Types of self-cleaning litter boxes

As you might have seen in the above reviews, there are various types of self-cleaning boxes available in the market. If you are curious about the different types of litter boxes and the benefits that each one provides, then this section is for you!

1. Open top and covered auto litter boxes

One of the most distinct differences that you might have noticed in the above 11 products is the presence of a hood or not. There are two distinct types of litter boxes; some have an open-top while others are covered by a hood or a lid.


An open-top litter box has four-sides and usually high walls. They do have a floor, sometimes disposable, sometimes not. However, they do not have a roof. These types of litter boxes are inexpensive and most cats can easily acclimate to the box.

Furthermore, they are easy to clean and maintain. Some units have a plastic lining which further protects anything from scattering outside the box.

Although, there is a downside of open-top litter boxes. If you have a cat that likes to dig into the litter or kick it around then you might not like these types of litter boxes. Most of them do have high walls but there might still be litter particles scattered around the box after your cat is done with their business.

Thus, you might have to frequently clean up the litter box and the area around it. A simple solution for this problem is to put a plastic or any protective mat underneath the box to prevent the mess and to make the cleanup process easier.

Perfect examples of such litter boxes are the CatGenie A.I. Self-Washing Cat Box and PetSafe ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box.


As the name suggests, a covered litter box usually has a roof. There is a small opening at the front of the box so that your cat can easily enter and leave the box. Some units, like the Omega Paw EL-RA20-1 Self Cleaning Litter Box, have a small litter step as well to help your feline climb in.

Cats like their privacy. Therefore, if you have a cat that requires privacy to go about its business, you will like these types of litter boxes. However, it might be difficult to acclimate your cat to this type of box as it seems mysterious and dark.

Another downside of this type of litter box is that it is difficult to clean it unless it has locking clips like Omega Paw NRA15-1 Roll ‘n Clean Self Cleaning Litter Box and Omega Paw EL-RA20-1 Self Cleaning Litter Box has.

To conclude, this type of box is perfect for cats that like to make a mess in their litter box. Though, you might have a little trouble getting them used to it and cleaning it up.

2. Flushing self-cleaning litter boxes and models with disposable trays

There are two ways that self-cleaning litter boxes work. She can wash off and scoop the clumps themselves after she uses it. Alternatively, she swipes them off into a small bin or tray that can be disposed of later on.

Flushing self-cleaning litter boxes

Flush self-cleaning litter boxes usually have an automatic function that starts operating a little while after your cat has used the box. If I talk about a particular product, CatGenie A.I. Self-Washing Cat Box has such a function. It waits for 30 minutes before activating the cleaning process. The bowl rotates slowly and a small rake automatically fishes out the solid clumps.

After the scoping process is over, the water is released from the chambers and it cleans the granules thoroughly. The granules are non-absorbent which means they can be used repeatedly without degrading. Some users claim that the granules lasted them for almost four to six months!

After this, the tiny particles are dried and the box is ready to be used again!

Self-cleaning litter boxes with disposable trays

Litter boxes that have disposable trays are beneficial for those people who do not want to scoop up the waste themselves. If I take the example of PetSafe ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box and PetSafe ScoopFree Self Cleaning Hooded Cat Litter Box, the unit makes your life easy by giving you the option of loading a disposable tray after every week or so.

These types of units usually have an automatic rake that scrapes through the box and shoves the clumps into a small covered trap on the side. Moreover, most of them use a specialized type of crystal litter which keeps the unpleasant smells to the minimum.

However, the downside of such boxes is that they can be costly since you will have to change the tray as well as the litter after every few weeks.

3. Electric and manual self-cleaning litter boxes

Another factor that distinguishes different types of litter boxes is how they are cleaned; while some are cleaned electrically, others are cleaned manually.

Electric self-cleaning litter boxes

Electric Self-cleaning boxes usually have a small rake or an automatic flush that activates and scoops away all of the clumps and cleans the granules thoroughly. These units are usually preferred since most people do not want to physically touch the litter box. Furthermore, as we discussed above, cat litter can be dangerous as it emits ammonia which is toxic.

So, if you are someone who wants a scoop-free litter box that does not require you to touch it for weeks, then purchase an electric self-cleaning litter box.

Pillows-RJF Scoop Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box and LitterMaid Self-Cleaning Litter Box for Multiple Cats are the most ideal examples of such operation.

Manual self-cleaning litter boxes

Manual self-cleaning litter boxes are the ones, as the name suggests, that require you to physically move the litter box around to separate the clumps from the rest of the litter. Don’t worry, these do not require you to touch the clumps or scrape them off yourself. All you have to do is wait 20 to 30 minutes after your cat has done its business and then roll the unit once so that all of the clumps get scooped into the tray or grate at the side.

Examples of such a system are the Omega Paw NRA15-1 Roll ‘n Clean Self Cleaning Litter Box and Omega Paw EL-RA20-1 Self Cleaning Litter Box.

4. Automatic litter boxes with crystal litter, sand, or no litter

Let’s talk about the different types of litter that various self-cleaning litter boxes use.

Automatic litter boxes with crystal litter

These types of litter boxes have a special kind of litter known as the crystal litter. The crystals absorb all of the moisture and give a superior kind of odor control. PetSafe ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box uses such litter.

