cat in a pink tray

Before you bring a new cat home it’s important to have all the supplies they need in order to help them adjust to their new environment quickly. An indoor cat needs the best cat litter box, one that’s durable, stable, and includes features that will encourage a cat to use their litter box on a regular basis. But the wrong litter box can cause plenty of behavioral issues in your pet, such as inappropriate elimination, tipping over the litter box, or if the box is the wrong size, they may even end up kicking out most of the litter. In my ultimate cat litter box buyer’s guide, I have compiled information regarding all the features you need to look for to ensure you pick the right litter box for your pet. I’ve also included six product recommendations for litter boxes that are virtually tip proof, durable, and feature a design that all cats will love.

Below, you’ll find a comparison chart that includes each of the models that made it onto my list, their rating, and top features.

Cat Litter Box Comparison Chart

ProductTypeCoverLitterRating
PetSafe ScoopFree Automatic
Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box

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Self-CleaningNoCrystal
Omega Paw EL-RA20-1
Roll N Clean Litter Box

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Self-CleaningYesAny
Purina Tidy Cats
Litter Box System

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Self-CleaningNoPellets
Catit Regular Magic
Blue Litter Box

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CoveredYesAny
Petmate Litter Pan

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TraditionalNoAny

Pet Safe Scoopfree Automatic Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box


Our Rating: (5/5)

This is a self-cleaning, automatic waste removal litter box that’s designed to make the cat owner’s life a little easier. This means no more constant scooping, no foul odors, and no inappropriate eliminating due to a dirty litter box. This litter box requires the use of crystal litter, which works to absorb the urine while dehydrating solid waste, significantly cutting down on odors. The low-tracking crystals will also cut down on messy floors. The crystals will not stick to your cat’s paws like traditional litter. Additionally, the included disposable trays feature a plastic lining that will prevent leaks. Cleaning out this box is simple, just remove the disposable tray and toss it in the trash.

Pros

  • Self-cleaning
  • Crystals absorb odors
  • Litter will not stick to a cat’s paws.
  • Disposable trays

Cons

  • Ongoing cost of disposable trays
  • Litter is pricy
  • Does not come with a cover

Conclusion

This automatic litter box will help to keep your home smelling fresh by immediately raking the litter and removing any waste, which will significantly cut down on litter box odors. However, the cat owner on a budget will need to take into consideration the high price of the litter and the ongoing costs of the disposable trays. Additionally, the box doesn’t come with a cover, which may cause some cats to avoid using the litter box, especially if it’s placed in a high traffic area.

Omega Paw EL-RA20-1 Roll N Clean Litter Box


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This model should not be confused with an automatic self-cleaning litter box. Instead, it just allows the user to remove the waste by basically rolling the litter box over. Additionally, the built-in litter step will catch any litter that sticks to your pet’s feet, which will cut down on the amount of litter that’s tracked all over the home. The sifting grill is made out of a durable plastic and will sift the waste from the litter as the box is rolled onto its top, then rolled back into an upright position. The box also comes with a lid, which will give much-needed privacy during use and will make them feel more secure when using their litter box. This is definitely a unique self-cleaning litter box, and one that may be a more affordable option compared to high priced electric models.

Pros

  • Self-cleaning design
  • Includes grate that sifts out waste
  • Litter lift step cuts down on litter that’s tracked around the home
  • Includes cover

Cons

  • Box can be difficult to clean out

Conclusion

This model will help to cut down on odors, just as long as the cat owner takes care of any waste once a cat uses the box. The box is rolled over, in order to cause the waste and litter to go through the built-in grate. When the box is placed back into an upright position, the litter will be clean and the waste is kept in a bottom compartment until emptied. Easy to use, large, durable, and designed for cats of all sizes, this model is a great buy for both single and multi-cat households.

Purina Tidy Cats Litter Box System


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This is a simple all in one system that’s easy to maintain. The included ammonia blocker will prevent ammonia related odors for a period of one week. This box uses anti-tracking pellets instead of traditional litter. The pellets work by dehydrating waste and will minimize litter tracking by as much as ninety-nine percent. The pellets will wick away and repel urine, keeping the box itself dry. The urine will pass through a grated tray down to the litter absorbent pads waiting in the bottom tray. The tray is removable so you can simply empty it to get rid of the waste.

