The Pros & Cons of a Self-Cleaning Litter Box Why It May Work for Some Households and Not Others

A Cat Checking Out His Litter Box

Thumbnail of Booda Clean Step Filters 2Pk

Booda Clean Step Filters 2Pk

Litter, Litter Boxes & Accessories
{{petcare_price|currency}} Price in Cart w/PetPlus {{petplus_price|currency}} See PetPlus Price in Cart

A self-cleaning litter box: every cat parent's dream, right? Or maybe not. Although a self-cleaning litter box sounds ideal, it is not always accepted by every feline. Find out what the pros and cons are to decide if it would be a hit or miss in your home.

If you love your cat, but don’t like the stink and mess of cat litter, a self-cleaning litter box might be the right choice for your home. And it’s not just you who will appreciate this change: cats, fastidious in their habits, will usually be fans of the increased cleanliness in self-cleaning litter boxes. Some cats, however, will be put off by the mechanisms that make them function. Discover how these litter boxes work, and the pros and cons.

How Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes Work

Self-cleaning litter boxes come equipped with a method of detecting when your cat is in the litter box—either a motion or weight sensor. A few minutes after your cat has finished their business in the litter box and departed, the self-cleaning litter box will rake the litter and deposit any clumps in a separate compartment.

Some units will rotate to separate the waste. The compartment with all the waste is enclosed and cordoned off so that the smell is not noxious. Some self-cleaning litter boxes utilize special litter, and others are designed to work with what you already use.

Some owners complain that the mechanisms used for separating the clean litter from the dirty litter can jam or break, but in general, the litter boxes seem to work well. 


  • Goodbye to a vaguely stinky area around the litter box.

  • No need to deal with litter on a daily basis.

  • Easy disposal of waste—although don’t forget, you’ll still have to empty the compartment of the waste eventually. So you haven’t escaped dealing with the litter box entirely.


  • The initial cost of the litter box will be higher than a simple plastic tray. The price for self-cleaning litter boxes ranges from one hundred dollars to nearly four hundred dollars on the high end. Some of these litter boxes also require that you purchase disposable trays and special litter.

  • Some cats will find the movement a bit alarming—even though they’re not inside when the raking occurs -- and may be reluctant to use the self-cleaning litter box. Keep in mind that cats are often change-averse, so an ease-in period may be necessary.

  • The clean-up process after your cat uses the facilities can be a bit loud, which can be bothersome to cats and owners alike, particularly if the cleaning occurs in the late hours of the evening.

How do self-cleaning litter boxes work?

Automatic or self-cleaning cat litter boxes make perfect sense for cat owners constrained by limited time when it comes to cleaning litter boxes. A number of products are sold in the market. These different products may vary a little, but all of them perform the same function.

Clean by itself

The majority of self-cleaning litter boxes come with a rake that moves through cat litter, its actions sifting out and then removing waste from the box. This waste is generally deposited into a kind of acceptable found at one end of the litter box. This receptacle is consequently closed. The closed space holds the odors until waste gets removed. A sensor that turns on when the cat enters the litter box and off when the animal walks away is also present. This sensor is linked to a timer that results in the rake locomote over the litter box. The mess gets cleaned after a particular time gets passed. The mechanism does not move when the kitty is in the box.

Right litter

Read the directions carefully before you buy a self-cleaning litter box for your kitty. To give an example, a few automatic boxes need a particular kind of litter. Some boxes need clumping litter and some require crystals. You must use the specified kind of litter for the purchased product. Not doing so will result in the failure of the automatic cleaning cycle. Directions on how to use the product will be provided. It is important to use the product as specified. Not doing so will only harm the product.

Acclimating the litter box

A power source is needed to run the self-cleaning litter box. A few boxes need to be connected to a power source and a few are battery operated. Yet another offer both options. As the automatic cat litter boxes contain a motor that pulls the cleaning rake through litter, a noise becomes audible at a time when the box is in the cleaning cycle. A few cats may find this noise disturbing. It may thus take a few days for your kitty to adjust itself to the box.

Sometimes, the cat may not use the self-cleaning box at all. It is vital that you choose the correct litter box suitable for your kitty. It is another matter altogether as if the box has a hood or not. A few cats may prefer automatic litter boxes without any kind of hood. To acclimate the kitty to the newly purchased self-cleaning litter box, put a little amount of feces from another box into the self-cleaning box.

Your cat could be encouraged to use the new box. In case your kitty gets frightened easily switch off the power of the automatic litter box until the cat gets comfortable with its presence. After you are sure that your cat is comfortable, switch the machine on and allow some time to get your kitty to develop a congenial relationship with the box.

More on Litter Box

How to Choose a Cat Litter Box and Kitty Litter
5 Ways to Take the Eww Out of Litter Boxes
Litter Box Training for Your Cat

Was this article helpful?

You May Also Like