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Last updated: 29 Aug 2019

The Best Cat Litter (Review) in 2019

Ultra Clumping Cat Litter by Dr. Elsey’s

Dr. Elsey's Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter

World’s Best Cat Litter

World’s Best Cat Litter

Naturally Fresh Cat Litter

Naturally Fresh Cat Litter

Show contents
Angela Westfall
Published 09:40 am

While it’s true that we all love our cats to the moon and back, it’s safe to say that most of us wouldn’t mind dealing with a little bit less smelly and messy cat potty habits. A good-quality litter can go a long way in minimizing the unpleasantness of a pet’s bathroom necessities. The trouble is, our beloved felines have a reputation for being picky about the things they eat, play with and use, litter included. So finding an effective litter that your kitty actually likes to use and that is not expensive can be quite a task.

That’s why we reviewed and tested more than twenty cat litters – from clay clumping to clay non-clumping, crystals to corn, unscented to scented, we went through them all. The result? Quality, reasonably priced litters that are bound to make both your and your feline companion’s life a little tidier and nicer. To further help you in the search for the best cat litter, we also put together a detailed buying guide with some of the leading products on the market.

The Best Cat Litter

1

Dr. Elsey's Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter
Dr. Elsey's Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter

Considered by many the absolute best budget-friendly cat litter, Dr. Elsey’s Ultra Clumping Cat Litter is a great choice for felines with sensitive noses. Hypo-allergenic, non-scented and dust-free, this clumping litter is not only gentle on the nose and paws, it also does a great job at forming sturdy clumps. It also tracks minimally – probably the least of all other clumping clay litters we’ve ever tried. Because it’s made solely of clay, it’s completely free from all plant proteins, which is good news not only for sensitive cats, but people with allergies too.

Although it doesn’t contain any perfumes or deodorants, this cat litter has excellent odor control, making it ideal for households with multiple cats.

One of the things people love about the Ultra is that it forms really hard clumps, making it super-easy for scooping. This also makes the formulation ideal for use on mechanical litter boxes or those that have automated sifters. The unique formulation of the Ultra also makes it a great tool for managing the wastes of multiple cats.

Medium grain clay cat litter

Hypo-allergenic, non-scented, dust-free

Hard clumping

Excellent odor control

Multi-cat

Specification:
  • Brand: Dr. Elsey’s
  • Model: 460U
  • Weight: 40.3 pounds

2

Fresh Step Multi Cat Scented Litter
Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal Platinum Cat Litter

If you need the best possible odor control for multiple cats in your household, Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal Cat Litter is the product for you. Thanks to its unique and patented formula, the litter seals and destroys any type of odor in a matter of seconds. It also forms very hard clumps that are super-easy to scoop. It’s also 100% dust-free, meaning it’s as low tracking as a litter can be. Furthermore, it does a fantastic job at forming a tight seal around waste, which, combined with Arm & Hammer’s Baking Soda, reduces odors to zero.

This cat litter is a great choice if you have multiple pets in the apartment, however, due to its strong “clean” smell, it may not be to everyone’s taste.

Plant-derived particles

100% dust free with heavy-duty odor eliminators

Forms very hard clumps

Strong ‘clean’ smell

Multi-cat

Specification:
  • Brand: Arm & Hammer
  • Model: 033200870005
  • Weight: 42.4 pounds

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For pet parents who believe in the power of fine clay as a clumping litter, the Purina Tidy Cats 24/7 Performance is a great choice. The formula may not be groundbreaking, but it does the job –absorbs moisture to keep cats more comfortable, forms tight clumps for easy cleanup, and controls odors very well. The litter also stays dust-free, which is a bonus considering it’s made of fine clay and is very much affordable.

Purina’s Tidy Cats litter comes in a convenient box or pail, depending on the size, and sports the Tidy Lock protection – a proprietary technology that locks away smells. Speaking of which, this litter is scented and smells slightly fruity.

Fine clay cat litter

99% dust-free  formula with 24/7 odor control

Strong clumping for easy cleanup

TidyLock Protection locks away odor

Multi-cat

Specification:
  • Brand: Purina Tidy Cats
  • Model: NPU10709
  • Weight: 42.7 pounds

4

Purina Yesterday's News Non Clumping Paper Cat Litter
Purina Yesterday's News Non Clumping Paper Cat Litter

There’s a reason why Purina named this cat litter as Yesterday’s News. The product is composed of soft pellets made from recycled paper. The soft design of the paper pellets should be gentle on your pet’s paws while giving the cat litter 300% greater absorbency than traditional clay cat litter. This also helps minimize the formation of dust, although you can still expect 0.3% dust with the system.

