How to Transition a Cat to a Self-Cleaning Litter Box

There are a vast number of advantages and benefits of owning a cat. You get fluffy pet cuddles, a companion who answers back, and they generally need less attention and care than dogs—not to mention no need for daily walks.

 Along with the highs, however, do come lows. Vets bills can be expensive, health problems heartbreaking and, no matter how cute your cat, dealing with their business is no fun for anyone.

Cleaning and maintaining the litter box is always a chore, and it can be one which is messy, smelly and far from fun.

Fortunately, modern technology had developed a solution which could be a salvation for cat owners everywhere— the self-cleaning litter box; you can check out our comprehensive self cleaning litter box reviews to see which one is the perfect fit for you. You can check out this Litter Robot review and ​this review of the Catgenie if you'd just like to read about the top two automatic litter boxes.

Litter Robot Self Cleaning Litter Box

how does it work?

As the name suggests, a self-cleaning or automatic litter box works by doing the hard work of removing your cat’s waste for you. They come equipped with a small rake feature, which scoops the deposit and stores it in a sealed container until you are ready to empty it. The litter will then be raked and left fresh and ready for the next occupant. When the container is full, you simply need to make one trip to the garbage, saving you time and effort—not to mention preserving your sense of smell!

A self-cleaning box can be a real help to pet owners and can save you from having to regularly check and scoop your cat’s tray throughout the day. It allows you to go longer between cleans, and can even save you cash, as only remove the soiled litter. Your cat will be happier with a toileting area which is always fresh and ready, and multiple cats can share the same box, eliminating the need for you to have several boxes throughout the home.

While there is a range of benefits to making the switch to automatic, it is important that the transition is carried out carefully at a pace your cat is comfortable with. Depending on the nature of your pet, it may take a while for them to get used to the new box, and rushing the process can cause fear and rejection which makes your new toy useless.

how do i make the transition?

Getting your cat used to a new litter box is always a process, and this is particularly true when you are introducing an automatic option. The self-cleaning action can be a shock and may take some getting used to. 

Remember that what may seem a fantastic solution to you may be scary or overwhelming for your cat, and it may be that you have to admit defeat if things don't work out. If you push it too far, your cat may become frightened and go on ‘potty strike,’ refusing the use the box altogether and developing digestive and health problems as a result.

There are simple steps you can take to prevent this from happening and make the transition easier and keep your cat calm and comfortable.

gentle instructions

It is a good idea to start by simply getting your cat get used to the new box being in the same room. Start by placing it on the opposite side of the room where their regular litter box is kept. Do not turn it on or add litter; just have it as an unobtrusive object for them to notice.

Make sure it is away from their usual box to reduce stress, and they will endeavor to understand this strange new object better with a great deal of sniffing. When they are at the point of ignoring it, you are ready to move onto the next step.

check the litter

Before using an automatic box for the first time, it is vital to check the litter required. Some models will require a specific type, or you risk malfunction. If possible get your cat used to the new litter in their regular box by slowly switching from the old type to the new.

This process can take time, but once your cat is happy with the new litter, they will be far more likely to take to the new box. Gradually introduce the new litter into their regular box until you have totally transitioned, and then give your cat time to get used to it. Again, once you are at the stage of ignoring the change, you are ready to proceed.

let your cat take charge

Once the same litter is in both boxes, it is time to let your cat take charge. In time, curiosity will take over, and they will eventually begin to try out the new box. It is important not to turn it on until they are used to using it as this could spook them into a rejection.

offer choice

Even when your cat seems comfortable using the new box, it is a good idea to offer them the choice by keeping their old box. This option can be a comfort and make the change less stressful.

Over time, they will adapt to the new box, and this can change.  If your cat is regularly using both, leave the waste in the regular box for a while without scooping. Your cat will soon realize that the automatic box is always clean and fresh, and this will automatically hold more appeal.

be patient, and prepared to admit defeat

A self-cleaning box may be what you want, and it is understandable that you want to make the switch away from smelly trays and regular scooping as soon as possible. From your cats perspective, however, this is a significant change and needs to be handled carefully. They need time to adjust in a calm and familiar environment, with the option to return to the old option if they need to. Some cats just can't handle the change, and you need to be prepared to admit defeat if it doesn't work out—the happiness and health of your kitty need to be the number one priority.