- What are the benefits of using automatic cleaning kitty litter boxes?
- Best Automatic Self Cleaning Litter Boxes Reviews
- PetSafe ScoopFree Self Cleaning Litter Box
- Litter Robot III Open-Air Automatic Self Cleaning Litter Box
- PetSafe Simply Clean Automatic Litter Box
- LitterMaid Multi-Cat Automatic Self Cleaning Litter Box
- Nature’s Miracle Multi-Cat Self-Cleaning Litter Box
- CatGenie Self Washing Self Flushing Cat Box
- SmartScoop Self-Scooping Cat Litter Box
- Omega Paw Self Cleaning Litter Box
- Litter Spinner Quick Clean Cat Litter Box
- Guide: What To Look For When Choosing a Self Cleaning Litter System
99% of cat people will list cleaning litter trays as the most unpleasant and unwelcome task when it comes to having cats. But it’s something we need to do if we want a hygienic home, as well as to keep our cats happy.
Cats are exceedingly clean animals, and a dirty, smelly litter box is one that most cats will avoid. This then leads to them finding another spot to do their deeds; and if they have no other option, this will be in a spot that you’re not going to like.
So what are these so called automatic self cleaning litter boxes about? Do they work? Short of getting you cat trained to use and flush the toilet (like in the movies), these boxes certainly appear to be the closest you’ll get to a truly hands-off approach to managing your cat’s litter needs.
But the automatic system has to work well if it’s going to replace your regular cat trays and boxes. And that’s what I wanted to find out so I’ve jumped in and researched what’s available in the world of self cleaning cat litter trays and boxes.
Read on to find out if this could be a worthwhile investment for your home.
What are the benefits of using automatic cleaning kitty litter boxes?
- Lower maintenance than regular boxes & trays; some are rated to operate for weeks without maintenance.
- Good for people who work all day; reduce or eliminate the dreaded stench when you come back home.
- Reduces overall smell; used litter and waste is removed and hidden instead of just sitting there.
- Removes need for pregnant women to clean litter boxes and risk toxoplasmosis.
- A good one will reduce the amount of litter used, resulting in long term savings.
This is what I’ve done: I’ve scoured the web to find (I hope) every available automatic litter system. Some of them are excellent, others are mediocre and, well, there’s probably a couple that cause more frustration than convenience.
I keep this list and the detailed reviews up to date, because models change and some products disappear (although not the best ones). So I endeavor to keep all of this information up to date for your convenience. I hope it makes your buying choice easier and simpler!
|Top Auto Cleaning Cat Litter Boxes|
|PetSafe ScoopFree Ultra
|Litter Robot III Open-Air
|PetSafe Simply Clean
Best Automatic Self Cleaning Litter Boxes Reviews
So, above I provided a brief overview of the self cleaning litter systems which makes it easy to compare the different types of designs available. It also lets you quickly see what type of litter is required or recommended, and which models are similar to each other (sometimes very similar), while you’ll also notice there are some designs which are totally unique.
This is all well and good – but you’ll also want to know which automatic litter box is a good size for your cat, which ones clean well and what ones might struggle to operate as effeciently as you’d expect, and there are a couple whcih aren’t completely automated when it comes to cleaning as well.
So below you’ll find a lot more information based on all the research I’ve done (countless hours) into each and every self cleaning cat litter system, including the pros and cons of each one. Enjoy! You can use the index at the top of this article to quickly reach a specific product.
PetSafe ScoopFree Self Cleaning Litter Box
This is another PetSafe self cleaning litter box, along with their Simply Clean model below. As you can see by their designs, these are two quite different systems with two different methods of providing automation of litter box cleaning.
There are two versions of the ScoopFree: the original and the Ultra. The differences between them will be outlined in this review.
The ScoopFree is made to work with crystal cat litter. It’s not made for use with clumping clay litter so if you want to use that type of litter, this won’t be the box for you. Some cats just don’t like the crystal type litter, and understandably as it can be less comfortable on the feet compared with clay or recycled paper.
