Best Litter Robots & Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes 2018

Are you thinking about buying a self-cleaning litter box for your cat?

You’ve come to the right place.

In this in-depth buying guide we are going to review the best cat litter robots and self-cleaning litter boxes you can buy today.

Our top picks range from pricier litter boxes with advanced features like WiFi to traditional rake-mechanism litter boxes that are ideal if you are looking for a budget buy.

Side note: Away from the litter box cats can cause a mess when they shed and groom themselves. We’ve recently reviewed a bunch of the best robotic vacuum cleaners that can help keep your floors clean.  We’ve also reviewed a few of the best robotic vacuums for pet hair.


What’s In This Guide?

Return to this table of contents at any time to jump to a litter box review or section that interests you the most.


Best Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes


Best Automated Litter Box (Overall): Litter-Robot III Open-Air

The LitterRobot III is our favorite self-cleaning cat litter box.

It doesn’t use rakes, the source of many customer complaints regarding automatic cat litters. Instead, it uses a globe that sifts the litter and drops the clumps into a drawer with a carbon filter.

Best Features

1. Reliable no-mess sifting mechanism

The biggest complaint with self-cleaning rake litter boxes is that they don’t always work perfectly.

You sometimes have to clean waste that sticks onto the sides and to the rake prongs.

The Litter-Robot III Open-Air works differently. After the cat has left, a timer counts down a set time (3, 7 or 15 minutes) and then a globe begins to rotate. Clumps fall into a waste drawer below while the unused litter remains in the chamber.

It’s an efficient, reliable and mess-free method.

2. WiFi features

Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes

For $50 more, you can get the Litter-Robot III Open-Air with connecting.

You can connect it to WiFi and then use the companion iOS app to monitor the litter box, change settings and receive notifications.

3. Suitable for multiple cats

Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes

The Open-Air litter box can be used by up to 4 cats.

4. Carbon filter

Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes

A carbon filter integrated into the waste drawer prevents any smells from escaping. You can go for days without emptying the litter, and it won’t stink up your home.

5. Semi-automatic mode for kittens

The standard LitterRobot mode works only for cats weighing 5 lbs and above.

For kittens below this weight, there is a semi-automatic mode where you start the timer manually after the kitten has stepped out of the box.

6. Nightlight

Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes

For elderly cats with limited night vision, a motion-activated night light helps them use the litter box without any problem.

Questions and Concerns

The Open-Air is more expensive than most litter boxes (but I think it’s worth it).

It’s also large and bulky. It will take up more room on the floor, which could be a problem if you don’t have much floor space to spare.

This Litter Box Is Perfect For You If:

You are looking for the best automated cat litter box that works well without any messes or stink.

It’s also the best choice if you want to monitor and control your litter box remotely using your smartphone.

Latest Amazon Price

 


Best For Multi-Cat Homes: LitterMaid Mega LM980 Self-Cleaning Litter Box

If you have a large cat (15lbs+) or several cats, the LitterMaid Mega is your best choice.

It’s affordable and works well enough that you only need to step in a few times to scrape off some leftover waste from the sides.

Best Features

1. Motion sensor

The LitterMaid Mega is fitted with a motion sensor to sense when a cat has entered the box.

When the sensors have been blocked for at least 10 seconds and then unblocked (signaling the cat has finished and stepped out of the box), the 15-minute countdown begins.

2. Strong and durable raking mechanism

The powerful driving mechanism that moves the rake ensures that even the thickest of clumps get picked up. It’s designed to last longer without breaking down.

3. Removable rake

Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes

The rake can be detached which makes it much easier to clean.

4. Larger design with high walls

Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes

The LitterMaid Mega comes with a larger design that can accommodate two cats at the same time. For cats that love to dig, the walls are high enough to prevent a mess on your floor.

5. Carbon filter and tight-sealed receptacle

The receptacle underneath the top chamber is tightly sealed to prevent odors from escaping. For even more odor-protection, the litter box comes with a carbon filter.

Questions and Concerns

There are plenty of complaints regarding the LitterMaid. But most of them are because of not using the litter box properly.

Make sure you use the right litter (find one that doesn’t get too heavy that it can’t be picked up or too soft that it breaks apart).

Also line the receptacle with a plastic bag to ensure you never have to touch the waste when emptying.

It takes a few days (and a few mistakes) to know how to use the LitterMaid properly, but you’ll be a pro in no time.

This Litter Box Is Perfect For You If:

You have 2 or more cats.

Latest Amazon Price

 


Best Self-Flushing Litter Box: CatGenie

If you never want to touch cat litter again, not even in a plastic bag, get the innovative CatGenie self-flushing litter box.

It automatically flushes cat waste down your washing machine drain pipe or toilet bowl and then washes and sanitizes the chamber and the reusable litter granules.

