How to choose an automatic cat litter box: The Ultimate Guide

How to choose an automatic cat litter box that your cat will actually use? We discuss the factors to consider.

In a modern world where every intolerable task is taken care of thanks to technology, you can guarantee there’s something out there to take care of cats’ waste. Are you at the point in your cat’s life where you are asking yourself if you should take the plunge and get an automatic cat litter box?

That’s why we’ve put together the ultimate guide on how to choose an automatic litter box for you and your cat

Have you spent countless days standing over your dirty litter box in a Hamlet fashion, glaring at the scoop at hand while whispering to yourself “To scoop or not to scoop?”

Moving away from the old-fashioned way of emptying your regular litter box in search for better efficiency is daunting.
Investing a lot of money in a self cleaning box for your cat in the hopes of gaining some convenience is something else. Particularly if you have no idea what it is you’re looking for. Or whether your cat is even going to welcome the new purchase.

So, is an automatic cat litter box worth it?

The burning question that seems to be on the lips of every cat owner is are automatic litter boxes really worth it.

The short answer is – compared to manually scooping your cat litter box and flushing the clumping litter down the toilet up to twice every day – then yes, it is worth it.

But before you pull your wallet out and buy a self cleaning litter box from the first Google result, you will want to think about how to choose the best automatic litter box for you and your cat! You should ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How often does your cat/s use the litter box per day?
  2. Does it need to be cleaned in between uses? How easy is this task?
  3. How often do you clean out a traditional litter box in a day/ week? 
  4. Realistically, how much time in a week do you spend cleaning out your cat litter box? Would you rather just have a device where you rely on an automated cleaning cycle?

Different automatic cat litter boxes offer different features to accommodate a household’s needs. Unfortunately many come with flaws you need to be okay working around. Some buyers may favour a bigger solid waste receptacle over the expense of losing more room space, for example. 

You also need to factor in how many cats use the litter box. Is everyone in your multiple cat household okay with sharing? Would you still have to get a separate regular litter box so they have the option?

Whatever factors are relevant to your household, these will help refine the specs you should be looking out for when searching for the best automatic litter box. 

How does an automatic cat litter box work?

On the market, there are so many different makes of self cleaning litter boxes. Having to choose an automatic cat litter box can be daunting. Actually – the process for all of them is the same. Sift out the solid waste clumps into a dedicated waste bin, leaving as much of the clean litter as possible.

The waste accumulates in its built-in waste receptacle which you need to manually empty when full. Hopefully only a few times a month depending on its capacity and how often your cat/s use the box.

A self cleaning litter box can be useful if you know you may not always be around to clean litter. Or if you have mobility issues that prevent you from being at hand all the time to deal with the waste. 

Which automatic litter box to choose?

Some automatic litter boxes clean better than others, and this is undoubtedly reflected in its price tag.

You can take a high-end cat box such as the Litter Robot 3 (RRP £579) and compare it to a classic budget-friendly model like the PetSafe ScoopFree (RRP £120), and you can probably guess which one would prevail.

If you are willing to invest in something expensive which you know will uphold the best hygiene standards for your cat, then this may seem like an easy decision.

Comparing the cosmetic profiles of the Litter Robot 3 and the PetSafe ScoopFree; you will notice that the PetSafe ScoopFree takes the shape of a traditional rectangular litter tray.
Therefore it also takes up less space compared to the Litter Robot 3 – which does look like a cat-sized cryo-sleep space pod has landed in your living room (but you might be into that which is totally fine). 

Litter Robot 3 - one of the modern but expensive choices in the self cleaning litter box world

Which automatic litter box cleans better?

So it is a case of working out which features are more applicable to you. Either to have a product that cleans to a satisfactory level with a low-profile model. Or have something more reliable that sifts out the waste from the litter very well; but could end up taking a lot of room space. 

How to keep your automatic litter box clean?

The objective of an automatic litter box is to make cleaning out waste more efficient for the owner. And it’s safe to say that all the products are good at doing just that.

For the cleaning freaks who want to take it a step further and invest in the deep clean; you’d want to find a product that is easy to take apart and put back together again. So, whichever product catches your eye – make sure you know how easy it is to dismantle it.

Again a low-profile automatic litter box like the PetSafe Scoopfree consists of fewer parts. You can easily slide out and empty its waste receptacle, wash it, and slot it back in again. 

What on earth is a self-flushing cat litter box?

One particular litter box that uses a self-flushing method, a method which isn’t unheard of but is certainly different from a sift or a raking technique, is the CatGenie AI.

To put it quite simply, it’s like a human toilet but for your cat. You wire it up directly to your water system.

Imagine a hands-free way of cleaning after your cat’s waste!

A process that you can simply flush away at the touch of a button. 

