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The best cat litter supports a clean, comfortable, and natural litter box experience for your cat. It enables digging and burying without kicking up clouds of dust. It quickly soaks up urine so your cat doesn’t have to step in wet litter on their next visit. It feels comfortable under their paws and doesn’t irritate their nose with overwhelming synthetic fragrance.
The benefits of a good cat litter product for cat parents include a fresher-smelling home, limited scatter outside the litter box, and easy scooping. The options are vast and varied, with products landing all over the price spectrum. Even eco-conscious cat owners can find quality cat litter products that support their interests in sustainability.
At a Glance: Best Cat Litter to Buy
- Infused with odor-controlling probiotics
- Forms tight clumps on top of the litter surface
- Fine granules for sensitive paws
- Priced around $0.50 per pound
- Large, heavy granules track less than other clay formulas
- Forms hard, easy-to-scoop clumps
- Very strong odor-controlling ability
- Forms hard, easy-to-scoop clumps
- Free from synthetic fragrances
- Fine, sandy texture is gentle on cat paws
- Highly absorbent, soaks up liquid quickly
- Dehydrates solid waste for easy scooping
Why Trust Cats.com
Over the last several years, we’ve personally purchased, tested, and written in-depth reviews on over two dozen of the most popular cat litter brands and more than 50 litter products. The products were purchased at full retail price and the entire testing process was funded by Cats.com without direct input or influence from the companies involved.
Our litter team has spent hundreds of hours testing these products’ clumping ability, odor control, dustiness, tendency to track and scatter, and more. In addition to our own product research and testing, we’ve read thousands of customer reviews and consulted several veterinarians to get their take on the safest and most effective cat litter.
Based on extensive research, hands-on testing, and expert insights, we’ve selected the following 12 cat litter products as the best you can put in your cat’s box.
Our Veterinary Advisors
Top Picks Explained
In this video, our Head of Content, Mallory, tests and reviews 10 top cat litter brands to evaluate their effectiveness in odor control, ease of scooping, and tracking. While the picks in this video don’t completely match our updated list of recommendations, they are still brands we love.
The Best Rated Cat Litter: Our Top 12 Recommendations
What to Consider When Shopping for Cat Litter
No cat litter is perfect for every household but there are key qualities to consider when choosing between products. Ultimately, you want to select a litter product your cat likes while factoring in features that affect functionality and affordability.
Easy to Clean
Clumping cat litter is usually the easiest to keep clean and dry, but not all clumping litter works equally well. Some products create soft blobs that crumble when you scoop, and others yield firm clumps. You don’t want to feel like you’re scraping chunks out of a bowl of cookie dough. The clumps should be cohesive, firm, and easy to remove.
If you’re using a non-clumping product, it must do its job well. Any non-clumping litter should be insanely absorbent and not completely saturated after a day’s use. Keep in mind that because it’s non-clumping, you’ll likely end up emptying the entire box at once.
Good cat litter helps keep odors at bay, but don’t expect a box of litter to take over your job. We’ve found that the best odor control comes from great clumping and regular cleaning.
The more waste you can remove from the box, the better. That’s why we look for cohesive clumps, minimal stickiness, and great absorbency. Some products amp up the odor control with activated carbon and baking soda, which can significantly cut back on odors.
Dr. Alex Crow, VetMed MRCVS cautions that “some litter that contains crystalline silica dust can be harmful when breathed in, which is something you most certainly want to avoid. This is why it is important to buy dust-free cat litters. Inhaling this dust can cause your cat to develop serious issues and cause them to have trouble breathing.”
Of course, most litter is advertised as low-dust or “99% dust-free”, but these are usually flimsy claims. Some so-called low-dust products create plumes of dust, so don’t trust the label blindly. Customer reviews can help you assess a product’s dustiness before you buy.
Also Read: Best Dust-Free Cat Litter
Depending on what type you choose, you could end up forking over $70-$200 per year in cat litter expenditures. When you consider that a human’s annual toilet paper expenses are low as $15 and usually don’t exceed $50, cat litter starts to look a bit pricey.
The reality is that no cat litter is perfect, and spending more to fill your cat’s litter box won’t necessarily yield life-altering results. Daily scooping can help you extend the life of your cat’s litter. Clumping varieties tend to minimize waste but often cost more per pound than non-clumping varieties.
Litter tracks—it’s hard to get around them. Litter gets trapped in your cat’s paws and fur and hitches a ride out of the litter box. Although many litter companies call their products “low-tracking”, the best way to control tracking is by investing in a good litter mat.
