Looking for the best self-cleaning litter box?
Here you will find the top performers on a side by side comparison, with in-depth reviews describing the pros and cons of each unit. You will see the top winner and why this machine is recognized by people (and me personally), as the best on the market.
Considering these 7 main features, here’s the 3 highest rated automatic litter boxes:
|LITTER ROBOT III OPEN AIR||SCOOPFREE ULTRA||CATGENIE|
|Get It Today $25 OFF||Find the Lowest Price||Find the lowest price|
|100% Reliability||70% Reliability||60% Reliability|
|Rotating sifting mechanism||Automatic Scooping rake||Connected to a water drain system|
|Minimum Contact with Waste||Medium contact with Waste||Minimum Contact With Waste|
|It works with clumping litter||It works with blue crystals||It works with washable granules|
|Excellent odor control||Good urine odor control||Medium odor control|
|Operates Without Branded Supplies||Needs Branded Supplies||Needs Branded Supplies|
|Noise: Medium||Noise: Medium||Noise: High|
|Very Easy to Disassemble||Fairly Easy to Disassemble||Fairly Easy to Disassemble|
|Suitable for cats up to 20 lbs approx.||Suitable for cats up to 12 lbs approx.||Suitable for cats up to 12 lbs approx.|
|Suitable up to 4 cats. Ideal 3.||Up to 2 cats. Ideal one.||Suitable up to 3 cats. Ideal 2.|
|Full waste drawer indicator||No indicator when full||Self-flushing mechanism|
|Battery backup option||Only Plug-in||Only Plug-in|
|Wi-Fi Smart Version (Litter Robot Connect)||No Wi-Fi version||No Wi-Fi version|
|Go to Review||Go to Review||Go to Review|
If you are still unsure which one to buy, check my in-depth comparison of Litter Robot vs Scoopfree vs Catgenie to help you decide. In case you need more alternatives, no worries! Here’s the full comparison between the top 8:
BEST SELF CLEANING LITTER BOX COMPARISON 2018
|Litter Robot III Open-Air – Full Review||ScoopFree Ultra Automatic Cat Litter Box – Full Review||CatGenie Self Washing Self Flushing Cat Box – Full Review
||Pet Zone Smart Scoop Automatic Litter Box – Full Review||LitterMaid Multi-Cat Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Box Review||Littermaid LM580 Classic – Full Review||PetSafe Simply Clean Continuous-Clean Litter Box Review||SmartScoop Self Scooping Litter Box Full Review|
|STARS RATING *|
|% Satisf. (3)||92%||66%||64%||51%||48%||48%||50%||44%|
|Dimensions (L x W x H)||29.2″ x 24.1″ x 26.7″||27.5” x 19” x 7”||19.25” x 24.5” x 21”||18.25”x 25.5” x 7.6”||27″ X 17.7″ X 9.8″||17.2”x 24.3”x 9.3”||19”x 26”x 10”||18.25”x 25.5” x 7.5”|
|Pan size (LxW)||17″ across||14” x 14”||17” across||14” x 16”||14″ x 16.5″||14” x 14”||10”center to sides||14” x 16”|
|Item Weight||24 lbs||22.5 lbs||26 lbs||9.3 lbs||13 lbs.||12.5 lbs||13.5 lbs||12 lbs.|
|Power||120 volt outlet – 15 VDC||120V 60Hz adapter||120V AC||AC adapter||AC adapter and 8 AA batteries||AC adapter and 8 AA batteries||Low voltage AC/DC Adapter||AC adapter|
|Basic version(s)||Classic and
|Wi-Fi Smart Version||Yes, LR Connect||NO||NO||NO||NO||NO||NO||NO|
|How It Works||3-7 or 15 min after the cat leaves the litter box a special rotating mechanism drops the waste into a drawer.||Disposable trays with crystals that absorb urine and feces get collected by a rake into the tray’s waste trap.||Urine disposed through a waste/water drain. Clumps scooped by a rake then liquefied and disposed through a waste-water drain.||A scooping rake picks up waste clumps and put them in a waste receptacle.||A rake pushes and lifts the waste, dropping it into a waste compartment.||Urine and feces get pushed by a rake into a waste compartment.||Conveyor’s motor rotates a litter bowl sifting the waste through the conveyor to fall into a waste compartment.||A scooping rake automatically collects the waste and deposits it in a waste compartment.|
