Updated January 22, 2023
You may have seen the meme — the one with the orange kitty that says, “You know what this house is missing? A box of [poop]. Let’s get a cat.” Cat litter boxes may be the unpleasant part of cat ownership, but they’re a necessary evil. New designs make the best of a stinky situation: traditional litter boxes with high sides for maximum privacy, automatic litter boxes that do most of the work for you, and even environmental choices that allow you to compost waste where possible. We tested eight of them to help you decide on the best cat litter box for your household.
Sometimes, basic is best. On a list of new-fangled cat litter boxes with unique features, the straightforward Nature’s Miracle High-Sided Cat Litter Box reigns supreme. It earned high marks for its genius-but-simple design, which allows for maximum privacy and keeps litter from leaking out of the sides of the box, even without a cover. Reviewers also loved the lack of a hood or cover, which allowed the cat to enter as they pleased. Rather than having to teach themselves how best to enter the litter box, your kitty can hop in through the top, the front, or whatever they prefer! This feature also makes it a cinch to clean.
|✓ Higher sides prevent unwanted attention||✗ Some cats prefer hoods or covers|
|✓ Design prevents litter scatter||✗ Doesn’t come with a scoop|
|✓ No cover offers convenience for kitties and easy cleaning for cat parents|
The straightforward litter box didn’t require any assembly. Simply take it out of the box and put it in your cat’s favorite place to potty. It can fit in large spaces or small apartments. There’s one color choice — black — but that goes with anything. The ease of use, solid reviews, and ability to prevent a big mess make this litter box our best choice.
Cat parents whose favorite felines are on the smaller side swear by the Tidy Breeze Cat Litter Box System, which doesn’t require a ton of extra space. The system comes with absorbent litter box pads that allow for simple, mess-free cleaning and banishes ammonia odors for one kitty for an entire week. The low-tracking litter pellets separate solid waste and prolong the litter. Though it has a simple design, the stripe with scoop earns this litter box a style point.
|✓ Doesn’t take up much space||✗ Litter box fills up fast|
|✓ Separates waste||✗ Can’t disguise the litter|
|✓ Eliminates odors|
The Tidy Cats Breeze Litter Box System comes with a litter box, scoop, 3.5 pounds of litter pellets, and pads that line a drawer beneath the litter box. Refill pads and pellets are available for purchase as needed (weekly for pads, monthly for the pellets). All of the pieces arrived and were perfectly packaged inside a branded box. The litter box was a breeze to put together — no pun intended — with the pellets filling the box to capture solid waste while liquid waste filters down to the pads below. It’s small and can fit nearly any space. The matching scoop is fun, though it loses a few style points for sticking above the box, making it difficult to disguise the litter box.
Bigger cats require extra space to do their business, and the Catit hooded litter pan gives them all that, plus privacy. The covered box also offers a bonus for cat parents: it keeps the litter inside of the box so there’s less mess. Though ideally, each kitty has a personal litter box, the extra space makes it a solid choice for multi-cat homes. Dr. Dwight Alleyne cautions that the sound of the hood’s door may frighten an anxious kitty. However, you can remove the clear plastic door if that’s the case.
|✓ Hood diverts unwanted attention||✗ Did not arrive with hood|
|✓ Jumbo size provides the necessary extra space for a larger cat||✗ Anxious cats might get nervous with the door|
|✓ Design keeps litter in the box|
The large litter pan fit our big tabby, but our product came without the hood, so giving a complete review is challenging. Still, based on Chewy reviews and our vet’s feedback, it’s a quality product that reduces mess from litter scatter while fitting a larger cat when fully put together. The door might be a bit loud, a drawback for easily-startled kitties.
The PetSafe self-cleaning litter box isn’t cheap at about $170, but it’s a far cry from the Litter Robot which starts at around $500. For a fraction of that price, you can get the same benefit: no more scooping, ever. On top of that convenience, the litter box counts the number of times your cat enters via a motion detector that triggers the self-cleaning process, alerting you to any potential medical conditions.
Dr. Alleyne notes that the self-cleaning box is a bit noisy, which may frighten some cats. It’s also larger than traditional boxes and requires PetSafe’s crystal litter. The crystal litter dehydrates urine in place while the box’s rake scrapes solid waste out of sight.
|✓ No scooping||✗ Must use crystal litter|
|✓ Counter records every time the box is used||✗ Trays must be replaced monthly|
It took us about 10 minutes to assemble the automatic litter box once we figured out that the heavy frame sits atop the disposable litter tray. If you dislike crystal litter or the idea of throwing out a litter tray each month, the Litter Robot might be a better fit. The Litter Robot is also covered — if you want a cover for the PetSafe box, you’ll need to add one for an additional $30. A WiFi-enabled model starts at around $223.
Litter boxes don’t have a reputation for being the most stylish pet products on the shelves. Modkat is flipping that notion with a box that isn’t an eyesore — and Amazon reviews hail it as a “game-changer.” The crisp white color and box design won’t clash with your motif. It’s not too large compared to other litter boxes on this list, and it has magnets on the lid for easy opening. The product is known to be durable against kitty claws, but some critical Amazon reviews note that the door broke easily. The reusable liner is a cinch to clean and makes it a good choice for environmentally-conscious types.
|✓ Cool design||✗ Pricey ($77)|
|✓ Easy to open||✗ Door is flimsy|
|✓ Reusable liner|
The litter box arrives with a litter box, liner, and scoop. A litter mat is sold separately. It’s not too large, so it may work well in smaller apartments or places like laundry rooms. A flipping lid gives cats three options for privacy: closed, half-open, or fully open-air.