Dense litter with heavy granules often tracks less than lightweight varieties. Pellet-style litter and litters with large grains also tend to be some of the lowest tracking options on the market.
Also Read: The 5 Best Non-Tracking Cat Litters
Scented cat litter may help disguise the smell of a dirty litter box but it doesn’t do anything to resolve the odor issue. In fact, added fragrance can irritate your cat’s sensitive nose. If the smell inside the litter box becomes overwhelming, your cat may start avoiding it.
Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM confirms this, encouraging cat owners to “avoid highly-scented cat litters.” She says that “cats have a much better sense of smell than we do, so even if the litter smells good to us, cats can find it very irritating.”
“The ideal cat litter would be a scent-free clumping litter that has good odor control, ” says Dr. Dwight Alleyne, DVM, but “the personality of a cat may be the final determination on what is the best cat litter.” While the best cat litter for you comes down to your cat’s personal preference and your household needs, some types of litter work better than others.
Let’s quickly break down the top three types of cat litter products.
Clay Cat Litter
Clay cat litter is by far the most popular type on the market today. It’s the most widely available and cost-effective. It has its critics, however. Because it’s gathered through strip mining and is non-biodegradable, its environmental impact has been described as an “absolute catastrophe.”
There’s also the risk of inhaling crystalline silica dust to consider, though the amount of dust produced by a good cat litter generally isn’t significant enough to cause serious health issues.
Clay cat litter products are divided into two categories: clumping and non-clumping. Clumping litter is usually made from sodium bentonite clay, a variety that expands 12-15 times its original size when wet. This swelling ability causes it to clump when it comes into contact with urine, making it easy to scoop out waste while preserving clean litter.
Non-clumping clay was the original commercial litter box filler and was first sold in 1947 as “Kitty Litter.” It’s made from a variety of absorbent clays, including sepiolite, attapulgite, and montmorillonite. Non-clumping litter tends to be cheaper than clumping litter but its odor-controlling ability is limited, necessitating more frequent replacement.
Also Read: Best Non-Clumping Cat Litter
Silica Gel Litter
Crystal or silica gel litter is a relatively new addition to the cat litter shelf. It’s made synthetically from silicon dioxide, oxygen, and water. Each crystal has millions of tiny pores that capture moisture. Instead of clumping, this type of litter dehydrates solid waste and absorbs liquids.
If you remove solid waste and stir the litter daily, crystal cat litter can effectively serve you for up to a month before disposal. Because this type of litter has such great longevity, it’s more expensive than clay and some biodegradable products.
Biodegradable Cat Litter
The most head-spinning part of the cat litter marketplace may be the natural and organic department. These products are made from a range of organic and recycled materials including wheat, wood, grass, paper, tofu, and more. While they may be eco-friendlier than many traditional cat litters, they come at a price and might not offer equal performance.
Some biodegradable cat litters are marketed as flushable. Be sure to carefully read the label and consult local laws before you flush cat litter down the toilet, however—flushing the wrong litter could be an expensive (and messy) mistake.
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of cat litter is best?
In an ideal world, the best cat litter offers a combination of features that meet both your needs and your cat’s. Your cat’s natural instincts get the respect they deserve, and you get to control the smell and appearance of cat waste in the house. Each cat’s preferences are unique but most cats seem to like clumping clay cat litter.
What is the longest-lasting cat litter?
You can extend the life of any cat litter with daily scooping – this helps prevent odor from accumulating and contributes to a comfortable experience for your cat. That said, clumping varieties help minimize wasted litter. It’s still recommended that you empty, clean, and refresh the litter box once a month, but clumping litter doesn’t need to be replaced weekly like non-clumping and some alternative varieties.
Which cat litter is best for odor control?
How often you scoop the litter box has the biggest impact on odor. Litter that quickly absorbs liquids and forms tight, solid scoops tends to be the most effective. Non-clumping and silica gel litters become saturated more quickly which can contribute to odor accumulation.
Which cat litter do vets recommend for kittens?
Clumping clay cat litter may not be safe for kittens due to the risk of ingestion and intestinal blockage. When we asked vets about this hazard, Dr. Caren Carney, DVM shared that she has "had to treat a kitten for eating clumping litter, as it was causing an obstruction." Though this type of blockage is uncommon, Dr. Carney now recommends shredded newspaper for young kittens who've not yet been weaned.