Best Features

1. Self-flushing

Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes

Setting up the CatGenie takes more time and work than most litter boxes.

But the payoff is sweet. You’ll never have to do any scooping, carrying or cleaning.

The litter box has to be hooked up to a cold water supply and the drain pipe placed in a toilet bowl or the drainage of a washing machine. That means you have to set it up in your bathroom or laundry room.

After installation, the litter box does all the rest. After your cat has finished, a ‘hand’ scoops up the solids and dumps them into a hopper where they are liquefied and then flushed out.

No smell, no receptacle to empty and no rake or box to clean.

2. Recyclable litter

The most interesting part of CatGenie is the litter it uses. They are granules that can be used over and over again.

After flushing, the CatGenie dispenses water and a sanitation liquid into the chamber box. The chamber rotates to clean the granules and box. After the water is flushed out, a dryer dries out the granules, making them ready for another use.

3. Easy programming

Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes

There are three programming options available.

You can set the litter to detect a cat’s presence and flush automatically after the cat’s done. Or you can set it to flush four times a day. You can also press the start button manually to initiate cleaning whenever you want.

Questions and Concerns

Setup can be a bit of a task so get ready for that. If the manual is not enough, there are plenty of online videos from users that can help. Everything you need to install the litter box including the sanitation solution, granules and T-adapters are provided.

One of the common issues customers encountered is the scoop not picking up all the poop. This leads to smelly baked poop as the drier dry the granules. This usually happens if your cat’s poop is too small.

Another issue is the cat tracking the small granules from the box onto the floor and all over the house. Several customers recommend placing a rough mat next to the CatGenie to catch the granules on the cat’s paws.

This Litter Box Is Perfect For You If:

Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes

You hate dealing with cat litter or keep forgetting to empty it.

Latest Amazon Price

 


 Best No-Frills Affordable Litter Box: SmartScoop

The SmartScoop works like other traditional rake litter boxes such as the LitterMaid Mega I reviewed above. A rake scoops up the clumps, dumps them into a receptacle and leaves you with more time to spend with your pet.

Best Features

1. Sensor-activated cleaning

Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes

A sensor will detect when a cat climbs onto the box and leaves. It then triggers a countdown timer. If the cat returns at any time during the countdown, the timer resets.

At the end of the countdown, a rake moves forward, sifting clumps from the rest of the litter. It lifts the clumps and drops them into a bag-lined receptacle.

You need to empty the receptacle about once a week.

2. Air-tight receptacle with carbon filter

Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes

The receptacle door closes automatically after the clumps drop in. It closes tightly to prevent odors from escaping. There is also an activated carbon filter to provide foolproof odor protection.

The litter box comes with a 6-month pack of 6 filters; one for every month.

3. Easy to disassemble and clean

You can remove the main litter pan, the receptacle, and rake and wash them with warm soapy water.

4. Includes ramp and mat

The litter box comes with a ramp and mat to catch any litter the cat tracks out of the box.

Questions and Concerns

It’s almost inevitable that you are going to experience an issue or several with the SmartScoop and any other self-cleaning litter box that uses a rake. Sometimes it’s the clumps sticking to the box other times it’s the clumps breaking up into small pieces that cannot be picked up by the rake.

Some customers recommend regularly scrapping between the rake prongs and the slots of the cleaning bar. Otherwise, the rake will have a hard time scooping up clumps.

Another thing to be careful about is the litter you use. Use the litter that doesn’t get too heavy or too soft. Try different types of litter until you find the best one.

But once you get used to how it works and it’s quite easy to use.

This Litter Box Is Perfect For You If:

Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes

You are looking for a simple, no-frills affordable litter box.

Latest Amazon Price

 


Best Odor-Controlled Self-Cleaning Litter Box: ScoopFree Ultra

This is a neat little ScoopFree litter box that is perfect for cats that prefer privacy when doing their business – and for owners who hate the smell.

It uses a raking mechanism to sift the litter and includes a health counter to count the number of times your cat has ‘gone.’

Best Features

1. Efficient raking mechanism

The ScoopFree litter box works better than many other self-cleaning litters that use rakes.

The rake does not spill litter on the floor and very little gets stuck to the floor of the box or the rake prongs.

As with other automatic litter boxes, it works using a sensor to detect when the cat has stepped off. A timer then counts down to allow clumping before the cleaning mechanism activates.

2. Disposable litter tray

Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes

This is the only self-cleaning litter box I know that has a disposable litter tray.

Once a month, you simply throw it out and put in a new tray (costs around $15).

If you don’t want to keep buying new trays, you can also buy a permanent tray. It will save you more money in the long term.

