Updated - May 24th, 2022
Litter boxes might not be on a cat parent’s list of favorite accessories, but choosing the right one is important if you want your cat to use it consistently. Cats can be finicky when it comes to their bathroom habits, and everyone wants a litter box that meets their cleanliness standards.
Considering the number of choices on the market, finding a cat litter box that meets both of these needs can be daunting.
If this sounds like you, don’t worry – we’ve done the research to help you narrow down your choices. Let’s find the best litter box for you and your kitty!
Cat litter boxes 101
Types: Litter boxes come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, but the types are pretty consistent. There are covered or hooded boxes, top entry boxes, open boxes, sifting boxes, automatic self-cleaning boxes, as well as disposable litter boxes. We have evaluated all of them and come up with our favorites in each category.
Litter box criteria
Size: Cats don’t like to feel trapped, or need to crouch to use the litter box. A good litter box is 1.5 times the length of your cat. A large pan reduces urine overspray or misplacements of feces when your cat poops. It also gives your kitty a large enough area to cover their waste.
Accessibility: The box should be low enough for kittens or cats with mobility issues such as arthritic cats or senior cats. If yours isn’t, consider a ramp for easier accessibility.
Tracking: This is both a litter pan problem and a litter problem in that some litters just track easier than others. But litter boxes with high sides, or designed to reduce the tracking of litter through your house, can be useful.
Cleaning: This is the big one for cat parents. The best litter pans have smooth surfaces to make cleaning up those pesky clumps quicker and cleaner. Some pans have rounded sides, making it harder to get the corners and edges clean. The square, high-sided pans seem to work the best unless, of course, you have a self-cleaning or sifted pan which makes cleaning easier still.
Quality: Litter boxes take a lot of abuse from our cats. The materials of the pan should be sturdy enough to withstand cracking and breaking when full of litter, and daily scratching from your cat.
The lids and latches should be sturdy enough to stay secure and not break or crack.
Now, let’s get into our top picks!
Best cat litter boxes by category
Top entry cat litter boxes
The doorway should be large enough for your cat to enter comfortably. Top entry boxes can be hard on a cat’s hips and kittens or senior cats may have problems with them.
The pros of using a top entry box are the elimination of urine over-spray and the reduction of litter scatter.
This litter box is versatile in design. Modkat XL offers both a top and front entry configuration meeting the entry needs of all cats.
The base is sturdy and leakproof, with a reusable liner that hooks at each corner for easy cleaning. The liner is good for up to three months with regular washing.
This top entry box is the largest on the market at 21” L x 16.3” W x 17” H and includes an ergonomic scoop and a hook on the side of the box to hang it away between scooping sessions. The top and front entries are large enough for even larger cats like Maine Coons, with a walk-off mat on the top of the box to reduce the excess litter caught on your cat’s toe beans.
This economical top entry litter box is large at 20.29 x 15.07 x 15.2 inches, with a top entry wide enough to accommodate a larger cat.
High sides eliminate over-spray or kicking litter out of the box, and the grated surface on the lid reduces excess litter from tracking all over the house.
There is a built-in litter scoop hanger, but a scoop is not included and can be purchased separately.
Closed or hooded litter boxes
Covered litter boxes keep the smell and sight of the waste less obvious, but since cats have a more acute sense of smell than humans and are fastidiously clean, this type of litter box could be a problem for some cats.
Petphabit’s extra-large litter box can accommodate multiple cats at one time (does that happen?) or larger cats with ease at 24.8″L x 20″W x 16.5″H.
The clear plastic hood won’t keep the litter out of sight, but your cat will be able to observe their surrounding area without feeling anxious or trapped. The high sides and removable top eliminate the litter spillover, but not the litter on the paws.
Multiple colors are available, and the box comes with extra latches.
The Nature’s Miracle Flip Top litter box comes with built-in charcoal odor neutralizers that control odors for up to three months. The flip-top on the hood makes cleaning the box easier without having to remove it entirely.
The non-stick surface also controls odors and resists clumping litter from sticking to the bottom. The sides are rounded and deep to keep litter inside when a feisty cat is covering their waste too aggressively.
The litter box features a handle and four side latches to make transporting it easier and more secure, but I would still hold the bottom rather than risk a kitty litter dump.
