11 Best Cat Litters Of 2023

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comments-icon Medically reviewed by  Dr. Bartley Harrison, DVM
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Our Review Process

Our reviews are based on extensive research and, when possible, hands-on testing. Each time you make a purchase through one of our independently-chosen links, we’ll receive a percentage of the proceeds. Read more about how we’re supported here.

The best cat litter helps keep your home smelling fresh and your cat happy. It combines excellent odor control, easy scoping, low tracking, and minimal dust output.

After researching the litter industry, reviewing over two dozen of the biggest brands on the market, and performing in-box tests on more than 50 products, we’ve chosen the following litters as the best cat litter you can buy in 2023.

At A Glance: Best Cat Litter To Buy

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In the comparison table below, we’ve highlighted some of the most important features of each product. You’ll find more detailed information about each product later in the article.

Overall Best
Picked by 31 people today!

Boxiecat BoxiePro Deep Clean Unscented Clumping Clay Litter

  • Infused with odor-controlling probiotics
  • Forms tight clumps on top of the litter surface
  • Fine granules for sensitive paws
Premium Pick
Picked by 31 people today!

World’s Best Cat Litter Unscented Clumping Corn Cat Litter

  • Made from natural corn materials
  • Flushable and septic-safe
  • Quickly forms hard clumps
Budget Pick
Picked by 25 people today!

Frisco Multi-Cat Unscented Clumping Clay Litter

  • Affordably priced under $0.50/pound
  • Forms hard, easy-to-scoop clumps
  • Free from artificial fragrance
Best Health Monitoring Litter
Picked by 21 people today!

Pretty Litter

  • Contains pH-detecting particles that change color
  • Lightweight litter with a soft, sandy texture
  • Absorbs urine and dehydrates solid waste
Best for Automatic Litter Boxes
Picked by 18 people today!

Litterbox.com All-Natural Clumping Clay Litter

  • Naturally unscented clay litter won’t irritate sensitive noses
  • Forms tight, hard clumps that are easy to scoop
  • Works well with automatic litter boxes
Best Non-Clumping Litter
Picked by 31 people today!

Tidy Cats Instant Action Unscented Clay Litter

  • Large granules reduce tracking
  • Strong odor control ability
  • Doesn’t stick to the sides of the litter box
Best for Kittens
Picked by 31 people today!

Fresh News Recycled Paper Original Crumble Litter

  • Non-clumping formula may be safer for kittens
  • Incredibly low in dust, great for sensitive noses
  • Made from 100% recycled paper materials
Best for Low Tracking
Picked by 25 people today!

Feline Pine Original Non-Clumping Wood Cat Litter

  • Made from sustainably sourced pine
  • Large pellets are very low-tracking
  • Free from synthetic fragrance
Best Sustainable Litter
Picked by 21 people today!

Sustainably Yours Multi-Cat Plus Cat Litter

  • Forms firm, cohesive clumps for easy scooping
  • Fine granules are gentle on your cat’s paws
  • Biodegradable, made from plant-based materials
Best for Sensitive Noses
Picked by 18 people today!

Fresh Step Simply Unscented Clay Litter

  • Larger granules help reduce tracking
  • Free from added dyes and fragrances
  • Fairly lightweight, easy to carry
Best for People Who Hate Scooping the Litter Box
Picked by 18 people today!

Tidy Cats Breeze Litter System

  • Complete all-in-one litter box system
  • Dehydrating zeolite pellets help dry out solid waste
  • Urine collects in a pee pad beneath the system

Why Should You Trust Us?

Over the last several years, we’ve written in-depth reviews on over two dozen of the most popular cat litter brands and more than 50 litter products.

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 11 cat litter products as the best you can put in your cat’s box.

Our Veterinary Advisors

How We Tested

All of the products on this list have been personally purchased and tested by members of the Cats.com team with our own cats. 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.

In most cases, each of these litter products was tested for a period of at least two weeks. Throughout that time period, our experts observed various performance indicators such as odor control, dust production, tracking, and scatter. Our experts have also made note of factors affecting user experience such as product weight, resealable packaging, product variety, and more.

Most of the litter products on this list have been tested in different types of litter boxes including traditional open litter pans, covered litter boxes, sifting litter boxes, and automatic litter boxes. They’ve also been tested with multiple cats, each of whom has their own preferences when it comes to cat litter.

Top Picks Explained

At the top of the list is Boxiecat BoxiePro Deep Clean Clumping Clay Litter. We chose this clumping clay formula for its firm clumping ability and probiotic odor control. Boxiecat also has a strong reputation for consumer confidence and innovation in the industry.