|Requirements to Install||1) A level surface 2) electric outlet||1) Dry and ventilated area 2) electric outlet||1) Cold water line 2) waste water drain 3) electric outlet||1) leveled surface 2) electric outlet||1) Away from humidity and direct sunlight 2) electric outlet||1)Away from humidity and direct sunlight 2) electric outlet||1) Leveled surface 2) electric outlet||1) leveled surface 2) electric outlet|
|Minutes Delay Before Cycle||3-7-15 minute delay (adjustable)||5,10 or 20 minutes||10 min. for 1 cat; 30 minutes for multiple cats||15-minute delay||10-minute delay||10-minute delay||It rotates continuously a small bit every minute.||15-minute delay|
|Safety Mechanism||Rotation stops if a cat re-enters the litter box and resets for another 3-7-15 minutes.||It resets to 5,10 or 20 more minutes delay if a cat re-enters||It resets to 10 more minutes delay if a cat re-enters (30 min in Cat Activation mode).||If sensors detect the cat a red light turns on and restarts the cycle for another 15 minutes.||It resets for extra 10 minutes if a cat re-enters||It stops and resets for another 10 minutes if a cat re-enters||System rotates very slowly, safe for cats||It a cat re-enters the unit, it stops and resets for extra 15 minutes.|
|MAINTENANCE (ONE CAT)|
|Frequency Disposing Waste||Toss the bag every 5-10 days (depending on the cat). Average: 7 days||Change tray every 10-20 days (see note 1) Empty waste evert 3-4 days.||Self waste-disposing||Depending on the cat’s habits, every 2 to 5 days.||Change or empty plastic compartments every 4-7 days||Change or empty compartment every 4-7 days||Every other day approx.||Every 2 to 5 days, depending on the cat’s defecation habits.|
|Frequency Cleaning Unit (approx)||Wash the Globe ideally every month||Wipe surfaces once a month||Clean the impeller once or twice a month. Clean the unit every 2-3 months||Clean the rake when needed. Wash the tray 3 times a month or when needed.||Clean rake and sensors when needed. Wipe the unit when needed.||Sensors and rake when needed. Wipe unit 3 times a month or when needed.||Wash the bowl 3 times a month or when needed.||Clean the rake when needed. Remove and wash the tray 3 times a month or when needed.|
|How to Clean Unit||Globe and waste drawer can be washed using mild soap||Remove waste trap and wipe surfaces and rake with mild soap and water.||Disassemble the unit, wash the base and brim with mild liquid soap and water, reassemble it.||Fully disassemblable. Wash with mild soap and warm water.||Wipe sensors with dry cloth and pan with a damp cloth. Wash pan & rake.||Wipe sensors with dry cloth and unit with a damp cloth. Wash tray & rake.||Disassemble the unit and wash the non-electrical components.||Wash litter pan, rake and bin with warm, soapy water .|
|SUPPLIES (ONE CAT)|
|No branded refills needed|
|Litter||Premium clay clumping litter||ScoopFree disposable tray cartridge with crystals||CatGenie washable granules||Any clumping premium litter||Premium clumping litter||Premium clumping litter||Any clumping premium litter||Any clumping premium litter|
|Other Supplies||Any 8-13 Gal trash / carbon filter||NO||CatGenie Sanisolution, CatGenie Maintenance cartridge.||Any grocery bags, carbon filters||Littermaid waste receptacles, carbon filter||Littermaid waste receptacles, carbon filter||Any grocery bags||Grocery bags, carbon filters|
|Optional Accessories||Ramp||Hood, anti-tracking carpet. (alternative Forever Tray & Litter Bagger).||CatGenie Dome, Sidewalls.||Any litter mat||Permalid, Littermaid natural Zeolite, Litermaid mat.||Permalid, Littermaid natural Zeolite, Litermaid mat||Any litter mat||SmarScoop litter mat|
|COST BY MONTH (ONE CAT) **|
|Cost Approx. in US$||12 US$ to 15 US$ (see note 1)||20 US$ to 40 US$ (see note 2)||12 US$ to 15 US$||US$10 to US$12||15 US$ to 25 US$||15 US$ to 25 US$||10 US$ to US$12||10 US$ to US$12|
|Cat weight||5 lbs up to 20 lbs||Approx. 5 lbs up to 12 lbs||Approx. 5 lbs up to 10 lbs||Approx. 5 lbs up to 10 lbs||Approx. 5 lbs up to 10 lbs||Approx 5 lbs up to 10 lbs||Approx. 5 lbs up to 12 lbs||Small to Medium sized cats|
