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Maintaining a clean litter box is an important part of sharing your home with a cat. Cats are naturally clean animals and are about as fond of clumps of poop and pee as you are. No, really. Leave it too long, and many will find other spots in your home to take care of their business. Before that happens, let’s take a look at some mechanized and automatic cat litter boxes that improve life for you and your cat.
Everyone Loves a Clean Litter Box
Rover‘s cat behavior expert Mikel Delgado recommends scooping every litter box in your home one to two times a day and doing a full litter change every two to four weeks (if you use an unscented clumping litter). Of course, daily scooping can be a real pain if you work long or irregular hours, have a busy schedule, or clean up after multiple cats. What to do then? Many cat owners have turned to automatic and mechanical litter boxes for help.
If you’re thinking about converting to an automatic litter box, there are a few things to keep in mind. Although automatic litter boxes make maintenance easier, they still require your attention and should be checked and cleaned regularly. Also, the fully automated ones are not safe for kittens. PetMD recommends using those only for cats 6 months or older.
When checking out automatic and mechanical litter boxes, keep in mind that most automatic litter boxes need to be plugged directly into a nearby three-prong outlet—they draw a lot of power, and should not be used with power strips. One of the automatic litter boxes on our list also needs to be near a cold water pipe and a toilet or waste drain.
One last thing: consider your cat’s personality when considering fully automatic cat litter boxes. If your cat is spooked by loud noises or moving parts, select a model that delays its automatic cleaning until several minutes after your cat has left the box. Or choose one of the semi-automatic, mechanized litter boxes that you operate yourself.
Checking Out Automatic and Mechanized Cat Litter Boxes
Ready to remove one more thing from your daily task list? We’ve rounded up the best automatic cat litter box options below. We start with the fully automated boxes and get into the human-powered mechanized boxes in the second half of the list.
Automatic No-Scoop Litter Boxes
The improved version of this self-cleaning litter box is the key component of an entire litter system that includes special litter and options for a front- or top-entry cover. Its sensors detect when your cat has done their business and 20 minutes later proceeds to rake away the mess. The ScoopFree crystal litter (sold in packs of three) includes disposable litter trays for quick clean-up. The cover options, and the reputation for durability, make the mid-price, second-generation ScoopFree a top pick.
- Choose from a top-entry, front-entry, or topless box to match your cat’s preferences
- Use with ScoopFree’s own crystal litter (lavender, original, or sensitive)—it’s lightweight and doesn’t track outside the litter box
- A health counter (included) monitors how often your pet uses the box so you can see any changes in litter box habits
This flushable litter box is quite pricey, but ideal for people who don’t want to deal with heavy, messy, expensive cat litter ever again. The initial set-up involves connecting the CatGenie to the cold water line in your bathroom or laundry and then connecting its waste tube to a nearby drain. Like all automatic litter boxes, it also needs to be plugged into a power outlet. The good news is that in most cases, all this can be done by a homeowner—no plumber needed.
Once the CatGenie is in place, your cat is ready to use the washable granules that will feel like familiar litter. After your cat has used the granules, the CatGenie rinses them with water and a cat-safe sanitizing solution. Liquids and solids rinsed from the granules are flushed to the nearby drain. (You will have to flush the toilet.) Finally, the reusable granules are heated and dried—and ready for your cat’s next visit. Your only maintenance cost will be replacing the sanitizer cartridges.
- Ideal for one to two (but no more than three) average-sized cats that are at least 6 months old
- Washes and dries reusable litter granules
- Uses water and a cat-safe sanitizer solution (on cartridge included) to flush waste and wash granules
- Features include an app that monitors use of the box
Another automatic raking litter box, the LitterMaid rakes waste into a carbon filtered disposable waste receptacle until you’re ready to dispose of it. Reviewers recommend putting a plastic bag around the waste receptacle to make it last longer. Some warn that the unit is quite noisy.
- Designed for a single cat under 15 pounds
- Scoop-free for up to seven days
- Also available in a multi-cat model
- Paw-cleaning ramp helps remove excess litter and reduce litter tracking
Priced at the high end—and very highly rated—the Litter-Robot 3 Connect is an ultra-deluxe litter box that automatically sifts and separates your cat’s waste, no manual sifting required. The 29.5-inch-high box is WiFi-enabled and comes with a phone app that tracks both the cleanliness of your litter box as well as your cat’s bathroom routine. This massive raised box may not catch on with arthritic cats (it’s a bit of a climb) or cats that don’t like enclosed litter boxes, but it’s likely to be a great fit for most kitties. Cat parents, freed of daily litter box chores, love it.