Open top litter boxes
Open-top litter boxes are by far the industry standard. Studies have proven open-top litter boxes to be the preferred litter box by most cats. The mess is more visible and the stink of the box is more obvious, but that is easily solved by scooping more often, which you should do at least once a day or more if you have multiple cats.
Litter scatter is the biggest complaint with these boxes, but so many come with high sides and of larger dimensions. The problem is solvable if these boxes make your cat happier.
High-sided cat boxes keep litter scatter to a minimum and this one is no exception. The measurements are23.4 x 18.25 x 11 inches with a low entry for kittens or senior cats with mobility issues.
The anti-microbial non-stick surface of the box controls odors and makes cleaning easier. This box is a user favorite and is rated very highly. The only problem noted is over-spray if your cat pees near the opening. Otherwise, the litter scatter is almost completely controlled, making this a great choice for most cats.
If you want to reduce the scatter even more, add a mat in front to clean off the toe beans when your cat leaves the box.
The Frisco High-sided litter box is a quality alternative if this one is unavailable and available on Chewy.
The Cove litter box is not huge, but adequate for most kitties. The box measures 16” W x 26” D x 6.5” H and is made from double-walled, thick matte plastic. The base is rubber to keep the box from sliding around. The walls are non-stick for easier cleaning.
What makes this litter box unique is the 8” removable walls to keep the litter inside while allowing your cat full visibility. The box holds an integrated tool insert to keep the scoop handy.
This is a more expensive choice, but if your cat prefers to pee or poop standing up, the removable walls keep down the scatter in a stylishly designed litter box.
When you have multiple cats, or large cats, a storage box may fit the bill for everyone. They are inexpensive and large! The one I found is 16.81 x 36.00 x 7.80 Inches, so will contain the litter scatter from that cat who likes to kick it far and wide.
The most cost-effective one I found is at Walmart. It takes more litter to fill than standard cat boxes but may be worth it if you have senior cats who need a large potty area with lower sides or have multiple cats.
Stainless steel and disposable litter boxes
Litter boxes are typically made from plastic, which isn’t a sustainable material that decomposes in landfills. The upside is they are sturdy and can be used for years with weekly deep cleaning.
However, there are some options if you want to decrease your kitty’s carbon footprint. There are stainless steel and disposable litter boxes on the market that you may like.
A stainless steel litter box is the only litter box you will ever need. This one is the cream of the crop with a non-stick surface made of premium materials, anti-rust and ergonomic design. It even comes with their patented sifter that only lets the clean litter fall through.
Stainless steel never absorbs odors or rusts, and there’s never any residue build-up. The pan is roomy, measuring 23.5 inches long by 15.5 inches wide by 6 inches deep. The deep sides can reduce litter scatter and over spray while being easy to clean.
If you prefer higher sides, there is a removable wall option available from this company as well.
Automatic self-cleaning cat litter systems
Automatic litter boxes come in a variety of designs. You can have a fully-automatic system that even flushes the waste and cleans the box for you or a box that just sifts and removes the waste while monitoring your cat’s output and potty habits. You can control the boxes through an app on your Wi-Fi too if you’re into all things technology.
These are pricey, but if procrastination is a problem, or you just can’t deal with a cat litter box, they are the perfect solution.
The downsides of self-cleaning or automatic cat litter boxes are their malfunctions, which can be plenty, or when they use a proprietary litter. All of them require clumping litter and may make it difficult to monitor your cat for urinary tract infections, or disease (FLUTD). The noise they make during the cleaning cycle can scare some cats away as well.
I have many friends who use them and swear to their convenience, and I can’t say I disagree. Here are some good ones to consider if these are on your wish list.
You’ll never have to scoop litter again with this smart, automatic self-cleaning litter box. There are so many bells and whistles, the techie in you will love it.
The box is large at 24 x 10 x 15”. It comes complete in the core bundle with carbon filters for odor elimination, pan or tray liners for extra odor control and cleanliness, a litter trap mat and a ramp to keep paws clean on exit, and the best part, an app for remote control of electronic features.
The control panel on the litter robot lets you control the automatic night light, with a panel control lock-out feature so your kitty or toddler can’t turn anything on or off. There is a sleep mode to shut the robot off during the night, and adjustable cycle times, letting you choose the duration of cleaning cycles.
But let’s get to that app!
The app allows you to monitor the waste drawer level and get notifications remotely when it’s time to empty it. Monitor the box usage to keep track of your cat’s health, activate a clean cycle and connect multiple robots at once.