|Kittens||Only if used manually||From 6 months age||From 6 months age||From 6 months age||From 6 months age||From 6 months age||From 6 months age||From 6 months age|
|Multi-cat||YES||YES, but better if used with 1 cat||YES (Better if used by 2 cats max)||YES, better if used with one cat||YES, two small-medium size cats||NO||Preferable one cat||YES, better if used with one cat|
|Guarantee||90 days money-back||90 days money-back||90 days money-back (Except purchases to 3rd parties)||30 day money-back||30 day money-back||30 day money-back||30 day money-back||30 day money-back|
|Warranty||18 months||1 year limited (defective pieces)||2 years limited||One year||One year||One year||One year limited||One year|
(*) Ratings are the average of the totality of customers reviews and other factors and they are subject to change (**) Costs are approximate and they could change. (1) Cost depends on the clumping litter you use and how often you change carbon filter (2) Depending on the cat you may need to change tray every week (3) % of satisfaction is different than rating and it represents customers that have rated the unit with 5 and 4 stars over purchases online, this number might change in the future (***) You might not have these issues, it depends on the cat and the correct usage, but also some issues come from the unit design (****) Check details of warranty policy with the manufacturer or distributor.
TOP AUTOMATIC LITTER BOXES: ADVANTAGES, ISSUES, SOLUTIONS & BOTTOM LINE
TOP#1: LITTER ROBOT III OPEN AIR
WHY IS THIS UNIT THE LEADER ON THE MARKET?
STRONG ADVANTAGES: High percent of reliability, fully self-scooping, not dirty rakes, saves up to 50% on cat litter, indicator when to empty the litter box, unique mechanism to release all the waste from the bottom, minimum noise, high capacity to collect the cat waste, practically zero odor.
I can tell you the reasons why the Litter Robot is so dependable because I own a Litter Robot 3 and I’ve investigated automatic litter boxes for over 5 years now so I consider myself very knowledgeable about how most of them work (actually you will find other review-websites with my reviews). I know every single downfall that most of them have and this unit doesn’t have any of those issues.
- POSSIBLE ISSUES & SOLUTIONS:
- Only if your cat is an enthusiast litter kicker some litter could spill out the litter box, but this rarely happens. Solution: to stop litter spillage, get the fence or the ramp, they both come as optional accessories. You can also get an easy to clean litter mat.
- If you pour too much litter in the globe, the unit might not complete a rotation. Solution: to allow a smooth rotation you must pour litter only up to the full line indicator (approx. 12-13 cups of 8 Oz).
- If you let the Globe go too low on litter, the unit won’t activate to start a cleaning cycle. Solution: Simply top the unit off with litter every week.
- Occasionally some litter may fall between the bag and the waste drawer (this hardly happens). Solution: to avoid leaving a gap between the waste drawer and the bag you have to line the bag tightly to the drawer, that simple.
- IDEAL CAT OWNER: People that want to forget about the cat’s litter box for several days, up to 10 days with one small cat (personally, I only think about the litter box on Sundays when I take the trash can outside). People with medical conditions that can’t bend over too much to take care of the litter box on a daily basis. A cat owner willing to do a big initial investment but without future expenses on the manufacturer’s supplies.
- IDEAL CAT: Any cat weighing between 5 and 20 lbs
SPECIAL GIFT FOR CAT LOVERS! If you love the Litter Robot Open Air as I do, you can get $25 Off the price. Just check more details on my Litter Robot III review where you’ll see the Pros and Cons of this machine, demonstrative videos with my cat using the unit, tips for better use, and much more.
