The Best Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes, Tested by Experts (2024)

The Best Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes, Tested by Experts (1)

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We adore the felines who adopt us as their humans. But for all there is to love about cats, there's definitely an icky part: cleaning the litter box. Even if your cat litter claims to stay fresh for days, you don't want your cat stepping on yuck in there and tracking it through the house.

If you really can't stand to scoop, self-cleaning litter boxes may be your answer to avoiding this unpleasant chore. These high-tech products automatically whisk away the waste for you, eliminating the need for daily scooping. To find the best self-cleaning litter boxes, we ran tests on eight different automatic litter boxes at the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab and in our own homes, considering everything from ease of set-up to clump removal.

Our top picks:

In our pet-free Lab, we simulated a cat using each pick with water and a small weight to trigger the sensor. Then, in our homes, we monitored real cats using the litter boxes. We also interviewed cat owners who currently use self-cleaning litter boxes, then cross-checked online reviews of the most popular choices.

Our top two picks use a mechanism to shuttle clumps into a bin so they remain covered and out of sight (and smell, because the carbon filters help curb odors). You will, of course, eventually need to empty the bin. Using one of these models is a lot like using a diaper pail; the waste is hidden away until you take it to the trash all at once, when the bin is full. Our runner-up is different; it actually washes the waste down a drain.

At the end of this guide, you can find more information on how to choose the best self-cleaning litter box for your needs. If you are looking for more accessories for your kitty, check out our guides to the best outdoor cat houses, the best cat carriers, the best water fountains for pets and the best cat toys.


Best Overall Self-Cleaning Litter Box

Whisker Litter-Robot 4

The Best Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes, Tested by Experts (2)

  • The Best Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes, Tested by Experts (3)Almost silent cleaning operation
  • The Best Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes, Tested by Experts (4)App tracks kitty habits and lets you know when the bin is full
  • The Best Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes, Tested by Experts (5)Works with any premium clumping litter
  • The Best Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes, Tested by Experts (6)Expensive
  • The Best Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes, Tested by Experts (7)Height may be an issue in small spaces

We tested the the Litter-Robot 4 in homes with multiple cats, and the felines took to it with minimal suspicion. It has excellent odor control, works smoothly and is easy to maintain and set up. An especially good self-cleaning litter box for multiple cats, this option works with any quality clumping litter and is ideal for cats of any size. With previous models, kitties less than 5 pounds didn't always trigger the sensor, but that's been fixed with Litter-Robot 4.

While its footprint is similar in size compared to other covered litter boxes, the Litter-Robot is substantially taller at just under 30 inches. That's because its cleaning mechanism is different from most other automatic boxes: The entire globe quietly rotates after use and deposits clumps into a lined bin below. Then the globe moves back into place, covering the bin and its odors, clean and ready for the next customer.

"I was initially put off by the Litter Robot because it stands tall, is expensive and just seemed way more than you need. But it’s a fantastic machine that works brilliantly," says Lynn Redmile, a contributing product analyst for the Good Housekeeping Institute. Because a cat going to the bathroom too often (or not often enough) is usually the first indicator that there are health concerns, the corresponding app is beneficial in helping you track your cat’s bathroom habits. "It records the weight of each cat that uses it, so you can tell which cat is which in a multi-cat environment," Lynn says. "The app also reminds you to empty the waste receptacle — and when you get out of the habit of daily scooping, the reminder is very helpful." If you want to make dumping the bin a fast and easy process, consider the brand's waste drawer liners.

Bells and whistles include an adjustable night light, sleep mode and a customizable cycle timer (for instance, you could opt to have the box clean itself twice a day instead of each time the cat uses it). Although the Litter Robot 4 can be used without the app, if you'd prefer no app connectivity at all, we also like the previous model, the Litter-Robot 3. It can't connect to the app and is only for cats who weigh 5 pounds or more, so it's $200 less.

READ OUR FULL REVIEW: The Litter-Robot 4 Makes Daily Scooping Obsolete

Size and age restrictionsN/A
Dimensions22" x 27" x 29.5"
Entryway dimensions15.75" in diameter


Best Value Self-Cleaning Litter Box

PetSafe ScoopFree Complete Plus

The Best Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes, Tested by Experts (8)

The Best Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes, Tested by Experts (9)

  • The Best Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes, Tested by Experts (10)Crystal litter eliminates dust, tracking, and heavy boxes
  • The Best Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes, Tested by Experts (11)Poop stays out of sight (tray lid even hides it while disposing)
  • The Best Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes, Tested by Experts (12)More than 9K five-star reviews on Amazon
  • The Best Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes, Tested by Experts (13)Ongoing expense of the brand's crystal litter and trays
  • The Best Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes, Tested by Experts (14)Reviews are mixed on whether this controls odors well

The open-top ScoopFree Complete Plus is about the size of a regular litter box and is meant to work with the PetSafe brand of crystal cat litter. Plug it in and a sensor reads when your cat has entered and left. Twenty minutes after your cat's departure, the rake moves the solid waste to the bin, while the crystals absorb your cat's urine.

