Cats are awesome, adorable, persnickety members of our families. They know when they want to eat, what they want to eat, where they want to lie – usually in the middle of whatever narrow path is around – and where they want to do their business.
And while we might not spend a lot of time thinking about the best litter box in general, your cat kind of does. It’s her throne room, her area for finding relief, and sometimes a stress-relief spot.
Since litter boxes are important to our cats, they should be important to us.
I wanted to help make sure your cat has the best possible option for her hygiene and health, so I studied and learned what I wasn’t sure about and compiled that information with my own knowledge on the subject.
Our review process is unbiased and based on extensive research. If you buy through the links on our site, we may earn a commission.
- Uses a reusable liner
- Has varied entry-points to make it easier on kitty
- Ventilated for better hygiene and odor control within
- Very low-maintenance
- Quiet, so it won’t scare off Fluffball
- Great carbon filtration system
- Super low price
- Sturdy and stable
- Great at fighting odors
- Great filtration system
- Blends into many homes fairly easily
- Good for larger cats
How to Choose the Right Litter Box
Before looking through litter box reviews, it’s important to know what Kitty needs in a litter box. These are some different things the professionals recommend keeping in mind as you shop.
Choose: Enclosed or Open Air
Our instinct is to grab the nearest enclosed litter box to block out the sights and smells of this necessary but not altogether pleasant part of our kitty’s day.
But not all cats will tolerate an enclosed litter box.
There are various reasons why a cat may reject anything but an open-air pan, but one of the biggest ones is a litter box that isn’t well-cleaned. Odor can get trapped into enclosed litter pans and gives kitty some very strong reasons to avoid the box.
If you do choose an enclosed box, make sure that you’re going to be able to do the regular daily cleaning necessary to keep the odors down.
The enclosure may well prevent you from smelling the issues right away so you might forget to clean the box as often as you should. I use an alarm on my phone to remind me a few times throughout the day to check and make sure the pan is clean.
Must-Have: Filtration and Ventilation
Since I once became very ill from breathing in spores and cat litter dust, I know kitty is vulnerable inside the litter box, since I was just in the room cleaning up a mess.
Make sure there is plenty of ventilation, and, if possible, a filtration system to help eliminate these dangerous elements. I generally recommend carbon filters or charcoal filters for the best filtration system possible.
Decide: Large or Small
A lot of us live in tight spaces, so our first thought is to grab a small litter box that will fit neatly into the corner that will keep Fluffy’s potty practices out of sight.
However, size matters for cats when it comes to litter boxes. Smaller cats can use most any sized litter box on the market, but larger cats often have issues with litter boxes being too small.
Cats need to be able to get into the litter box and easily turn around within the pan and have a little space for stretching out/scratching around.
Determine: High Sides or Any Height
Another thing to consider is the height of the sides of the box. Typically, larger cats need higher sides to help prevent accidents on the edge of the pan. If their little tushies are pressed up against a wall, they’re not nearly as likely to make a mess over the side of the pan.
But older cats and young kittens need short walls so that they can easily get in and out of the litter box.
Pick: Type of Entry
Because cats have different personality types and preferences, the type of entry for an enclosed litter box can also affect its usefulness. Obviously, open-air pans have no issues with this, but enclosed litter boxes may have either a top entry point or a side entry point.
You can gauge which type of entry is ideal for your kitty based upon his behavior in other ways. For example, one kitty I know is all about things when they’re lying down – like canvas shopping bags – and sneaking in that way. Another cat I know loves it when boxes with small openings on the top become available for playtime.
These two behaviors are easy clues that each of these kitties would do better with the different types of entry points.
Consider: Self-Cleaning, Easy-Cleaning, Standard Clean
There are three basic cleaning styles/methods for litter boxes.
The standard clean is your ordinary litter box that’s just a pan. Scoop, clean, scrub.
Easy-cleaning is my term for litter pans that have sifting systems that make cleaning them a little easier than the standard, especially for that daily scooping process. An example of this kind of easy-cleaning litter box is the Van Ness Sifting Cat Litter Pan.