VIDEO HOW THE LITTER ROBOT OPEN AIR WORKS
Note: The Litter Robot Bubble is not available on the market anymore. The Litter Robot III Open Air supersedes the Bubble unit, due to the excellent engineering applied to it, making it the top one.
GREAT NEWS! NOW YOU CAN PROGRAM AND MONITOR THE LITTER ROBOT OPEN AIR FROM YOUR IPHONE! (Android soon). Learn all the new features of the Connect App and see my exclusive hands-on review and get $25 Off your purchase!
THE TOP #2: SCOOPFREE ULTRA
The second best rated automatic litter box. We could state that the ScoopFree handles the urine until the tray needs to be changed (every 10 to 20 days, depending on the cat) and the feces clumps until the waste trap gets full and then you need to scoop it (every 3-4 days).
- ADVANTAGE: Convenient disposable tray system that you don’t need to clean after use. You just need to dispose the used tray and replace for a new one.
- POSSIBLE ISSUES & SOLUTIONS:
- The bottom of the unit is a cardboard tray and it may be susceptible to leaking. Solution: For the same reason sidewalls are not fully sealed. This could be a problem with certain male cats. Solution: only alternative option, if your cat scratches the bottom or urinates on walls, there is a plastic permanent tray that can be used with crystals.
- Smelly crystals. Solution: you need to stir the crystals every day and place the unit close to circulating air to make the crystals work better.
- Waste compartment too full before time to change tray. Solution: waste compartment needs to be scooped before switching to a new tray.
- IDEAL CAT OWNER: People with the budget to buy disposable trays to keep the unit odor free (depending on the cat, trays have to be changed every 10-20 days with one cat).
- IDEAL CAT: Small to regular size cats that can handle crystals as litter. Cats that don’t urinate on walls or scratch too much when digging. Cats that don’t eat by-products or have urinary or digestive problems. If you feed your cat corn or wheat based dry food the Scoopfree isn’t going to work the same. Healthy dry cat foods are essential to reduce the amount of waste your cat creates.
VIDEO HOW THE SCOOPFREE ULTRA WORKS
TOP #3: CATGENIE
The CatGenie is the only automatic litter box that self disposes the waste. The unit needs a work intervention in the house to install it. It fully takes care of scooping and flushing the waste.
- ADVANTAGE: Fully self-cleaning and self-disposing automatic litter box. No need to carry bagged waste to dispose. The CatGenie is like a mini cat toilet.
- POSSIBLE ISSUES & SOLUTIONS:
- Excessive granule-litter tracking granules. Solution: granules tracking can be minimized getting the Sidewalls.
- Waste drain line and/or impeller gets clogged with cat hair or granules (not always). Solution: Brush your cat often to avoid hair from going into the impeller and disassemble the unit to clean the impeller periodically.
- Bad smell during a cleaning cycle. Solution: Set the unit away from living areas.
- IDEAL CAT OWNER: People who do not want to dispose of waste. People willing to unclog the unit if needed and clean the granule-litter tracking. People that have a 2d bathroom (ideally the garage’s or a laundry room away from living areas) to install it.
- IDEAL CAT: Small to average size cat with firm stools and that does not shed too much.
VIDEO HOW THE CATGENIE WORKS
#4 PETZONE SMART SCOOP
This unit is very similar in structure to the SmartScoop litter box, but with a slightly stronger motor and higher sidewalls.
- ADVANTAGES: Rake-scooping system does not push clean litter to waste compartment and does not create piles. Good price.
- POSSIBLE ISSUES & SOLUTIONS:
- Cleaning does not start. Solution: clean sensors with a soft dry cloth.
- Waste stuck behind rake. Solution: power off the unit, lift rake and clean.
- Unit struggles through cleaning cycle. Solution: redistribute the litter on the pan, make sure litter level is not too high.
- Scooping-rake does not scoop urine clumps attached to the litter pan. Solution: scrape litter pan to scoop urine clumps.
