The 10 Types of Litter Boxes Every Cat Owner Should Know

Do you know everything there is to know about the various types of litter boxes? With so many to choose from, you're sure to find the perfect one for you and your cat.

The 10 Types of Litter BoxesHere's a quick list of the 10 types of litter boxes that we'll be going over:

  1. Open litter boxes
  2. Covered litter boxes
  3. Sifting litter boxes
  4. Self-cleaning litter boxes
  5. Disposable litter boxes
  6. Corner litter boxes
  7. Top-entry litter boxes
  8. High-sided litter boxes
  9. Extra-large litter boxes
  10. Designer litter boxes

Keep reading to learn more about each of these types to help you decide which litter box is right for you!

Table of Contents

1. Open Litter Boxes

An open litter box is your standard pan that has four sides, a bottom, and that's it. There are no bells and whistles. However, that doesn't make them any less valuable as a litter box. In fact, according to some cat experts, it's better to have this type of litter box. Let's look through some pros and cons of open litter boxes.

Pros of Open Litter Boxes

  • Provides a more natural environment for cats
  • Cats can easily get in and out
  • Easy to access to clean
  • Inexpensive

Cons of Open Litter Boxes

  • Can be messy
  • Limited odor control

Open Litter Box Examples

Here are a couple of examples of open litter boxes you may want to buy for your cat:

This is the PetMate Large Open Litter Box. It's a simple, standard litter box that will work for most cats. It comes in several sizes and has handles on the sides that make it easy to move, even when full.

The IRIS Open Litter Box is great for messy cats. It has a top lip designed to keep litter and waste contained without making the cat feel closed in.

2. Covered Litter Boxes

Many owners prefer covered litter boxes because they reduce litter box odor throughout the house and are nicer to look at. However, these can also make them problematic for cats because the hood can trap odors inside. If you get a covered litter box, you need to make sure it gets cleaned even more often than an open one!

Pros of Covered Litter Boxes

  • Odor reduction
  • Less tracking of litter
  • Dogs and children can't access the litter
  • Some cats prefer the privacy

Cons of Covered Litter Boxes

  • Cats may not prefer using it
  • Can be harder to clean

Covered Litter Box Examples

Here are a couple of covered litter boxes for you to consider:

The Catit Hooded Cat Litter Box has a removable flap that allows for easy access if your cat isn't a fan of it, and the door retracts on top so you don't have to remove the whole hood every time to clean it.

This is the PetMade Clean Step Litter Dome. It has ridged steps designed to remove litter from your cat's feet as they exit the dome to prevent litter from spreading throughout your house and a charcoal filter to trap odors.

3. Sifting Litter Boxes

If you're like most cat owners and hate scooping the litter box, consider getting a sifting litter pan instead. With these, you move the entire litter pan and it separates the clumps from the clean litter, usually in far less time than it would take you to scoop. These only work with clumping cat litters but can save you tons of time and money.

Pros of Sifting Litter Boxes

  • No need to scoop
  • Saves money by not wasting as much litter
  • Can be open or covered
  • Fast and easy to clean

Cons of Sifting Litter Boxes

  • Difficult to deep clean
  • Can be heavy to lift

Sifting Litter Box Examples

Here are two examples of our favorite sifting litter boxes:

The Omega Paw Elite Sifting Litter Box allows you to clean it by simply rolling it onto its side and then back. The clumps are collected into a tray which can then be removed.

An open pan, the Arm&Hammer Sifting Pan is a great option for cats that prefer to look around while using the litter box. This one is also coated in an anti-microbial layer to help reduce odor.

4. Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes

These mechanized self-cleaning litter boxes are great for anyone who hates scooping the litter box, or who isn't able to. They can also work well if you need to leave your cats alone for a few days. As you'll see, however, there are also some disadvantages. The most significant is that these can scare your cat into refusing to use the litter box.

Pros of Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes

  • Easier to maintain
  • Odor reduction because of frequent cleaning
  • May reduce cat litter waste

Cons of Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes

  • Can scare cats into not using it
  • Expensive to buy and maintain
  • Difficult to deep clean when needed

Self-Cleaning Litter Box Examples

Here are a couple of self-cleaning litter boxes that may be right for you:

One of the most popular automatic litter boxes, the Litter Maid Self-Cleaning Litter Box removes clumps from the litter area after your cat leaves and stores them in an enclosed compartment so all you have to do is remove it when it's full.

The PetSafe Simply Clean Automatic Litter Box is another option. It works with a conveyer belt system and the litter box rotates constantly to remove clumps around the clock.

5. Disposable Litter Boxes

Disposable litter boxes are great for reducing odors around the house because once they start to smell, all you have to do is toss them, unlike plastic boxes which need to be cleaned or replaced after a year. Because they're usually made of biodegradable materials, they're often better for the environment, too, and won't be left in a landfill forever.

Pros of Disposable Litter Boxes

  • Can be tossed when full (after about a week)
  • Cats prefer the open design
  • More airflow means less odor as waste dries out quickly
  • Biodegradable

Cons of Disposable Litter Boxes

  • Expensive to continually replace them
  • May leak depending on how your cat uses them

Disposable Litter Box Examples

Here are two disposable litter boxes to consider using for your cat:

Inexpensive and with numerous rave reviews, Nature's Miracle Disposable Litter Box works with all litter types. It also comes in a couple of different sizes to suit any cat.

Although far more expensive than other similar options, Nature's Eco Recycled Paper Cat Tray offers convenience that no other litter boxes do. It comes pre-filled with biodegradable paper litter, so all you have to do is peel the cover off, let your cat use it, and toss it.

Read more: Top 10 Disposable Litter Boxes (And when to use them).