If you want a more cost-friendly version of a smart litter box, this one may be the right fit. It also comes with a disposable litter tray you throw away and replace with a new one. The trays are supposed to last for 20-30 days.
The smart box senses when your cat has left the box and begins the cleaning cycle 20 minutes later. The app monitors your cat’s usage, keeping track of how often they visit the box. And this cat waste litter system requires the use of a proprietary crystal litter, which is more expensive than standard clumping litter.
There are high-sided versions of this box available from Amazon and Chewy, as well.
Sifting Litter Boxes
This sifting cat pan is of decent size, measuring 19 x 15.13 x 8 inches. The pan is made from sturdy, smooth-sided stain and odor-resistant plastic. It comes with a sifter tray and two cat pans.
The idea is to sift the litter from the top pan through the sifter and empty the sifter into the lower pan. Sounds confusing, but many users are pleased with the ease of the operation with a few workarounds. The company also has a hooded version of the sifting litter box.
This litter system is a little different from the regular sifting systems available, and my mother swears by it.
The starter kit comes with a small litter pan measuring 16.5 x 21.75 x 16.75 inches, so not big enough for larger cats. The system is designed with pellets in the litter tray to hold the solid waste (which needs daily scooping with a scoop included), and fluids filter through the odor eliminating pellets to the urine pad in the lower tray.
The specialized pellets are 99% dust-free and won’t track outside the box. They need replacement monthly. Reviews say you can use pine pellets with this system, but I found no manufacturer comment about that. The disposable super absorbent urine pads require weekly replacement for one cat.
The replacement bundles include the pads and the pellets for a reasonable monthly price if you compare it to clumping litter and litter liners.
Disposable Cat Litter Pans
These can decrease your cat’s carbon footprint, but they can get mushy in areas of high humidity. Some disposable litter boxes come pre-filled and there are now subscriptions available for monthly or weekly delivery.
These are a pretty respectable size at 21 x 15.25 x 7.75 inches, making them ideal for travel or RV use. The plus side is they are made from recycled paper, landfill safe, and infused with baking soda to keep odors to a minimum.
All litter types are acceptable for these boxes and they won’t shred or leak. However, in high humidity areas, they can break down.
Our choices for the best cat litter box
Best overall: Nature’s Miracle High-Sided Litter Box
This litter box checked the most boxes for multiple cat households, or those with small kittens, or older cats. The high sides keep more litter in the box, and the shape makes it easier to clean than rounded boxes.
Best top entry litter box: ModKat Top Entry XL Litter Box
The versatility of this box and the configurations of the lid made this box our choice in the top entry category. The extra-large size is compatible with more cats, and the ability for cats to choose a front or top entry made it more useful in multiple cat households.
Best closed or hooded litter box: Petphabit Jumbo Hooded Cat Litter Box
This enclosed litter box is available in multiple colors, and the hood is transparent for nervous kitties, making it the most desirable of the hooded cat box options. It’s made from sturdy plastic, so holds up well in everyday use.
Best open litter box: iPrimio Non-stick Stainless Steel XL Litter Pan
How can you go wrong with stainless steel? Rust and stain resistance, it won’t hold on to odors and lasts forever, make this one a top pick in the open litter box category.
Best sifted litter box: Purina Tidy Cat Breeze Cat Litter System
All the sifting litter systems were confusing and seemed cumbersome. I saw spilled litter in my future if I used one of them. The Purina Tidy Cat Breeze system was cleaner, and I have seen it in use. The pellets are not too high priced, and the urine liners really hold the smell with huge absorbency capabilities. My only concern was its use in multi-cat families where it could be pricey, or if you have big cats.
Best automatic or self-cleaning box: Whisker Litter-Robot 3
A smart cat litter box system intrigues me and I want one for my cats. To never scoop litter again seems very attractive, and I love the technology in the control panel and the convenience of the app.
Add to that the fact it monitors my cat’s usage, and can be turned off at night. I can’t really find anything wrong with this system except the high price tag.
The other AI self-cleaning litter box systems seemed to have unnecessary options, and the reviews indicated there were customer service issues, so I chose to not include them.
Best disposable litter box: Nature’s Miracle Disposable Litter Box
You can’t go wrong with Nature’s Miracle when it comes to products designed to make pet waste easier to deal with. That is why their disposable litter box is my pick and the only one I included. There were others, but they didn’t measure up like this one.
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