- IDEAL CAT OWNER: People willing to scoop and scrape the litter pan when needed, pouring litter in the litter box every 3-5 days and leveling the litter daily. People with one or two average size cats and without a budget to buy special extra supplies to make the unit work.
- IDEAL CAT: Small to average size cats (under 15 lbs.) that are not diggers, cats that use mostly the center of the litter area. Cats without urinary problems.
VIDEO HOW PETZONE SMART SCOOP WORKS
#5 LITTERMAID MULTI CAT
This model has some adjustments, such as the plastic rake, more powerful motor and the night timer has been removed.
- ADVANTAGE: Good complement in scooping the litter box for a reasonable price. It can be used for two small or medium sized cats.
- POSSIBLE ISSUES & SOLUTIONS:
- Rake being stuck. Solution: turn off the unit & clear the areas from the litter.
- Feces caught on the rake and tray. Solution: spray silicone or special oleum on rake and tray.
- Litter accumulated on the ends of litter pan or behind the rake. Solution: re-distribute the litter and scoop if needed.
- Litter spillage when the rake is depositing waste into the receptacle. Solution: use very good clumping litter. Clear litter in edges of the machine.
- IDEAL CAT OWNER: People that need a complement to scooping, which means willing to scrap the bottom pan to scoop stuck clumps, maintain the unit properly and keep an eye on the machine at least once a day.
- IDEAL CAT: Small to medium size cats if used by two cats. One cat up to 15 lbs. Ideally cats without digestive or urinary problems and not for extreme diggers. Cats that don’t use corners.
VIDEO OF THE LITTEMAID MULTICAT VS LITTERMAID LM580
#6 LITTERMAID LM580
This model is the return of the original Classic Littermaid that was discontinued though not as durable as the original. The unit seems to be better than Littermaid Elite versions, mainly because of its plastic rake.
- ADVANTAGE: It complements the daily scoop for a good price.
- POSSIBLE ISSUES & SOLUTIONS:
- Dusty sensors. Solution: don’t overfill the litter pan.
- Rake gets stuck and it does not move so the unit doesn’t complete a cleaning cycle. Solution: use Premium clumping litter.
- Waste stuck on tray/rake. Solution: spray silicone on tray/rake or clear and re-distribute litter in areas where the rake moves.
- IDEAL CAT OWNER: Somebody willing to check on the litter box at least once a day and willing to clean and scoop the unit when needed. People that need a complement to a scooping and not leaving the unit alone for more than a day.
- IDEAL CAT: Small to regular size cats (under 15 lbs.) that don’t create too much waste. Cats with no urinary problems. Cats that use the center of litter area.
#7 PETSAFE SIMPLY CLEAN
The unit rotates constantly at a very slow rate, creating a permanent cleaning cycle.
- ADVANTAGE: Good sifting conveyor system to collect the waste.
- POSSIBLE ISSUES & SOLUTIONS:
- Litter accumulating under the conveyor. Solution: scoop the excess of litter and redistribute litter around the conveyor and clean the conveyor itself.
- Unit making grinding noise when rotating. Solution: check between base and plate to be clean. Conveyor needs to be clean and cleared often from the litter.
- IDEAL CAT OWNER: People willing to do a daily maintenance on the unit. People with one small size cat that want an extra help from scooping every day.
- IDEAL CAT: Small size cats weighing 12 lbs. or less. Cast without physical disabilities.
VIDEO HOW PETSAFE SIMPLY CLEAN WORKS
(this video has been 30 minutes sped up into over 1 min. The conveyor lid has been taken off for illustrative purpose)
#8 SMARTSCOOP AUTOMATIC LITTER BOX
The first brand introducing the innovative concept of rake-scooping and not rake-pushing.
- ADVANTAGE: It collects waste clumps by scooping the surface of the litter box.
- POSSIBLE ISSUES & SOLUTIONS:
- It does not collect urine clumps attached to the litter pan. Solution: scrape the litter pan manually.
- Clumps fall by gravity into the waste compartment and may fall onto the floor in the process. Solution: place a mat underneath.
