Do Self Cleaning Litter Boxes Really Work?

As much as we love our BFFs (best feline friends), there’s one part of caring for them that’s never enjoyable. Cleaning up litter is one of the most annoying chores, especially if  you have several cats. 

Luckily, there’s a new invention that makes easy work of this task: a self cleaning litter box! With this device, cleaning up your feline’s mess becomes a chore that you rarely even think about because it essentially does most of the work for you. 

But does this automatic litter box really work? If so, should you upgrade to one? Read on to learn more about self-cleaning litter boxes. 

The Basics of a Self Cleaning Litter Box

A self cleaning litter box comes fitted with a feature for detecting when your kitty uses the litter box. 

Usually, this feature is a motion or weight sensor. Once your cat is done using the litter box, a self-cleaning mechanism consisting of a rake is deployed. This element is used to scoop the litter and deposit in a distinct compartment. 

Worried that the rake will get deployed and start cleaning up the mess while your cat is still using the litter box? No, need. Most of these litter boxes also have a fail safe that keeps the rake from moving if your kitty is in the box. 

A key benefit of these automatic litter boxes is the fact that they completely section off the waste so as to hold the odor in until you’re ready to remove the waste yourself. 

Do Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes Really Work?

The short answer to this is a resounding yes. That said, it’s important to note that you’ll still need to get rid of your kitty’s waste from the stored compartment. 

The good thing is that you don’t have to clear the mess immediately nor provide fresh litter as the device will do all this. 

Choosing the Right Type of Self Cleaning Litter Box

Self cleaning litter boxes are not designed equally. As such, there are a couple of points you should keep in mind when purchasing one. These include:


Even automatic litter boxes come in a variety of sizes. Consider your cat’s size and select one that offers them plenty of room to move around. If you own more than one cat, you’ll need to choose two such litter boxes or look for one tailored for multiple cats.

Open or Hooded?

In this case, the type of litter box you pick should be based on the style that your kitty is most comfortable with. 

While some cats don’t mind using an open box, others prefer the privacy offered by hooded litter boxes. If your cat is accustomed to a particular style, adhere to it when you shift to the self-cleaning model. 

Power Source

Another choice you’ll have to make is between electric and battery-operated litter boxes. Each type has its fair share of merits and drawbacks.

For instance, you’ll find that electrically-run litter boxes have programmable settings like a timer. This way, you can set a specific duration after which the rake moves in to scoop the litter. You can even configure it to clean at a predetermined time. 

The downside to this type is that it can be a bit pricey. Also, the litter box may not work when there’s a power outage.

With a battery-driven litter box, you’ll never have to worry about power outages causing disruptions. It’s also way cheaper than its electric counterpart. 

Level of Noise

You should also take the noise level into account. Since most of these self cleaning litter boxes have some type of motor, they generate audible noise whenever the cleaning mechanism kicks into action. The motor is the component responsible for moving the rake across the litter. 

Unfortunately, some cats are very sensitive to their surroundings, and can get spooked by the noise produced. If you’re lucky, your kitty will take a few days or weeks to get used to the noise. If not, they may refuse to use the litter box completely, forcing you to switch to the traditional litter box. 

Type of Litter

Before purchasing a self-cleaning litter box for your kitten or cat, ensure you read the manufacturer’s instructions. This is because they may have recommended a specific type of litter that should be used. If this is the case, factor in the cost and availability of the replacement filter. 

Waste Bin

Every self cleaning litter box will have a bin where all your kitty’s waste collects. There are a few features you should pay attention to here. 

One, the waste bin should be easy to remove.You don’t want to end up with all the waste on your beautiful vinyl flooring because you made a slight mistake as you were removing the bin. We recommend going through online reviews to determine whether the litter box is easy to use or not. 

Two, the bin should be capable of trapping odors. Most litter boxes are equipped with carbon filters that are responsible for containing the mess and odor. Lastly, it should have a large capacity which helps to minimize the number of times it has to be emptied. 


Although this is not mandatory, it’s worth investing in a self cleaning litter box that’s backed by a warranty. The last thing you want is to spend hundreds of dollars on a litter box that your kitty completely refuses to use. Or, you could end up with a device that breaks down within a day or two. 

Acclimating Your Cat to a Self Cleaning Litter Box

As we mentioned earlier, some cats embrace the new technology fairly easily. However, others require a little bit of patience or convincing. Follow these steps to train your cat to use their new litter box:

Place waste in the self cleaning litter box

Start by using the automatic litter box without powering it. Thus, place a portion of your cat’s waste in the box and leave it. The goal is to help your cat figure out the purpose of the device. If your cat doesn’t seem to understand what it’s for, switch it on and allow it to self-clean. 

Position the self cleaning litter box next to the old model

If there’s a previous litter box that your cat was used to, place the new one right next to it. This will make it much easier to recognize what the new gadget is for. 

When your cat starts using the new model, move the traditional one a couple of inches away every day. Once you’re confident that your cat is comfortable with the self cleaning box, remove the old unit altogether. 

Use new litter in the old litter box

Depending on the brand you purchase from, you may end up with a box that requires a special type of litter. In such cases, it’s not advisable to switch to the new litter and a completely different litter box simultaneously. 

Instead, you should give your kitty time to get used to the new litter first. Thus, start by placing the special litter in their old litter box. Once they’re familiar with it, you can start using it in the new litter box as well. If the self cleaning box doesn’t require any special litter, simply use the original litter since your cat is already accustomed to it. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Self Cleaning Litter Boxes

Are self cleaning litter boxes safe?

Yes, these litter boxes are completely safe. If you’re worried about how they function, consider getting one with integrated safety sensors. These are designed to stop the rake from scooping the litter in case your cat is present or in the event of a blockage.  

Are self cleaning litter boxes any good?

Automatic litter boxes are particularly beneficial in certain situations for instance:

  • If you have a health problem that prevents you or makes it difficult to clean up the litter box
  • If you travel often, you’re more likely to find a cat sitter if there aren’t any litter box chores involved
  • If you have a cat(s) that refuses to use the litter box unless it’s been cleaned and replaced with fresh litter
  • If you lead a busy schedule and aren’t available to clean up your cat’s mess every time they go

What is the best litter to use in a self cleaning litter box?

In my opinion, clumping cat litter is the best for an automatic litter box. It contains a compound that absorbs liquid waste and causes the solid waste to form a clump. 

This makes it easy to remove waste without having to empty the entire box. However, it’s good to check the type of litter that’s recommended by the manufacturer. 

Wrap Up

Self cleaning litter boxes are one of the best inventions for cat owners. Given their automatic cleaning mechanisms, it means you don’t have to be present throughout to clean up your cat’s mess and change litter. Simply set up the litter box in an ideal location and the device will do most of the work for you.