Do Self Cleaning Litter Boxes Really Work? Find Out Here!

Owning a cat comes with a massive number of benefits. You will receive companionship, comfort, and the joy of a free furry heater on the coldest of nights.

Cats are famous for their independent and individual natures, their lordly view of their peasant owners, and their self-appointed status as the rulers of the Universe. As well as these benefits, however, there can be some downsides: the cost of food and vets bills, the occasional nibble or scratch and, of course, the cleaning of the litter box.

A litter box is an unfortunate necessity when it comes to cat care. While some owners will allow their cats to roam outside and do their business in the backyard, it is important to remember that this can increase the risks which your cat may face.

Predators, diseases, and injury are all significant factors which lead to many owners keeping their cats indoors, and many pets will live a contented life as house cats. 


This choice can entail more work, as you need to make sure you have provided a safe, clean and private place for your pet to perform their ablutions, and this comes in the form of a litter box. Self-cleaning options are a popular choice, and it is easy to see why. They allow technology to do the smelly work and will enable you to be more ‘hands-off' in the litter box department.

How do self cleaning litter boxes work?

A self-cleaning litter box (you can read more about them) claims to do the dirty work for you, removing the need for regular scooping, disposal, and cleaning. It works by using a waste compartment which rakes, flushes, sifts or collects the waste, meaning that you can ensure minimal contact with the unwanted gifts your cat leaves behind. It also means there is no need to scoop regularly,  and your cat will have regular access to fresh, clean litter as the box can tell when your cat has used it and can clean as they go. You can check out our Litter Robot III review article and our Cat Genie guide to see more about the top automatic litter box models.

who is it good for?

As well as being perfect for anyone who doesn't want to get up close and personal with their cats business, a self-cleaning box is a lifesaver for anyone who works late or overnight shifts, or who has an illness or disability which makes mobility an issue.

They are also a good option for your cat. Cats are clean animals who prefer to hide and cover their waste where possible. Making sure the box is always clean and accessible is vital for their well-being and happiness, as well as encouraging regular use, but this level of cleanliness can be tricky to maintain.

what to consider

On the whole, self-cleaning boxes can work well, offering a useful and hygienic alternative to traditional trays which require regular scooping, cleaning, and general maintenance. To make your transition into a self-cleaning box a success, though, there are several factors you should consider, including:

the size of your cat

The success of your self-cleaning box depends on you picking the right option to suit your cat. They are picky creatures, and anything which is not totally right is usually met with disapproval and a refusal to engage—this could be an expensive, unwanted outcome.

 It is essential to do your research carefully. The size of the device may seem perfect, but that may be an illusion. Often the outside casing can work to make a unit appear bigger than it is. In this case, your cat will not have much room to conduct their business. This lack of space can result in distress, particularly if you have a feline who is obsessed with covering every single trace of their waste. Make sure the inside space of any covered container is adequate, or your pet may simply refuse to engage.

the type of litter

In a similar vein, many cats can be fussy about the kind of litter they use. It is also crucial that you pick a litter which is compatible with your box, or you will risk malfunctions which could be messy and costly. Make sure you double check the requirements to keep everything working as it should. It's also a good idea to test out this litter in your regular box before buying an expensive self-cleaning option to see if your cat will even use the required litter.

you have multiple cats

As a general rule, an automatic litter box will not be a suitable option for multiple cats. Even regular trays can be tricky as some cats dislike sharing, and you need a separate box for each cat. Buying multiple self-cleaning boxes isn't ideal, as the initial cost is much higher.

Besides, having multiple cats will put the system under strain, and this can cause malfunctions and an inability to keep up with demand. In the best case scenario, you will end up emptying the collection compartment as regularly as if you were scooping a standard tray. In the worst, you will overload the system and end up with a box and motor which wears out quickly, requiring regular replacement.

you have a fussy cat

As we have mentioned, cats are famed for their finicky natures. While most cats will adjust well to an automatic litter box, it is important that the transition is carried out slowly, with the needs of the pet at the forefront.

If you are introducing a kitten to a litter box, this may be an easier process. For older cats, take things slowly and check they are happy with the change. It is also a good idea to keep a regular box handy in case they are confused or do not take to their new option. For some cats, however, no amount of gently pushing will convince them.

If you have a cat who is particularly highly-strung or nervous or an old lady/gent who is firmly set in his or her ways, this may not be the best choice for your household. Remember; what may be more convenient for you may not be best for your pet.