If you love your favorite feline but could do without litter cleanup, a self-cleaning litter box may become your new, second-best friend. The Litter Robot 3 scoops itself, leaving it clean for cats who crave tidiness and parents who dread scooping. It minimizes odors, though dust can get on the filters and affect the box’s function. It works with most litter, including clumping, an advantage over other self-cleaning boxes that require special litter. This YouTube video can help you minimize issues and troubleshoot.
|✓ Self-cleaning — enough said||✗ Makes noise|
|✓ Reduces odors||✗ Large, may not fit in smaller spaces|
|✓ Works with any litter|
The litter box offers convenience but isn’t ideal for small spaces — it’s large. The setup and use can feel overwhelming at first, but our reviewer quickly came to love that she no longer had to scoop the litter box. Her cats loved always having a clean spot to do what they needed to do. Our reviewer notes it doesn’t make too much noise, but Dr. Alleyne still cautions that it may scare some cats. Our reviewer also adds that while you can hose down the robot’s globe, you should avoid hosing down the robot’s base or any of the unexposed wires or circuit boards to avoid electrical problems.
We love our pets, but they create waste — litter that goes in the garbage, food bags that must be thrown away along with the tags we rip off of toys. Sustainable types may cringe. The Kitty Sift system alleviates some of that guilt — each layer is made from cardboard that can be composted where supported by your municipality. That said, the sifting feature is a challenge. You’ll need to rotate and stack the boxes in the correct orientation and gently shake them when it’s time to get rid of waste — otherwise, poo will go everywhere. Our tester found that soiled litter stuck to the box and had to be discarded.
An alternative to these disposable litter boxes is the Petmate Arm & Hammer system: two traditional plastic boxes with a sifter in between. Dr. Alleyne notes that the depth may be a drawback for older cats or cats with mobility issues. If you’re a pet parent to a single cat and want to avoid scooping, a sifting litter box might be a good fit. Cat owners of multiple kitties might want to keep looking for another solution.
|✓ Made using recycled materials||✗ Sifting design is finicky|
|✓ Absorbs odor||✗ Not a good fit for multiple cats|
|✓ Petmate system is lowest-priced option on our list|
We opened the package and immediately arranged the layers in the proper order, ensuring that the cut-out notches appeared on every other level. An advantage of a sifting system over an automatic litter box is that you can use any kitty litter of your choice. When it’s time to get rid of the waste, lift the top layer so clean litter filters to the layer below and waste stays on top. Dispose of the waste, rotate the tray 180 degrees, and place it on the bottom of the stack.
The writers, editors, and staff of betterpet are pet parents, and we know the value of accurate, trustworthy information. Because of this, the content we create is reviewed and approved by our veterinarians. We tested these litter boxes in-house, so you can trust that when we say a litter box is effective, it comes from firsthand experience.
The betterpet lab developed a set of criteria and then put TK boxes to the test to give you the most accurate data possible. Those factors included:
The $200 price tag may trigger sticker shock, but a 4.8-star rating based on nearly 400 reviews shows the Tuft + Paw Cove Litter Box is worth considering. It has a removable wall to nix litter tracking and scatter from dig-happy cats and ones that prefer to pee standing. The anti-stick plastic material keeps the box from sliding and allows for easy cleaning. Kitties love the top-entry design and removable wall.
That said, Dr. Alleyne notes that for less than $200, you can get a self-cleaning litter box like the Pet Safe Self-Cleaning Litter Box reviewed above.
A litter box is a personal product for each kitty. Though having it in the house and cleaning it (if you have to) isn’t fun and games, it would be far less fun if your cat did their business outside the litter box. The best litter box for your cat may be different from another cat. If you have several cats in your home, you may need different types of boxes for each. Consider the following suggestions when introducing your cat to a litter box.
Find a safe space — Your cat should feel safe doing their business. You want the same, right? Don’t put it in a noisy area, such as a street-facing window.
Keep it away from food and water — Think about it: It’s a bit gross to eat where you use the bathroom, right?
Consider medical conditions — Senior cats and cats with mobility issues may struggle to maneuver stairs or cramped closets. Be sure it has easy access.
Keep it clean — Get rid of poop once per day. As a general rule, replace traditional clay litter twice per week and clump litter once every two to three weeks. However, follow your cat — and nose — when deciding whether you need to perform more frequent cleanings.
👉 If your cat suddenly stops using a litter box, see a vet to get a clean bill of health. Eliminating outside of the box can be a sign of a medical condition.
The right litter box depends on your cat, but there are different designs and sizes to choose from. Some have open tops, while others are covered. Newer litter boxes are sifting or self-cleaning, eliminating the need to scoop and keeping the box tidy.
Most cats like open litter boxes. Doors and hoods can be noisy or make a cat feel cramped. However, some may like the privacy of a covered box. It may be a matter of trial and error.
Every cat is different, but we gave our highest marks to Nature’s Miracle Just For Cats Advanced High-Sided Cat Litter Box. It’s an open box, can fit nearly any space, and is easy to clean. The high sides keep your cat’s litter from tracking all over your home.