And, of course, there’s the automatic self-cleaning litter box that does the work for you.
Think About: Design and Aesthetics
Finally, and definitely least important as far as your cat’s perspective is concerned, the design and aesthetics of the litter pan is part of what you may want to consider.
When you do consider the aesthetics, though, be sure to put your cat’s needs first over your desire to have a “pretty” kitty litter box.
Some cats will love the enclosed furniture-like cat boxes while others don’t want anything resembling an enclosure.
But if you can find something aesthetically pleasing that meets your cat’s style, go for it.
How We Chose Our List
Just like pretty much every other product out there, hundreds of options of cat litter pans exist. And the whole point of my research was to find the best – and only the best – to suggest to you for your feline family members.
So, I sifted through multiple review sites and pet supply sites to get the long list going. I only took the top choices and brought them into my initial research. The ones that topped retailer sites and review lists included about eighty options.
I immediately knocked out any that didn’t have at least 3.5 out of 5-star ratings from real-life users. 3.5 or higher is “above average,” so I thought any of these might be worth considering.
Now, I was down to about thirty options.
From those thirty options, I read all the litter box reviews I could find for each one individually before deciding which products to examine and review myself.
Ultimately, after trying some out, I came up with this list of the best cat litter boxes for this year.
Reviews of the Best Cat Litter Boxes – Litter Box Buying Guide
#1. The Modkat Flip Litter Box
- Enclosed: Yes
- Entry-Type: Front, with flip-back
- Aesthetics: Attractive
- Odor Control: Highly-rated ventilated
- Cleaning Type: Standard
Overall Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars
The Modkat Flip isn’t technically a “hidden” or “furniture” litter box, but it is pretty close. Many guests wouldn’t recognize it as a litter box, which is a bonus, especially since it’s about $50-$100 cheaper than most of the comparable furniture options.
The Positives of the Modkat Flip Litter Box
This enclosed litter box really is the best cat litter box I could review. It has many benefits from being easy to clean to looking attractive and blending in with pretty much any décor style.
Specifically, these are the things that stand out about the Modkat Flip – not to be confused with their top-entry model – and why this earns the top-ranking in the category.
First off, this is one of the most versatile enclosed litter boxes because it has three positions for the “hood” or lid. You can fully close the top, you can open it partway, or you can completely open the top of the litter box.
This may not seem that significant to some but knowing cats as I do – meaning I know that I can never understand them! – versatility means everything. One cat will adore having that hood over her potty, while another will despise it. Others will prefer a partial covering for their sacred spot.
Since this, as well as many of the other high-quality hooded litter boxes, is a bit pricey, you want something you know will work for your cat’s style.
This one is super easy to clean, too. It has a sturdy, reusable liner that will last a good long while, but it’s also easy to scoop and clean otherwise.
Just pull open the top all the way, and there you go. Easy as open-air cat litter pans.
The high sides help reduce litter tracking and spillage, and the ventilation helps to reduce odors inside the box while also limiting the smell getting out into the house.
The Negatives of the Modkat Flip
There are some negatives, too. The primary ones are related to pricing.
The initial cost of the box is $80, which is a lot for a litter box.
The second is that the liners are pricey as well. But since you don’t have to replace them often since they’re not disposable litter liners, that’s not too horrible, and not a deterrent for most of us.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for an enclosed litter pan, and you’ve got the money up-front, get the Modkat Flip.
It helps to regulate smells and reduces litter tracking, the two main reasons we choose an enclosed cat litter box.
It’s also attractive and super simple to clean, which makes it a thorough winner.
Runners-Up in Enclosed Litter Boxes
Honestly, there were a lot of good ones in this category. There are three that I consider runners-up in for enclosed litter boxes, so I wanted to mention them all.
The second runner-up is the Petmate Top-Entry Litter Pan. The primary reason this one doesn’t rank quite as high for me is that it has a more limited entry. While that Fluffball named Stardust would love this, I think it’s less practical for other kitties.
The best small hooded litter box I’d say is the Iris Top-Entry litter box.