Self-cleaning litter boxes with sand litter

Some litter boxes use sand as a litter. Sand can be used to replace store-bought cat litter. It clumps easily. However, it is ineffective to properly retain odors.

However, some self-cleaning litter boxes give you the option to use any type of litter that you want.

Self-cleaning litter boxes that require no litter

CatGenie A.I. Self-Washing Cat Box is the perfect example of a self-cleaning litter box that does not require any litter. It uses washable granules that can last you for as long as six months.

So, if you are looking to save money and get the best self-cleaning cat litter box experience, then I would suggest you go for this type of litter box. Also, you won’t be puzzled by the optimal amount of litter that should be used.

How to choose a self-cleaning litter box

Cat litter boxes are an essential part of your home but they can also cause a lot of nuisance if you do not choose the correct one.

1. Consider ease of maintenance

The first thing that you need to consider while investing in a self-cleaning litter box is how easy it is to install, clean, and maintain the unit. Check how frequently you have to clean out the litter.

Like we have discussed above, some units might not require you to change the litter for almost six months while others might require you to change it once every week. Also, note how effectively the unit masks the smell of the waste. This factor also contributes to how frequently you have to maintain the litter box.

So, make sure to pay heed to this factor while purchasing a self-cleaning litter box.

2. Consider the noise level

You do not want a unit that makes loud a noise while it is working, now do you? Thus, it is essential that you inspect whether the device has a loud or silent operation.

A silently operating litter box will not only give you peace of mind but it will also help your cat to accept the new litter box quickly. Loud noise can scare your cat away and make them avoid it.

3. Consider the price

Whether you are on a budget constraint or not, it is always wise to set a maximum limit of the money you are willing to spend on a single product. I believe that this will help you narrow down your options exponentially and it also makes the purchasing hunt quite easy.

Another thing that I’d like to mention is to never judge a product by its price! Many high priced units give mediocre performance and a lot of low priced units with exceptional quality and performance. So, always evaluate the functions rather than its price.

4. Check if it supports your current litter

This will be a big plus if your new litter box is supporting the litter your cat got used to. This will make the transition much smoother because your cat will deal the a common scent. This is why we recommend high-quality litter like CatSpot or Yesterday’s news.

How to help your cat transition to a self-cleaning litter box

I have mentioned the term ‘acclimate’ a couple of times in this article. This step should not be ignored because a new litter box will change your cat’s daily routine. A radical change of the litter box may cause stress to your cat and lead to multiple problems such as pooping outside the litter box or peeing on the carpet. So, it’s in your interest to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Acclimating a cat to a new product can be difficult but if you follow the following steps, this process can become quite easy.

1. Leave the old litter box near the new self-cleaning one

Instead of completely discarding the old litter box when the new one arrives, try placing the new one next to the old one. Not only will this help your cat recognize and remember the place where they have to do business but it will also help your cat to accept the new one.

I would also suggest leaving the old litter box as it is. Do not clean it. Your cat will notice how dirty the old litter box is and will jump into the new one.

2. Place a bit of the old litter in the new one

Sprinkle a scoop or two of the old litter in the new one when you first introduce the unit to your cat. This will help your feline to familiarize the unit. Besides, cats have a superior sense of smell and this will help them to acclimate to the new litter much easily.

3. Do not turn on the electronic self-cleaning litter box during the first few days:

The noise and the movement of an electrical litter box can scare your cat away and make them not use it. So, I will suggest you turn off its automatic functions for the first few days so that your cat can easily accept their new bathroom.

A few words on dust control

Please, keep in mind that self-cleaning litter boxes are effective but most of them can not guarantee 100% effective dust control. This is why you might want to install a pet air purifier that would clean the air and manage odors.

At The End of the Day

As we have comprehensively discussed above, self-cleaning litter boxes are a blessing in every pet owner’s life. These devices work automatically, require barely any attention from you, and keep your cat as well as your house tidy, dust-free, and odor-free all the time.

One of the things that attracted me towards self-cleaning litter boxes was how low maintenance they were. I could go on with my day without having to worry about how the litter might be scattered around or if my house was stinking from the smell or not.

In my opinion, CatGenie A.I. Self-Washing Cat Box and Pillows-RJF Scoop Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box are the ones that everyone would love. Both can be easily monitored, have reliable performance, and offer tons of features like easy installation, instant functionality, and silent operation that make them stand out in the crowd.

However, if you want a self-cleaning litter box that does not need electricity then you should invest in Omega Paw NRA15-1 Roll ‘n Clean Self Cleaning Litter Box or Omega Paw EL-RA20-1 Self Cleaning Litter Box. All you have to do is roll the unit once in a while and all of the clumps will be stored in a separate container!

No matter which unit you choose, make sure you think of all the important factors you want in your unit before starting your hunt. This will help you to narrow down your product list.

I’m Kimberly Baumgart, a future veterinary physician from Manhattan, Kansas. Volunteering in animal shelters and assisting in the local vet hospital, I help pet owners learn more about feline lifestyle. Read my works on Catpet.Club blog to discover the world of healthy nutrition and well-being for your four-legged friend.

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