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10 Best Budget Cat Litter Boxes in 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks

orange cat digging litter box

You could be forgiven for thinking that buying a cat litter box. The basic premise is that of a rectangular plastic tray, which you fill with a substrate material that you scoop out once it has been filled with urine and feces. However, there are high-sided boxes, front-opening, and top-opening trays. There are sifting boxes and even mechanical and automatic self-cleaning litter boxes.

There is a lot of choice for something that is seemingly so simple. What’s more, there’s no standard sizing, so what is sold as a large or a jumbo tray might prove too small for larger cats and makes it important to check actual dimensions. Below, we have reviews of ten of the best budget cat litter boxes: those that will collect your cat’s business without costing the earth.

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Van Ness High Sides Cat Litter Pan Van Ness High Sides Cat Litter Pan
  • Cheap
  • High sides preventing litter flicking
  • Cleans well
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Van Ness Cat Litter Pan Van Ness Cat Litter Pan
  • Very cheap
  • Polished plastic is easy to clean
  • Uses recycled materials
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Arm & Hammer Sifting Cat Litter Pan Arm & Hammer Sifting Cat Litter Pan
  • Sifting means no scooping
  • Includes two solid pans for greater convenience
  • Frisco High Sided Cat Litter Box Frisco High Sided Cat Litter Box
  • Firm plastic tray
  • Big enough for large cats
  • Nature’s Miracle Just For Cats Advanced High Sided Corner Cat Litter B Nature’s Miracle Just For Cats Advanced High Sided Corner Cat Litter B
  • Design fits snugly into the corner
  • High walls prevent stray litter
  • Good size
  • The 10 Best Budget Cat Litter Boxes – Reviews & Top Picks 2021

    1. Van Ness High Sides Cat Litter Pan – Best Overall

    Van Ness High Sides Cat Litter Pan

    Dimensions: 21.25” x 17.75” x 9”
    Box Type:  High-Sided Pan
    Material: Plastic and Recycled Materials

    The Van Ness High Sides Cat Litter Pan comes in large or giant size, with the giant representing better value for money if you have a big enough cat and enough room space to warrant it. It is a tough box that is made from a combination of plastic and 20% recycled materials and its dimensions mean that it is reasonable for very big cats.

    The polished finish makes it easier to clean because debris and dust wipe off more easily and don’t get stuck in the plastic, which can happen if the tray has a contoured or textured finish. High-sided litter trays can give cats a little extra security when they’re doing their business, but they also make it a lot more difficult for the cat to kick and flick litter out of the sides when they’re covering up. They can even prevent small dogs from being able to reach over and eat the content, and the fact that the Van Ness High Sides Cat Litter Pan does have a higher front than most other trays further helps prevent this.

    The combination of low price and good design makes this our choice as the best overall budget cat litter box but it won’t fit multiple cats or the largest breeds.

    Pros
    • Cheap
    • High sides preventing litter flicking
    • Cleans well

    Cons

    • Not suitable for jumbo cats
    • Won’t fit multiple cats


    2. Van Ness Cat Litter Pan – Best Value

    Van Ness Cat Litter Pan

    Dimensions: 14.88” x 18.38” x 5”
    Box Type:  Pan
    Material: Plastic and Recycled Materials

    The best budget litter cat litter box for the money is another litter tray from Van Ness. This one costs few dollars for the large tray, although this is only a comfortable size for medium cats, as is a common problem with litter trays. Apart from the height of the tray, it is the same model as the high-sided option above, but available for around half the price.

    Van Ness products are made in the USA and this model is also made from a combination of polished plastic and recycled materials. Some cats do not appreciate the high-sided walls of other models, because they can feel trapped. This is especially problematic if you have multiple cats and where one is anxious and the other visits while the tray is in use.

    A very good price on a reasonable tray, although the sizing leaves a little to be desired.

    Pros
    • Very cheap
    • Polished plastic is easy to clean
    • Uses recycled materials

    Cons

    • Smaller than the size suggests


    3. Arm & Hammer Sifting Cat Litter Pan – Premium Choice

    Arm & Hammer Sifting Cat Litter Pan

    Dimensions: 18.88” x 15.21” x 7.86”
    Box Type:  Sifting Pan
    Material: Plastic

    The Arm and Hammer Sifting Cat Litter Pan is a triple tray arrangement, with two solid trays and one that has moderately sized holes. The tray is designed so that the sifting tray sits atop the solid tray. When it needs emptying, you lift and sift the tray with holes, a bit like panning for gold. The litter falls through the holes while the solids and clumps remain in the sifter and can be easily thrown away without having to scoop or pick up any dirt.