The third enclosed litter box runner-up is the Modkat Top-Entry litter box. Not only is it a great option, but it’s one of the most stylish litter boxes around. It’s smaller than the Flip, which may be more suitable for some homes.
We also love the Catit Jumbo Hooded cat litter box for large cats.
Nature’s Miracle Hooded Corner cat litter box is alright, too, especially if the best place for it in your house is in the corner of the room to save space.
Learn More: Reviews of the best litter boxes for large cats.
#2. Litter-Robot 3 Open-Air
- Enclosed: Semi-enclosed
- Entry-Type: Front
- Aesthetics: Attractive
- Odor Control: Carbon filter, separate waste drawer
- Cleaning Type: Self-cleaning
- Note: Get $25 Catological discount when purchasing using the button below.
Overall Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars
Self-cleaning litter boxes are something that most of us wish we had. They do the smelly work for us. And the Litter-Robot 3 is one that really is a scoop-free option, unlike some “self-cleaning” models that still require you to do most of the cleaning.
The Positives of the Litter-Robot
The big thing about any self-cleaning litter box is that it cleans itself and you don’t have to do anything but empty the waste compartment. No scooping. That’s a big, fat win for anyone who has a sensitive nose, mobility issues, et cetera.
And the Litter-Robot 3 Open Air specifically is ideal for anyone who works long hours, travels a lot, or otherwise can’t attend to the issues of the cat’s throne room a ton.
The litter box is super intelligent, too. Once your kitty finishes his business and leaves the Litter-Robot 3, the box will give a seven minutes time lapse until it starts cleaning. Most systems wait much longer – like two or three times longer – before they start cleaning.
But the even better part is that if your cat decides she’s not done, after all, the system will safely stop when it senses your cat’s re-entry.
The machine is compatible with just about any kind of bag – meaning you’re not going to have to buy expensive special liners, and it’s compatible with any kind of litter.
Many other automatic self-cleaners require silica gel crystals or other specific options that not everyone wants to use.
Finally, the filtration system is stellar. It uses a carbon filter that helps to clear up the dust, odors, and other unpleasant issues that cause problems for Kitty.
The Negatives for the Litter-Robot
The first thing most people will notice about the Litter-Robot is that it’s kind of pricey. This, unfortunately, is a bit prohibitive for anyone on a tight budget.
However, many folks have said it’s worth the cost in the long run for those who can afford it.
If you have a lightweight cat, this is not the litter box for you, unfortunately. Cats must weigh at least five pounds for the system to properly trigger and do its thing.
While the website and adverts say the Litter-Robot is good for any cat over five pounds, folks with larger cats and several litter box reviews have reported that fifteen-pound+ cats can’t use the box comfortably.
The Litter-Robot 3 is also pretty darn big.
If you live in a small, tight space, you may have to consider something else or redesign your living area to make the box fit.
Of course, because this is an automatic self-cleaner, the Litter-Robot is reliant upon electricity, which means your bill will go up a little, and the box has to be placed near an outlet. I do not recommend using an extension cord for this machine.
And finally, the electronic control panel does not do well when wet. Be sure to keep it far away from any areas where water may get into the panel.
The Litter-Robot 3 is most definitely the best automatic self-cleaning litter box on the market. It really does everything for you, except empty the bag.
If you want a completely hands-off option, this is the way to go.
BONUS: If you decide to purchase the Litter-Robot today, just click on the link below and Litter-Robot will automatically take $25 off your purchase!
#3. The Petmate Litter Pan with Microban
- Enclosed: No
- Entry-Type: Open
- Aesthetics: Basic
- Odor Control: Yes
- Cleaning Type: Standard
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
When I first started looking into this cat litter pan, I was a little skeptical that it would make my list. It’s super-basic and super cheap and basically just a piece of plastic. So, I thought it probably wouldn’t impress me.
Soon after I started looking, however, I realized how wonderful simplicity is in this case.
The Positives of the Petmate Litter Pan with Microban
First off, the price on this is just about as low as you can get. It’s only $4 from Chewy which is pretty awesome. If you’re on a tight budget, you’re honestly not going to get better than this for cat litter trays.