The problem with Yesterday’s News is that it is a non-clumping form of cat litter so, while it is very absorbent, you may have to clean your cat’s litter box more frequently than usual. But then again, US veterinarians couldn’t be wrong for recommending Yesterday’s News to cat owners, right?

99.7% dust-free, unscented formulation

3x better absorption and odor control than clay litter

Eco-friendly; made of recycled paper

Specification:
  • Brand: Purina Yesterday’s News
  • Model: 702305
  • Weight: 30.6 pounds

5

Dr. Elsey's Scoopable Cat Litter

If your feline companion avoids their litter box like a plague, give Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Cat Attract litter a try. This litter is formulated with natural herbs to attract cats and solve common litter box problems (in particular, the avoidance of the litter box). It’s also super efficient at clumping, with good odor control, making it ideal for litter box training. That said, the litter is not as absorbent as some of the other clay litters, although this is far from being a serious issue. The texture of the litter is quite nice (a huge plus for cats who avoid litter boxes), and equally important, 99.5% dust free.

The Precious Cat Attract is scented with natural herbal attractants, so it does a very good job at trapping odors. This also makes it perfect for multi-pet households.

Clay litter scented with herbal essence attractant

Attracts cats, solving common litter box problems

Clumps well, 99.5% dust-free

Good odor control

Multi-cat strength

Specification:
  • Brand: Dr.Elsey’s
  • Model: 740
  • Weight: 40 pounds

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Worlds Best Cat Litter
World’s Best Cat Litter

If you and your cat are only satisfied with the best and safest litters that eliminate the odors and messes without relying on chemicals, the Clumping Formula by World’s Best Cat Litter may be exactly what you need. Made of 100% natural and renewable whole kernel corn, this litter is one of the easiest to clean as you can simply flush it down your toilet bowl and not worry about contributing to land and water pollution. The formula is 99% dust-free and with tight and quick clumping abilities so scooping is not an issue either.

Although not scented, the litter does have a gentle wood or hay type of smell, with good cat waste odor control.

100% whole kernel corn litter

Natural and non-scented

Quick clumping abilities

Good odor control

Eco-friendly

Specification:
  • Brand: World’s Best Cat Litter
  • Model: 391032
  • Weight: 28.2 pounds

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There’s a bit of controversy with Arm & Hammer’s Super Scoop Clumping Litter. There’s no question about its ability to form really hard clumps which can make it super-easy to manage. Unfortunately, a good number of cat owners are complaining that the Super Scoop is no longer that effective as it once was. Nevertheless, it underscores the Super Scoop’s amazing properties especially in odor control, utilizing baking soda crystals and natural odor neutralizers.

Unlike the Clump & Seal, however, the Super Scoop is not 100% dust-free, but still manages a commendable 99% performance to go with its low-tracking properties. It would be a shame to see a particularly good product turn to dust if the company cannot rectify this valid pet parent concern immediately.

Moisture Lock super absorbent technology

7-day control of odors

50% lighter than conventional litter

100% dust-free, fragrance-free formulation

Composed of baking soda crystals and natural materials

Specification:
  • Brand: Arm & Hammer
  • Model: 33200024019-Parent
  • Weight: 41.6 pounds

8

If you think Blue Buffalo is all about pet nutrition, think again. The company’s expertise in pet nutrition has been duly extended well into the formulation of a unique, dust-free and completely biodegradable cat litter. This is Blue Buffalo’s Naturally Fresh Cat Litter, a product that boasts of zero-tracking capabilities. The substrate used in the Naturally Fresh is based on natural walnuts, giving it a remarkable scent that Blue Buffalo claims will attract cats back to their litter boxes. Pet parents who have used the product on their litter boxes seem to agree.

100% biodegradable, natural, walnut-based dust-free formulation

Quick-clumping action and non-tracking formula

Absorbs 3x better than clay

Specification:
  • Brand: Naturally Fresh
  • Model: 22003
  • Weight: 14 pounds

9

PetSafe ScoopFree Premium Crystal Non Clumping Cat Litter
PetSafe ScoopFree Premium Crystal Non-Clumping Litter

If you and your kitty are fans of crystal litter, the PetSafe’s ScoopFree Non-Clumping Crystal Litter is a good choice. These 2 pre-packaged bags of litter work with any traditional litter box, as well as the PetSafe’s ScoopFree Reusable Litter Tray. The odor control here is fantastic – the crystals absorb urine and dry solid waste almost instantly, sealing in any smells quickly and efficiently. It should be highlighted that this type of cat litter doesn’t clump – this, coupled with the fact that the crystals are very low-tracking, means there is less mess to clean up. On the flip side, even though the litter is marketed as dust-free, many customers write that the product is in fact quite dusty at times.

