Skip to main content

Self-cleaning litter boxes: Are they really worth it?

The pros and cons to consider before you buy a self-cleaning litter box

Tabby cat using a litter box
Lightspruch / Shutterstock

Even independent felines require a lot of care and attention, which is why many cat owners consider buying an automatic cat litter box at some point in their kitties’ lives. It has the potential to cut down on a lot of poop-scooping time, but there are a lot of downsides to consider, too.

The cost of a self-cleaning litter box, of course, can be a pretty penny. Not everyone is willing to make a large purchase without knowing whether it will help, but we hope we can help you start your research. You’ll know what’s best for you and your cat.

A self-cleaning litter box can make for a lot less time-consuming (and stinky) task

Having a robot litter box sounds convenient and luxurious, right? Their modern looks can fit in well with any home aesthetic, and there’s a lot less work involved on your end. Each self-cleaning litter box has its own specific features, of course, but even the most basic models could make your cat’s bathroom trips less messy.

 Robotic litter boxes will do most of the poop scooping for you

The primary function of an automatic litter box is to scoop your cat’s droppings for you. Some will use a rake-type feature to swipe solid waste into a hidden area, which you will later throw away. Other models, however, will rotate to reveal openings for soiled litter to fall into. If you’re willing to invest a bit more money, you can even find an app-enabled litter box that helps you keep track of maintenance supply levels. You’ll be able to keep an eye on your kitty’s bathroom habits, too!

 You’ll be able to enjoy a smell-free zone, even next to the litter box

Many boxes will have a kind of sensor to detect when your kitty exits so it can take care of business — literally — within seconds. This keeps your house smelling fresh and clean, so you won’t have to light a candle every time you enter the room. Many automatic litter boxes have excellent reviews when it comes to smell protection!

Cat using a self-cleaning litter box
Image used with permission by copyright holder

An automatic litter box can be expensive, loud, and even overwhelming for some cats

As nice as a robot litter box may sound, your cat might not love the idea as much as you do. Felines can be creatures of habit, after all, and may take a long time to adjust to change. Any cat will need time to figure out what that fancy new machine is.

Automatic litter box prices range from $100 to nearly $1,000

Depending on the features you’re looking for, you can expect to spend between $100 and $1,000 for a self-cleaning litter box. Wi-Fi and app-enabled litter boxes tend to be on the more expensive side, as are the rotating litter boxes. This is why it’s important to do your research, so you can know which features you’re looking for and what your budget will be.

Some self-cleaning cat litter boxes are loud when they operate

If you work from home — or if your cat is a night owl — you may want to consider the noise an automatic litter box makes when it does its poop scooping. Think about placing the new box in a room where you don’t work or sleep. Sounds will vary from one machine to the next, of course, so don’t be afraid to read reviews, watch videos, or demo the product before you buy.

Some cats react negatively to an automatic litter box

One of the most important factors is whether your cat likes their brand-new litter box. If they’re frightened by the noise or the way it moves, they may need more time than average to adjust. Of course, there are also some cases when self-cleaning litter boxes are just not an option, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

Whether you’re ready to invest or are still in the process of researching, there’s no better time to upgrade your cat’s litter box. It has the potential to save you a lot of time and effort over the years, and we’ll keep our fingers crossed that your cat likes it, too. Happy shopping!

Editors' Recommendations

Gabrielle LaFrank
Gabrielle LaFrank has written for sites such as Psych2Go, Elite Daily, and, currently, PawTracks. When she's not writing, you…
Forget the litter box: This cat was trained to use the toilet
Can cats be potty trained? We looked into it (plus a video guide)
A cat sits on the table looking mad

Cats are one of the best pets out there because they're smart, independent, and cute. Unfortunately, they usually go hand in hand with a litter box, which isn't necessarily our favorite part of the cat equation. Regular litter changing is essential to kitty life but can also come with smells, bugs, and even some risk of disease. Wouldn't it be better if they could just be potty trained? While it won't work for every household, some cats can indeed learn to use the toilet.

This trending TikTok showcases the steps you need to take to teach your feline to use the bathroom human style.

Read more
6 litter box hacks we think are genius (and will save you tons of cleanup)
Use these tips to keep your cat's litter box clean
Orange cat sitting in a covered litter box, looking out

Cats are wonderful companions, but their litter boxes aren't exactly pleasant. Litter boxes can be a hassle to clean, some cats throw litter everywhere, and the smells can be strong. Luckily, are plenty of tips and tricks that can make things easier, whether that's using a different product or just changing your cleaning technique. These litter box hacks can save you time and money, but most importantly, they can save you and your cat a lot of frustration, too. Here are our 6 favorite litter box hacks for you to try out.

Use disposable liners
One of the best hacks to simplify cleaning a litter box is to use disposable litter box liners. These liners prevent the litter from coming into contact with and sticking to the box, and when you buy liners with drawstrings, you can lift the whole liner, including the litter, up and out of the box. There's no scrubbing needed unless your cat scratched through a liner, so cleaning the box is faster and easier.

Read more
Study: This is how much the cost of pet ownership really is
Is this what you spend on your dog or cat?
A corgi and a cat stand in the grass

Do you know how much it costs to own a dog or cat in a year? If you guessed a few hundred dollars, you're a little behind the times. The cost of pet ownership has continued to go up in part because of an ongoing pet food shortage that could be impacting your fur baby without you realizing it.

A recent MetLife survey got in touch with pet parents and gives us the details of how much our animals really drain from our bank accounts and also how you might be able to reduce some of this spend; not to mention stress.
How much does a dog cost?
We're gonna start with America's favorite pet, Fido. One of the surprising costs for pup ownership is the upfront fee, especially if you're getting them from a breeder, where you can expect to spend $1,000 or more. However, even adopting a pet will seriously set you back. The Animal Humane Society quotes an average of $767 to bring your new pooch home.
How much does a cat cost?
There are some very expensive, top-of-the-line cats out there and you certainly could decide to shell out $100,000 for an Ashera. However, a shelter kitty will only come in the $200 range and even a breeder will charge about a thousand for a standard feline.

Read more