Are self-cleaning litter boxes worth it?

Since self-cleaning, automatic cat toilet boxes are expensive, you’re right to worry about the money in the long run. 

Fortunately, I’m here to talk about everything you should know about the advantages and disadvantages of automatic cat toilet boxes. 

Just keep reading.

This post contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

READ MORE: Best Automatic Litter Box for Large Cats

Are Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes Worth It?

Keeping the toilet box spotless is essential. As the animal behaviorist Yody Blass says, “If the box gets overlooked in some busy households, that can create inappropriate elimination issues.” (1)

And here is where automatic cat litter boxes come to the rescue and promise to do all the daily scooping for you, so you never have to get your hands dirty again. 

But are self-cleaning litter boxes worth it? Automatic cat toilet boxes are an excellent way to control odors and cut down on cleaning time, but they aren’t completely hands-free.

So, let’s talk about how these self-cleaning toilet boxes work and then discuss their pros and cons. 

How Does a Self-Cleaning Litter Box Work?

Self-cleaning boxes come in many designs and styles, but they all work by flushing, sifting, or raking your cat’s waste to pick up the clumps, not allowing it to linger inside the main unit.

Most modern models have sensors that detect when your cat is inside the unit and turn on the cleaning cycle once your cat exits the box. Then the waste is either contained in a drawer or flushed down.

So, your cat has fresh litter every time they visit the toilet, which decreases the chance of your cat looking for an alternative bathroom spot.

And depending on the model you choose, you can track your cat’s bathroom habits because you can remote control the device through an application.

Which Automatic Litter Box Work the Best?

In general, the best automatic cat toilet boxes use three main types of cleaning mechanisms:

  • Automatic rake. The rake goes forward/backward to remove cat waste with its thins. Then it deposits the clumps in a waste compartment. ScoopFree is an excellent choice in this category.
  • Rotation. Litter-Robot is a great example of a rotating cleaning mechanism. The globe rotates to cycle cat waste and contains it inside a waste compartment.
  • Flushing system. CatGenie features this unique disposable system that flushes your cat’s dirty washable granules down the toilet/laundry drain.

Litter-Robot is the best for pet owners with multiple cats, while ScoopFree is the most affordable. CatGenie is also great for multi-cat holmes but must be connected to the toilet and take extra space.

MUST READ: Scoopfree Reusable Cat Litter Tray

Is Litter-Robot Worth it?

Litter-Robot is one of the most popular self-cleaning toilet boxes, so it’s no wonder you’re wondering if it’s worth its expensive price.

Orange and white cat peeking out from inside a litter robot

As a whole, Litter-Robot is great for multi-cat homes because it can accommodate up to 3-4 cats and doesn’t require any special supplies, such as crystals or disposable trays.

Litter-Robot also works the best with clumping litter, so you don’t need to get your cat used to a new type of litter.

Moreover, you get up to three years of extended warranty and can return the unit without 90 days if you’re not satisfied with its performance, or your cat hates it.

Most cat owners leave favorable reviews for the unit’s design, odor control, and durability.

And as this reviewer says, “Many cats will be intrigued by the Litter-Robot’s cycling process, which draws them in.” (2) So, it’s not very hard to train cats to use this automatic toilet box.

READ MORE: Best Clumping Litter for Litter Robot

Here’s a quick peek at the pros and cons of self-cleaning litter boxes.

What Are the Pros of Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes?

Now that you have an idea of how these self-cleaning cat toilets work and why Litter-Robot is worth it, let’s talk about the main pros of all automatic cat boxes.

#1 Less Litter Usage

As I already explained, automatic toilet units start the clean cycle within minutes of your cat finishing its business. They remove clumped waste before it dirties the rest of the granules/sand.

In this way, you’re going to save some money in the long run because you won’t need as much clumping litter or washable granules as usual. 

#2 Less Scooping

One of the best automatic litter boxes – Litter-Robot does all the hard work instead of you. All you have to do is empty the waste drawer once a week – no need to scrub urine clumps from the bottom. 

And CatGenie doesn’t even require you to lift a finger. It automatically liquefies solid waste and flushes it down the toilet or laundry drain. 

Of course, you’ll have to deep clean the unit once in a while to reduce unpleasant odors and remove accumulated dirt and bacteria. 

But these types of automatic, self-cleaning units greatly reduce the time you spend maintaining your cat’s toilet, especially in multi-cat households. 

#3 Monitoring Cat Habits 

It’s easy to notice when your cat has an upset stomach, but can you tell how often your cat has peed with a traditional box? Not likely.

Many automatic toilet boxes allow you to monitor your cat’s bathroom habits through an app remotely. As such, it’s easy for the owner to notice if the cat is peeing/pooping more than usual.

And spotting urination problems on time can save your pet’s life and reduce vet bills because you’ll avoid complications.

#4 Superior Odor Control 

Even when you empty the dirty clumps in the trash right away, it’s almost impossible to eliminate the unpleasant litter box odors from the traditional litter box. 

But automatic toilet boxes contain the solid waste inside a drawer/litter tray or liquify it immediately. As such, as this reviewer of Litter-Robot says, all nasty odors are well-contained.

#5 Trial Period 

Besides monitoring your cat’s bathroom habits, many automatic toilet boxes have features that make life easier, such as sleep mode and night light.

Moreover, some brands offer a trial period so that you can return the unit if your feline friend doesn’t get used to the new cleaning mechanism.

And you get at least a one-year warranty, so you can return the product if it malfunctions or your cat hates it. 

#6 Great for Busy Pet Owners 

Finally, automatic cat toilet boxes are a great choice for pet parents who have to leave their cats alone for a couple of days.

