Self-cleaning litter box – what’s it all about?

A self-cleaning litter box seems to take the chore out of cleaning the litter tray. No more manually sieving the clumping litter and removing the urine clumps and faeces with the scoop. That’s what many cat owners wish for, and that is why the interest in self-cleaning litter boxes is growing. But how do they work and what’s behind the promise of self-cleaning?

Self-cleaning litter box - function, pros and cons

Suitable cat litter

Most self-cleaning models are designed for use with clumping litter. No matter whether you’re using mineral clumping litter or organic litter, it should be a high-quality cat litter with good clumping properties. The more solid the clumps, the easier it is to clean the litter box. As cats are very clean animals, it is important to clean the box daily. A toilet that emits an unpleasant smell for the cat can cause inappropriate urination. We recommend using an eco-friendly clumping litter such as COSYCAT, which stands out due to its benefits for cats, humans and nature.

Cleaning the litter box

Typical cat toilets are available as trays or covered boxes. A covered box consists of two parts: a tray and a hood. The cat enters the box via an opening in the hood. Sometimes the opening is equipped with a swing flap. Once the litter in the tray comes into contact with urine, clumps form. They are removed with a litter scoop and disposed of.

For the cat to feel comfortable, we recommend removal of the waste twice a day. The litter is sieved with the scoop, and clumps and faeces are removed. When our COSYCAT clumping litter is used, the cat toilet only needs to be cleaned out completely after approximately 6 to 8 weeks. A thorough cleaning involves disposing of the remaining litter in the tray, cleaning the tray with an odour-neutral cleaning agent and finally filling it with fresh litter. For some cat owners, a daily cleaning routine is a chore. New models promise to make this task easier.

Self-cleaning litter box

A self-cleaning litter box that is suitable for being used with clumping litter is rather more complex than a traditional cat toilet. Most self-cleaning types have an integrated sifter and waste drawer. In some designs they form a unit, while in other constructions the sifter and waste drawer are separate. Some models are additionally equipped with an activated carbon filter. Self-cleaning litter boxes are offered in square, semi-circular and circular designs. The cleaning function is initiated through a tilting or rotating movement. The following schematic diagrams show two self-cleaning litter boxes that are operated manually.

Square type with tilting mechanism

Self-cleaning litter box, square design - schematic illustration
Circular type with rotating mechanism
Self-cleaning litter box, circular design - schematic illustration

The function is very simple:

  1. The litter box is tilted to the side or rotated manually. The direction and extent of rotation depend on the respective model. In some models, the tilting movement is initiated by pulling a lever.
  2. When the litter box is rotated or tilted, the litter falls through a sifter and the solid waste falls into a waste drawer.
  3. With a single movement the drawer can be removed and the content disposed of.

Pros and cons

Sifting the litter by hand is no longer necessary in self-cleaning models, making cleaning easier. Faeces and urine clumps are collected in a waste drawer and disposed of in a single movement. If the litter box is additionally equipped with an activated carbon filter, it makes it less offensive to extremely odour-sensitive cat lovers. COSYCAT is a natural cat litter produced from wood, which must be replaced completely after about 6 to 8 weeks. When the time comes to replace the litter, the litter box should also be cleaned out thoroughly. Since self-cleaning models are more complex, cleaning them out completely may entail more work. Tray, sifter and waste drawer come into contact with the litter and the waste and must therefore be cleaned from time to time. If, however, liners are used for the litter tray and waste drawer, this can reduce the work involved.

Since several components are integrated into the self-cleaning types of litter boxes, most of these models are bigger than usual cat toilets. They need more space and the opening is quite high for young and small cats. Moreover, they are closed at the sides and the top. Many cats don’t like that because they like keeping an eye on the surroundings – even while using the litter box.

Automatic litter boxes

Those who wish to reduce the cleaning effort further must switch to an automatic cat toilet, which is motorized and connected to the mains.  When the cat leaves the toilet, a sensor triggers the cleaning process. With these models, only the waste drawer needs to be emptied at regular intervals. However, they cost considerably more than conventional litter boxes.


You’ll find more information on litter boxes with a self-cleaning function on the Internet under the search term “self-cleaning litter box”.

Buy COSYCAT on Amazon or ebay:

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