PetSafe advise that the ScoopFree should only be used with their own pre-portioned crystal cat litter (also called ScoopFree) and that any other type of litter can cause damage to the rake that separates the waste.
So in short, while there’s nothing to stop you from using any other litter brand or type in the ScoopFree box, PetSafe is not likely to provide any support if it results in the unit breaking down or not functioning properly. They’ll want to know that you’re using the litter that’s recommended.
So you might feel tied into one particular litter type and brand if you choose the ScoopFree, which is just something to be aware of. The upside is that when its functioning as designed, the litter should not need to be changed often, bringing the long term costs down overall.
If you have a preference for clumping litter, PetSafe recommends instead using their Simply Clean self cleaning litter box.
Now, PetSafe state that the ScoopFree unit can be left with no maintenance for “weeks” without refilling it or cleaning it at all. During this time it should be self cleaning automatically and be totally hands-off.
Litter Robot III Open-Air Automatic Self Cleaning Litter Box
When it comes to high end litter boxes, the Litter Robot has got to be at the very top.
By appearance alone, it looks futuristic, high-tech, and certainly gives the impression that this is a very hands off litter solution that you can rely on to work in the background for you.
How does it perform though, and what special features does it have to warrant the higher price than the other auto self cleaning litter products?
You may or may not remember the previous Litter-Robot II Classic and Bubble. These models are no longer available and they’ve been replaced by this version III.
This one is a complete overhaul. It’s made to literally take care of everything for you, besides the final disposal of the collected soiled litter, which is collected in a drawer that you line with a regular kitchen bag. There are no add-ons or extra bits and pieces to buy to use the Litter Robot III.
Which Cats Is The Litter Robot III Good For?
Any cat can of course make superb use of this gourmet litter box. But if you have a “problem cat”, you’ll be taking a closer look at specific features and design points to see if it can indeed make life easier wehn it comes to litter management and minimizing or eliminating accidents and mess.
Finding an appropriate litter box for cats who don’t have perfect toileting technique is not easy, and a lot of the automatic self cleaning models don’t cater well to cats who “aim high” or stand more upright when urinating – resulting in a mess outside the box or tray.
The Litter Robot on the other hand caters really well to these cats, and it was actually an issue that was kept in mind during the design of this model (the company says that they took on board many suggestions and complaints from those who had used previous Robot models, with this no doubt being a common one).
Is The Litter Robot III Easy To Clean?
Cleaning an automatic litter box is the make or break area for most of us. If you have to spend so much time and effort cleaning that it works out the same as maintaining a normal litter pan, you may as well save money and use a regular box.
So the maintenance and cleaning aspect of the Litter Robot is of great interest to me, and I imagine of anyone considering this. It’s operation is so hands off and automatic, that you’d really want to cleaning aspect to be as fast and simple as possible.
So how does the Litter Robot Open-Air fair in this regard?
It’s designed for low maintenance cleaning.
Cats who do spray outside the main area will require that you clean the unit more often than a cat who is more neat and tidy, but they’ve made it simple to disassemble the main part of the unit into two halves if you need to do a deep clean.
Then there’s the maintenance aspect. You want to keep the system running perfectly, and to do that it’s wise to be on top of any maintenance requirements.
Thankfully they’ve made this simple as well. The Open-Air uses carbon filters to reduce odor, and it’s these that will need changing a few times per year (depending how much use the Litter Robot gets) – the company recommends changing the filters every 3 to 4 months.
This is just a basic recommendation, and they do say that if you notice an odor to change the filter more regularly. Besides litter, this is the only ongoing cost of using the Litter Robot.
PetSafe Simply Clean Automatic Litter Box
It’s interesting to see all the different methods that various auto litter boxes use to clear out soiled litter. The PetSafe Simply Clean uses a conveyor type system controlled by a small quiet motor – think of a luggage carousel at the airport in miniature; for cat litter! It takes an hour for the conveyor to fully rotate, so it’s very slow moving so you don’t have to worry about legs or tails getting caught up.