- Great for up to four cats
- The waste drawer is fully enclosed, carbon-filtered, and can use a regular kitchen garbage bag
- The cycle timer is adjustable so you can delay the sifting schedule to best fit your cat’s preferences
- Works with any clumping litter
This automatic litter box is one of the quietest available. It rotates slowly (at a rate of one rotation per hour), which is perfect for cats who are easily spooked. Your cat’s waste is carried up a conveyor belt and into the waste container for easy and economical disposal. A replaceable carbon filter keeps odors at bay.
- Use with your favorite clumping litter
- Not recommended for use by more than two cats
- You can line the waste container with a plastic bag for easier disposal
The Smart Scoop electronic litter box won’t break the bank, but your back will get a break because you don’t have to keep scooping litter. Fifteen minutes after your cat exits the box, the metal rakes sweep up solid waste (including clumped litter) into a waste-collection bin. The delayed raking and quiet-yet-powerful motor make it a good choice for jumpy cats and cats who prefer an open litter box. Reviewers do warn that it’s better at picking up poop than pee.
- Good choice for homes with multiple cats
- Uses any clumping litter
- The waste-collection bin is lined with a bag for easy disposal
The sleek Leo’s Loo is one of the newest entries in the high-end automatic litter box competition. This 26-inch-high box uses clay-based clumping litter and rotates to separate waste from clean litter. Waste goes into an enclosed waste drawer (below) that uses a charcoal filter to reduce odors. Some reviewers note that the waste drawer is not large, and with two cats you may end up emptying the drawer every two days. (Note: You have a choice of gray, green, blue, or pink entrance trim.)
- When the waste container is full, an alarm sounds to remind you to empty it
- Reviewers praise the unit’s clear, simple manual controls
- LED lighting ensures that you, and your cat, can see the box at night
Mechanical No-Scoop Litter Boxes
Unlike the fully automatic litter boxes, these boxes use mechanical principles to reduce the amount of scooping you need to do. Instead of daily scooping, you can get by with simpler, less messy work (such as rotating an enclosure to sift waste out of litter into a collection container).
Does your cat weigh 10 pounds or less? Small but mighty, the Litter Spinner could spell the end to messy scooping in your household. Stop by once or twice a day to hand-crank the spinner. Waste gets deposited into the drawer on the side, and you pull that out and empty it when it’s full Reviewers with smaller cats are enthusiastic about it.
- Recommended for small cats up to 10 pounds
- Unique design reduces odors and controls dust
- No batteries or power cords needed
Is your cat willing to hop up to get to its box? If so, check out this clever mechanical litter box. It’s constructed so that you can tilt it to filter out your cat’s waste. Fill it with your favorite clumping cat litter, tip the box back so all the litter goes through the grates, flip so clumps go into the tray, and then lower to provide clean filtered litter for the cat’s next visit.
- Will fit up to an 18-pound adult cat
- Removable tray lets you easily discard waste
- Some reviewers note that the base could be sturdier
Lose the scooper! With this highly affordable set of boxes, you sift rather than scoop. There are no mechanisms, so you’ll have to be strong enough to pick up a sifting tray yourself. The clean litter sifts into the litter box, while clumps and solid waste remain in the sifter to be dumped into a disposal container. Drop the emptied sifter into the empty tray, pour in the cleaned litter, and the system is ready for your cat. The multi-pan sifting litter box uses two normal trays and one sifter tray to easily collect your cat’s waste and conserve litter.
- Good for multiple-cat households
- No shaking or scooping involved
- Works with clumping and non-clumping cat litter
More Tips on Automatic Litter Boxes
Your cat may need some encouragement to try out an automatic or mechanized litter box. Experts recommend keeping the old box available but placing the new box next to it. Let the old litter box get a little dirty so your cat will seek out the clean litter in the new box. At first, keep the automatic functions of the new litter box turned off. Once your cat is using the new litter box regularly, turn on the automatic cleaning cycle and enjoy a life of significantly less scooping.