Automatic litter boxes are revolutionizing the lives of cat owners everywhere. Not only do they scoop the poop for us, they decrease nasty smells typical of open litter boxes. They teach us about our cats and help us monitor health data. The best automatic litter boxes do all of these things—and, somehow, more. If you’re considering switching over to the world of self-cleaning litter boxes, take a look at our list but remember: The best litter box is one your cat uses.
The 6 Best Automatic Litter Boxes That Make Life a Little Easier
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What to Look for in an Automatic Litter Box
First and foremost, make sure your automatic litter box of choice has a safety feature that prevents the self-cleaning mechanism from going off while your cat is inside. Cats, in case you hadn’t noticed, startle easily. One scary encounter with a litter box can completely deter them from future use. Aside from emotional and mental health, you want your cat to be physically safe, too! Getting caught in the rake or rotation of an automatic box could hurt them, so test the box a few times before letting your cat into it.
Take in to account the type of litter your cat is used to and how well they adjust to change. Two boxes on our list use crystal litter, which is less common than clay clumping litter. It may take a few weeks to get your cat acclimated to a different sensation on their paws. Gently ease them into this new world by adding litter from their old box into the new box for a while.
Pro tip: Don’t get rid of your old box until your cat totally accepts the new box!
Consider how big your cat is before buying an automatic litter box. Many models don’t recommend use for kittens under one or two pounds. Very large breeds may not enjoy enclosed boxes at all, in which case you’ll want to give an open or top-entry automatic box a shot instead.
Several boxes on our list claim to work well in multi-cat households. This, of course, varies depending on how many cats you have and how often they use the box. The general rule of thumb is one litter box per cat, then add another box. While this rule changes with the addition of a self-cleaning box because it refreshes itself on a regular basis, you will still need to empty the waste drawer more frequently. Basically, don’t clean based on the box’s suggestions alone. Clean based on your cat’s behavior.
Finally, observe your cat as she uses her automatic litter box. If she likes it and continues going back, hooray! It’s a keeper. If she doesn’t like it, begins going to the bathroom outside the box or sticks to her old box exclusively, it may be a bust. Scooping litter is just one part of cat life; if an old-fashioned box is what kitty wants, an old-fashioned box is what kitty should get.
The Best Automatic Litter Boxes at a Glance
- Best Overall: Whisker Litter-Robot 4
- Best for Multi-Cat Households: Whisker Litter-Robot 3 Connect
- Best for Clean Freaks: Smarty Pear Leo's Loo Too Wifi Enabled Litter Box
- Best Budget-Friendly: PetSafe ScoopFree Original Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Box
- Best Top Entry: PetSafe ScoopFree Ultra Top-Entry Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Box
- Best for Senior Cats: Famree Smart Self-Cleaning Litter Box
- Pros: App connectivity, super quiet cleaning, sleek design, individual cat data
- Cons: Litter entrance trap isn’t perfect, expensive
For anyone following along, I love my Litter-Robot 4. My cats do, too. Both use it (though one prefers it more than the other) and it’s a much sleeker, quieter version of the Litter-Robot 3 Connect, which I owned until I upgraded. Not only is this thing super quiet, it saves on how much litter we buy and contains smell very well. The waste drawer is deep and the app alerts me when it’s full. This single unit also works for up to four cats. The only drawback is litter pellets still end up on the floor outside the Litter-Robot 4, despite the rubber grooves on the entrance step meant to catch litter.
Best for Multi-Cat Households
- Pros: App connectivity, large interior, odor control
- Cons: Narrow entrance, loud when cleaning, expensive
Like the Litter-Robot 4, the Litter-Robot 3 Connect can sustain up to four cats in a single household. Be sure to empty that waste drawer as soon as the app alerts you it’s full, though! Yes, the Litter-Robot 3 is louder and slightly clunkier than the newer version, but it gets the same job done. Less odor, less scooping, less litter over time. Especially in homes with more than one cat, I found this made kitty duty much easier. The interior is huge but the opening is narrower than the new model (though my cats had no trouble getting in and out).
Best for Clean Freaks
- Pros: Google/Alexa compatibility, UV sanitation, app connectivity, color options
- Cons: Narrow opening
If you’re a clean freak, which we totally understand, you’re gonna love the sanitation feature on this automatic litter box. Leo’s Loo Too uses a UV ray inside the waste drawer to get rid of 99.9 percent of the gross stuff (like parasites and bacteria) hanging out in there. This box is slightly smaller than the Litter-Robots, which means it takes up less space but provides a smaller opening for kitty. One reviewer says both of her Maine Coons are able to get in and out and use it regularly, so large cats do fit. Smarty Pear offers a 90-day trial, so if you or your cats don’t like it, you can send it back (as long as you used 100 percent clay-clumping litter).
- Pros: Budget-friendly, less litter use, crystal litter controls odor
- Cons: No app option, crystal litter can deter some cats
This self-cleaning litter box is more straightforward than others on our list. It looks like a regular box, but it contains a tray of crystal litter that is changed once every 30 days (more cats or more frequent users may mean changing out the tray more often). A rake combs through and collects solid waste in a covered trap and the crystals absorb moisture (and odor). The manufacturer says crystal litter “is formulated to eliminate odors five times more efficiently than clay or clumping litter.” Like other automatic boxes on our list, you’ll likely use less litter overall with this box than traditional litter boxes. At a fraction of the cost of many automatic boxes, this is definitely worth a try.
Best Top Entry
- Pros: Less expensive than many options, less litter use, privacy for cats who want it
- Cons: No app option, crystal litter can deter some cats
If your cat is used to a top-entry box or has proven a fan of them, try this automatic version. It’s essentially the original ScoopFree with a cover. Though the manufacturer says the crystal litter is 99 percent track-free, the cover has a grated surface anyway, which can diminish the amount of crystal litter your cat leaves in her wake after using the box (a feature the original doesn’t offer). Both models let you know how often your cat is using the box, which can be especially helpful if you’re tracking a sick or elderly cat’s bathroom habits.
Best for Senior Cats
- Pros: App connectivity, takes up less space, odor elimination system
- Cons: No litter trap for exit and entry, pricey
Speaking of elderly cats! This self-cleaning litter box is ideal for arthritic or old cats who don’t want to jump up into a giant automatic machine. The entry height is only 5.9 inches, compared to similar models with 7-inch tall entrances. Famree also makes excellent use of space. The company says their box’s overall size is 49 percent smaller than many models, but the interior is 30 percent more spacious, so cats can move around and get comfortable while doing their business. The box uses refrigeration-grade ion technology to eliminate odors. One reviewer says her elderly cat who can be timid took to this box because it offered such a large, enclosed space. The only drawback is there’s no attempt to trap litter on kitty’s paws as she exits the box.