While it’s revolving around, it separates the waste by sifting the litter and then the wasted product is dropped off in the compartment on the side (covered up). Now, you can either leave this waste compartment as it is, or you can put a bag in there so you can pick up and dispose of the waste in one go.
If you don’t want to use a bag, you simply tip out the used litter from the waste catching box and give it rinse if needed.
For the system to work properly, you should be using clumping litter with the PetSafe Simply Clean. Otherwise you risk wasting a lot of litter, as it won’t be able to accurately distinguish between used and unused litter – resulting in the dumping of clean litter into the waste container.
- Waste doesn’t build up because the system is continually removing soiled litter
- No cartridges or other replacement items required – the only ongoing cost is litter
- 1 year warranty
- PetSafe has good customer service, including phone and email
- Large cats may find it too small and cramped to use comfortably; it depends on the individual cat
- Lower side walls don’t provide as much protection against spillage as higher walled or fully enclosed boxes
- Some reports of motor malfunctions, however this is covered by the warranty of a reputable company
The relatively shallow container means that most people will want to have some mats around the tray, to pick up anything that’s scraped out. And for cats who have a habit of not squatting right down the shorter walls can pose a risk to them eliminating outside the tray completely – cats who fit that description are likely going to be better off with a box that’s either enclosed with a hood, or has more depth to it.
The key to getting the best performance from this automatic litter box is to use a quality clumping litter. Issues with waste not being removed properly can often simply come down to the type of cat litter being used. Once you find a good quality clumping cat litter – stick with it!
Speaking of sticking – one issue that comes up with this system is that sometimes the clumps will stick to the box (you can avoid this in the catching container by simply using a plastic grocery bag to catch the waste, then all you have to do is pull it out and dispose of it once a day, or as often as needed). To avoid any sticking, and the need to scrape stuck litter off, spraying the box with a small amount of non-stick cooking spray like Pam is a recommended method for keeping it smooth and lubricated.
LitterMaid Multi-Cat Automatic Self Cleaning Litter Box
The LitterMaid uses the simple raking method to clear soiled litter and waste, and it starts up almost right after your cat leaves the box. The rake moves the used litter into a container, which you dispose of when full. Yes, this is similar (or the same really) as a couple of other brands (with some wondering whether they are in fact rebranded LitterMaid’s).
I believe the LitterMaid was the first automatic box to use the rake style mechanism for cleaning. It’s not a foolproof method, but it’s simple and can potentially work well.
The Multi-Cat version is large enough (as the name indicates) to accommodate 2-3 cats while maintaining its cleaning operation without getting overwhelmed. Obviously, the more cats you have using the box, the more often you’ll want to dispose of the waste container.
But even if you only have one cat, the large size of the Multi Cat version of the LitterMaid is useful for those cats who don’t do so well with a smaller litter tray (pee’ing over the side being one issue).
The higher sided walls on this box can also help prevent spillage, as it is quite a deep box so proves quite a cahllenege for a cat to not keep his or her business inside, in fact.
If you don’t want the cleaning mechanism to operate overnight, there’s a timer you can set to deactivate cleaning for the duration of the night.
Replacement waste containers are available, as are the carbon filters which fit to the waste box to help trap odors.
Clumping litter needs to be used with the LitterMaid. Other litter types, like crystals, won’t be picked up and dumped into the waste box by the rake because they don’t clump. The clumps need to be large enough to be moved by the rake. The company actually recommends a corn cob litter for people who want to avoid regular clay based clumping litter – for example, the Nature’s Miracle corn cob cat litter.
Nature’s Miracle Multi-Cat Self-Cleaning Litter Box
You may have noticed that this litter box is very similar, even almost identical, to the LitterMaid above. Indeed it is and potentially they are the same under different brands. LitterMaid even recommends using Nature’s Miracle brand of cat litter.
Odor control is an area that the company has heavily focused on with this box. No matter how much you adore your cat, I think it’s safe to say that nobody enjoys the smell of a used litter box. Most cats will refuse to use a litter box that reaches a certain level of stench as well.