Pros

  • Includes cover
  • Prevents odors for up to one week
  • Filtering system removes waste from the box to a tray below
  • No scooping required

Cons

  • Not all cats will like the pellet litter
  • Litter is expensive

Conclusion

Cats are very particular when it comes to their litter boxes. Because of this, not all cats will use the litter box because they may not like how the pellets feel under their feet. This can be a major problem, since the cat will refuse to use the litter box and will inappropriately eliminate in the home. In cases such as this, make sure you still have their regular litter box on hand, at least until the cat adjusts to using the new litter box. This system does an excellent job of eliminating odors and keeping the home smelling fresh thanks to the innovative litter grate design that instantly removes waste from the main area.

Catit Regular Magic Blue Litter Box


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This model features a large cover that’s designed to give cats the privacy many prefer during litter box use. The box itself features an ergonomic design that provides improved air filtration in order to prevent ammonia related odors. This model also comes with a cartridge set that’s designed to absorb one hundred percent of odors, neutralizing gases instantly. This model is perfect for cats of all sizes and will not move or tip over, even with larger cats.

Pros

  • Can use any type of litter
  • Includes filter cartridges that neutralize odor
  • Perfect for cats of all sizes
  • Low price

Cons

  • Must be washed with soap and water weekly to prevent odors

Conclusion

This is a fairly basic model, one that most cat owners will love, due to the large design that will allow even larger felines to easily use their box, without tipping it over. This model can use any type of litter and comes with filter cartridges designed to cut down on odors.

Petmate Litter Pan


Our Rating: (4/5)

This is a pretty basic open top litter box the kind most pet owners are familiar with. What’s great about this style is that it’s very affordable, so pet owners with several cats can afford to purchase one litter box per cat. This can help to eliminate odors and cut down on fights and inappropriate elimination. This box doesn’t come with a cover. Additionally, if the owner doesn’t add enough litter or if the cat is over ten pounds, then this type of box can flip over. This box can use any type of litter, which will definitely be a plus for all buyers. The litter box should be emptied out and washed with hot soapy water since the ammonia in the urine can be absorbed by the plastic, causing unwanted odors. This box is as basic as it gets, but it will work great for the pet owner on a budget and in multi-cat households.

Pros

  • Low price
  • Durable
  • Can use any type of litter
  • Available in four size options

Cons

  • Can tip over
  • Must be washed out weekly to minimize odors

Conclusion

This very basic style of litter box is available in four size options. It’s reasonably priced so even cat owners on a budget can afford to buy one box per cat to help cut down on odors and inappropriate elimination. The big drawback for this style is the lack of a cover, which can cause some cats to avoid using the litter box, especially if the box is placed in a noisy part of the home. Additionally, larger felines can easily tip this type of litter box over, especially if the owner doesn’t fill it with enough litter. Overall, while it takes more care and requires some elbow grease to clean these boxes out, this type of box will work for most cats and is a great choice for multi-cat households.

Cat Litter Box Buyer’s Guide

As you’re shopping around online looking for a new litter box, you may think that most boxes are the same. Unfortunately, not all litter boxes are created equal. A cat can be very particular about the depth, shape, and size of a litter box. If the cat doesn’t like their litter box they will not use it. Of course, this can lead to accidents around the home, and other undesired behaviors. This buyer’s guide will go over the features to look for that can help you ensure you purchase a litter box your cat will love and use consistently.

Size

The size of the litter box will be very important. A box that is too small can make it uncomfortable for a cat to use. Ideally, it should be large enough that they can easily turn around in it. However, a box that’s too large can also make it difficult for smaller cats to get in and out of. Larger cats will also run into issues if they’re using a standard size litter box and cannot fit inside the box properly. If the box is too small, the cat will often hang their rear end over the side, and inappropriately eliminate on the floor. To avoid this, make sure that you measure your pet and pay close attention to the dimensions of each model.

Number of Litter Boxes

Only having one litter box in a multi-cat household is a common mistake many cat owners make. Ideally, you will need to use one litter box per cat plus an additional litter box. This means if you have three cats in the home, you will need to purchase four litter boxes. Why? Most cats are very clean and will refuse to use a litter box that is dirty. If you don’t have the time to constantly stand by a litter box and scoop it out throughout the day, then you need to purchase multiple litter boxes for your home. Cats may also refuse to use a litter box if they smell that another cat has used it in the past.

