The Best Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes That Won’t Do a Shit Job

The Best Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes That Won’t Do a Shit Job
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Scooping poop out of your resident feline’s litter box is gross, smelly and, frankly, nobody wants to do it. But if you don’t, your cats are likely to treat the rest of your home as their litter box and who could blame them? That’s why (for your cat’s sake, as well as your own) it’s worth investing in a self-cleaning litter box tray, so you can enjoy some quality time with your fur baby instead of cleaning up after them.

While looking for an automatic litter box, here are a handful of things to keep in mind.

How to choose the right self-emptying litter box for your cat

Find the right spot

Self cleaning litter box by Petree
Image: Petree

The most important thing to consider is its location. Since every self-cleaning litter box is electronic, they need to be placed next to a power point, which isn’t always readily available.

Even though an automatic litter box eliminates the need for you to scoop regularly, that doesn’t mean you want it to be placed in a high-traffic area such as the kitchen only for her to drop a fresh one while you’re cooking.

Ideally, pick a spot that’s out of the way and well-ventilated. Your bathroom or laundry is usually the safest bet.

That said, finding the right spot can be tough depending on how big your automatic litter box is. Some can be quite large, which is perfect for a big cat like a Maine Coon or ragdoll, but not ideal if you’re short on space.

An automatic litter box can also be quite frightening to a little kitten, given that it can make loud noises. It will take some time and patience to train any cat – regardless of whether they’re an adult or kitten – to get used to one.

Choose the perfect size

That said, some cats do struggle when a litter box is too big or too small, so make sure you pick one that’s relative to their size.

Ideally, it should be one and a half times the length of your cat from its nose to its tail. Be sure to assess whether you think your cat will be able to turn around and scratch inside it, otherwise, it’s a no-no.

Open or closed?

The size of your automatic litter box goes hand-in-hand with which style you (and your cat) prefer. There are only two – open or enclosed.

An enclosed litter box tends to feature a lid or tunnel to crawl through, while an open one leaves everything up for show.

An enclosed litter box is usually a better option, especially if you want to prevent nasty odours from stinking up the place, but some cats can be too big or fussy to use one.

Our recommendation is to get a normal enclosed litter box and train them to use that, before taking the leap and splurging on a fancy automatic litter tray if you do want an enclosed one.

Is it compatible with your cat’s preferred litter?

And lastly, before you hit that add to cart button on one of the following litter boxes, make sure you double-check what kind of litter works best with each box. Certain self-cleaning litter boxes don’t work as well with different kinds of litter and forcing your cat to change the kind of litter it’s used to can make the transition much harder.

We recommend trying to pick an automatic litter box that takes a similar type of litter to the one you’re using now. And if you’ve got your heart set on a particular one, leave your old one around during the transition period, so you don’t stress out your little fur friend too much. After all, automatic litter trays are very expensive, so it’s important you pick the best option for your cat.

Fussy little creatures, aren’t they? Now that we’re done explaining the ins and outs of self-cleaning litter boxes, go ahead and check out these five options below.

The best open self-cleaning litter boxes

PetSafe ScoopFree Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Tray

PetSafe self-cleaning litter box
Image: PetSafe

This automatic self-cleaning litter tray is best suited to crystal litter, which is a reliable option if you’re hoping to reduce the stench of your cat’s poop.

Crystal litter works well with open litter boxes since it’s fast-absorbing, lasts longer and is dust-free. That means there’s less of a need to fully replace your cat’s litter every so often and you don’t have to worry too much about the mess if your cat decides to kick all the crystals out of the box. Clay litter, in comparison, can get everywhere when you have an open-top litter box, which is why crystal is a safe option.

What we love:

  • Perfect for large cat breeds.
  • 99% dust-free.
  • Designed for crystal litter, so better at neutralising strong odours.
  • Most affordable option at around $200.
  • Disposable tray is easy to remove and reduces the need for hands-on cleaning.
  • Built-in sensors that activate 20 minutes after the cat is detected leaving.
  • Automatically stops if the sensor detects a cat inside the box.
  • Comes with a “health counter”, which tracks how often your cat uses the box so you can be aware of any urinary issues.

