Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Boxes-Do They Really Work?

by LPerry

If you are weary of cleaning your cat's litter box, you might be wondering if those automatic self-cleaning litter boxes are really worth the hype.

Imagine being able to cuddle with your cat instead of checking his or her litter box every few hours. Bliss! Now that automatic self-cleaning litter boxes are on the market, it makes you wonder if they really are time savers, or just another pet product to waste money on. Self-cleaning litter boxes sound like a great idea for busy pet parents.

However, you may have a lot of questions to ask about them. Do they use a lot of electricity? What about accessories? Do they make noise?

A litter box that does some of the messy work for you sounds like a great idea, doesn't it? This article will look at the types of self-cleaning automatic cat litter boxes and answer the most important question of all; will my cat actually get in it and use it?

The Personal Business Of Cats Has Gone High Tech

Dear Senator, I am writing to you about a very stinky situation.

Cat On LaptopDepending on how old you are, the world of high-tech pet things may be normal for you, or might make your eyes open with wonder at the choices and inventions that pack the shelves of pet supply companies.

With the best of intentions, reputable pet supply companies set out to create or find products that solve problems, contribute to health, or wow us with their cleverness.

One of those clever products is in the sector of cat supplies; litter boxes that come as close to cleaning themselves as possible. Although the final approval goes to the cat, the idea of some electronic assistance with cleanup is a dream come true for busy, stressed out cat owners.

What Makes A Cat Owner Go For A Self-Cleaning Litter Box?

Wafting through clouds of toxic litter box fumes everyday is a good place to start.

Bad Odor FaceYou have had a long, hard day at work. Your feet are killing you and you have a painful stress headache. You fight traffic on the way home as you dream of just relaxing in your comfy recliner with a cup of tea and Cutie Pie, your cat.

As you open the front door, you are immediately met with two things; a very hungry Cutie Pie, and a very stinky cloud floating in from Cutie Pie's litter box. Wouldn't it be heaven if that box could clean itself?

There are many reasons why these self-cleaning feline toilets appeal to people. Although it is much, much cheaper to use the old-school litter pan method, sometimes people prefer to upgrade to labor-saving  automation so they have more time for other things. Here are a few reasons why a cat owner might want to have one in the home:

  • Just Plain Busy-Working a full-time job, raising kids, caring for aging parents, multiple pets to care for. Any time or labor-saving device is welcome.
  • Health Issues-Cat owners with health problems or mobility issues can benefit from having to deal with the litter box less often,  
  • High Housekeeping Standards-These are the folks that love having indoor pets, but won't allow the home to look or smell like the local zoo.
  • Love Of Gadgets-Anything automatic or automated in the form of modern pet care technology attracts these folks.

Even if you could get your kitty to wear diapers, you would still have to change them a few times a day. All of the above are reasons why some cat owners use self-cleaning litter boxes.


Some Of The Best Rated Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes

Petsafe Automatic Litter Box

ScoopFree Automatic Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box By PetSafe

This adorable kitty looks a bit shocked about having a photo taken while toileting, so hopefully the modeling fees will be generous.

He or she is using an automatic self-cleaning litter box that has a free and easy-open top design.

I think this design could be tucked away in smaller spaces compared to some of the models that have covers.

Open top designs are good for big or tall cats, ease of use, and lets the owner observe their pet for any signs of gastric upsets, urinary problems, or worm infestation. It doesn't stand out like a sore thumb.It just looks like a modern litter box for a hip, high-tech cat.

 Pros-Easy for a cat to use. The entire tray is disposable so you don't have to wash out unpleasant deposits.

Cons-The open top design may not contain extra-stinky odors. Your cat may go on strike with this type of litter.

  Read What Cat Owners Think About This Litter Box


 ScoopFree Automatic Self Cleaning Hooded Cat Litter Box

Top Entry  ScoopFree Automatic Self Cleaning Hooded Cat Litter Box  By PetSafe

Here we see the King or Queen emerging from the Royal latrine with fresh white paws that are free of litter box residue. Okay, this is probably a cat model, but the idea is wonderful.

It isn't too tall, so it can be tucked under a table or ledge for even more of a cave-like feel. In between cleanings, that top section makes a nice shelf for temporary storage.

Reading the reviews will give you a good insight on how people and their cats have adjusted to this type of product.

 Pros-Does a better job of containing litter. Comes with a tracker so you can know how many times your flurry friend has visited and used it.

Cons-Pudgy Cats or tall felines might not enjoy the low clearance of the entrance.

