorbs moisture from the waste so avoid putting it in an environment with excess moisture in the air, like a laundry room or bathroom. This will make sure that the litter lasts for as long a possible.
- No need to clean or scoop for weeks
- Crystal litter absorbs smells and moisture very effectively
- Covered to contain litter and give your cat some privacy
- Has a leak-proof, disposable waste tray that’s super easy to clean up and change
- The timer for the rake is adjustable with 3 different settings
- An automatic sensor will reset the timer if a cat goes back into the litter box
- Contains a health checker that keeps track of how often your cat is using the litter box
- Needs to be plugged in, restricting where you can keep it
- You have to use the crystal litter the goes with the tray for it to work well
- The most common complaint is that replacing the trays and crystals is expensive, especially with more than one cat, as it happens more often
- Some small bits of poop seem to get stuck to the rake over time and have to be cleaned off
- A few people have reported having to empty the waste box sooner than was advertised
How It Works
According to the manufacturer, “It acts like a cat box, cleans like an appliance and flushes like a toilet”. The CatGenie Self Washing litter box needs to be plugged in and also attached to a water source and a drain. Ideally, to either a toilet or washing machine that has a waste pipe. The granules in the bowl are washable, so after your cat uses the litter box, the CatGenie basically washes the poop out, blends it inside and then pours it down the drain. The granules are left sanitised and heated slightly to dry so the whole thing is clean and ready to use again and you didn’t have to interact with it at all. The cleaning cycle can be set on a timer, on a cat sensor or to be turned on manually.
- The instruction manual to set up the CatGenie is very clear with helpful diagrams, making setup easy
- You never have to scoop, clean or empty cat poop
- It’ll work self sufficiently for long periods of time so you can go on holiday and not worry about the litter box
- Comes apart easily for maintenance and cleaning, but does require regular maintenance and cleaning
- Did I mention no scooping, ever!?
- It’s environmentally friendly as it reuses washable litter rather than making landfill waste and doesn’t require clay mining
- Optional dome cover available if you prefer covered litter boxes
- Many people have said that their cat trails the litter out of the litter box
- Drainage requirements restrict where you can put this litter box
- The cartridges containing the sanitising solution are quite expensive and there are no third party alternatives
- The cleaning cycle is pretty loud and lasts a while. Some people have had trouble with their cats needing to use the litter box while the cleaning cycle is still going on
- The litter needs to be replaced over time as the cleaning cycle will wash some of it away each time
So there you have it, the best choices for an automatic cat litter box. If none of these quite suit your needs, the ones listed below made it to the top 10 list so they’re worth checking out. Click the image to see prices and reviews.
PetSafe ScoopFree Self Cleaning Litter Box
LitterMaid LM-86579 Multi-Cat
Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Box
PetSafe Simply Clean Self Cleaning Litter Box
SmartScoop Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Box
Littermaid LM980 Mega Self-Cleaning Litter Box
An automatic cat litter box can make living with a cat completely hassle free, especially if you have multiple cats and scoop their poop multiple times a day. It takes away the only downside to keeping a cat around. However, you do have to consider the cost of the automatic litter box as opposed to the standard litter tray that can get for just a few dollars. Bare in mind also, that as an electrical appliance, an automatic cat litter box will require maintenance and moving parts are always liable to break down in any piece of equipment. You just have to decide if these inconveniences balance out the major convenience of not scooping.