Depth

Another factor you’ll want to consider is the depth of the box. A box that has sides that are too high can make it difficult for kittens and seniors who have joint problems, to use the litter box. If the sides of the box are too low, then you’ll often find that litter has been kicked out all over the floor. If your cat doesn’t routinely spray or kick out litter, then a model with walls that are 5 to 7 inches will work well. If you do have a litter kicker or sprayer on your hands, then search for a model that has walls that are around 8 to 10 inches tall.

If you have a senior cat who has mobility issues or a young kitten, then look for a box that has walls that are around 2 and 1/2 inches up to 3 and 1/2 inches tall. At this height, the wall should be low enough to make it easy for a cat to get in and out of the box, but the height is just tall enough to prevent litter from spilling out onto the floor.

Types of Litter Boxes

There are many different styles and shapes of litter boxes available to choose from. The style you choose should be based on the size of your cat, their personality, and how messy they are when they use their litter box. Below, I’ll go over the different style options available.

Open Top/Traditional

This is one of the most common and affordable options available. Essentially this style of litter box consists of a rectangular box with walls that are moderately high. This is usually the type most new pet owners will go for in the beginning, until they notice the cat is tipping over the box or the walls are not high enough to contain litter. These boxes are often the most affordable option and are very easy to replace. They can be a good option for cat owners on a tight budget or a multiple cat household.

Hidden

If you have a litter box placed in a common space in the home, then choosing a hidden style litter box can be a great option since these boxes are designed to blend into their surroundings. Many models are designed to look like pieces of furniture such as end tables or planters. Unfortunately, these litter boxes are also pretty pricey, but if you don’t want your cat’s litter box out in plain sight, then they’re a great option.

Covered Litter Boxes

Choosing between a covered and uncovered litter box can be difficult. Why? Basically, you won’t know whether or not your cat prefers an uncovered or covered litter box until you use one. If you have dogs in the home, or the home environment is just naturally loud and chaotic, then your cat may appreciate the privacy that a covered litter box provides. Additionally, a covered box will also prevent litter from getting everywhere. However, if your cat does not like the cover, and they feel trapped when they use their litter box, then they will avoid using it at all costs. If you want to take the chance and purchase a covered model, you can simply leave the cover off if your cat doesn’t like it, however a covered model is much more expensive than a traditional litter box.

Self-Cleaning

Whether or not a self-cleaning litter box is a good idea is debatable. Some cat owners swear by them, while others claim that these litter boxes can cause issues with their cat using their box regularly, due to some models switching on when the cat is still in the litter box. There are dozens of top-of-the-line self-cleaning models on the market to choose from. These boxes can be a great choice for pet owners who don’t have time to scoop out their litter box throughout the day. Additionally, the boxes do an excellent job of cutting down on odors. These boxes come with an automatic scooper that will sift out waste, pushing it into a removable tray below the surface. The trays need to be emptied out a few times a week or more, depending on how many cats use the box.

Litter

For the most part, you can use any type of litter for litter boxes, choosing the right type based on your cat’s preference. However, the exception here is with self-cleaning litter boxes. These boxes usually require you to use a certain type of crystal litter. The litter is often pricier than basic clumping litter, however, it does a better job of retaining odors. If you’re on a tight budget and considering purchasing a self-cleaning model, keep this extra expense in mind before you buy.

Price

Most types of litter boxes are very affordable. However, hidden litter boxes and self-cleaning litter boxes can be very pricey, with a cost that ranges from $100 up to $300. Standard litter boxes can cost anywhere from $10 up to $40. Hidden litter boxes and self-cleaning models do not have to be replaced as often as standard litter boxes do.

Care and Maintenance

All types of cat litter boxes will need to be properly cleaned and maintained, including self-cleaning models. Cat urine can have a very potent smell to it and it’s often absorbed into the material of the litter box, so even if the box has been scooped out an odor will still linger. Because of this, I recommend cleaning out your litter box using soap and water at least once a week. If you have multiple cats in the home, then you need to wash out the litter boxes more often. All of the models in my lineup can easily be cleaned using basic dish soap, warm water, and a scrubbing pad. Remember, many cats will refuse to use their litter box if the litter is dirty or if the scent is too strong. Proper upkeep and regular scooping will help to encourage your pet to use a litter box consistently.

