Best self-cleaning litter box reviews
So you’re tired of scooping up after your feline, and are ready for a more automatic mode of cleaning up your cat’s commode. There are a lot of litter boxes on the market that are advertised as self-cleaning. These vary in effectiveness, and are largely dependent on your household’s size and needs.
When getting a new litter box, especially when it is your or your cat’s first self-cleaning one, plan to spend some time acclimating. Be aware this can mean a few accidents (or intentional leavings out of kitty frustration). It may take a little bit for the humans in your house to get used to the new litter box, as well. Pay special attention to how much noise a unit makes before purchasing it.
This does not just mean the noise of its mechanical components. Cats like to dig while using the bathroom, so all of these options still use some kind of litter or an element meant to replace litter to satisfy this cat habit. That means the sounds of cats stepping on, sifting, and digging in litter is still present when using a self-cleaning unit.
This litter must also be replaced. Hopefully this will occur less often than when a scoop is used, but it is certainly an ongoing cost of these units. Some self cleaning litter boxes also use unique components that must be purchased from the company itself. This means a set cost without a cheaper alternative for replacement.
The Litter Robot III cleans by rotating the contents of the litter box for sifting, thus its spherical design. As it turns, litter is sifted apart from large clumps. These are dropped into a tray, which can then be removed and cleaned. Unlike other electronic auto litter boxes, the Litter Robot III uses batteries instead of a wall plug. Batteries provide 48 hours of use, and back up ones are available for purchase.
The company that produces this product claims that its design and functionality are based on 15 years of feedback from their customers, and it sounds like customer are happy. The unit also comes with an 18 month warranty, a 90 Day money-back guarantee. This is the third version of this self-cleaning litter box.
The automatic cleaning is on a timer that begins after the feline has exited the litter box, or this timer is set to a user-specified time. This cleaning deposits solid waste into the removable tray for later disposal. In between disposals, a carbon filtered litter box cuts down on smell.
If you have a larger cat, it may take some time for them to adjust to using this completely enclosed, cozy box. Expect to spend some time adjusting them to it. This does not mean it cannot be used by larger cats, just that they may need some time getting used to it. In fact, the oval entry way is rather large, allowing for easy entrance and exiting by cats of all sizes.
A handy thing about this box is its auto stop is instantaneous if the sensor is set off. This means that if you have a curious cat and they attempt to enter while the cleaning is going on, it will be automatically stopped. This may frighten your cat, but also keeps the machine in good working order and your kitty safe.
There are a lot of other great automatic features on this unit. These include a night light, a sensor to let you know when the box is full, and an 8 hour sleep mode that is user set to guaranty the automatic functions on the machine do not disrupt your sleep.
Another bonus is that this unit will cut down on litter use. The way that it rotates and disperses litter, separating it from the clumps that need to be removed, cuts down on litter waste when compared to the old manual scoop method.
Now, some downsides: while there is a light that will let you know when the drawer below the litter box is full, expect some labor when it is cleaning time. Because the drawer is storing those clumps deposited by your cat, there may be some scrubbing required so that nothing cakes on.
Finally, pay attention to the plastic sheet that keeps anything from sticking to the bottom of this unit, as it may get caught on the edge of the box and fail to catch everything it is supposed to.
The Cat Genie is a fully washable litter box. Some of the other automatic options on this list still rely on kitty litter and manual labor to fully remove clumps left behind by a cat. This unit is designed differently, with low maintenance and re-usability in mind.
That means that instead of kitty litter, which must eventually be thrown away, it utilizes water and washable granules unique to the Cat Genie. Instead of collecting solids for manual scooping, or mass disposal, the Cat Genie collects them via automatic scooping and makes them into a liquid to be flushed directly out of the unit.
When it’s time to wash out what remains in the granules, water is moved through the basin in a circular motion with a cleaning product called SaniSolution. This has been marked safe by veterinarians, and flushing it this way assures nothing is hiding in the granules during the next use. Finally, there is a drying function which heats the basin and its granules, assuring it is sanitized.
Cleaning can be scheduled by the cat owner. However, keep in mind that proper cleaning takes time. The cycle on this unit takes 30 minutes. That can make day to day use with multiple cats a huge problem, unless you have some advanced scheduling going on and know their habits well. This litter box is not recommended for more than 2 cats, and 3 at most.