Not scented or dyed, this litter is a great option for sensitive cats and pet parents who don’t like strong smelling litters.

Crystal litter

Non-scented, non-dyed

Absorbs well, easy to clean

Great odor control

Moderately low in dust and tracking

Specification:
  • Brand: PetSafe
  • Model: ZAC60-15711
  • Weight: 9.9 pounds

10

Fresh Step Multi Cat Scented Litter
Fresh Step Multi Cat Scented Litter

With the Febreeze Freshness technology ensuring better odor control, the Fresh Step Multi-Cat Clumping Cat Litter is a relatively new product that is making the headlines because of its many features. It is gentle on your cat’s paws and provides exceptional litter clumping capabilities, allowing for easier handling of cat wastes. It is scented, though so if your feline happens to be averse to its scent, then it would really be a waste. It is priced friendlier than other brands, too making it a highly viable option for pet parents who love mildly scented cat litter with good clumping abilities.

ClumpLock technology for more secure clumps

Febreeze Freshness technology for better odor absorption

Low-dust, pet-friendly formulation

Paw-activated fragrance release

Specification:
  • Brand: Fresh Step
  • Model: 31601
  • Weight: 34.5 pounds

Best Cat Litter Buying Guide

Cat litter was invented in 1947 by Ed Lowe, who wanted to help out a neighbor who ran out of sand, the material people used before the modern cat litters were invented (that, or the ashes – imagine the mess!). Mr. Lowe gave his neighbor some clay instead, which she found worked far better than anything she ever used before. Soon, Lowe’s clay litter, which he called Kitty Litter, became the synonym for proper cat litter. Today, clay litter is just one of the many different types of litters pet parents can purchase. From clay clumping to clay non-clumping, corn, wheat and pine, there are various types of litters available, and even more cat litter brands out there. So which type is the best? As you can probably guess, this depends on several factors, all of which we’ll discuss in this buying guide.

What Makes a Good Cat Litter: Factors to Consider

There is no way around it: if you live in an apartment and own a cat, you need a safe way to neatly dispose of their waste. In other words, you need an efficient cat litter. But what exactly is the best and most effective cat litter? Crystal, clay, natural alternatives, scented or unscented? The truth is, there is no best litter for everyone as all cats are individuals. Not to mention, we all live in different environments and have different budgets. That said, there certainly is a way to get the right cat litter for you and your pet. But to do that, you need to take into consideration a couple of factors first.

  • Number of Cats

Many experts agree it’s a good idea to have two litter boxes per one cat. This is because most cats are finicky when it comes to their bathroom habits and prefer using the cleanest litter box available. The need for clean litter boxes only grows bigger the more cats you have. In an ideal world, you’d have two litter boxes per one cat, but of course, not everyone has space or money to purchase several litter boxes for their pets. The next best thing to do is purchase a multi-cat litter. This type of litter has more scent-control than regular products, which is crucial for a multi-cat household.

  • Your Cat’s Preferences

 If you’ve used a specific type and brand of cat litter for years and your pet continues to use it with no issues, there’s really no need to switch to a different litter. That being said, there’s always room for improvement – the litter could clump better, smell nicer or be cheaper – so it’s natural to want to switch from time to time. If you can, it’s a good idea to test your kitty’s litter preferences. Purchase two different kinds you like, provide three boxes for a short time, one filled with the previous litter, the other two with new types, and watch your kitty’s bathroom behavior. Very soon, it should be obvious which type they prefer.