But what makes this better than the other inexpensive options is that it is made with Microban.
Microban is an odor-controlling, microbial battling material that’s been infused into the litter pan plastic itself.
This means gross mold and germs won’t be growing in the tray between deep cleans.
This aspect alone makes a huge impact on the quality of a cat litter pan.
The pan itself is sturdy and has an average depth which makes this the best litter box for kittens, too.
The Negatives of the Petmate Litter Pan with Microban
The only real potential negative I see for this is that it comes in a random color. They ship whatever happens to pop up next. If you’re picky about color, that won’t be so great.
The other possible negative is that if you want an advanced or self-cleaning, hooded, or otherwise non-basic litter pan, you’ll be disappointed in this. It’s a completely no-frills model that takes care of the basic needs and nothing more.
I tend to be a no-frills kind of gal and happen to have a super stinky kitty around. So, this is one of my absolute top choices for a litter pan for any home.
It fights odors and microbial bacteria, mildew, and mold, and it’s easy for just about any cat to use. Plus, it’s super cheap. Win-win-win.
#4. The Good Pet Stuff Hidden Cat Litter Planter
- Enclosed: Yes
- Entry-Type: Front entry
- Aesthetics: Attractive
- Odor Control: Yes
- Cleaning Type: Standard
Overall Rating: 3.9 out of 5 stars
A huge thing for me when it comes to enclosed kitty litter boxes is having some kind of ventilation and/or filtration system in place. The odors and dust that get trapped inside these things can be detrimental to your cat’s health.
I know we’re all trying to cut down on smells, but your cat’s health is more important than the convenience of never smelling the litter pan.
However, the filtration system on the Good Pet Stuff Hidden Cat Litter Planter is pretty darn good, so you’re not likely to smell much anyway.
The Positives of the Good Pet Stuff Planter
One of the first positives on this one is the filtration system, as I mentioned before. I think it’s critically important for enclosed litter boxes to have ventilation or filtration for the sake of Fluffy’s health. It can help reduce odors as well as eliminate some of the dust.
Secondly, it’s super easy to clean. You remove the top half and clean like you would any standard litter box.
Thirdly, it’s fairly small compared to many other pans as far as floor space is concerned and is actually one of the best small covered litter boxes available.
The Negatives of the Good Pet Stuff Planter
While some folks think the ferns look natural, others think they look fake. If you’re really picky about this, you could probably find some more natural-looking options at a store like Michael’s that sells artificial plants and replace them.
Also, because it is a covered litter box, some cats won’t use it. However, this can be said of just about any cat product on the planet. Because of this, you’ll definitely want to keep that receipt and try it out for a little bit to make sure Furball is okay with the change.
Honestly, if I was going to keep a hooded litter box in my home all the time, this is probably the one I’d go with. It helps fight odors, keeps down the dust, helps kitty feel secure, and is possibly the best litter box for messy cats.
Plus, since this option blends in so well, and can neatly tuck into a corner, I think it’s a top-ranking option for the best small litter box (for small cats and small spaces) as well.
Runner-Up in the Hidden/Furniture Cat Litter Boxes
There were several options in this category, but few of them have ventilation systems.
However, there was one other option that has a bit more air space within it, with openings going upward, meaning the odors won’t get trapped inside as much. This is the Petfits Double Decker Pet House.
For cats who don’t like the closed-off feeling, this is a great option in furniture cat litter pans, as the “house” has two levels and kitty can climb down in, settle for a snooze, or climb down further for the litter box.
What are the Best Places to Put Litter Boxes?
There are a few things to consider as you figure out the placement of Fluffy’s facilities. Things like odor, privacy, and views can affect how happily kitty will use her litter pan.
1. Does My Kitty Need Privacy While Using the Litter Box?
For the most part, cats are unaffected by the presence of potential eyes watching them use the facilities. Occasionally, Furball may lock eyes with you and pause if you happen to may eye contact when she’s about to squat down.
This does not, however, necessarily indicate that Furball wants to have a door shut between you.