    This is a little more expensive than the standard trays, which is to be expected because it does effectively come with three plastic trays instead of just one. This large pan is not big enough for large cats and you do need to ensure that you buy a suitable sized litter to ensure that it will fit easily through the holes. If the litter does not do a good job of absorbing urine, this will collect in the tray underneath, too.

    Pros
    • Sifting means no scooping
    • Includes two solid pans for greater convenience

    Cons

    • Too small for big cats
    • Need ideal litter conditions
    • Urine can pool in the bottom tray


    4. Frisco High Sided Cat Litter Box – Best for Kittens or Puppies

    Frisco High Sided Cat Litter Box

    Dimensions: 24” x 18” x 10”
    Box Type:  Pan
    Material: Plastic

    The Frisco High Sided Cat Litter Box is a jumbo cat litter box and is the largest on our list, so far. It is suitably sized for all but the very largest cats and is somewhat thicker than some of the other budget models. The rigidity it offers does come at a cost, though, and while it can still be classed as a budget litter tray, it does cost more than most other options on the list.

    The high-sided walls prevent litter flicking while the lowered front wall makes it easier for the cat to get in and out. The lower wall does mean that litter can still stray outside the borders, but if your cat struggles to get in the litter tray, there is a chance it will look for an alternative place to toilet.

    The plastic box is BPA-free and recyclable, has a polished finish for easier cleaning, but its high walls won’t suit every cat.

    Pros
    • Firm plastic tray
    • Big enough for large cats

    Cons

    • More expensive than others
    • Not all cats like high-sided walls
    • Lowered front enables some litter escape


    5. Nature’s Miracle Just For Cats Advanced High Sided Corner Cat Litter Box

    Nature’s Miracle Just For Cats Advanced High Sided Corner Cat Litter Box (1)

    Dimensions: 23” x 26” x 10”
    Box Type:  Corner Pan
    Material: Plastic

    Most litter trays are rectangular and while that shape means that they do naturally fit snugly into corners, some of the space might be considered wasted and the litter tray does not fit symmetrically into the space. A corner litter tray is triangular in design, although it does have rounded corners. The right angle of the triangle sits in the corner of the room, and it takes up less space without really protruding away from that area.

    The Nature’s Miracle Just For Cats Advanced High Sided Corner Cat Litter Box is a triangular corner box. It is a good size for almost all cat breeds, and it has a high-sided design to prevent litter from being flung around the room. It does have a lower front section, although this is still higher than most other box sides.

    The problem with the corner design is that two of the corners are almost impossible to scoop, so if any solids or liquids do get into those corners, it will take a full wash to get everything out. Also, it costs more than the standard rectangular options.

    Pros
    • Design fits snugly into the corner
    • High walls prevent stray litter
    • Good size

    Cons

    • Expensive
    • Difficult to clean all corners


    6. Petmate Basic Cat Litter Pan

    Petmate Basic Cat Litter Pan (2)

    Dimensions: 22.05” x 16.6” x 6.5”
    Box Type:  Pan
    Material: Plastic

    The Petmate Basic Cat Litter Pan is not billed as being a high-sided litter box but at 6.5” tall it definitely qualifies as such. Unfortunately, it has equally high sides all the way around, which means that there is no lowered entrance, and this can make it difficult for some cats, especially kittens and seniors as well as those with joint and muscular problems, from being able to easily get in and out of the tray.

    It is a jumbo box and should be big enough for larger breeds, and one end of the box has an elongated rim to make it easier to pick the tray up without accidentally grabbing the litter and its contents.

    The plastic is quite thin, and it attracts litter dust because it is more textured than some of the polished designs, but if you have a large cat that won’t resist the high walls and that tends to scatter the litter contents all over the floor, it could be the right choice for you and is reasonably, if not brilliantly, priced.

    Pros
    • Good jumbo size
    • Elongated handle at one end
    • Decent price

    Cons

    • Collects dust
    • Thin plastic
    • No lowered entry


    7. KittyGoHere Senior Cat Litter Box

    KittyGoHere Senior Cat Litter Box (1)

    Dimensions: 24” x 20” x 5”
    Box Type:  Pan
    Material: Plastic

    The KittyGoHere Senior Cat Litter Box comes in a selection of colors and a choice of two sizes, both of which are generous compared to other similarly labeled cat boxes. Designed for senior cats and those with mobility issues, the tray has very low sides with one side that is lowered even further.