With crystal cat litter, there are almost no tracking problems and no dust. This model is easy to set up and doesn't connect to an app (a plus for those tired of needing their phones for everything). For those who love an app, check out the app-enabled version of this box.

With over 9K five-star Amazon reviews, this system can be a game-changer for squeamish cat owners who want to see as little poop as possible. The tray has a lid that you can clamp down when changing so you barely have to glimpse the gross stuff. It's useful for people with limited mobility who can't bend down to scoop a box every few days. It's also a more affordable self-cleaning box for pet owners who travel a few nights at a time and want to ensure their kitty's box stays clean. Plenty of people also sing the praises of the lightweight crystal litter being a nice break from 14-pound boxes of heavy, sandy clumping litter.

That said, there were a few issues with this product in our tester households — for the people, not the cats, who were completely fine using this box. The ScoopFree uses disposable trays, but only comes with one. You need to subscribe for regular delivery of extra trays sold in three packs that are about $70. Between throwing out the crystal litter and the disposable trays, this system creates a lot of waste — and requires ongoing expenses. PetSafe says you only need to swap out the tray and litter every 20 days for a one-cat household, but we were testing with two-cat households and had to change everything out weekly or every 10 days.

Also, we (and many online reviewers) had trouble with the crystals not hiding odors. It's less of a problem with solid waste, which gets raked into the covered bin, but it can be an issue if your cat pees a lot, since the moisture gets absorbed but not contained. Still, other online reviewers say they never smell this litter box, so for some, it provides odor-free relief. Also the noise from the mechanical rake was minimal for our testers. PetSafe marks this as best for cats under 15 pounds, so it's not suitable for larger felines. It's also not for kittens under 6 months.

Size and age restrictionsUnder 15 lbs and older than 6 months
Dimensions20.4" x 28" x 7.1"
Interior dimensions14" x 14"


Best Litter-Free Self-Cleaning Litter Box

CatGenie A.I. Self-Washing Cat Box

The Best Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes, Tested by Experts (15)

  • The Best Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes, Tested by Experts (16)Waste is flushed away, not even a bin to empty
  • The Best Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes, Tested by Experts (17)No litter necessary
  • The Best Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes, Tested by Experts (18)Has a companion app
  • The Best Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes, Tested by Experts (19)Requires a water hookup
  • The Best Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes, Tested by Experts (20)Still have to buy special granules and cleaning solution

The CatGenie A.I. eliminates the need for litter completely. This litter box uses special granules, which are rotated through a sifter to remove solid waste, then rinsed with a sanitizing solution and blown dry, so your cat has clean fresh litter every day. The granules are made from natural materials, which get broken down by bacteria in a landfill or septic tank, making them septic safe. The washable granules and SaniSolution need to be replenished a few times per year.

To function, this box not only needs an electrical outlet but a cold-water hookup so it can drain and flush the waste. The instructions are aimed at consumers, so there's no plumber necessary. If you have space in your laundry room, this can be connected to the washing-machine drain. In a bathroom, it can be connected to the toilet's waste drain. You can select, through the app or via the control panel, what times of the day you want the cleaning to take place. The cleaning cycle takes between 40 minutes and an hour so you'll want to pick a time when your cat is reliably napping and not using the box; this is easiest if you have only one or two cats with easy-to-identify routines.

Many online reviewers sing the praises of the CatGenie dome for keeping the granules contained. Without it, some say, the cats might track them or the rake that scoops the poop might accidentally fling some out. The CatGenie app allows you to set the delay time for when the rake goes to work after your cat leaves the box. You can also use the app to monitor the frequency of your cat’s bathroom visits and see status updates on the cleaning cycles. If you don’t need the app, the CatGenie 120 is a lower-cost option.

Size and age restrictionsN/A
Dimensions19.3" x 17.5" x 21"
Interior dimensionsAbout 17" in diameter

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How we test self-cleaning litter boxes

The Best Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes, Tested by Experts (21)

To find the best self-cleaning litter boxes, we've tested eight models over the past five years, both in our Lab and at home in multi-cat households. T

To mimic pet waste in the Lab, we pour water onto litter and used a small weight to simulate a cat entering and leaving the litter box to trigger the mechanism. In testers' homes, we evaluate how cats responded to the litter box, and of course, how well each litter box cleans up real waste.

We tested earlier versions of the Litter-Robot both in our Lab and in homes. We've tested the newest version, the Litter-Robot 4, in several homes, each with multiple cats. While it's the most expensive self-cleaning litter box on our list, we found it works best of all the models we've tried — and our home testers have given it rave reviews, too.

We have looked at the PetSafe box in our Lab and in homes, and tested the CatGenie in our Lab only. We also regularly keep an eye on the online reviews for all of these models. Both have fans and detractors. We like that the PetSafe version lets families try self-cleaning cat box technology for less than $200, and we appreciate how innovative the CatGenie is with its litterless design.

