Kitty, Meet Robot. The Best Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes Take One More Task Off Your To-Do List

self-cleaning litter boxes, best self-cleaning litter
Courtesy of @thelitterrobot

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Pets are one of the greatest — and messiest — joys in life. Whether you’ve got a dog, cat, bunny rabbit or fish, you know they take love, care and cleaning to keep them and your house in tip-top shape. Sometimes they require special products to protect your furniture. Sometimes they deserve some great new toys. But they all need some effort when it comes to relieving themselves.

Once your dog is housebroken, all it takes is a quick walk or jaunt through the backyard for them to do their business, but cats prefer something more civilized (and labor-intensive). Litter boxes are the pet world’s solution to giving cats a relatively clean and comfortable place to use the facilities in your home. The problem? Despite the latest in cat litter technology creating anti-odor, clumping and flushable litter that’s super easy to handle, the boxes themselves still require regular scooping to keep them clean.

For someone with a limited range of movement, hunching down to scoop out the litter can be a pain in the ass. Plus, it’s one more thing to do that you may forget about — much to your house and cat’s discontent. Even the most diligent box-cleaning will not completely spare you from that litter-box smell, and when you fall down on the job there, cats tend to remind you by making their deposits elsewhere.

Thankfully, there’s a simple, high-tech fix that will keep your cat healthy and happy — and you from needing to rifle through the sand to find feces. Self-cleaning litter boxes are here, and they’re about to revolutionize how you care for your feline friends.

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The Best Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes At a Glance

1. Best Overall: PetSafe ScoopFree Ultra Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Box — $199.95 at Chewy.com & Amazon

2. Best Design: CatGenie A.I. Self-Cleaning Litter Box — $539.00 at Amazon

3. Best Budget Buy: PetSafe ScoopFree Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Box — $154.95 at Amazon

4. Best Splurge: Litter Robot 3 Connect — $699.00 at Amazon

5. Quietest: ChillX AutoEgg Self-Cleaning Litter Box — $399.99 at chillx.co

  

1. PetSafe ScoopFree Ultra Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Box

BEST OVERALL

Best for: Anyone who absolutely, positively never wants to touch litter.

Why We Chose It: PetSafe’s claim of jam-free operation and the overall popularity of the unit.

self-cleaning litter box, cat litter boxes, best litter box Courtesy of Amazon

This ScoopFree line of self-cleaning litter boxes from PetSafe has a few different options for every cat owner, ranging from covered, uncovered and differently sized boxes. This box automatically removes your cat’s waste and requires no cleaning, scooping or refilling of litter.

The crystal litter inside is 99% dust-free, so your cat’s paws stay clean, and it absorbs urine and solid waste through dehydration, so they don’t linger in your home. The disposable trays help protect against leaking to keep your floors clean, and it only takes removing and throwing them away to keep things clean inside. This litter box also has a health counter and motion sensors that track how often your feline uses the litter box daily, so you can keep track and ensure they’re healthy.

Pros: 

  • Automatic rake scoops poop behind a barrier, so it doesn’t sit out in the open and stink
  • Changing tray is exceptionally easy
  • Cats appreciate privacy dome as opposed to lower models from the ScoopFree line

Cons: 

  • Refill trays are expensive ($69.95 for three) and tend to only be available at pet stores and via online ordering
  

2. CatGenie A.I. Self-Washing Cat Box

BEST DESIGN

Best for: Anyone not wanting to worry about replacing or disposing of litter

Why We Chose It: The idea of connecting the litter box to plumbing was exceptionally appealing

CatGenie self-cleaning litter box, best self-cleaning litter box Courtesy of Amazon

This self-cleaning litter box from CatGenie has thought of everything about keeping your cat and home clean and healthy. The CatGenie is meant to be connected to a water source and a disposal source: a bathroom or a laundry room so that water can be piped in and the flushed waste can exit via the toilet or the washing machine drain. Poop is ground down and almost liquefied by the unit before being sent out of the unit, and there have been no jams or issues there. There is also a vet-approved SaniSolution through which the water flows during every cleaning cycle.