In addition to our top pick, we’ve included our recommendations for the best cat litter for various needs, including the best non-clumping cat litter, best litter for odor control, best litter for automatic litter boxes, and more.

The Best Rated Cat Litter: Our Top 11 Recommendations

choosing the best cat litter

A quality cat litter is essential for cat owners, but you and your cats have your own unique preferences. We’ve assembled a list of the 11 best cat litters on the market in different categories so you can find the option that best suits you and your cat.

#1 Overall Best: Boxiecat BoxiePro Deep Clean Unscented Clumping Clay Litter

Boxiecat BoxiePro Deep Clean Unscented Clumping Clay Litter

Product Info

  • Brand: Boxiecat
  • Material: Sodium bentonite clay
  • Clumping: Yes
  • Flushable: No
  • Features: Infused with probiotics, forms flat-top clumps
  • Price: $0.87/pound

Winner of the 2018 Industry Recognition Award, Boxiecat litter has several unique qualities that sets it apart from other clay litters. It is, however, still a fairly economical pick priced under $1.00 per pound when you purchase a 28-pound bag.

Boxiecat’s BoxiePro Deep Clean litter is designed to absorb liquid immediately on contact, forming flat clumps on top of the litter surface. This helps prevent urine from seeping through and pooling on the bottom of the box where it makes a sticky mess. It also helps trap odor before it becomes an issue.

What perhaps contributes more to this litter’s odor-control performance, however, is the infusion of probiotics. These probiotics help bacteria that cause odor in the litter box and can be spread to the surfaces in your home via your cat’s paws.

In our in-box testing, Boxiecat litter was found to be highly absorbent and formed tight clumps that were easy to scoop. It didn’t produce a significant amount of dust, but the fine granules tracked to a moderate degree.

Our test cats seemed to like the soft feel of the litter, preferring it over alternative litters like silica and corn-based World’s Best Cat Litter. Recent customer reviews confirm the litter’s strong odor-control properties, though there are some complaints about tracking due to the fine granule size.

What We Liked:

  • Infused with probiotics for added odor control
  • Absorbs quickly and clumps on top of the litter
  • Fine granules are gentle on sensitive cat paws
  • Moderately priced under or around $1.00/pound

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Lightweight granules may track more than some litters
  • May not be heavy enough for use in automatic litter boxes

#2 Premium Pick: World’s Best Cat Litter Unscented Clumping Corn Cat Litter

world best

Product Info

  • Brand: World’s Best
  • Material: Corn
  • Clumping: Yes
  • Flushable: Yes
  • Features: All-natural, septic-safe, lightweight
  • Price: $1.15/pound

Though you shouldn’t take marketing claims without a grain of salt, World’s Best is a brand whose reputation doesn’t clash with its name. With nearly 5,000 reviews on Amazon and over 2,000 on Chewy, this cat litter has a strong following.

World’s Best cat litter is all-natural, made from corn rather than clay. This makes it free from silica dust which can be a benefit for cats with sensitive noses and it’s a more lightweight option as well. Being a biodegradable and compostable material, it’s also flushable and septic-safe.

While World’s Best claims their formula is 99% dust-free, some customer reviews suggest otherwise. The most recent complaints about dustiness, however, seem concentrated around a possible reformulation of World’s Best’s multi-cat formula which comes in a red bag.

In testing, we found World’s Best cat litter clumped well and displayed strong odor control ability. As some users have commented, there’s a slight aroma of damp grain when the litter gets wet but our tester didn’t find it problematic. The grains are, however, harder than clay granules, so some cats might not like the texture of this litter.

What We Liked:

  • Made from all-natural corn materials
  • Free from silica dust and lighter than clay
  • Clumps well for easy scooping
  • Flushable and safe for septic systems

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Costs over $1.00 per pound
  • Granules can be a little hard and sharp-edged
  • Some customer complaints about dustiness

#3 Budget Pick: Frisco Multi-Cat Unscented Clumping Clay Litter

Frisco Multi-Cat Unscented Clumping Clay Cat Litter

Product Info

  • Brand: Frisco
  • Material: Sodium bentonite clay
  • Clumping: Yes
  • Flushable: No
  • Features: Unscented, forms hard clumps, affordably priced
  • Price: $0.46/pound

When it comes to clumping clay cat litter, it’s hard to say whether a higher price tag fetches a higher quality product. Our top pick justifies the price with the infusion of probiotics but if you’re looking for a simple, no-nonsense cat litter then Frisco’s unscented multi-cat formula is a good place to start.

This Frisco formula is a standard sodium bentonite clumping clay cat litter. It absorbs liquid quickly and forms cohesive clumps that are easy to scoop. It doesn’t contain any artificial fragrance but its absorbency and hard-clumping ability lends it strong odor-control properties.