The ongoing costs of this unit are the washable granules which, while reusable, must be changed after about 3 months for 1 cat, and every 2 for 2 felines. Then there is the filter that provides the SaniSolution to the wash mix. This should last 120 washes, and up to 240 uses when the cleaning program is set to run after being activated by use by the cat. This filter adds to its claim of being “green”, as the plastic used is fully biodegradable.
Keep in mind that heating is a major component of this unit. That means that if it breaks, it will need to be repaired somewhere or replaced to continue running cleanly. While the unit does come with a 2 year warranty, this is the function more likely to stop working over the course of normal use.
Owners of cats with health problems, or older cats, will find this unit does a poor job cleaning up anything that is not firm. In fact, any waste left behind will be baked during the sanitation process. This means extremely bad odor, above that of a traditional option, is a possibility with this litter box. On top of this, the wash cycle itself has trouble flushing large clumps left away from the edges of the basin, meaning it may be mashed into the granules, then baked.
The Cat Genie is also capable of clogging, though this happens rarely. Just like any other draining appliance, it is still a possibility.
While its reusable quality, and the lack of cleaning required on this unit may be desirable, it takes the most setup and requires an installation about as permanent as a clothes washer. In order to get the full effect of the cleaning functions the Cat Genie must be hooked up to cold water and plugged in.
This can be done most easily in a laundry room or bathroom. In each case, the tube for the liquefied waste must be inserted somewhere to dispose of what has been collected during cleaning. This means into the toilet, into the waste line for the washing machine, or another drain approved for biological waste.
On top of the other complaints, the granules are very small. If your cat does a poor job of kicking litter back into the box, or kicks it out of the box while going to the bathroom, expect to constantly be cleaning up these granules.
The Cat Genie is heavier, weighing 26 pounds. However, while it is hooked up, there is little reason to move it.
The Scoop Free Ultra Self-Cleaning Litter box is another automated option that is without traditional litter. While the clay content in regular litter makes for good clumping and easy removal of waste, it does not effectively cut down on odor in all circumstances. The benefit of non traditional litters are that they are usually designed to absorb odor.
In this case, the box uses crystal litter that absorbs moisture to remove odor-causing elements. This is in conjunction with a sifting system that scoops clumps of waste into an enclosed compartment. The attractive thing about this box is that its trays can be used for weeks without manual interference.
Setup of this unit is easy. While the tray does take some time for placement, it is held in place by magnets. Otherwise the unit is one piece out of the box.
There are several settings for scheduled cleanings, and the Scoop Free Ultra can fit two cats cozily. However, in practice the sensor will not stop if the litter box is in a cleaning session. So if one of your cats is in there it will start without stopping to allow for the kitty to exit.
One of the attractive things about this unit is its sleek exterior color. However, do not get this product wet at all, as it yellows easily, and cannot be washed with a hose. A damp cloth must be used to spot clean it, instead. The crystal litter that comes with this unit is very efficient at absorbing liquids, so keep the unit away from areas where moisture accumulates.
The major concern with the Scoop Free Ultra comes when it is time to change the tray itself. This involves removal of the litter box’s lid. It is suggested it is placed under the box during changing. When trying to change the box, be aware of where the clumps left behind by your cat are falling. Litter may also fall out, because it does not always remain level after the cleaning process. While replacing it after cleaning, the lid may become soiled from the excrement on the edge of the bottom. The tray must be changed every 15 days or so with two cats.
Another concern is that sometimes the grate has to be manually poked with a stick or skewer to remove clumps that have become stuck during the sifting process. This Scoop Free may also make noise while cleaning after it has been in use a little while. So the noise level when you initially set it up will change over time. If the litter box is near where you rest, also keep in mind the noise level of your cat doing their bathroom ritual.
The litter created for this system is a different texture than traditional litter. It tracks easily, and will take some getting used to by your cat. It is also louder when dug into or stepped on.
While on the subject of digging, also be aware that after cleaning cycles, clumps of waste may be stuck on the far side of the sifter if your cat shifts litter a lot. It is also a good idea to pay attention to the litter level in the unit and add more as it is used by the cat over the course of time between tray replacements.
Finally, this unit works with a sensor that counts down from the time your cat leaves it, and will lock up and stop working if there is solid waste deposited too far from the sifter. When this happens, it will let you know with a blinking error light, but will require manual correction.
