Sick of scooping up cat litter and wishing there was an easier way to deal with your BFF's (best feline friend) messes once and for all? Say hello to your new favorite invention: the automatic litter box. The best automatic cat litter boxes transform what's usually an annoying chore into a task you rarely have to even think about, because they essentially do all the work for you.
When you're shopping for an automatic litter box, most cat experts recommend that you keep an eye out for certain features. How much noise a system makes is usually one of the biggest considerations that pet parents often take into account before purchasing one. Other significant factors can include cost, size, litter compatibility, and how much contact you'll actually have to make with it in order to keep it running. Some automatic litter boxes also require that you buy specific supplies from the manufacturer, which can be frustrating if you're looking to save money over time.
Ready to upgrade your cat's litter box? Here are five of the most highly-rated automatic litter boxes available now. From the best overall to the quietest operation, this list will help keep you from feeling boxed in before you make your selection.
1. Best Overall: PetSafe Scoop-Free Original Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box
With close to 2,000 rave reviews on Amazon, this popular self-cleaning litter box from PetSafe is the best overall pick if you're shopping for one that really can do just about everything. It self-cleans for weeks with no scooping, cleaning, or refilling necessary — and it comes with a durable plastic tray lining that creates an extra barrier of protection against potential leakage. All you have to do is plug it in, and it starts working immediately. The automatic rake system will sweep waste into the covered compartment 20 minutes after your cat uses the litter box.
While this box is fantastic at controlling odors (and many reviewers say it's the best), you can't use ordinary litter with it. Instead, you have to use the company's crystal litter. On the plus side, this litter won't stick to your cat's paws, is 99 percent dust-free, and is up to five times more effective at absorbing odors than ordinary litter. However, some reviewers note that the crystals have a noticeable scent of their own, which may be a negative for some. Stirring the crystals about once a day can help prevent this and keep your home stink-free.
What cat owners say: "For a single cat family, this is a godsend. I no longer have to scoop everyday, instead cleaning once every 3 weeks. I use the Forever Tray with the Scoop Free and it's wonderful as well. I do wish that I had spent a little bit more money and gotten the hooded version, though, as the cat does kick some litter out. The smell in our house has improved 100%. The ScoopFree is on the large size. Make sure you have enough space ahead of time. Much larger than our original litter box. Added some of the old cat litter to help make the transition smoother."
2. Best For Multiple Cats: CatGenie Self-Washing Self-Flushing Cat Box
This self-flushing box from CatGenie is a game-changer because, while it isn't a toilet, it does flush just like an ordinary toilet would. Perfect for up to three cats per household, it requires washable granule litter (which you can buy from the company). It starts by removing and liquefying waste and then flushes clumps and dirty litter out so you don't have to do any scooping at all. It also uses a veterinarian-approved sanitary solution to wash the litter granules while the dryer function goes to work, leaving them warm and ready for the next use.
In order to get it working, you do need to set it up in your bathroom or laundry room, so if you're tight on space in those areas, this may not be the ideal automatic litter box for you. In a bathroom setup, the drain hook simply secures underneath the toilet seat, while in a laundry room, you need to insert the hose into the washing machine drain pipe. For pet parents who really care about hygiene and have the space to set this up properly, this box is a must-have.
What cat owners say: "CatGenie lives up to the hype. I haven’t had to deal with spilled spoiled litter in over two months. Cleans very well and takes less than 25 minutes for a cycle. I use mine manually once per day with 2 cats. If it’s the price your worried about then think about how much you will save from not having to buy cat litter. In about a year or so it has paid for itself."
3. Best For Heavy Cats: LitterMaid Automatic Self-Cleaning Classic Litter Box
A true classic never goes out of style, and when it comes to this automatic litter box from Littermaid, that's definitely the case. Tough, dependable, and supportive for big kitties up to 15 pounds, this box comes with an automatic rake for easy cleaning and has a litter line that prevents overfilling. In addition, it includes a ramp that helps eliminates tracking as well as eight waste receptacles, eight carbon filters, and an adapter. It also runs via sensor, which has to be blocked for at least 10 seconds while your cat uses the litter box. Once your pet jumps out, the sensor initiates the cleaning cycle.
While you can buy litter from Littermaid directly, reviewers say any clumping litter will do, which gives this budget buy a nice little edge over many other higher-end self-cleaning boxes on the market. This one doesn't have the same odor-controlling capabilities as some, but it's very effective at getting rid of waste and ensuring that your cat has a safe place to do their business.
What cat owners say: "Over the course of the last 25 years I've owned [four] of these," raved one reviewer. "... I just love these. Short of buying a fully automatic cat box that hooks up to the toilet, these are durable and easy."
4. The Best Smart Litter Box: OurPets SmartScoop Intelligent Litter Box
One downside to all automatic cat litter boxes is the sound they make. While recent models strive to make it less of a noisy experience, there's no way to completely mask the sound of a running motor. The SmartScoop from OurPets is the best when it comes to a quiet operation though, and it automatically scoops waste into an enclosed waste bin 15 minutes after your pet leaves the box (which contains a carbon filter for odor control).
Another major perk to this box is how smart it is, because, while some allow you to keep tabs on litter box usage, this one actually comes equipped with a Bluetooth-enabled health monitoring system that sends you alerts if there are any changes in your cat's habits. If you're a pet parent looking to completely eliminate scooping from your chore list, this may not be the ideal box for you, as reviewers say you still have to monitor the tray every four to six days because the rake can miss some smaller clumps. Like the LitterMaid, this can work with any clumping litter, but due to the rake's size, some litter brands may be more effective to use than others.
What cat owners say: "It took less than a week to get both cats using the same litter box ... this one! In fact, they've abandoned the second litter box in the house completely. At first my skittish cat was highly guarded over the (very quiet) noise and the way it moved. He studied it intensely for a few days before he took the plunge, but it only took that one visit and he was hooked. The box works perfectly, and the spray for the bottom of the box is a must buy."
Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently from Bustle's editorial and sales departments.
This post was originally published on July 27th, 2018. It was updated and republished on June 25th, 2019. Additional reporting by Amy Biggart.