So there are many good and practical reasons for keeping odors at a minimum. How does this litter box do that? It uses carbon filters and a process to help control bacteria, which is the underlying cause of odors.
You aren’t tied in to a certain type or brand of litter when using the Nature’s Miracle self cleaning litter box. This means your cat doesn’t have to get used to a new litter type (or refuse to use it at all); simply use your cats preferred litter.
This is one of the few products in this guide (and I’ve tried to cover all of the available self cleaning cat boxes) that utilizes a sensor of some sort to detect when a cat is in fact using the tray, so the cleaning mechanism can be activated.
While not as technologically advanced as the SmartScoop Intelligent I talk about later on, the Nature’s Miracle uses simple motion detection to determine when the cat has soiled the litter so it’s not constantly cleaning unnecessarily.
False alarms are unlikely, because the sensors need to be activated for at least 10 seconds (so if your cat just enters and exits the tray without doing anything, the system is unlikely to activate cleaning).
It doesn’t instantly start clearing the litter once your cat is done though – it waits 20 minutes. This gives a cat plenty of time to vacate the litter box and move away from the area (if they do come back in to the box within that 20 minute period, the self cleaning timer resets itself, and waits another 20 minutes before cleaning – this is an important feature particularly if you have two cats).
The system uses a simple rake design, which is also seen in some other brands, to scoop the waste litter into the waste area.
Even if your cat does happen to come back to the box during this time, there’s a safety bar that, if touched during cleaning, causes the rake to move into the opposite direction.
This brings me to one of the (albeit not common) issues that can come up with this box, as well as any other that uses a rake type cleaning mechanism. If the rake gets stuck on the Nature’s Miracle automatic litter box, it can be caused by a few reasons but the main one is that the litter being used isn’t ideal, and the rake can’t effectively move it so it becomes stuck. In cases where the recommended litter type has been used and there is still a malfunciton of the rake, it can be due to a technical fault with the motor which can come about from past use of incompatible litter or in rare cases, a factory fault. The good news is that the company is helpful, and contacting them is the best way to resolve any issues.
Disposing of used litter and waste is a matter of removing the plastic container and emptying it. You can place a bag in it to catch waste if you prefer, and simply dispose of the bag.
If you choose instead to throw away the plastic waste receptacle rather than clean it out and put it back (these are relatively low quality plastic), Nature’s Miracle makes replacement waste boxes available separately.
One tip that can work is to attach two of the containers together, one inside the other, and this enhances the stability and strength of them. You can do this with a tiny amount of super glue.
These disposal boxes are fitted with odor control filters, which are meant to reduce bacterial build up and help control nasty smells. Replacement filters can also be bought separately
Unfortunately the smart operation doesn’t extend to being able to detect when the waste receptacle is full or near full, so you need to keep on top of that.
The system will continue to scoop waste into the waste box (which ideally could be larger) even if it’s already full, and that’s obviously when problems arise. In short, you’ll probably want to empty the waste box a two or three times per week per cat to keep it operating well.
If you’re cat prefers a covered litter box, there’s also a hooded version of the Nature’s Miracle
So what’s the verdict on this automatic litter box? Compared to some of the other options out there, I wouldn’t rate this as the best. But that doesn’t mean you should overlook it completely. It’s just a matter of knowing the potential pros and cons. It’s not the lowest cost option, but it has proven to be a stable, long-lasting product for many people.
- Can be powered with either electricity or batteries
- Waste boxes can be disposed of and replaced
- Good customer service
- Uses standard tried and tested rake style auto cleaning method
- Odor reduction works well
- Continues to rake litter when waste box is full – can cause spillage if box isn’t emptied.
- Not the quietest self cleaning litter tray available – likely not want to have it run within earshot of people sleeping at night
- The recommended Natures Miracle cat litter tends to stick to the bottom of the tray
- Waste receptacles are soft plastic – care needed when removing so as not to spill
- Replacement filters and boxes can add up costs over time
CatGenie Self Washing Self Flushing Cat Box
Well, this looks like a real toilet. This is by far the best looking “litter box” in this guide, and probably in existence. I love the design!
