Your Guide to Choosing the Best Automatic Litter Box

Key Points

  • Some of the best self-cleaning litter boxes connect with you through an app on your phone.

  • Consider a cat's needs and preferences when choosing a litter box, as each feline differs.

  • Most cat experts say to have one more litter box than the number of cats in your home.

  • Sensors in automatic litter boxes detect when your cat enters and exits.

Providing your cat with a litter box isn't as simple as filling a box with sand. Your guide to choosing the best automatic litter box for your cat points out everything you need to consider.

Honestly, some cats would be fine with a box of sand, but you still have to scoop it out. Automatic litter boxes do much of the work for you. They do a great deal more than that, though. Some store waste for several days, some let you know when they need emptying, and some flush the waste down your drain!

Each has its own positive and negative aspects, so read through this informative guide to assist you when shopping for the perfect automatic litter box.

Innovative Tech-Forward Litter Boxes

In the age of AI, it seems to be a part of every aspect of your life. Your TVs, smart speakers, cars, and smartphones can simplify your life — many times by predicting what you want or need.

Guess what — it's also part of your cats' litter box. That's right, AI monitors poop. Some litter boxes, like the Litter-Robot 3, detect when your cat enters and exits. It even scoops it for you and dumps it in a bin. It's one of the best self-cleaning litter boxes, according to NBC News and Cosmopolitan.

Litter-Robot 3 Connect & Ramp
$599.00 ($599.00 / Count)

by Whisker

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03/09/2024 12:25 am GMT

It may baffle you to think about it, but it's also a bit of a relief. Do you really want to continue scooping your cat's litter, or would you rather have a robot do it for you? Several boxes come with liners, so even when cleaning out the receptacle for the waste, you don't have to touch the used litter. A completely hands-off experience is ideal.

Many of these high-tech litter boxes even talk to you — well, sort of. They send notifications to your phone through an app. They tell you about your cat's bathroom habits and let you know the progress of cleaning cycles.

Understanding Your Cat's Needs and Preferences

Before choosing a litter box for your cat, consider your cat's habits and tendencies while using it. You may not think about such things because you simply clean it up after they're done. "Cats are all the same," you might say. Not so.

Just like humans, some cats are particular about their bathroom habits. Some aggressive diggers/buriers fling litter everywhere when they use the litter box. For this reason, you may need a deeper box so they don't scratch the bottom or the lining if it has one.

Despite individual preferences, almost all cats like to be clean. They groom themselves frequently and chew at little bits on their claws. When they use the litter box, they make sure it's buried so it covers their scent. One of the advantages of a self-cleaning litter box is that your cat always enters a clean box without you even touching it. The automated function rakes, sifts, or flushes the waste so it's completely gone by the time your cat uses it again or another cat enters.

Large breeds may not fit in a covered box, while others don't like the open space and prefer a hooded one. Some cats have urinary issues or sensitive paws that require specialized litter, and not all litter boxes accommodate every type of litter.

Kittens and senior cats may have difficulty going in and out of some litter boxes, so they need one with either a lowered side or a ramp. If their needs aren't met, they may go somewhere outside the box, and you don't want that.

If you have a small kitten, be careful of self-cleaning boxes. Even though some sensors detect when your cat is inside, most include a disclaimer that says they're unsafe for cats under five pounds. The sensors may not detect a very lightweight kitten or cat, and the cleaning cycle might start while they're inside. Also, very small cats may be able to get in between some of the parts, though the safety functions should shut off the machine if that happens.

Ginger cat step inside a litter box.

Evaluating Different Litter Box Technologies

Some litter boxes, even the automatic ones, are pretty simple in their design. They may consist of a box with a motorized rake that you either set on a timer or manually run by pushing a button. Others are like human toilets that clean the litter and flush the waste down using your home's plumbing system (it seems cats become more like humans every day). This reduces the waste in your garbage and makes it an eco-friendlier choice.

