Elsie is an experienced pet sitter who knows what to look for in quality cat litter boxes.
Read Before You Buy
If you're interested in finding the best automatic cat litter box, then read on. I have reviewed the most popular ones on the market today.
One of the most unappealing parts of cat ownership is dealing with cat litter boxes. They're messy, smelly, cat litter ends up everywhere, and the litter is quite expensive. There are cats who are quite fastidious about their litter boxes and choose to eliminate outside their pans if they're not squeaky clean.
My Experience With Automatic Litter Boxes
Yes, I've dealt with that unsavory situation. I now have a cat in chronic kidney failure who not only urinates frequently, but also in copious amounts. I simply don't have enough hours in the day to keep up with it. Plus, I have three cats who all have their own cat box, but seem determined to all use the same one. I was cleaning out those boxes constantly and finally decided I needed a better solution. I got pregnant and the need for one became even more crucial as I was afraid of toxoplasmosis.
I've spent years being a pet sitter, so I've been able to test-drive numerous models of automatic litter boxes, cat toilets, and regular boxes. I have some recommendations about what the best ones are and what's a waste of your precious money.
Demonstration of PetSafe's Simply Clean Automatic Litter Box
A Top-Rated Litter Box
The 3 Best Automatic Cat Litter Boxes
1. Omega Paw Self-Cleaning Litter Box: Litter Spinner Automatic Box
This one isn't completely a self-cleaning cat box, but it's close. Basically, it has a built-in screen that catches the dirty litter clumps. It requires clumping kitty litter, but isn't plugged in. You simply roll the device to the right until it hits the floor, then return it to its original upright position. The waste will have been collected into a little slide-out receptacle. No plastic bags are necessary. I will say this is best if you don't have a lot of cats. Too much urine on the bottom can still get glued onto the bottom with the clumping litter and won't simply roll out when it's tipped. It's still a great, simple, no-fail design that eliminates direct contact with dirty cat litter.
2. Petsafe Simply Clean Continuous-Clean Litter Box
The Petsafe unit rotates very slowly, at the rate of one rotation per hour. It requires clumping litter and a plug. It has a sifting device that catches the dirty litter, moves it up a conveyor belt and dumps it into a built-in receptacle. You can use a recycled plastic bag for the receptacle. It's quiet, well made, and has no exposed moving parts. It works!
3. Litter-Robot LRII Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Box
This is basically a big globe that uses a revolving sifting process. This is the ultimate cat toilet! It requires clumping litter and a plug. It has a weight detector that senses when a cat has been in the unit. Seven to 10 minutes after, it begins spinning counter-clockwise and sifting the dirty litter from the clean litter. All the waste goes into a big drawer that you must line with a plastic bag. It states you should use a standard kitchen bag, but it's not necessary. You can readily just use a plastic grocery sack. It completes its full revolution with a clean, level amount of cat litter. It's an awesome system! It's rakeless and wireless and it works.
The 3 Worst Automatic Cat Litter Boxes
1. Littermaid Self-Cleaning Litterbox With Rakes
Littermaid was one of the original manufacturers of automatic litter boxes, and revolutionary in its time. I ran out and bought the Littermaid Lm 600 Self Cleaning Litterbox as soon as I could. It was a huge disappointment. The rakes continually clogged, got stuck and left behind copious amounts of urine. I practically had to measure out just the right amount of cat litter so the rakes could handle pushing the clumps into the receptacle. I have a cat who likes to urinate on the sides or to the very back of the litter pan, so eventually, the motor got wet and then it died . . . Littermaid has come out with new and improved models, but I highly recommend you stay away from any that rely on the rakes. I've yet to come across one that actually works. Granted, they have their advantages over regular cat boxes, but as far as automatic litter boxes go, they are sub-par. Other reviews may differ, but that's been my experience with dozens of them.
2. Petmate Purrforma Extra Large Cat Litter Box Disposal System
Again, this one has the rakes. They're steel rakes, but have the same problems all automatic litter boxes have: the rakes get stuck, the litter tie waste bags don't properly fit and needs to be taped down, the rakes miss a lot of clumps, and, you guessed it, the motor dies prematurely.
Other Boxes With Rakes: Scoopfree Automatic Cat Litter Box and Tidy Cats Breeze Cats Litter Box System. Just say “NO” to the rakes!