- IDEAL CAT OWNER: People with time to scrape the urine clumps from the bottom of the pan and pouring litter every 3-5 days approx.
- IDEAL CAT: Small to average cats (under 15 lbs.) that usually use the center of the litter pan. Cats without urinary problems.
VIDEO HOW SMARTSCOOP SELF CLEANING LITTER BOX WORKS
Why Your Cat Needs The Best Reliable Self-Cleaning Litter Box
A self-cleaning litter box not only makes your life easier, it protects your cat’s physical and psychological health. The following 5 reasons tell you why your cat will be better and safer by using a top self-cleaning litter box:
1. A CLEAN LITTER BED IS A POSITIVE STIMULUS FOR YOUR CAT
Cats love a clean litter box and this fact influences their behavior enormously. When a cat finds the litter box always clean to do its business he or she is a happier cat. After all, having a happy cat is what every cat owner pursues, right? Your cat will feel confident and comfortable in its territory, plus a litter box that is always clean reinforces good habits in your pet.
When you clean the litter box manually, have you noticed that your cat uses it right away after? This means your pet has been waiting for a clean “toilet”.
Actually, keeping the litter box dirty is one of the main reasons why cats stop using the litter box. Now, imagine if the cat finds the litter box clean AT ALL TIMES, that’s the best gift you can give your cat! Cats are very clean animals and they really appreciate a clean “bathroom” as you would do for yourself.
2. IT KEEPS CATS FROM INGESTING GERMS FROM THEIR PAWS
A dirty litter box with waste sitting for a long time creates a lot of germs that get mixed in the litter. When cats use a dirty litter box these germs contaminate the cat’s paws and this means every time the cat cleans itself those germs will go to the cat’s intestine.
There are several pathogen agents in cat waste that is sitting all day, especially in warm weather. When cats go to do their business in a dirty litter box is like somebody trying to walk in a mining camp; cats try hard to avoid stepping on the clumps sitting there because they love having their paws clean. They are smart. The best automatic litter box will always ensure your cat won’t contaminate his paws with waste.
3. IT KEEPS CATS FROM DOING THEIR BUSINESS OUTSIDE THE LITTER BOX
Some cats are pickier than others when it comes to using the litter box. If you have a cat that sometimes does its business on the carpet, rug, or anywhere else, it may be telling you that he or she hates the dirty or smelly litter box.
Sometimes it’s not a matter of the cat being too picky. As mentioned previously, felines try to avoid standing over clumps while doing their business and this is why cats usually choose the corners in the litter box with the consequences of the typical litter box “accidents”, poop or urine outside of it.
Either way, having a cat that is too picky or a cat that is simply trying to keep their paws clean the result is the same: the cat’s poop or urine will end up in places you don’t want.
4. IT PREVENTS CATS FROM HOLDING IN URINE OR FECES
If the litter box is dirty the cat will wait and will hold in the urine, sometimes for hours. This situation is not noticed by you, you just see your cat walking around normally as every day and your litter box is “fine” in your eyes, with some clumps sitting in it.
But if your cat uses the litter box right after you clean it, most likely your pet has been holding in the urine and when a cat does that every day for several years, your pet could develop urinary issues. Urine sitting in the cat’s bladder too long means toxins that don’t pass, which could create sludging in the bladder. The same if your pet holds in “poop”, that is very unhealthy for its intestine. You don’t want that for your cat. A top self-cleaning litter box will keep your cat from holding in urine or poop.
5. NO MORE OVERLOADED LITTER BOX IN MULTICAT HOUSEHOLDS
If you have more than 2 cats, keeping up with their litter boxes could become a hard task. This means the litter box will be dirty most of the time when 2 cats or more use it. Cats don’t like the waste of another cat in the litter box, they prefer their own scent and if you don’t have enough room to place two or more regular litter boxes this could be a problem.
Two or more cats using the same litter box could lead to territorial issues too. Even if the cats share the litter box with no sign of rejection they are not happy and sometimes one of them will do its business somewhere else as a sign of protest.
The best automatic litter boxes are capable of keeping the litter bed clean always, which means there is no problem for cats to share one and you save room in your house by using only one unit as well.