6. Corner Litter Boxes

If you're working with a limited amount of space, you may want to try a corner litter box. These tuck neatly into any corner of your home and often have high sides along the back to protect your walls with a lower entry point at the front. While most are open, you can find some covered corner litter boxes as well.

Pros of Corner Litter Boxes

  • Easy to fit into any room
  • One entry point reduces litter mess
  • Inexpensive

Cons of Corner Litter Boxes

  • Cats may feel confined by walls
  • Can be difficult to clean because of corners
  • The smaller size means it requires more frequent cleaning

Corner Litter Box Examples

Here are a couple of the most popular choices for corner litter boxes:

The SmartCat Corner Litter Box has an easy-access point designed to keep as much litter in the box as possible. It also has high sides to help contain messes and is large enough for most cats.

This is Nature's Miracle High-Sided Corner Litter Box. Its design focuses on odor control as it's coated in an anti-microbial spray and made with a non-stick surface so you can easily remove waste.

7. Top-Entry Litter Boxes

Sometimes, you run into a bad combination of a messy cat and a litter that's easily tracked all over the house. It makes owning a cat difficult when you're finding litter all over the house. Top-entry litter boxes can help solve that problem. It's impossible for cats to fling litter out while using it, and they have to step on the ridges on the top of the box before getting down. These remove any litter clinging to your cat's paws.

Pros of Top-Entry Litter Boxes

  • Keeps litter in the box
  • High sides prevent eliminating outside of the box
  • Prevents children and dogs from accessing the litter

Cons of Top-Entry Litter Boxes

  • Can't be used by kittens or arthritic cats
  • Can be difficult to clean
  • Requires the use of a heavy litter to avoid falling over

Top-Entry Litter Box Examples

Here are a couple of top-entry litter boxes you may consider getting for your cat:

The Amazon Basics Hooded Cat Litter Box has a double door on top that's easy to open for cleaning or to help your cat adjust to their new litter box.

Although it's hard to tell in this picture, the Favorite Top-Entry Litter Box has a clear plastic top. This allows cats to keep an eye on things around them while they do their business, just like with an open litter pan, but it keeps everything contained.

8. High-Sided Litter Boxes

Another option that will help you keep both litter and waste contained is with a high-sided litter box. Some of these offer low entry points so even older cats and young kittens can use them. However, those that have low entry points can still make a mess if your cat does his business in that area.

Pros of High-Sided Litter Boxes

  • Keeps everything in the litter box
  • Allows cats to dig around
  • Open design is preferred by most cats
  • Ones with low entry points can be used by all cats

Cons of High-Sided Litter Boxes

  • May not be accessible to all cats
  • Ones with low entry points can still be messy

High-Sided Litter Box Examples

Here are a couple of high-sides litter boxes:

The Nature's Miracle High-Sided Litter Box is huge and has a nice low entry point that any cat can get in and out of. You may consider adding a litter mat to collect anything that falls out of the entry area.

This high-sided litter pan has been approved by the cat behavior expert Jackson Galaxy. As you can see, the PetMate Giant Open Litter Pan keeps everything in its place since the entry point is only slightly lower than the other sides.

9. Extra-Large Litter Boxes

Is your cat's litter box too small? An easy way to tell is if they routinely "go" over the side rather than in the box. They may also start skipping the box entirely, especially if it's not cleaned frequently enough. Cats love a clean place to go, and need enough room to turn around. That's where an extra-large litter box comes in handy.

Pros of Extra-Large Litter Boxes

  • Great for larger cat breeds
  • Ideal for homes with multiple cats
  • Contains messes better
  • Can go longer between scoopings

Cons of Extra-Large Litter Boxes

  • May be difficult to fit in your home
  • More expensive than smaller boxes

Extra-Large Litter Box Examples

Here are a couple of the largest litter boxes on the market:

The So Phresh Scatter Shield Litter Box is especially great for anyone that has cats who like to spray or make big messes in the litter box. It has high sides to keep the litter contained, while still providing a lower entry point.

One of the biggest litter boxes you can buy, the PetMate Giant Litter Pan can hold up to 30 pounds of litter. It also has two side compartments where you can keep your scoop and any other litter accessories you like to keep on hand.

See more here: 7 Extra Large Litter Boxes That Can Fit Even the Largest Cat

10. Designer Litter Boxes

Designer litter boxes are made with pet owners in mind, so they may not always be best for your cat. However, they're fancy so you can put them literally anywhere which also lets your cat stay close to you, even when they're taking care of business. There are dozens of styles to choose from, so it's easy to find one that fits your decor.

Pros of Designer Litter Boxes

  • Can be put in any room of the house
  • Nice to look at
  • Most designed to help with odor control

Cons of Designer Litter Boxes

  • Expensive
  • Cats may not like enclosed spaces for elimination

Designer Litter Box Examples

Here are a couple of examples of the many designer litter boxes you can buy for your house:

The Good Pet Stuff Company Hidden Cat Litter Box is a large litter box that you can fit into any corner of your home and nobody would ever guess it's your cat's bathroom! The top part can easily be removed for scooping.

The Merry Pets Cat Litter Box Enclosure works well in nearly every area of the home. The front has two doors that open for cleaning the litter box so you can place things on top of this one!

Looking to camouflage your litter box? You need to read this: 30 hidden litter boxes you should check out for inspiration.

Want More Litter Box Reviews?

Now you know everything you need to know about the 10 types of litter boxes. Hopefully, you're now ready to get a new litter box for your cat that will be perfect for both you and your feline friend.

If you want more details about some of the ones on this list, check out our litter box reviews. There, you'll find unbiased reviews to help you decide which litter box to buy.