Cat Genie 2 Best Robot Litter Boxes CatGenie connected to laundry room plumbing. Placement can be tricky. Mike Fazioli | Spy

The litter is actually litter-like washable granules that are cleansed after each use, kind of like a toilet flush. The best part about these granules? They never need changing — only the occasional topping off — so you can say goodbye to refilling litter, hauling enormous bags home from the store and the accidental spills all over the floor forever. Scooping happens after each use to remove solids, and hot air blows through the unit to dry the granules for your cat’s comfort.

Not being the handiest people on earth, connecting the CatGenie to plumbing was intimidating. But the actual work was shockingly easy — the unit came with a splitter to attach to the washing machine’s water source, and the outlet tube fit down the drain and the washing machine outlet hose. Weeks of testing resulted in zero leaks from either the input or the drain. The outlet hose must go into the toilet if you connect it in a bathroom. It’s ingenious for sure, but the downside? Laundry room configurations are unforgiving based on where the washing machine hoses, special electrical outlet and dryer vent are built into your home. As shown above, there are now some hosing and power cables to step over. And it’s in the laundry room because none of the bathrooms in our house were able to fit the not-small unit (19.25 x 17.5 x 21 inches and 35 pounds) anywhere near a toilet.

Still, if that’s the only restriction, we’re overall very pleased with the Cat Genie. The litter granules stay in the bowl, and the CatGenie app is outstanding. You receive alerts when the unit is being used, and the app also keeps a log of how many times and at what times of day the cats are visiting. Based on that information, it’s easy to set up a cleaning schedule, or you can start a cleaning cycle anytime from your phone, which is a real boon when you’re traveling, and you’ve left the house to the cats for a weekend.

Pros: 

  • Connection to actual plumbing combined with self-cleaning means zero contact with litter or waste
  • Surprisingly easy to set up considering it entails plumbing
  • CatGenie app is robust and easy to use
  • Zero smell

Cons:

  • Reliance on proximity to plumbing makes placement of unit extremely challenging
  • Cleaning cycles are long — nearly 40 minutes

 

  

3. PetSafe ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Crystal Litter Box

BEST BUDGET BUY

Best for: Anyone curious about self-cleaning litter boxes and not yet willing to break the bank

Why We Chose It: Best example of an entry-level self-cleaning litter box

petsafe scoopfree self-cleaning litter box, best self-cleaning litter box Courtesy of Amazon

This self-cleaning litter box is essentially the same as the Best Overall pick ScoopFree Ultra Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Box, except that it’s open-air instead of hooded. If you’re a cat owner, you know that cats prefer one style over another, and once they’re set in their ways, it can be difficult for them to acclimate to something else.

This self-cleaning litter box has the same clean, hygienic crystal litter that’s dust-free and will keep their paws tidy during and after use. The litter absorbs urine and feces and traps them in a bottom tray that only requires removal every few weeks. This litter box is easy to set up with the removable and refillable trays and easy to clean up occasionally as opposed to daily with standard litter boxes. It has great odor control and includes a health counter for tracking how often your cat is using the bathroom.

It’s an absolute breeze to set up — minutes at best — and the cats acclimated to it well after initial hesitancy about the blue crystals as opposed to the clay litter they are used to. Removing and replacing trays is super simple as well.

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The built-in sensor which activates the cleaning rake works well, running after every visit and doing an excellent job of pushing poop beneath the cover at the end of the unit. But we did find that it rakes the yellowed crystals left behind after urination unevenly, leaving bare spots in the tray. Also, since cats like to push the litter around and dig a bit when they do their business, the rake cannot restore the crystals to even coverage.

The other issue: This is not a good multi-cat litter box, simply because the crystal trays are quickly exhausted. And as mentioned with the Ultra Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Box, those things are expensive and inconvenient to get should you need one fast. An Amazon subscription is the best bet, so you don’t end up in this boat.

Pros:

  • Remarkable ease of setup
  • Quick and easy acclimation
  • Zero smell

Cons:

  • Best for a single-cat house
  • Replacement trays are costly
  

4. Litter Robot 3 Connect

BEST SPLURGE

Best for: Ultimate cat-spoilers

Why We Chose It: To see how the other half lives (and poops)

litter robot 3 connect, self-cleaning litter box, best self-cleaning litter box Courtesy of Litter Robot

This is the Cadillac of litter boxes, so if you’re willing to invest and like bells and whistles — you should probably check out the Litter Robot. It has 4.6/5 stars with over 5,000 reviews and is one of the highest-rated self-cleaning litter boxes for its high-tech functionality, durable design and expertly crafted features that have cats in mind.