Instead, Furball is thinking about the safety of her situation. Is she vulnerable or is she safe in her position, now that she knows some giant creature – even her favorite one – knows where she’s doing her business?
Cats far prefer safety to privacy, so instead of tucking away the cat litter box into some closet, think more about places that will help kitty feel safe while she’s doing her business.
2. What Helps a Cat Feel Safe in the Litter Box?
Cats are predators, but they can still feel vulnerable, especially while using the litter box.
Cats are going to feel safest in spaces that have wide-open views where they can take in the whole room. This allows them to assess whether or not they’re being stalked, and whether or not they’ve got an escape route if something were to come and threaten them during this vulnerable moment.
We humans don’t always like this, though, because these spaces often mean living rooms, kitchens, or similar spots where we don’t necessarily want to acknowledge kitty’s need for the potty. And especially don’t want the smells from the potty.
This is why finding the safest, healthiest, and most odor-resistant litter choice is important.
3. What Else Makes for Good Litter Box Environments?
Finally, cats need someplace that’s going to generally be quiet for taking care of business. This means it can be a little difficult to find the right locations for placing those 2+ litter boxes around the house.
Personally, I have one tucked into a corner under a counter in a work area where kitty has great views and knows nothing can come up behind her. This space is used several times a day, but not for noisy activities.
I’ve also placed litter pans in my office since my cat loves to be near – not near enough to touch but near enough to watch me. The office has a great corner where the box can be placed with a wide view of the room.
Since my office is for work, I’m not usually playing music or doing loud activities in there. The living room, for me, however, is a terrible location because I do my workouts there, have friends over for parties, et cetera, meaning kitty doesn’t get the quiet she needs.
Having a disruptive environment is one of the big reasons why cats will eliminate outside of the litter box.
4. What About the Odors?
We are not the only ones who hate the odors from the litter box. Cats do not enjoy the smell either and may refuse to use the litter box because of the smell.
There are a couple of things to do regarding litter box odors.
- First off, make sure you’re using the right kind of litter that actually absorbs and reduces odors.
- Secondly, keep the litter pans cleaned on a regular schedule.
- Thirdly, place them in open spaces where odors won’t get trapped.
FAQs about Cat Litter Boxes and Care
How Many Litter Boxes are Needed for Multiple Cats?
Most veterinarians recommend having a base of one litter box, plus one additional box per cat in each home. In other words, if you have one cat, you should have two litter boxes. If you have two cats, you should have three litter boxes. Three kitties need four litter boxes. And so on.
How Often Should I Clean the Litter Boxes?
One of the most important things you need to do for your cat is to keep her litter box clean. When the box becomes dirty, kitty will either use someplace you don’t want her to or will “hold it” and start causing herself some health issues that may become life-threatening.
Cats are, by nature, very clean animals – thus the constant self-bathing and use of grooming as a sign of affection towards humans and other pets – and that means they often will refuse to use cat litter boxes that aren’t so clean.
A good cleaning schedule model looks like this:
- Scooping poo every time kitty leaves a pile – if not possible, scooping morning and evening
- Changing litter completely every 3-4 to weeks, washing the box out with soap and water
- Deep cleaning every quarter – bleaching, scrubbing, etc.
Do I need an automatic self-cleaning litter box or just a regular one?
This distinction will be based on the needs of your particular household. If you are home most of the day and able to regularly scoop out poo and urine clumps, you probably don’t need an automatic litter box.
However, if you travel a bit, have long workdays, or have any kind of mobility issues that may make it difficult for you to regularly clean the litter pans yourself, an automatic self-cleaning litter box would be an excellent investment.
What are litter mats useful for and do I need one?
Litter mats are small pieces of material that litter boxes are placed on. These help to reduce clean-up time by collecting litter that gets kicked, scratched, or dumped out of the litter box by burrowing felines.
While technically you can use any material on hand for a litter mat, specially designed mats will do more to catch the litter because of the design, material used, and even size of the mat itself.
Just be sure to purchase a litter mat that’s the correct size for the litter box(es) in your home.