The Scoop Free Ultra also comes with the option of a permanent tray, which can be purchased separately. However, this must be cleaned out after each use instead of being disposed of. While it does cut down on the recurring cost, and can increase the longevity of the unit over all, less labor is one of the attractive things about self-cleaning boxes.
The Littermaid LM980 is petite at 14 by 17 inches. This can make it difficult to use by truly large cats, or ones that are enthusiastic diggers. However, it does include a ramp for eliminating the tracking of litter in your house, and replaceable carbon filters to remove the odor of waste products from your home.
This unit keeps the box clear by removing clumped waste from the main litter supply. It is deposited into a sealed receptacle that is also reinforced by a carbon filter. This means that it will have to be emptied at some point after being used.
Regular maintenance is required of this unit. While there are tools included for the cleanup of tracked or kicked litter, it may still need to be replaced or replenished over time.
The machine clears clumped waste using an automated rake that can be removed for easy access during manual cleaning. Keep in mind the removable nature of the cleaning system means a slightly more complicated set up. This unit cleans automatically after the cat exits, or when the owner decides it needs to be done. It plugs into the wall for power.
Users of previous Littermaid designs will also notice that while smaller than other options on this list, it is slightly larger than previous models put out by this company. It does have larger sides to accommodate larger cats, but may not fit in spaces previously put aside to fit older models.
While the automated system sounds like other boxes, its sensors tend to stop working fairly quickly if they get wet and this unit runs more noisily than other automate ones. However, it is significantly cheaper, running about 90 bucks on Amazon.
This last option on the list is not an electrical one. It works using ingenious design to avoid the dirty work, instead of automated elements. Much like others on the list, it will require moving the clumps left behind from the box itself to the garbage.
Unlike other options on this list, the Self Cleaning Litter Box by Omega Paw uses no refillable elements, requires no electricity, and is fairly cheap. In fact, it retails for around 40 bucks. Similar to others on this list, the solid waste is collected in a separate tray for removal.
Instead of electronic options, the waste that needs to be removed is separated using a special grill and mechanical means. In this case, that means rolling the entire unit, lid and all, then pulling out the tray where clumps accumulate for disposal.
It is less attractive than other units. This Omega Paw comes in utilitarian shades and is quite boxy, leaving no question as to its purpose. It is definitely still attractive on an economical level because of the novelty of its mechanism and the cost-saving possibilities.
Another pro is that this unit cannot have its batteries die, short out, or experience a mechanical failure beyond having to clear the internal grate for optimal waste collection. It can also be placed anywhere convenient, much like a traditional litter box.
This option definitely requires more physical involvement by the cat owner. Ideally, this means no scooping, but it does mean moving the unit, which is around eight pounds, after each use. Also, be sure that the unit’s clamps are firmly in place before attempting to roll it. If these are loose, or out of place, the lid and bottom may separate, leaving unwelcome surprises all over your floor.
The rolling may take some practice. The goal of this box is certainly simplicity, but it will still take diligence to make sure litter does not end up being dumped all over the floor while being rolled to the side.
Like other boxes and things in your cat’s routine, it will take some adjustment. The entrance is also more narrow than other box options, some of which are open air. This is a design necessity to make the waste separation process as neat as possible, but can be uncomfortable for larger cats.
This Self Cleaning Litter Box comes with a one year warranty, but does not have mechanical parts that can break.
In the end, self cleaning litter boxes are highly advantageous for those tired of dealing with the less sanitary parts of cat ownership. Choosing the right one for you and your pet takes time, but is worth the research. While many have impressive warranties, it is better to set up a litter box like this once than trying to send it back. Replacing it may take more time than doing the legwork to find the right one in the first place. This is especially true when you take your cat’s adjustment time into account.
While a self-cleaning box may be more convenient for both owner and pet, placement in the home may also have to be changed based on the size and functions of the new box. The sources of power and noise level of the boxes may determine their location more than your cat’s habits. This can lead to some confusion or frustration on your pet’s part.
A final thing to keep in mind when choosing a self-cleaning box is your cat’s age and diet. Cats with high fiber and lots of fillers in their diets may fill up the refillable filtering systems of some boxes quickly, while older cats with less fiber in their diets may have liquid leavings that automated systems struggle to collect. Ultimately, you know your cat and their habits best.