Can Kittens Use Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes?

The idea of having a kitten is appealing. They’re awfully adorable, cuddly, and goofy. You sleep next to them as they softly purr, and wake up to greet their distinctive ‘meows.’ What’s not to like? 

We’ll tell you. It’s the litter box. 

Scooping waste isn’t an exactly pleasant experience, is it? In addition to being smelly and gross, it takes just way too much effort. This is where the role of self-cleaning litter boxes comes in. 

We all know that kittens love boxes, but what about these special boxes? Can kittens use self-cleaning litter boxes? Today, we’ll explore that question and its answer.

Alright, let’s get on with it.

What Are Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes?

The name ‘self-cleaning litter boxes’ is pretty self-explanatory. These are automatic cat litter boxes designed to clean themselves. 

Okay, hold off the eye-rolls, and let us get into more detail. 

These self-cleaning litter boxes are made so your little kitty could dispose of its waste in them. Once your cat leaves the unit, a cleaning cycle automatically starts. This way, your kitten won’t need to wait next time or use a soiled litter. 

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Can you see why it’s a great option if you’re a cat mom/dad with multiple children? They don’t have to wait.

How Do Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes Work?

The ways of cleaning vary, but most self-cleaning litter boxes have a rake that does the job. This rake moves across your cat litter, sifting through the waste and removing it. 

The waste is then deposited into some manner of the container. You’ll usually find it at the other end of the litter box. Sometimes this container has a carbon filter, which helps with any stinky smell.

Speaking of stinky smells, cat poop isn’t a smell you want to be often greeted by. But luckily, most self-cleaning litter boxes take care of the odor. The container in which the waste is deposited is left closed. This holds any unpleasant odors inside. 

You’ll probably open this container when taking out the waste filter. Until then, we can promise you: no gross smells. 

Most self-cleaning litter boxes also have some type of sensor. This sensor is set off whenever a cat enters or leaves the unit. It also sets a timer, which helps with the cleaning process. 

Did you ever wonder how those automatic units self-clean? You see, it’s done by a rake.

Now, the word ‘rake’ may elicit some fears. Imagining a fearsome, sharp rake next to a cute little bundle of fluff isn’t pleasant.

Let us put your fears to rest. There’s a fail-safe. “Wait, what fail-safe?” You’re about to find out.

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It’s inside most self-cleaning litter boxes. The fail-safe is what protects your kitty. Whenever she’s using the unit, the fail-safe will ensure that the rake doesn’t come near her.

You might think, ‘What if another cat has just left the box? Wouldn’t the timer start?’ Well, the sensor would detect that another kitten is using the unit, so have no worries. 

Can Kittens Use Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes?

We’re going to be upfront here. The answer is yes, kittens can use self-cleaning litter boxes. 

But here’s something you’ll know if you’re a long-time owner of cats. Cats are fickle creatures with colorful personalities. Yes, they’re cute, but they’re not always agreeable. Just because a kitten can do something, it doesn’t mean it’ll do it.

This is where training comes in. The first thing you want to do after buying a self-cleaning litter box is to teach your adorable kitten how to use it. Adult cats, unlike kittens, are a little more stubborn when it concerns these kinds of facilities. But since we’re dealing with cats here, you shouldn’t worry too much.

When you start to market your automatic litter box to your kitten, it’ll probably already know what it is. If your kitten is a fresh, wide-eyed baby, getting it acquainted with the litter box won’t be hard either. 

All you have to do is set it up in front of your baby kitten. Then, take your baby kitten in hands, and set it up on the unit. You might want to scratch the litter with your fingers or make any other similar gestures to communicate. 

Using smells to communicate is also a good idea. Try to leave a deposit in the unit. This will give your kitten a clue regarding what to do the next time nature calls. 

If you see your kitten using the unit, give it a treat. You could also reward it in any other way you see fit. Pet it a little bit, or play some kind of game. You know your kitty better than us, after all. 

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Here’s one thing you don’t want to do. Don’t try to take out your kitten from the unit after it’s done. You want to leave on its own, so it could find its way out naturally. This way, your kitten will memorize the position of the litter box and how to find it. 

How to Get Your Kitten to Use Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes

Before you try to follow any of these steps, you might want to make sure that your litter box sits far away from your kitten’s sleeping area. Even kittens need their privacy, after all. 

It’s time to hop in. Here, we’ll explore the steps you could take to train your stubborn kitty.

Setting Up the Litter Box

Before you set up the litter box, you should read the instructions and directions that arrive with the product. You’ll find out a lot from them. For example, one litter box may be designed to only clean crystals. Others specifically name cat litter as a requirement. You should use the kind of litter that is specified in the manual. 

When you set up the litter box, try to set it up in a relatively quiet area of your house. Make sure it’s a low-traffic area (remember, cats love their privacy!)

Set it next to your old traditional litter box. This way, your kitten can start recognizing the new litter box. 

Familiarize Your Kitten

The next thing to do would be to fill up the new unit with litter. Make sure it’s the same kind your cat used in the old litter box. 

But hey, don’t turn the automatic litter box on just yet. We’re just trying to get your kitten all familiar with the new litter box. Give it some time, maybe a few days or so. 

If the new unit arrives with a cover, make sure to remove it. This could make familiarizing your kitten with the new litter box harder. It could also make it feel trapped or caught inside. You could then say, ‘Bye!’ to your kitten ever using this new box.

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Signal Through Scent

Now, you want to give your kitten a better, more clear idea about this new litter box. 

To do that, you should place some soiled litter in the new unit’s clean pan. This way, your kitten will start getting clues through the natural aroma. It’ll give your kitty a hint as to what’s expected of it!

Time to Transition

You should start the transition by switching the substrates. Before you do so, you might want to keep a few things in mind. 

The first thing you want to check is if the new automatic unit requires a different type of litter. If it does, then you don’t want to fully transition just yet. Instead, try to work with the old litter box that your kitten already likes for a bit.

Now, you should take a small amount of the unfamiliar litter in your hands. Then sprinkle it on top of the old litter in the old box that your kitten already likes. Slowly, increase the amount of new litter present in the old box over the next couple of days. This will make sure that your kitty isn’t put off by the sudden change.

After you’ve done this, you can finally place the new unit next to the old litter box.

Incentive! Incentive! Incentive!

Leave your kittens to choose whatever litter box they like for at least a week. Next, you should try to lure them into using the new automatic litter box. 

In this case, we advise you to use some catnip. Sprinkle a little bit of it inside the tray of the new box. 

Don’t Turn It on Just Yet!

Remember: you shouldn’t turn the new automatic box while doing any of the previous steps. You don’t want to scare off your kitty. The steady electric hum can put your kitten off of using the new unit. 

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Instead, you should wait until your kitten starts to use the automatic litter box. Once it does, you want to shower it with rewards. Pet your kitty, and then give it a treat or two.

All About Supervision

The final thing to do would be to supervise your cat. You should make sure it’s still using the automatic litter box. If it’s still being stubborn, then you should leave the old litter box soiled. Don’t clean any mess. This way, as the automatic box cleans itself, your kitten may be lured into using the new unit.

The thing is, lots of cats like to use one box for solids and another for liquids. It’s too impractical, which is why you want to start convincing them early on to use one litter box.


Don’t be intimidated by any kitten’s independent personality. Presenting a new device for your kitten to use may seem like an exhausting idea, but it’s doable. And trust us: once you do it, you’ll save up so much time.

It’s time to say goodbye to constantly cleaning up soiled litter. Everything will take care of itself now!