Thanks to the self-cleaning feature, you don’t have to worry about the toilet getting too dirty for your cat to use. And these types of boxes can also work great for some multi-cat households. 

CHECK: How to Get Cat to Use Automatic Litter Box

What Are the Cons of Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes?

While a self-cleaning box sounds like a dream come true, it has a couple of disadvantages you have to take into account when thinking, “Are self-cleaning cat litter boxes worth it?”

#1 Supplies 

As I already said, you don’t need any special supplies when using Litter-Robot (kitchen bags make great liners), but that’s not the case for all self-cleaning toilets for cats.

Some boxes require special cat litter or washable granules to run, which are more expensive than traditional brands.

And some need additional branded supplies, such as disposable trays and a special filter for odor control.

#2 Still Require Maintenance

While self-cleaning toilet boxes reduce the time you spend scooping, they require frequent maintenance to remain odor-free. For example, you need to wipe down the rake to remove any stuck clumps or feces.

Moreover, you have to clean the unit thoroughly every couple of months to remove accumulated bacteria, dirt, and odors.

And if you don’t maintain the box well, you risk it shortening its life.

#3 Not All Cats Like Them

Some felines don’t like the loud noise the automatic box makes, the entry point, or the type of litter it uses. So, it’s hard getting them used to the new box, and the chance of house soiling is greater.

#4 Not the Best for Kittens or Small Cats

Most automatic toilet boxes have weight sensors that detect when the cat is inside the unit. That’s why they don’t work well for kittens or small cat breeds, which weigh too little to trigger the sensor.

#5 Multi-Cat Self-Cleaning Boxes Are Expensive

In general, a self-cleaning cat litter box works the best for single-cat households. It can work in multi-cat houses, but you need to get a more expensive unit, able to deal with multiple felines.

Moreover, these toilet boxes take more space than traditional ones, so they aren’t the best option for cat owners with limited space.

How To Choose an Automatic Cat Toilet Box to Work For Your Cat?

As a pet parent, you have to keep a few things in mind to ensure the automatic litter box you get is worth it. Let’s talk a look at them.

#1 Pan Size vs. Dimension Size

Most cat parents only check the unit’s overall dimensions to ensure it’s a fit for their cat’s size. But the actual “pooping” area is smaller, which can make the box too narrow for your feline companion.

So, check the pan’s size to ensure it’s big enough for your cat to turn and do its business.

#2 Your Cat’s Elimination Habits

Some cats use their toilet box, and you can hardly notice they’ve gone. But others make a total mess out of it. You need a suitable scooping mechanism for your cat’s elimination habits.

A self-cleaning toilet box with a rake is better for cats who don’t like to dig a lot, while an automatic unit with a rotating cleaning cycle is bests for “enthusiastic” poopers.

#3 Number of Cats

For multiple-cat households, you need a sophisticated device with a durable motor. A cheap self-cleaning litter box won’t do because it will break from the frequent cycling/raking.

Are Automatic Litter Boxes Worth it: FAQs

How Often Do You Have to Clean a Self-Cleaning Litter Box?

In general, you need to empty the waste compartment every week if you have a single cat or every couple of days if you have multiple. Self-flushing systems need maintenance twice a year. 

Do Cats Like an Automatic Litter Box?

As studies say, “if boxes are kept sufficiently clean, most cats will not show a preference.” (3) So, most cats won’t have a problem with an automatic toilet as long as you introduce it slowly. 

How Many Cats Can Use a Self-Clean Litter Box? 

It depends on the type of self-cleaning toilet box you purchase. Some are a good fit for one or two cats, while others accommodate up to four. 

Is Litter Robot Good for Multiple Cats?

Yes, Litter-Robot is good for up to 4 cats. Keep in mind that for each additional cat using the toilet, you will need to increase how often you empty the waste drawer.

Conclusion

Are self-cleaning litter boxes worth it? Yes, they’re worth it if you pick the right box to suit your cat’s elimination habits, size, and preferences.

However, you should remember that automatic cat boxes still require regular maintenance to ensure smooth operation and reduce unpleasant odors.

cute ginger maine coon kitten

What do you think about the topic? Are self-cleaning litter boxes worth it? Share your user experience in the comment section.  

 Resources:

  • 1. Is a Self-Cleaning Litter Box Really Less Work? [Internet]. www.petmd.com. Available from: https://www.petmd.com/cat/care/self-cleaning-litter-box-really-less-work
  • 2. An Honest Litter Robot Review after Owning It for 5 Years – FloppycatsTM [Internet]. www.floppycats.com. [cited 2022 Mar 25]. Available from: https://www.floppycats.com/litter-robot-reviews.html#1-do-cats-like-the-litterrobot
  • 3. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/232720172_Litter_box_preference_in_domestic_cats_Covered_versus_uncovered

Grigorina S
Grigorina S

I’ve grown up surrounded by animals – dogs, cats, cows, goats, sheep, and horses and that has shaped me into what I am today – a crazy cat lady who always has a place for one more cat (or a dog). I’ve got two female cats – Kitty and Roni, and two tomcats – Blacky and Shaggy, but I also feed my neighbors’ cats when they come for a visit. I just can’t say no to them.

I discovered that writing is my vocation early in my school years. Since then I’ve taken part in several literature contests – writing horror and fantasy short stories and novellas.
For the past three years, I’ve been an ELS teacher, pouring my heart into showing children and teenagers how important English is for their future and trying to educate them how to treat their pets with care.

Find her on Instagram. Read her latest articles..

Learn more about Grigorina here