The features for this litter box go on and on and include being WiFi-enabled so you can monitor your pet care duties from afar via a smartphone app. You can see usage history, troubleshoot problems, view the waste drawer level and receive other notifications on the easy-to-use app. It has a patented sifting process for after your cat goes to the bathroom. It removes clumps and stores them in a waste drawer that occasionally needs emptying (don’t worry — you’ll get a notification when this happens!). The clump-specific sifting saves you money by reducing litter usage by up to 50%, and the cycle happening directly after use eliminates unpleasant odors. The carbon-filtered waste drawer keeps all of the mess trapped inside and has an easy-to-empty design.

The box has cat-sensor technology, and a pinch detect safety system that ensures your cat’s health and safety during use. It sends you a notification if it stops for any reason, pauses or isn’t working correctly. It has an automatic night light to help elderly cats during twilight visits and an adjustable timer for cycling and sleep mode so that you won’t hear it all night long. Lastly, unlike other boxes, this unit is equipped to handle multiple cats at once and will send you notifications accordingly.

Pros:

  • App is highly comprehensive in letting you know how the unit is running
  • Carbon-filtered waste drawer traps odors well
  • Good for multi-cat homes

Cons:

  • $699 is a lot to spend on a litter box, no matter how much you love your cat
  

5. ChillX AutoEgg Self-Cleaning Litter Box

QUIETEST

Best for: Places where the litter box may need to sit out in the open — it’s quiet, odor-free, and aesthetically pleasing.

Why We Chose It: The look and the promise of a quiet self-cleaning litter box.

ChillX AutoEgg self-cleaning litter box, best self-cleaning litter box Courtesy of ChillX

One of the most common complaints with self-cleaning litter boxes is their noise. This ChillX box aims to fix that by being one of the quieter self-cleaning machines on the market. There are many other reasons why this luxe kitty litter machine is in the top 5, but its advanced motor and quiet mechanics are worth noting. The AutoEgg Cat-Stuck Prevention functionality automatically turns off the self-cleaning cycle if the machine detects weight above 1.1 lbs inside. The cleaning rake also moves slowly to prevent harm.

Speaking of the cleaning functionality, this machine has dual-power systems of a 70-degree cleaning rake and zig-zag litter tray that work together to stay clean consistently. It has a touchscreen that records the time, date, duration, weight and other essential info about each usage event, with a data line that highlights abnormal situations.

The AutoEgg also doesn’t require a lot of extra accessories to work and only needs waste drawer liners replaced consistently — for which you can use plastic bags. It also doesn’t require expensive litter, only the most common clumping kinds around. Additionally, because the AutoEgg’s cleaning happens more gently, it smashes less litter and produces fewer odors. The eggshell hood also keeps many things trapped inside, and despite the somewhat small look, it’s designed to support and comfortably house cats up to 15.4 lbs. The 2L waste drawer can also handle up to two weeks’ worth of cat waste.

Pros:

  • Quiet operation, as promised
  • App gives very detailed statistics on usage, which could help detect health issues
  • Uses common litter, so no pricey replacement filters or media

Cons:

  • Relatively small, may be a tight squeeze for larger cats
  • Rake requires more cleaning than other self-cleaning units
  

How We Chose The Best Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes: About Our Testing Process

We received units from CatGenie and PetSafe and set them up in a home with three normal-sized adult cats. The cats were slowly weaned away from their standard litter box and used only the test units. The units were placed in the same room where the standard litter box was to encourage the cats to use the new units. We will update this guide with new information as we test additional self-cleaning litter boxes.

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We scored the test units on the following criteria:
  • Ease of setup and use: We assessed how quickly each unit went from unboxing to fully functional. If they had litter or filters or trays that needed to be replaced, was it difficult?
  • Acclimation: Most importantly, did the cats like the units? Did they take to using them quickly and without pooping and peeing elsewhere in the house?
  • Odor: How well did the units eliminate odor?
  • Cleaning: How well did they self-clean? Did they need to also be cleaned by humans?
  • Durability: How well were they able to keep up with the demands of a three-cat house?