Once you’ve found a litter that suits your and your cat’s preferences, make sure it satisfies the following criteria:

  • Absorbs well: a good-quality litter needs to absorb as much urine as possible. The goal is not to have to empty the litter every single time your pet pees.
  • Controls odor: another very important factor is how well the litter controls odor. Some products are scented in order to mask the smell in addition to sealing it, others are not. There is no better or worse here; what’s really important is that the litter is effective at controlling the odor. That said, if your kitty has a sensitive nose, it’s better to stick to non-scented products.
  • Clumps well: to be able to scoop out your kitty’s waste quickly and easily, you’ll need a litter that clumps well. Instead of dumping the entire pan, clumping allows for simple removal of only used (clumped) litter.
  • Low in dust and tracking: for your and your kitty’s safety, it’s best to go for low-dust litters. While there are only a few litters with zero-dust abilities, there are plenty of products that produce low dust, which is more than good enough for healthy cats. As for tracking, you can’t avoid it completely, but the less you have to clean after your kitty’s litter duty, the better. It’s good to know that super-quick clumping litters sometimes stick to more than just cat waste – if the product sticks to your cat’s paws a lot, consider purchasing formulas with both clumping and non-clumping particles.

Cat in the toilet1

Different Types of Cat Litter

Cat litter has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1947. Today, there is a huge number of litters available, which can make the selection process rather difficult for pet parents. To help you decide which type is better suited for you and your feline companion’s needs, we’ve outlined some of the most important types and their pros and cons.

  • Clay: the original cat litter, clay remains the most common and popular litter because it checks all the right boxes. It’s inexpensive, great for sealing in the waste and odor, plus most cats like it. It comes in clumping and non-clumping formulas. The former one is made of bentonite clay and besides clumping, it also absorbs all odors really well. This type is super-easy to scoop out, but some formulas tend to stick to paws and leave behind dust. The non-clumping type is more likely to leave behind some moist litter, but it since it’s not made of bentonite, it doesn’t produce dust.
  • Natural alternatives: while clay is certainly a natural material, it isn’t exactly biodegradable. For those looking for more eco-friendly cat litters, alternatives such as corn, wheat and pine are better options. These litters are environmentally friendly, don’t track and typically do a good job at clumping, making them easy to dispose of. That said, some of these materials have pretty strong natural scents which may be offensive to some, and they’re more expensive than clay litters (which is ironic, considering they’re renewable!).
  • Scented: because some cat litters cannot absorb waste odors very well, they’re scented. This helps mask the natural smell of poop and urine, which, we’re sure you’ll agree, we can all do without, especially pet parents who live in small apartments. On the flip side, some scented litters are heavily perfumed, which some cats may find repellent. And if your cat is particularly finicky, they may not want to use it.
  • Non-Scented: unscented cat litters don’t have any sort of chemical scent added to them, which makes them gentle on the nose. Usually, picky cats prefer unscented litters, although many don’t mind when they’re lightly perfumed. That said, even the unscented litters sometimes have a natural smell – for example, a pine litter will always smell a little like pine. It’s good to keep in mind that without added perfumes, you’ll be able to smell cat waste more easily.

Best Ways to Reduce Litter Box Odor

Sometimes, even the best cat litter in the world is not able to efficiently control the odor. Thankfully, there are some tips and tricks that can help you tame the unpleasant smell.

  • Regular scooping: the absolute best way to reduce litter box odor is to scoop more frequently. Once a day is typically enough, but twice a day is even better.
  • Weekly cleaning: even if you scoop three times a day, it’s important to clean the litter box once a week. Use an effective but ammonia-free cleanser to gently scrub the box and then rinse it well. After it dries, put the fresh cat litter in.
  • Proper litter box placement: while it’s a good idea to place the litter box in a slightly secluded area so your kitty has some privacy, it’s also important that that room is well-ventilated. Adequate air circulation will make the room with the litter box more breathable, which is good news for both you and your cat.
  • Regular litter box replacement: besides changing your cat’s litter frequently, it’s also important to change the box itself regularly. Typically, it’s enough to replace the box on a yearly basis, although this depends on your kitty’s bathroom habits first and foremost. If you notice quite a few scratch marks on the box (from the cat’s attempts to bury its waste), it’s time to replace it. These tiny grooves and scratches are hard to clean and sterilize, making them great places for bacteria to hide and proliferate.
  • Using baking soda: if all else fails, try adding a layer of baking soda at the bottom of the litter box. Baking soda has mild abrasive, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties and great odor absorbing abilities.

Related Post: Best Self Cleaning Litter Box

Clumping and Non-Clumping: Which is Better?

The difference between clumping and non-clumping litter is in the ability of the clumping substrate to solidify once it has been soaked with pet urine. This allows easier removal of the soiled litter, giving you the chance to replace only that area of the litter box that you removed the clump from. This helps improve the longevity of the cat litter. On the other hand, non-clumping litter may require more frequent replacement since you cannot remove substantially less substrates from the box. In most cases you’ll be inclined to replace all of the cat litter in the box more frequently.