3. Privacy hood

For cats that love some privacy, the ScoopFree litter box comes with a privacy hood.

Questions and Concerns

Several customers say the disposable tray is a bad idea. It lasts less than the advertised one month meaning you’ll spend more money on replacements.

Smell is another issue mentioned by many users. The litter box uses crystals instead of clay or clumping litter. It’s not so good at absorbing smells. Several customers had to switch to clumping litter.

Even worse, the receptacle has no filter. So it may start to smell after a few days. You’ll have to empty it often especially if you have multiple cats.

This Litter Box Is Perfect For You If:

Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes

Your cat prefers doing her business in private.

Latest Amazon Price


Best Budget Choice: PetZone SmartScoop Automatic Litter Box

Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes

Looking for a cheap automatic litter box? This is it.

At less than $100, the PetZone SmartScoop is a bargain.

It has a few flaws and doesn’t always work as expected, but it’ll work just fine if you want a basic self-cleaning litter box.

Best Features

1. Powerful motor and drivetrain

The rake is powered by a powerful motor and durable drive train. It will pick up even the heaviest of clumps without any issues.

2. Quiet operation

The SmartScoop self-cleans more quietly than most litter boxes. This is helpful if you have a cat that scares easily.

3. Easy to clean

Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes

You can disassemble the rake, receptacle and litter pan for easy washing.

4. Accessories included

Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes

Extra accessories included with the litter box include a carbon filter, a small rake cleaning tool and four waste bags for use in the receptacle.

Questions and Concerns

The box is a bit flimsy. Most of the components are plastic, which means it might not last long especially if used by more than one cat or a heavy cat.

Several customers say it doesn’t pick up all the litter. Some of it gets left behind at the bottom (rake doesn’t reach the bottom) or at the end of the pan (rake doesn’t reach the end). You may have to scoop some of the clumps by hand.

This Litter Box Is Perfect For You If:

You are looking for the cheapest self-cleaning litter box you can get.

Latest Amazon Price

 


Why Buy a Self-Cleaning Automatic Litter Box?

Cats are sweet, and all but there’s nothing adorable about scooping smelly cat litter. Cat poop smells bad and its urine has a pungent ammonia smell.

To make sure it doesn’t make your home unlivable or embarrass you when you have guests, you have to empty the litter every day if not several times a day. But that’s only if you are using the traditional manual litter box.

A self-cleaning litter box makes dealing with your cat’s waste much more tolerable. You never have to touch cat poop again, and the odor drastically goes down.

The best part is that you don’t have to take out litter every day. Most automatic litter boxes are designed to hold several days’ worth of litter without releasing any bad odors.


Features To Consider When Buying a Self-Cleaning Litter Box

Where Will You Place It?

Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes

Automatic litter boxes need electricity to work. So check that there is a power outlet where you plan to put it.

Also, check that space is adequate especially if you live in a smaller home. Some litterboxes are quite big.

Some unique litter boxes such as the CatGenie self-flushing one need to be placed in specific areas. Always check the manufacturer description or label for instructions on placement.

The Age and Health of Your Pet

Make sure your cat will have an easy time using the litter box. A sick or aged cat may not be able to climb into a high litter box. A lower litter box with a ramp would be better in such a situation.

Also, consider your cat’s eyesight. If it’s poor, they’ll not be able to see clearly in the dark. Place the litter box where they can see or position a night light near it.

Size of Waste Receptacle

Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes

Get a litter box that can hold at least 2-3 days’ worth of litter. After all one of the main reasons for buying an automatic litter box is to avoid daily trips between the litter box and the bin.

If your cat poops a lot or you have several cats, look for a litter box with a bigger waste receptacle.

How Well it Handles Urine

Be careful about litter boxes that might leak the urine. Check customer feedback to see what other users have to say.

A good litter box should absorb the urine quickly to form clumps that can be easily disposed into the waste receptacle.

Do you need to scoop?

The whole point of getting a self-cleaning litter box is to stop scooping. But some litter boxes don’t work well, and you still need to scoop some leftover clumps in the chamber. This is especially common with litter boxes that use a raking mechanism.

Check customer reviews to read their experience. If a self-cleaning litter box seems more work than is worth, avoid it. Also, make sure you use the right litter. Some types of litter don’t clump well, causing clumps to break up and get left behind.

Type of Litter Required

Check what type of litter the manufacturer recommends. Clumping litter is usually the best. It gets scooped up easily by the self-cleaning mechanism and doesn’t smell. Crystals are good, but they tend to smell more.

If you want to try out different types of litter, get a litter box that accepts all kinds of litter.

Cost & Source of Supplies

Most self-cleaning litter boxes require a constant supply of litter and waste receptacle bags. Make sure the litter box you buy uses commonly available supplies.