What to look for when shopping for a self-cleaning litter box

The Best Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes, Tested by Experts (22)

If you're ready to move from an old-fashioned litter box to one that employs automatic scooping technology, keep all of these points in mind.

✔️ Size: Two factors need to be considered: the size of the box itself (footprint, height and entrance opening) and the size of your cat. A larger cat needs a larger box so they can easily turn around, and some self-cleaning litter boxes have weight restrictions with their sensors that make them not work with either too-big cats or too-small kittens. Measure your space to be sure that your chosen litter box will accommodate your space and your pet, and be sure their size is compatible with the automatic litter box.

✔️ Litter: Some self-cleaning litter boxes require clumping litter and some require special litter from the brand. None that we know of can handle paper or pellet litter. It’s important that you give your pet time to adjust to something new. Keep your old litter box for a bit, and mix some of the new litter with the old litter in the old box, to help your kitty adjust. Gradually replace the old litter with the new litter while you also introduce the new self-cleaning box.

✔️ Adjustment period: The manufacturers of self-cleaning litter boxes know how finicky cats are. Each suggests you leave your old litter box out while introducing the new one. Read the instructions carefully for great tips on how to get a nervous cat used to the new machine. Many, for instance, suggest you actually keep the self-cleaning litter box turned off for a few days, and scoop it like a normal box, before you turn on the cleaning function and let your cat get used to it.

✔️ Maintenance: Self-cleaning boxes still need to be cleaned. You won't have to scoop every day, but you will need to empty the bin and switch out the litter anywhere from once a week to once every couple of weeks. If the box uses a mechanical rake to sweep through and clean away clumps of cat waste, you'll need to regularly clean the rake as it will get caked with crud. That's one of the reasons we prefer the rotating self-cleaning litter box that sifts away waste without a rake.

✔️ Money-back guarantee: Self-cleaning litter boxes generally aren't cheap and if you miscalculated how well it would fit in your home or aren’t happy with how well it works, it’s reassuring to know you can usually return the item within a certain window, whether following manufacturer guidelines or Amazon return rules. Keep all the packaging to make that easier.

The benefits of an app-connected litter box

The Best Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes, Tested by Experts (23)

An automatic litter box that syncs to an app is more expensive, and an app always takes setting up and getting used to. But we do notice two key benefits to using an app-connected litter box, like the Litter Robot 4 (that's a screenshot from a user).

✔️ App-based notifications: You'll be notified when to empty the waste receptacle and when to top up the litter. You can also see at a glance if you're getting close to needing more litter so you can purchase some ahead of time.

✔️ Monitoring capabilities: A pet’s bathroom habits reveal a lot about their well-being. The automatic cat litter boxes that connect to an app can often record each visit, based on each cat's weight, so you can see if someone is making a lot of trips to the bathroom. You also get an ongoing view of your cat's weight and can tell if it is going up or down. (This all gets trickier if you have several cats who are within ounces of each other, however.)

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How do self-cleaning litter boxes work?

The Best Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes, Tested by Experts (24)

Many self-cleaning litter boxes require sandy, hard-clumping litter. Your cat does their business, buries their own waste and then the solid or liquid waste mixes with the sandy litter to form hard clumps that can then be pushed away.

When your cat jumps out, sensors detect the motion of your cat leaving, and the cleaning cycle begins. Self-cleaning litter boxes have electric motors that activate the cleaning mechanism — they are quiet but not silent. Eventually, the waste bin fills with clumps, and you empty it into the garbage. How often do you have to change the litter box and empty the bin? That varies depending on the number of cats you have, how often they visit the box, and the size of the bin.

Why trust Good Housekeeping?

The Best Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes, Tested by Experts (25)

This guide was originally written and researched by Lynn Redmile, who has been testing and evaluating cleaning products since 2012. Always driven to figure out how things work, Lynn collaborates with the Good Housekeeping Institute Home Care & Cleaning Lab experts to research, test and report on the latest innovations, including self-cleaning litter boxes.

Contributing writer Jessica Hartshorn, who has two cats at home, worked on the latest update to this story. Prior to testing and writing about pet products for Good Housekeeping, she reviewed pet and children's products for Parents magazine.

The Best Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes, Tested by Experts (26)

Lynn Redmile

Contributing Product Analyst

Lynn Redmile (she/her) is a contributing product reviews analyst at the Good Housekeeping Institute, where she's been evaluating nutrition, fitness, beauty, textiles, home, pet, and cleaning products since 2012. She brings over 30 years of data analysis and project management experience to the role.

The Best Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes, Tested by Experts (27)

Jessica Hartshorn

Contributing Writer

Jessica (she/her) is a freelance writer with several decades of experience writing lifestyle content and evaluating home and parenting products. A mom of two teens and two cats, her previous work can be seen in American Baby and Parents.

The Best Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes, Tested by Experts (2024)
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