What we don’t love:

  • The sides are short, so the cat may be able to kick litter out over the floor.
  • Disposable tray creates potential for excess waste and long-term costs (approx $30 a tray).

The best closed automatic litter boxes

Litter Robot III Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter System

The Litter Robot III has a fun spaceship-esque design and a unique colour that will look good in any home with a beige or neutral aesthetic. This self-scooping litter box will activate after it senses your cat has used it, with the option of three timed cleaning schedules (either three, seven or 15 minutes). This will ensure your cat has had time to finish doing its business before the robot attempts to clean up after it.

What we love:

  • Three easy-to-use buttons to start, stop or pause cleaning schedules.
  • Three cleaning schedules: three, seven or 15 minutes.
  • Can be fully disassembled to make cleaning easier.
  • Ideal for kitties that prefer clumping litter.
  • Spacious for big cats (best suited to cats between 2.3kg and 12.5kg).
  • Lets you know when it’s time to change the waste drawer via blinking light.

What we don’t love:

  • Most expensive self-cleaning litter box on this list.
  • Can take up a lot of room.
  • Incompatible with strictly absorbent, non-clumping, loose-clumping, newspaper-based or wood-based cat litters.
  • Might not be suitable for kittens or cats that weigh under 2.3kg.

Petree Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box

Petree self-cleaning litter box
Image: Petree

We love this little spaceship-like litter box. It’s hard for us to fault it, considering its suitable for large cats or multi-cat households and can work with a wide range of litter varieties. This enclosed litter box doesn’t use a claw to sift poop to its catchment at the bottom. Instead, it simply rotates like a washing machine once it senses your cat has finished doing its business.

It even has its own companion app, which will inform you how many times your cat has gone for a wee, its toilet habits over time and even what temperature it is inside the box.

What we love:

  • Good fit for larger cats, including ragdolls.
  • Compatible with multiple litter types.
  • Quiet motor featuring under 40 decibels.
  • Detachable design, so you can easily clean and empty the box.
  • Has a Do Not Disturb mode, so you can ensure it doesn’t make any noise at night.
  • App compatible and can connect to Wi-Fi, so you can receive notifications when your cat is using the litter box or control when it runs.

What we don’t love:

  • App may be a little oversaturated with data about your cat’s toilet habits.

Pet Kit Pura X Automated Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box

Image: Petkit

If you want an enclosed self-cleaning cat litter tray that’s more space-efficient than the Petree one, this is a great alternative.

This baby has a whopping 12 built-in sensors and works almost exactly the same as Petree’s as it rotates to sift the little nuggets into its compartment.

What we love:

  • Built-in deodoriser releases a fresh, clean scent after your cat finishes doing its business.
  • App-compatible and delivers real-time notifications.
  • Better suited to small or medium-sized cats.
  • Universally compatible with most litter types.
  • Comes with a litter mat for your cat to wipe its little paws on.
  • Can even tell you your cat’s current weight.

What we don’t love:

  • On the small side with a narrow opening.

Smarty Pear Leos Loo Self-Cleaning Litter Tray

Smarty Pear self-cleaning litter box
Image: Smarty Pear

Closely resembling an escape pod is this high-tech automatic litter box. This one features touch-friendly buttons and an LCD display on its right hand side, so you can monitor your cats weight or the number of times it’s gone to the toilet each day.

There’s a certain level of care and thoughtfulness that’s gone into this litter bot’s design, namely its anti-chew cord. Anyone who’s owned a cat knows they’re suckers for a cable or string, so it gives a pet parent some peace of mind to know there’s little risk of electric shock with this automatic cat litter tray.

What we love:

  • Bamboo charcoal filter.
  • Touch-friendly buttons with an LCD display.
  • Ambient lighting with night light.
  • Can be fitted with litter liners.
  • An anti-chew cord.
  • Litter liners included.
  • Can display the cat’s weight.
  • Records on screen how many times your cat has gone to the toilet.

What we don’t love:

  • Very small, but good for younger cats.
  • Only accepts clumping litter.
  • Avoid overfilling it will put excess litter put into the waste area.

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At Gizmodo, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.