Read the manufacturer's suggestions about litter. Some automatic litter boxes require their own special litter. If your cat prefers a specific kind, either gradually transition or get a litter box that accepts their preferred brand. You need to take an honest look at your own preferences and abilities as well. If you aren't techno-savvy, you may not want to pay a premium price for features that include an app.

Physical limitations come into play, too. Bending down to clean out a bin two or three times a day may not be feasible for you, but some automatic boxes store several days' worth of litter, depending on how many cats use it.

Assessing Space and Setup Requirements

Litter boxes come in all different shapes and sizes for various cats. A few have an access point at the top, but most entrances are in the front. Place the box in a location that your cat can easily access. Otherwise, they find easy access to your carpet or bed.

Most automatic litter boxes run on electricity. Unless you have extension cords running around your walls, this requirement may limit where you locate the box. Some require significant room, and you can't place them against a wall. If you have limited space, look for litter boxes that are more compact or versatile with multiple access points. If you have more than one cat, you may need more than one litter box.

Veterinarian Dr. Denise Michanowicz wrote an article for First Vet about cat litter boxes and how many you need: "If you live in a large home or have more than 1 cat, you'll need several litter boxes, ideally placed in several locations throughout the home. The rule of thumb for the number of litter boxes is to have 1 additional litter [box] for the number of cats (for example, 2 cats need 3 litter boxes)."

This is true with traditional litter boxes, but an automatic one always keeps it clean. This may eliminate the need for more. It all depends on your cats. If you have two or more cats, they may all have different preferences or needs. Think about each one, their issues, and how much space each litter box requires.

One downside of many automatic litter boxes is that they tend to be larger than most because of the motors and storage they provide. An automatic box may be impractical if you live in a small apartment. Other options exist, like the Modkat XL Litter Box. It's more compact and has options for either top or front entry. This versatility allows you to find the perfect spot where it fits.

Comparing Costs and Warranty Options

When it comes to cost, you must face the facts. If you want an automatic litter box, the price is higher than regular boxes. However, you pay for convenience and the relief of knowing you can meet your cat's needs even when you're away. It may be a good idea to create a budget before choosing from options. That way, you can eliminate some products out of your range.

You should also factor in the cost of litter. While some are reusable, most aren't. Ones that use special litter may cost more than others. All these qualities need consideration. Look at the product's warranty as well and if they allow returns. Some companies even offer a free trial period with your satisfaction guaranteed. Buying from Amazon usually comes with a good return policy, but some companies match these promises.

Customer Ratings and Professional Reviews

One of the best ways to know if a product works is to hear or read customer results. Be wary, though, because there are some paid customer reviews by certain companies. Look for "verified purchase" tags that let you know it's more likely to be a real review.

Also, look for consistency. If many customers report the same issues or positive results, these are more likely to be legitimate. Conversely, if you see a one-star review with many complaints, it may be an isolated incident. Some problems occur because of a carrier or shipping issue rather than a product malfunction.

Look for reviews of litter boxes from trusted sources like veterinarian offices and organizations. Nothing's better than the recommendation of a vet, right? One Man Five Cats posted a YouTube video on July 14, 2023, explaining the good and bad about self-cleaning litter boxes. He recommends the Litter-Robot 4 as the best to buy. It was also named in lists from USA Today and Forbes.

YouTube and TikTok post first-hand accounts of customers using litter boxes and other products. Wherever you look, make sure you trust the source. You're off to a great start by reading this article!

Stop Scooping!

Automatic litter boxes take on the job you dread — cleaning out your cat's litter. If you want to know when it's clean, it tells you. If you want to let it do its job for a few days and forget about it, you can do that too (but you should look inside occasionally because glitches are always possible).

There are downsides to every product, and automatic litter boxes come with a higher price tag than regular boxes. Are you willing to pay for the hassle-free job it performs? Do you have room for it in your home? Will your cat accept it? These are all questions that need consideration before you make that litter leap.

Whatever type of litter box you choose to get for your cat, use this guide to steer you in the right direction. Your cat is already happy, and you feel relief, too, now that your litter box cleaning days are over!

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