How to Improve Your Cat’s Litter Box

tubby in a litter tray

One of the biggest downsides of owning a cat is having to deal with their litter box. Additionally, cat owners must find ways to prevent their home from smelling like one, keep the floor around the litter box clean, and make sure that their cats are using their litter box regularly. Below you will find some great tips that will help to keep your cat’s litter box smelling fresh, clean, and make it more welcoming for your cat.

  • Where you place the litter box will have a big impact on your cat’s comfort level and how often they use it. A box should be kept out of sight. This will help to improve your cat’s sense of security. The litter box should always be placed in a quiet space that is easily accessible for cats and it should not be kept close to their water or food. Cats will instinctively avoid eliminating close to where they eat.
  • Even if you live in a small home, try to place the box further away from any loud appliances.
  • You can purchase several different textures and types of litter from silica gel and clay to biodegradable. If your cat is refusing to use their litter box, try changing the type of litter they use gradually until you find a type that your cat likes. If you’re not able to find a type of litter your cat is willing to step on then you can also try sand. The average feline has 67 million scent receptors. A human being only has 5 million scent receptors. Because your cat has a very sensitive sense of smell, try sticking with an unscented litter. A perfumed litter may be very unappealing for your cat and one of the reasons they refuse to use their litter box.
  • Since you will not be using scented litter, you can keep the area around the box smelling fresh and clean by using just a little baking soda sprinkled on the bottom of the litter box placed before the litter. Try to do a little experimenting and find a good balance between just the right amount of baking soda and litter in order to control bad odors. Try to avoid using too much baking soda since this can also offend a cat’s sense of smell.
  • Regardless of how well you clean and maintain your cat’s litter box it will get worn down from regular use. A litter box scooper and a cat’s nails can scrape the plastic bottom of the box and leave behind small scratches that can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Because of this, it’s important that you purchase a new litter box every year. When replacing the litter box try to get one that’s similar in appearance and size to what your cat is used to.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes Really Work?

Yes, but you’ll still have to clean the box out yourself, from time to time. The automatic scooper will remove clumped litter and feces, but you will need to clean out the interior of the box with soap and water once a week in order to help cut down on odors.

Where Should I Place a Litter Box?

Placing a litter box in a bathroom can be a great idea, just as long as you keep the bathroom door open at all times and avoid flushing the toilet when the cat is in the bathroom. Some people choose the laundry room as well, but this may or not work since some cats will become startled when the washer or dryer is in use or when a buzzer goes off. Ideally, the box should be placed in a quiet spot in the home, with low foot traffic, and far away from their food and water.

Can Cats Find a Litter Box if you Move it?

Most cats will use their keen sense of smell to locate their litter box, if you’ve moved it to a different room in the home. However, if your cat doesn’t like the new litter box spot, they may return to the old space and eliminate there. Pet owners recommend having two litter boxes and placing one in the new location. You can allow your cat to use both spots until they become used to the new location.

How far Away Should cat Food be Kept from a Litter box?

If possible, always avoid placing your cat’s food and water dishes in the same room as their litter box. If you don’t have much room to work with in the home, then try to place their litter box in one corner of the room and their food and water dishes in the corner that’s the farthest away from their litter box.

Do Cats Need Access to Their Litter box at Night?

Yes. Cats are nocturnal and are awake the majority of the night. Make sure you clean out their litter box before you head to bed to ensure it’s clean and ready for them to use upon waking.

Final Thoughts

The best cat litter box for your pet should be easy to clean, will feature a sturdy design, and will be large enough and tall enough to accommodate your specific cat. As you can see, there are many different styles and types to choose from, with pros and cons that come with each type. Before you buy a new litter box for your cat, you should do your homework and look for a model that will suit your pet’s needs, whether they prefer privacy while they go, they’re very picky and must have a clean litter box to use at all times, or you have a large breed cat that needs more space than the average tabby. I hope this buyer’s guide and the products I’ve included here can help you narrow in on the perfect model for your feline in order to cut down on accidents in the home, and keep your home looking and smelling great.