But what about the deep cleaning I hear you ask? That is another story. While you may not have to deep clean the product as often as, say, the Litter Robot or the PetSafe ScoopFree, the CatGenie does require more hefty dismantling.

What’s more, if a cat owner runs into a problem with the CatGenie where troubleshooting requires a full dismantle, you might be in for a bigger problem than simply using a traditional litter box.

To summarise, a self-flushing litter box is great if you don’t want to deal with cat poop ever again. But prepare yourself to tinker with it if it breaks down. 

What is the best cat litter to use in the automatic litter box?

What type of cat litter is compatible with my automatic cat litter box?

There are plenty of cat litter-related questions that you may be asking yourself. If you are using crystal litter – would that work for the self-cleaning litter box? And for the environmentally conscious – is the automatic litter box compatible with biodegradable cat litter?

You may need to change the type of litter your cat is used to

The truth is – the majority of automatic litter boxes work with clumping litter. The sifting mechanism relies on the clumping function and this is how solid waste gets separated into the waste receptacle.

If you have been using silica gel litter or crystal litter, you will most likely need to change to a clumping litter. Clumping litter may not necessarily mean clay litter as there are now other clumping varieties.

Potential dangers of some cat litter varieties

However, be aware – not all cat litter is created equal. We investigated the dangers of cat litter and you can read about them in this article.

Each cat owner will make their decisions based on what’s available, and convenient, what their cat likes, and what’s their budget.

But at the very least – we should be knowledgeable about potential dangers lurking in the cat litter box.

So which type of litter can I use?

Make sure your automatic litter box comes with cat litter suggestions, so you know what to buy. This is to ensure that everything is working properly. Some automatic cat litter boxes require you to use a specific litter brand. Just make sure you are aware of the cost and whether it’s readily available.

By the way – if you really don’t want to give up the crystal litter, there are still self cleaning litter boxes that you can use (such as Petsafe Scoopfree).

How do I know if my cat will like using an automatic cat litter box?

We can all agree that the best automatic litter box is one that your cat actually uses! There is no telling if your cat will be able to make the transition or if they will refuse to use the automatic litter box entirely. Many kitty litter box models have thought about this and do offer a warranty or returns policy.

Many models also offer specific features built to work around a cat’s fear of using this new contraption.

This could mean motion sensors detecting your cat’s presence and then starting the cleaning cycle as soon as they leave. The drawback of this is that your cat gets easily spooked by motor sounds suddenly activating.

How do make the transition to a new litter box?

Your cat may also need to transition from an open litter tray to a covered box. Some cats will welcome the extra privacy, whilst larger cats may feel trapped. Cat size is another factor to consider when choosing the best litter box for your kitty.

Depending on your current setup and the new gadget, your cat may need to transition to a different litter. Most likely to a clumping variety. You can always break this into 2 steps – use the new type of cat litter in the traditional litter box first.

If you’ve got your mind set on an automatic cat box, it is good to know the best way to make the final transition. In another article, we will talk more about ways to train your cat to start using an automatic cat box. 

What if I have a multiple cat household?

Choose automatic cat litter box for multiple cat household

If you have several cats, there are additional considerations when you come to choose an automatic cat litter box for your feline family.

This falls back on the earlier question we asked about automatic litter boxes accommodating multiple uses in a short space of time to keep clean litter available.

We revised many reviews across all the models and it is a pretty mixed bag. For instance, you can get one model that can keep up with the cleaning cycle after each use. But it means you’d have to empty the solid waste receptacle more often.

You could get instances where one of your cats enjoys using the brand-new snazzy kit but your other cat swears vengeance against it and prefers a traditional litter box.

Cats with “special needs”?

Whatever your cat’s conditions, be it they’re much older or could still be a kitten, it is a case of understanding your cat and their needs beforehand.

If your cat cannot handle climbing up to higher spots due to age then the Litter Robot 3, which is slightly raised, might not be suitable.

Another scenario where this particular model might not be appropriate is if your cat is slightly larger than average. They might not fancy squeezing into a small pod with limited wriggle room.

In other words, we recommend a revision of each model’s specifications if your cat has specific needs; whether they are old, young, have particular health issues or if they have sensitive hearing. 

The bottom line – understand your cat

How to choose automatic cat litter box? Bottom line - understanding your cat

Understanding what your cat needs in a litter box should be the determining factor when you are on the quest to choose an automatic cat litter box for your household.

If your cat demands you to empty out their dirty litter often or you’re not able to clean it as often as you’d like, then an automatic litter box would be helpful to keep up with cats’ waste.

If you have a kitten who is terrified of loud sounds and you’re still in the stages of training it, then an automatic litter box might not be such a good idea for now.

There is always the opportunity to give it a go if you are curious thanks to the product returns that many models offer; just make sure you keep the box!

Whatever the case, the bottom line is having an automatic litter box should be there to make your and your cat’s lives easier, rather than debilitate them. 

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