 Learn More About This Litter Box System


ScoopFree Automatic Self Cleaning Hooded Cat Litter Box

PetSafe ScoopFree Automatic Self Cleaning Hooded Cat Litter Box

Just like some of us prefer top-loading washing machines, some cats prefer top-loading litter boxes. They may enjoy the dark and cozy privacy of using the facilities without the whole family watching.

This type of litter box system might be nicer for  cats that go out in an enclosed patio or enclosed garage. At least it provides a bit of shelter.

This type of litter box design is easier to keep stealthy if you like pet toileting areas that are neither seen nor heard. And of course, not often smelled either.

Pros-Contains odors better. The top entrance allows nimble cats access, while keeping ep-poo-curious dogs out. It does look perfect for the one-at-a-time system.

Cons-A design like this can be very hard on older cats with joint problems and chunky cats with fluffy love handles. It is probably way to difficult for a kitten to use.

See If Your Cat Will Approve Of This Design


Disclaimer-As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Old-School Litter Boxes Versus Self-Cleaning Kitty Toilets

As interesting and modern as these self-cleaning litter boxes are, there is still value in the old way of kitty toileting methods. The comparisons are very interesting. It also makes me wonder what cat owners used for litter boxes back in the 1700's and 1800's.


Cat litter in box by CambridgeBayWeather, (CC BY-SA 3.0)Old School Litter Boxes

The Good- Affordable, inexpensive, and can even be made using an empty cardboard box lined with plastic.

Kitty litter sprinkled with a little baking soda can absorb odors without spending more on the fancy stuff. They are cost-effective enough to put several throughout the house.

The Bad-Keeping the litter box fresh is a challenge. There will be lots of bending, stooping, lifting, and holding your nose shut with a clip to prevent fainting. If kitty has healthy kidney function and drinks plenty of water, it might feel as heavy as a box of rocks.

Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes

The Good- Cat parents get a longer break in between litter changes. They ease some of the daily hassle of doing poo checks. What they offer is an extension of time. For busy people, that alone makes them a blessing.

The Bad-Compared to the old-school pan, they can cost 10-15 times as much. Switching an old-school cat from an old-school pan to an automated contraption might be challenging.


To Answer The Question- Do They Really Work ?

Yes, they do work. However, they only do so much. They are automated up to a point. You still have to bend down, get the litter tray, wrap it up, take it to the trash, and replace the tray with a fresh one. Your cat will love watching you do all the work. After all, they are royalty.


Image Credits-Cat litter in box by CambridgeBayWeather, (CC BY-SA 3.0)


If you have never assembled a Self-Cleaning Litter box, this video really helps explain the process.

You might be wondering:

  1. Do you plug it in?
  2. Does it run on batteries?
  3. Will my cat get run over by the scooper?
  4. How hard is it to put together?
  5. Where does the poo go?

What do you think about self-cleaning litter boxes?

Disclaimer-As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Updated: 01/25/2021, LPerry
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How do you solve your litter box challenges?

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WriterArtist on 08/03/2021

The automatic litter box looks good but how easy it is to cat train it. Does cat take time to adapt? Do cats like it as well? Overall, if the cats are happy using it, the owners too should be.

LPerry on 01/16/2021

The cat-toileting products out there are fascinating. Soon somebody will invent disposable cat diapers for road trips.

DerdriuMarriner on 01/16/2021

LPerry, Just so you know, disposability isn't a turn-off in regard to the nice selections -- of which I'm tending toward the unhooded self-cleaner -- you list above. My rural neighborhood permits contained fires, reported of course at the time to dispatch so that the Fire Department doesn't get called, so disposability doesn't get in the way as long as it can be burned.
Thank you for the reference to the reviewer about the homemade permanent litter pan. I'm re-reading everybody on the English Wizzley and German PageWizz sites so I'll be able to make the adjustment once I find out what her husband did.

LPerry on 01/14/2021

That is a very good point. In one of the reviews ( I cant remember which one) someone mentioned that her husband made a permanent litter pan to fit inside. They also used their own choice of litter.

DerdriuMarriner on 01/14/2021

LPerry, Thank you for the practical information, pretty pictures and product lines.
The unhooded self-cleaning litter box appears the most convenient in terms of if it needs to be moved -- like during area or overall housecleaning. It bothers me somewhat that they're disposable, not recyclable. But then my neighborhood permits burning so I'd rather reduce something to ashes than add to landfills.

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