So, which is better? Well, if you’re talking about less frequent cleaning of the entire box and easier management of soiled litter, then the obvious winner is a clumping cat litter. However, if you prefer something cheaper and don’t really mind replacing your cat litter more frequently, the non-clumping cat litter is better.

Cute-cat-in--litter-box

Useful Tips on Using Cat Litter

Getting the right cat litter for your pet is only one aspect of total feline pet care. The next crucial element is learning how to use such products correctly. Here are some tips to help you do just that.

Scoop the cat litter on a daily basis with or without visible clumps or fecal matter. This helps aerate the substrates that are in deeper layers while also helping minimize odor build-up.

If you have a litter box that has shorter sidings, it is wise to put a higher barrier around the box to keep the cat litter contained. Make sure to provide an access for your feline friend to get in and out easily. If not, invest in a cat litter box that has high side walls.

Regardless of how absorbent or super-clumpy your cat litter is it is still very important to clean your cat’s litter box regularly. The box should be washed and rinsed thoroughly to make it more pleasing for your cat to go in and do its business.

If you find cat litter around your cat’s box make sure to clean this immediately. You can also schedule regular sweeping and vacuuming of the area where the litter box is located.

To improve the odor control characteristics of your cat litter, you may want to sprinkle a good amount of baking soda at the bottom of the box just before filling it with your chosen cat litter. This can greatly aid with controlling nasty odors. It’s also cat-friendly.

Don’t skimp on the number of litter boxes for your cat especially if you have a multi-cat household. As much as possible you need to have a 1:1 ratio of cats to cat litter boxes. You may have cat litter that’s designed for multi-cat households but this will still pale in comparison to having a dedicated ‘restroom’ for each of your felines. If you have only 1 cat, having an extra cat litter box won’t hurt.

Use mats and rugs to help you put tabs on litter tracking.

Related Post: Best Self Cleaning Litter Box

Best Cat Litter FAQ:

Q: How do I dispose of cat litter?

To keep your cat healthy and happy, and your home neat and clean, it’s crucial to dispose of your pet’s litter regularly. By using a litter scoop, you can simply scoop out the used litter, place it in a plastic or paper bag, and put it in your trash. To make sure you’re well protected against litter dust and your cat’s waste, always wear gloves and a mask when scooping/cleaning. After you’re done, don’t forget to wash both the litter scoop and your hands with soap and water.

If you want to reduce your pet’s footprint on the environment, consider purchasing a biodegradable, eco-friendly litter that you can compost. This type of cat litter is particularly useful for folks who have a garden patch.

Q: How often should I change cat litter?

Daily scooping is a must if you want your kitty to have a clean, tidy litter box (and if you want your house to smell nice!). But even if you scoop multiple times a day, there comes a time when you have to change your cat’s litter box completely. But how often you should actually replace the litter depends on several factors: how often you scoop, how many cats you have and which cat litter you use. Typically, with clay litter, you should replace it twice a week to once a week. That said, if you scoop two times a day and clean the litter box frequently, you may need to replace it every two weeks. If you use crystal litter, you may even be able to push it to three weeks.

Q: Are all of these cat litters environmentally friendly?

While natural, clay litters, especially those containing bentonite clay, are far from being eco-friendly. To get this type of litter, mining is required. This wouldn’t be much of a problem per se if bentonite wasn’t found near the surface of the earth. With bentonite, “strip mining” is used to excavate the mineral, which has a negative impact on the environment (leaves behind infertile waste rock). Similarly, the all-natural crystal litters (they’re made from silica), are not very eco-friendly either as they take up space in landfills. If you’re concerned about the effects of cat litter on the environment, we suggest switching to biodegradable alternatives such as wood, corn, pine, grains, paper and similar natural alternatives.

Sources:

  1. 6 Tips to Control Litter Box Odor, PetFinder
  2. Choosing the Right Cat Litter, Animal Wellness
  3. How to Safely Clean a Cat’s Litter Box, Animal Planet
  4. What is Cat Litter Made of?, petMD
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Angela Westfall
Angela Westfall
Angela has fostered, adopted, screened and saved cats for over 15 years. She is known as one of Central Ohio’s most passionate and knowledgeable cat enthusiasts. Her rescue, Angels Assisting Felines has partnerships with PetSmart and PetSuppliesPlus to help more cats find great homes.
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