    These low walls do serve a purpose, making it possible for any cat to be able to clamber in and out, but it does also mean that litter will get out of the box and if your cat tends to toilet against the side, there will be leakage on to the surrounding floor, so we suggest getting some kind of tray or paper to put under it.

    The box is expensive, costing more than even the sifting litter trays on our list, and other than having shorter walls, it doesn’t have the features to warrant the big price tag. If you have a cat that struggles to get in normal trays, though, this is the ideal solution.

    Pros
    • Suitable for cats with limited mobility
    • Can be used for kittens
    • Generous dimensions

    Cons

    • Expect scattered litter and floor accidents
    • Expensive


    8. Kitty’s Wonderbox Disposable Litter Box

    Kitty’s WonderBox Disposable Litter Box

    Dimensions: 17” x 13.5” x 4”
    Box Type:  Disposable
    Material: Paper and Recycled Materials

    The Kitty’s Wonderbox Disposable Litter Box is an unusual concept because it is designed to be used for up to one month and then thrown away. Available individually or at a reduced unit price in a pack of three, disposables can be useful if you’re traveling or staying somewhere temporarily.

    Alternatively, if you foster cats, disposables can also be beneficial. However, while a single disposable tray looks reasonably priced, if you calculate the cost of replacing it even every month, the cost does soon add up and within two or three months, you could have bought a decent plastic litter tray. The trays are small so are not suitable for all cats but useful for kittens.

    The size also means that the disposable can be placed inside a large plastic tray, but the texture means that it is very difficult to clean properly, and you won’t want to leave litter in for a whole month without adequate cleaning.

    Pros
    • Disposable means less cleaning
    • Can fit inside a plastic tray

    Cons

    • Works out expensive over time
    • Difficult to clean
    • Small


    9. Nature’s Miracle Disposable Cat Litter Box

    Nature’s Miracle Disposable Cat Litter Box (1)

    Dimensions: 21” x 14.5” x 8.375”
    Box Type:  Disposable
    Material: Paper and Recycled Materials

    The Nature’s Miracle Disposable Cat Litter Box is another disposable model. Made from recycled paper, there is no indication of how long one is supposed to last before having to throw it out, but the urine will start to leak through and get the tray soggy after a couple of weeks.

    Also, the size of these trays means that you will struggle to fit them inside a plastic tray, so the soggy paper mess will leave staining and watermarks on the floor.

    The size does mean that they are better suited to large cats, but the high sides encourage kitty to stand on the edge as they get out, either crushing the tray or causing it to tip up and unload its contents while the design of the bottom of the tray means that it is very difficult to perform any kind of clean up or removal without using a bag covered hand.

    Pros
    • Made from recycled materials
    • Good jumbo size

    Cons

    • Too big to use as a liner
    • Tall sides are easily crushed
    • Urine soaks through quite quickly


    10. Van Ness Enclosed Cat Litter Pan

    Van Ness Enclosed Cat Litter Pan

    Dimensions: 21.5” x 17.75” x 18”
    Box Type:  Covered Tray
    Material: Plastic and Recycled Materials

    Yet another litter tray from Van Ness and, like the others in the list, this is made from plastic with 20% recycled materials. It is a covered litter tray, which means that it has a lid and a door and is designed to keep odors and litter within the box.

    It does have decent dimensions, but a lot of cats will refuse to toilet inside a cocooned shell, especially if they are anxious or if you have multiple cats that try and share at the same time. The enclosed design also adds to the price, and the door is easily broken.

    The latches that hold the top in place are not as secure as they should be, which can result in your cat easily knocking the lid off and defeating the purpose of the covered tray.

    Pros
    • Covered tray can keep odors at bay
    • Large size

    Cons

    • Expensive
    • Lid latches break easily
    • Not all cats will take to a covered tray design

    Related Read: 10 Best Cat Litter Box Liners – Reviews & Top Picks


    Buyer’s Guide

    A cat litter tray, at its most basic, is just a plastic tray. It holds a litter substrate, such as clay or wood litter, and your cat gets in, does its business, and usually covers the evidence. Indoor and outdoor cats can benefit from having a tray at home, and it is advised that they be given one litter tray per cat plus one extra. The trays can be put in different rooms of the house so that all your cats have somewhere to do their business.

    However, cats can be finicky, although this is understandable when they are looking for somewhere to go to the toilet. Some prefer lots of space while others prefer a more restricted area. Some like to be covered and out of the prying eyes of others, while some cats get nervous when blocked in.

    Litter Box Types

    Choosing the best budget cat litter box first means deciding which type is best suited to your needs and those of your cats, with the following options being the most common.