It’s the only design that you could truly call a cat toilet instead of a cat box! And it operates somewhat like a toilet, in that it’s required to be connected to a water supply in order to function. It also needs to be plugged in to an electrical outlet. This is a toilet system, rather than just a litter box. It’s for people who have a space to put it and who are after an advanced, high-tech solution to managing your cat’s bathroom needs!
It doesn’t come much more high-end and gourmet than this luxury self flushing cat toilet/litter box. The design alone will be a conversation starter for anyone who sees it, and provided it’s method operation appeals to you and your cat(s), the CatGenie is an investment that will likely be of use throughout their entire lifespan.
- Low maintenance (but not no maintenance – no such thing)
- Needs to be attached to water drainage system; either laundry or bathroom for most people
- Doesn’t use real litter; instead uses granules that are washed by the system
- Replacement granules are available; each box lasts up to 5 months (depending how many cats you have)
- Dome hood available as optional extra for increased privacy
I always like to mention any potential downsides or annoyances, and let’s face it, not one of these products is going to be 100% perfect all the time. These are a couple of minor issues that have come up, but they won’t be an issue for everyone.
- The cleaning cycle runs once each day, automatically and takes about 30 minutes. This can be inconvenient if the cat wants to use the toilet during this time.
- SaniSolution cartridges must be bought from the same manufacturer. Third party brands are not compatible.
SmartScoop Self-Scooping Cat Litter Box
There are two SmartScoop models:
- SmartScoop Basic
- SmartScoop Intelligent Litter Box
This is the SmartScoop auto litter box without the monitoring and bluetooth technology that you get with the Intelligent (see review below). So it is much similar to the other trays here in that it has a basic function, and that’s to keep the cat box clean without your input.
Clumping litter is needed for the SmartScoop to work properly. The rake mechanism relies on the litter to clump, so it can remove it effeciently. Without clumping cat litter, it’s just not going to be able to remove waste properly and you’ll end up with waste litter being left in the tray.
The rake scoop will automatically activate 10 minute after the cat leaves the litter box (unless he re-enters the box during this time, or you have another cat who decides to use it!).
For best performance, the 8″ or so deep tray should be about half filled with clumping litter. This gives enough depth for the rake to work properly.
There’s no ramp included with the Basic SmartScoop, so if you’re worried about tracking, you might need to consider placing a mat around this one.
SmartScoop Intelligent Litter Box
Who would have ever though cat litter boxes would reach such technical heights? Not me. But here we have it: a kitty litter box that uses the power of infrared to monitor what’s going on in the box. When it detects that a cat has used the box, it automatically scoops the waste into a disposal bin that is lined with a waste bag which you simply take out and dispose of.
But it gets better: using Bluetooth, you can receive monitoring reports of your cats toileting habits sent straight to your phone with the IntelligentPetLink app (available for both Android and iPhones). This might sound like something for an over-obsessed cat owner, however there are real benefits to this. Cats who use the litter tray excessively may be suffering from a health issue, and by being able to monitor litter box use, especially when you’re not home, you have real data to share with your veterinarian. Cats with known or potential health issues can then be more closely monitored. So tracking your cat’s toileting habits can be more than just something of interest; it can be a real health tool as well.
This box works with clumping cat litter.
This is a relatively new product, and I’ll be updating this section of the guide with more information on the SmartScoop Intelligent litter box soon.
Omega Paw Self Cleaning Litter Box
The Omega Paw is a much simpler self cleaning box when compared to most of the other ones available.
And it’s priced accordingly, being significantly lower cost than most other products in this guide. You don’t need to hook it up to an electrical or water source, and there are no filters to replace.
It uses old fashioned physics to maintain a clean litter environment; literally by utilizing the rounded edge of one side to roll back and forth in order to remove the waste. This rollaway litter box is certainly easy to use, and does not require a power source of any sort.
Clearly this isn’t a high tech device – but sometimes simple can be best. They call it the “roll away” self cleaning litter box, which is a pretty good description of how it works!
