Do Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Boxes Really Work?

Do Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Boxes Really Work?

The market for pet cat supplies is flooded with automatic litter boxes. But do self-cleaning cat litter boxes really work? Find out here.

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An automatic litter box is one of the most sought-after pet supplies among cat owners. It has a practical use and can help you avoid the dirty business like you have always wanted. But the question is: do self-cleaning cat litter boxes really work?

Let’s face it.

Cleaning the litter box can be a real killjoy of pet ownership. No one likes to do it, and you will gladly avoid it at all costs. A litter box that can clean itself, quite literally, seems like a dream come true. However, before you start searching for the best automatic cat litter boxes, there are certain things you need to know.

How do self-cleaning litter boxes work? What are the factors that determine how effective they really are? Is there a difference between self-cleaning and automatic cat litter boxes? When should you consider buying one for your feline friend?

The following article answers the various questions cat owners generally ask when it comes to automatic litter boxes. So, let’s start with the basics:

The Difference Between Self-Cleaning and Automatic Cat Litter Boxes

Most people use the two terms interchangeably. Nonetheless, it’s important to remember that ‘self-cleaning’ litter boxes are not always the same as automatic litter boxes.

How Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes Work

For the most part, self-cleaning litter boxes look like an average enclosed pet waste box. However, they promise more than regular litter boxes in terms of hygiene, ease of cleaning, and overall user-friendliness.

Typically, they have a scooping rake or a rotating mechanism that works with manual action.

The unit has a bed of crystal or sand litter that absorbs pet urine instantly. Additionally, it has a built-in rake that you can move along the litter bed to sift the feces out. This makes the process of waste removal a lot simpler while minimizing your efforts for scrubbing and cleaning the pot.

However, note that it is not a completely hands-free experience. You will still have to do some manual work, especially with regards to keeping the litter box poop-free so that your fur friend can use it the next time with ease.

How Automatic Litter Boxes Work

Automatic litter boxes, on the other hand, are a more advanced form of self-cleaning litter beds. They eliminate the need for manual motion in the real sense. These units are fitted with sensors and sophisticated electronic systems that perform automatic litter sifting at regular time intervals. Small motors installed in the litter box dump the waste collected in an attached bin. The waste drawer is usually removable and washable. It is designed to collect a significantly large amount of pet poop. This means that with an automatic litter box, you can go for several days without worrying about emptying the bin.

Emptying the waste collection unit is fairly easy and rarely requires any extra scrubbing. 

Now that you know the difference between self-cleaning and automatic litter boxes, we can move on to the main question:

Do Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Boxes Really Work?

The answer primarily depends on two basic factors: the quality of the product and your cat’s potty training.

Self-cleaning litter boxes work if the litter pan is of an appropriate size for the type of cat you own. It should also match your cat’s defecating habits. For example, if your feline friend is fond of digging, a litter box with a shallow bed is sure to create some mess. The effectiveness of self-cleaning cat litter boxes depends on the type of litter used as well.

Let’s discuss these factors in detail so you can fully understand when a self-cleaning litter box will or will not work.


To get your cat a self-cleaning litter box that really works, pay attention to the dimensions of the litter pan. Note, we say litter pan, not the complete litter unit.

You might buy a self-cleaning litter box online thinking it is sufficiently large to accommodate your cat. But its litter pan might actually be smaller. What happens when your cat doesn’t have enough room to comfortably do its business? You will have a disgusting mess that definitely won’t get cleaned on its own.

If you are looking after an entire feline family, you might want to invest in more than one litter box. Self-cleaning litter boxes take some time to well, self clean. If another fur friend wants to go soon after the first one, you will have to deal with that (literal) shit yourself.


As we mentioned earlier, a self-cleaning litter box with a thin bed won’t offer much utility if her Royal Highness has an obsession with hiding her business.

Similarly, an open tray self-cleaning litter box is unlikely to work if you have a high spraying cat. Therefore, to buy a self-cleaning litter box that works, focus on its design features. And make sure that they match with your pets urinating and defecating habits.

Many cats feel safer to go in the privacy of hooded litter boxes. If that’s the case for your feline, consider a similar style when switching to a self-cleaning litter box.

Type of Litter

Self-cleaning litter boxes are not always compatible with all types of litter. In fact, some automatic units may use a special type of material that’s not sold separately at all. It’s important to use only the kind of litter that the manufacturer recommends. Failing to do so can compromise the functioning of the unit. The wrong litter can get stuck in the rakes or block the sieve, thereby making the self-cleaning pan ineffective.

End Note

Do self-cleaning cat litter boxes really work?

The short answer would be yes. Self-cleaning litter work as long as you buy from a reputable brand and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to a T. However, don’t just buy the bestselling product. Make sure that its design specifications meet your cat’s unique needs. With proper research, you can find an efficient self-cleaning litter box that saves you the hassle of scooping the pan every day.