3. Cat Genie
You've heard about the Cat Genie, right? You've probably seen it on TV. It looks like a panacea, an answer to all your problems, right? Wrong! For such an expensive cat box, I expect it to at least function 100% of the time. In theory, it's a great design. It necessitates both an outlet and a hook up to cold water and a drain pipe. So, you're forced to either put it in your bathroom or the laundry room. Fair enough for those who can swing that. You use permanent washable plastic granules instead of disposable cat litter. Great for the environment, no doubt.
The cat urine is pulled away from the granules and lands in a basin filled with their sani-solution underneath the bowl. Basically, you push a button and a rake extends out from inside the unit while the bowl spins. It picks up all the cat poop and deposits it into what they call a hopper behind the unit. The hopper is filled with the sani-solution as well where the feces gets liquified and flushed. At the same time, the granules are washed while the bowl spins and it fills itself with the water and sani-solution mixture. For about 10 minutes the cycle spins, cleans and drains while liquifying the poop in the hopper. The whole thing is then flushed out the hose. Finally, the unit blows hot air into the bowl and dries the granules.
If you enjoy sleeping with cat granules, constantly getting them stuck on your feet, and using your vacuum cleaner day and night, then you're in luck with the Cat Genie. The granules are very light and there is no litter that's worse in the tracking department. Since the litter is continually being tracked everywhere, you WILL need to buy more of the granules, which aren't cheap. Couple that with purchasing the sani-solution with your initial investment and you're in for quite an expense.
Now, if the Cat Genie didn't malfunction, I'd probably say it's all worth it. I've seen it malfunction, and it's not pretty, folks. It jams and suddenly you're faced with a bowl full of water, cat poop and urine. Yuck. You have to disassemble the thing and if you're lucky it will flush itself again after you've spent an ungodly amount of time on the customer service line learning how to disassemble and reassemble the unit. The unthinkable happens occasionally and there's a bum part. You're then stuck with something disgusting beyond belief while you wait for the replacement part.
From time to time, the rake misses some cat poop. Imagine how stinky it becomes when leftover feces are then blown dried in the bowl. It literally stinks up the whole house.
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Additionally, it's noisy and many cats are afraid of it and simply won't use it. Owners also complain that it begins beeping in the middle of the night when the error detection warning goes on. It has to be manually reset to turn off the alarm. Cats are not going near a beeping cat pan, trust me.
I really wanted this to be a great solution for an automatic cat box. I love how it's environmentally friendly, but have discovered the need to continually purchase these plastic granules pretty much cancels that out. I figured it would pay for itself without having to purchase any more litter, but I was wrong. Plus, you still have to buy all the solution for the unit.
That's the Scoop
Well, there you have it. You want to have a box that is easy to scoop and keep clean so your kitty can be both happy and healthy. Hopefully this review has helped you in making the best decision for both of you.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Megan edmunds from Denver, Colorado, U.S. on July 17, 2015:
Great article, and your experience jives with mine. I was all set to sign up for the Litter Robot until I saw the price tag on Amazon :(
Elsie Nelson (author) from Pacific Northwest, USA on January 12, 2012:
Hi DougBerry, thanks for giving your feedback on the Omega Paw. I agree, it's a great litter box, especially for the money. Very interesting about the seam, sorry you haven't come across a fix yet. Wow, you have a lot of cats! I'd love to have more than 3, but my husband would kill me. Thanks for coming by and commenting.
DougBerry from Abilene, TX on January 12, 2012:
We currently have 9 cats. The Omega Paw is what we went with after trial-and-error with the automated boxes (pretty much everything listed here and then some).
While it's true that clumps of urine-enriched litter will stick to the bottom when you roll the thing over to dump, I've found a thump on the bottom is all it takes to release them.
After several months to a year, the real problem emerges--the right-hand seam starts to widen and you start pouring litter on the floor every time you roll the unit to dump it. That's when you replace it; 'cause I sure haven't figured out a fix.
Still, with so many cats, 6 of these boxes spread throughout the house do the job. They're easy to empty, they keep the stench to a minimum, and they're relatively cheap.
Ingenira on January 03, 2011:
I like this equipment, very practical ! Never knew it existed.
And you really know the stuff.
Elsie Nelson (author) from Pacific Northwest, USA on September 23, 2010:
Thnaks for reading, ankigarg!!!
ankigarg87 on September 21, 2010:
excellent hub and interesting one