It rolls the soiled litter (which is clumped) on to a grilled surface which separates the clean litter from the dirty clumps. Then the soiled litter is moved on to a tray which you pull out and dispose of.
But does the Omega Paw litter box really work as a hands-off cat toilet solution?
- No mechanical parts to break down
- No filters to replace
- Disposes of used litter in tray – no scooping required
- Choose your own litter types (clumping is recommended)
- Hands off way to manage litter if you’ll be there to roll the box
- Usable by larger cats
- Low cost
- Can be used without the lid for cats who prefer uncovered litter trays. The lid is only required for rolling/cleaning.
- Internal filtering grate has a few reports of cracking. Replacement parts for the Omega Paw litter box, such as the grate, can be obtained by contacting the company through their official website.
- Some clumping litter can stick to the sides, requiring extra shaking to dislodge it.
So is the Omega Paw really a self cleaning litter solution? Technically, no. It doesn’t run on autopilot like most others, and that’s why it costs significantly less.
It’s more of an assisted litter management solution. You need to be there to roll the litter box, rather than have the entire operation done on its own.
So who is it good for? People who don’t want to handle dirty litter, as the tray allows you to dispose of it without ever touching it. It’s for people who don’t leave their cats for long periods (longer than a day), and for cat owners who just want a simple, low cost alternative to scooping out and scrubbing litter trays.
Litter Spinner Quick Clean Cat Litter Box
This is certainly a unique looking cat litter box. It doesn’t look like a cat box at all – and that’s one issue you might initially face when introducing your cat to the Litter Spinner.
Will he know what to do with it? Investigations will definitely be in order and most cats, once they notice the litter substrate, will take to it (especally if tehhy have no other options).
But if you’re giving the Litter Spinner a try for the first time, you might want to keep your regular litter tray out until your cat has got this one figured out.
Obviously this very enclosed design is made to reduce or eliminate any mess outside the box. That’s a plus. The small size however can lead to some cats scraping litter outside the box, as they can have some difficiulty in finding adquate space while inside to instincitively cover up thier waste.
The entrance hole for your cat to go through to get inside is quite small: about 7.5 inches wide. Cats have a natural inclination to explore, but if you have a very large cat, she might find the entrance a little tight for comfortable manuevaring and getting in and out of the box.
Like the Omega Paw, this is more of a manual cleaning box than an automatic one. You need to spin the box yourself after your cat has used it. So it’s a rather simple device (which can certainly be good, in terms of having less to go wrong and malfunction).
If you want a fully automatic self cleaning system, the Litter Spinner won’t be the one for you. This is somewhere in between a normal litter tray and a full self cleaning box – you are still having a hands-off experience, but you’ll need to be around to operate it.
Type of cat litter required: clumping recommended, although some people succesfully use other types.
Power required: No
Place of manufacture: USA
Size: 22″ Height x 18″ Width x 14″ Depth
Entrance opening: Approx 7.5″
- No power needed so can be placed anywhere
- Stable while your cat is using it – only rolls when you roll it to clean
- No mechanical parts to break down
- Good for kittens and small cats
- Too small for large cats
- Needs more regular cleaning than other self cleaning litter systems
See our full Litter Spinner review here
Guide: What To Look For When Choosing a Self Cleaning Litter System
Automatic cleaning litter boxes are certainly priced higher than your average plastic tray. These are long term investments, and convenient investments. People who put a value on their time and effort will see a self cleaning litter box as a saving, rather than an expense and will have no qualms about the one-off upfront cost.
So you want to give one of these auto cleaning boxes for cats a try. Obviously, with so many choices, it can feel a little daunting knowing which one is going to work best for your cat, your home, and you. That includes your budget as well. Here’s some things to keep in mind while you’re deciding:
– Upfront cost
– Ongoing costs?
– How to dispose of the litter
– How often will you have to empty waste litter? Daily? Weekly?
– How many cats is it suitable for?
– Can a large cat comfortably use it?
– What type of litter is required?
– Does it need a power connection? What about water? That will determine location.
– Will you need more than one?