    • Standard Tray – Most budget litter trays are standard trays or boxes. They are rectangular and flat, although tend to have rounded corners to make them easier to wipe. They have some form of wall and are made from plastic. These trays are inexpensive because they are basic and will suffice for the majority of cats in most situations.
    • High-Sided Tray – But some cats dig frantically when in their litter tray, both when they get in and when they’ve finished their business. This can leave your room looking like one giant litter tray and it is especially unpleasant when you stand on a piece of ejected woodchip, let alone one that is soggy. It’s possible that the cat not only flicks the substrate out but its contents as well. High-sided trays have, as the title suggests, higher sides. They may not completely eradicate the issue of stray litter, but they can help with the problem. You may need to ensure that there is one lower end because if your cat can’t comfortably get in and out, there is a chance they simply won’t bother.
    • Corner Trays – Rectangular trays can fit in the corner of the room, but they protrude from the corner, proving inconvenient if you’re limited for space. Corner trays are triangular and fit snugly into the corner of the wall. The only real problem with these trays is that scoops are square, so you won’t be able to get right into the corners of the tray. They also cost more than the basic rectangular models.
    • Covered Tray – A covered tray not only has tall sides but a roof and usually a swinging door that your cat can open to get in and out. The lid of the tray fixes using latches, similar to those found on hard cat carriers, and you do need to ensure that these are not too loose or too easy to open or the lid will come off, negating any benefits. Suitable for cats that like a lot of privacy, a covered tray can be too claustrophobic for some anxious cats.
    • Sifting Tray – A sifting tray has several layers to it, including one that has small holes. The system is designed so that you can shake the slotted tray and the bits of litter fall through into another tray, leaving clumps and solids that are easily disposed of. Make sure you get a litter that is designed for that tray, though, otherwise the pieces may not easily fall through without some persuasion.
    • Disposable Tray – Disposable trays are normally made from a paper or cardboard material and are designed for short-term use. Some claim to last up to a month before they need throwing, while others may only last for a week or two. These can be seated inside a larger plastic tray, effectively acting like a litter tray liner, and making clean up easier and quicker. They are also ideal for taking away with you because it means that you don’t have to clean the tray before putting it back in the trunk of the car.

    Litter Tray Size

    Check the size of the litter tray you are buying to make sure your cat can comfortably fit in, turn around, and do its business. Although most trays have a descriptive size name, ranging from small to jumbo, you can’t always rely on these because there is no uniform sizing guide. One company’s jumbo tray might only be the same size as another company’s large, and so on. A tray that is too small increases the likelihood of your cat missing and will lead to litter being kicked out onto the floor. One that’s too large will take up more space than is necessary.

    two cats on sniffing litter
    Image Credit: Zoran Photographer, Shutterstock

    Ease Of Cleaning

    Most trays are made from plastic. Some have a textured finish, which may give the tray a more matte finish, but dust and debris can also get stuck in the texturing. When this happens, smells linger, and the tray is a lot more difficult to clean. A polished finish ensures that liquids run off, dust does not gather, and solids are easier to wipe away. Also consider avoiding trays with ridges, for the same reason.

    Where Should You Keep a Litter Tray?

    In the wild, animals are in the greatest danger when they are prone and toileting. While your cat may not have to worry about being attacked by wolves, they may still get anxious when toileting. Choose a position that is convenient for you, ideally up against a wall and giving your cat a good field of view around them. This should help alleviate any concerns and ensure that your cat can go easily. Putting the tray in your bathroom is a good option because you can keep the floor around it clean easily, and all smells are kept to the same area of the house, no matter who was responsible for them.

    cat beside litter box
    Image Credit: Tanya Plotnikova, Shutterstock

    How Do You Stop Cat Litter from Smelling?

    There will always be some aroma from cat litter, but there are ways that you can greatly reduce the smell. Ensure that you clear up regularly and as soon as you notice that there is anything in the tray. Scoop daily and wash weekly. Place them in a well-ventilated area and consider adding baking soda to the litter to help neutralize smells as soon as they present.

    Conclusion

    Getting the right litter tray can help prevent bad smells and ensure that your cat is comfortable doing its business, whatever that business might be. Choose the type of tray that best suits you and your cat and is an appropriate size. Use our reviews to help find the one that best suits your needs and the guide to help make a final decision.

    We found the Van Ness High Sides Giant Litter Box to be reasonably priced and easy to clean, but if you’re really on a tight budget, the Van Ness Cat Litter Pan is even cheaper while offering most of the same benefits.


    Featured Image Credit: xamnesiacx84, Shutterstock

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