Avoid those that need specialized litter or bags that are expensive to replace.

Noise Level

Noise is not a major issue with many litter boxes. But if you have a pet that is afraid of unusual noises, buy an extra-quiet litter box.

Cleaning Difficulty

Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes

The first thing to check before buying a litter robot is whether it disassembles. If it is the common type of litter box that uses a rake, you should be able to detach the rake, litter chamber and waste receptacle for cleaning.

Whichever type of litter box you buy, make sure it’s easy to clean and maintain.

Power Backup

If you are planning to travel with the litter box or want to be ready in case of a power outage, find a litter box with battery backup. They are not very common, so you have to search around quite a bit.

Warranty

As with any other device, make sure the litter box is guaranteed to last long. Make sure the product has at least one year warranty and 2 to 3 years for pricier litter boxes.


How Does a Self-Cleaning Litter Box Work?

There are different types of self-cleaning litter boxes, and they all work a bit differently. But here’s the general process.

The first step is to detect when a cat has stepped into the box and when it has stepped out. Some litter boxes use a motion sensor while others use a weight sensor.

After the cat has finished its business and stepped out of the box, the sensor triggers a countdown. This is to give time to the litter to clump.

Many litter boxes have a fixed countdown timer of around 15 minutes. Others allow you to select different countdowns depending on how quickly your litter clumps.

At the end of the countdown, the self-cleaning mechanism kicks into action. Here is where different litter boxes vary in how they proceed.

Litter boxes that use a rake use a motor to drive the rake forward through the litter. The rake collects the large clumps, leaving the unused litter behind, and dumps them into a waste receptacle.

The Litter-Robot III Open-Air works by rotating the chamber so that clumps fall into a receptacle below. The CatGenie flushes out the waste down the drain and washes the granules for reuse.

Most litter boxes contain an air-tight receptacle to prevent odors from escaping. Some even integrate a carbon filter. You can empty the receptacle once or twice a week without worrying about bad smells.


What Kind of Self-Cleaning Litter Box Should I Buy?

It depends on your budget and needs.

Litter boxes with an open top and a raking mechanism are the cheapest. But they require a bit more maintenance work.

If your cat likes some privacy, get a domed litter box. A removable dome at the top creates a neat little enclosure that your cat will love.

If you don’t want to touch any poop at all, even when cleaning, get a self-flushing litter box. The best one is CatGenie (reviewed above).

If you have a previous bad experience with one of those litter boxes that use a rake, find one with a different mechanism. I recommend the Litter-Robot III Open-Air which we’ve reviewed above.

Remember to get a litter box that’s big enough if you have two or more cats.


Where Should I Place a Self-Cleaning Litter Box?

Place the litter box in a quiet location with little foot traffic where your cat will feel most comfortable. It should be on a flat surface and away from sources of moisture such as the bathroom (the excess moisture will affect the litter).

Ideally, place the litter box in the same location as the old litter box. This will make it easier for the cat to acclimate to the new litter box.


Do I Have To Train My Cat Differently?

If your cat already knows how to use a litter box, it’s all about getting her used to the new one.

First, make sure you place the litter box at the same place as the old one and if possible, use the same type and brand of litter you’ve been using.

The cleaning mechanism and sound might be a little scary to cats, and it may take a couple of days for them to get used to it. Be ready to keep scooping for the first 2 or 3 days until your cat is ready to use the new litter box.

You can also try putting some of the waste in the old litter box in the new one. Another trick is to keep the old litter box dirty. Do not empty it for a day or two. Cats prefer using a clean litter box and may switch to the new one with clean litter.You can then take the old one away.


How do I teach a kitten to use an automatic litter box?

Kittens will be ready to use a litter box at around 3 to 4 weeks of age.

Place the litter box in a quiet place where kids will not go running around. Cats prefer privacy when using a litter box. Get a hooded litter box if your kitten seems to prefer even more privacy.

While kittens instinctively know to poop or pee in sand or soil, you’ll have to guide them in the first few days. Carry the kitten to the litter box, hold his front paws and dig into the litter gently. You may have to repeat this several times before the kitten learns to go to the litter box by himself.

In the meantime, expect accidents. Do not yell at your cat; it will make him less unlikely to use the litter box. Instead, keep teaching him until he is ready.


Where To Buy a Self-Cleaning Litter Box?

The best place to buy an automatic litter box is online, specifically on Amazon. You’ll find more variety, and you can better compare among different brands.

Furthermore, some litter boxes are sold only online meaning you won’t find it at a local store.

Another advantage of buying on Amazon is the ability to read customer feedback, which is important when choosing a good litter box.

You can also buy at your local pet store but the prices are likely to be higher, and you may not get the same kind of variety as at an online store.

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