Though this Frisco formula hits the mark on price, it comes at the cost of convenience, to some degree. The litter is sold in 20- and 40-pound quantities and only in bags. The heavy bags can be a bit tough to manage and they are not resealable.

What We Liked:

  • Priced under $0.50 per pound
  • Forms hard, easy-to-scoop clumps
  • Free from artificial fragrances
  • Does a good job controlling odors

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Only comes in 20- and 40-pound bags
  • Bags are heavy and not resealable
  • Some users say the litter sticks to the litter box

#4 Best Health Monitoring Litter : Pretty Litter

Product Info

  • Brand: Pretty Litter
  • Material: Silica gel
  • Clumping: No
  • Flushable: No
  • Features: Fine sandy texture, changes color with pH, highly absorbent
  • Price: $3.30/pound

While crystal cat litter is nothing new, PrettyLitter takes it up a notch with the addition of pH-detecting particles. When exposed to urine, these particles change color to indicate the approximate pH of your cat’s urine. Changes in the acidity of your cat’s urine can be an early indicator for a number of health problems including struvite crystals, urinary tract infection, and kidney tubular acidosis.

PrettyLitter isn’t intended to be a diagnostic tool, but it can help you keep tabs on your cat’s health. The bag clearly indicates which colors suggest which conditions. Dark yellow/olive indicates urine within the normal pH range while blue, orange, or red indicate a problem. If you notice a change in your cat’s urine, you’ll be able to contact your veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.

In terms of the litter itself, PrettyLitter is a very fine silica gel litter with a sandy texture. It’s very gentle on your cat’s paws but it does tend to track due to the particle size. This isn’t a clumping litter, but it does help control odor in another way. The silica gel absorbs liquid and dehydrates solid waste. You’ll need to scoop solids daily and stir the litter to keep it fresh.

PrettyLitter is available on the PrettyLitter website, or you can purchase it in Target stores or online. It comes in an 8-pound bag which should last a single small cat about one month. When you place a subscription on the PrettyLitter website, you can adjust the frequency of your deliveries a needed and add on extras like Pretty Please, the brand’s proprietary dry cat food formula.

What We Liked:

  • Color-changing crystals indicate changes in urine pH
  • May help cat owners detect developing health problems
  • Absorbs urine quickly and dehydrates solid waste
  • Lightweight, soft texture is gentle on cat paws

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Not a clumping litter, should be scooped daily
  • Needs to be stirred daily to distribute soiled litter
  • Expensive, costs over $3 per pound

#5 Best For Automatic Litter Boxes: Litterbox.com All-Natural Clumping Clay Litter

Product Info

  • Brand: Litterbox.com
  • Material: Sodium bentonite clay
  • Clumping: Yes
  • Flushable: No
  • Features: Hard-clumping, strong odor control, good for automatic litter boxes
  • Price: $1.25/pound

If you hate scooping the litter box, you’re not alone. That’s why automatic, self-cleaning litter boxes exist. These litter boxes take the hassle out of scooping and cleaning, collecting waste in a discrete compartment or directly flushing it down the toilet.

Our top pick for the best cat litter for automatic litter boxes is brought to you by the same company that makes one of our favorite automatic litter boxes, the Litter-Robot III Connect. Litter-Robot is a leader in the pet tech industry, and they’ve developed a variety of complementary products like all-natural clumping clay cat litter.

Like most clumping clay litter, Litter-Robot.com’s clay litter is derived from sodium bentonite clay. This means it forms tight, hard clumps and that it does a pretty good job of locking in litter box odor. It is naturally unscented, so it won’t irritate your cat’s nose, but it is likely to produce some dust.

Customers comment that their cats seem to like the texture of the granules and that the litter works very well with their automatic litter box.

This litter may be a little heavy because it’s only sold in a 20-pound box, but the box is sturdy and has handles for easy lifting. It’s also fairly pricey at $25 for a 20-pound bag which averages to about $1.25 per pound of litter.

What We Liked:

  • Unscented clay litter forms tight, hard scoops
  • Delivered right to your door through a Litter-Robot.com subscription
  • Does a good job controlling litter box odor
  • Cats seem to like the texture and size of the granules

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Produces some dust, may be a problem for some cats
  • Very expensive at $1.25 per pound

#6 Best Non-Clumping Litter: Tidy Cats Instant Action Unscented Non-Clumping Clay Litter

Tidy Cats Instant Action Unscented Non-Clumping Clay Cat Litter

Product Info

  • Brand: Tidy Cats
  • Material: Sodium bentonite clay
  • Clumping: No
  • Flushable: No
  • Features: Moisture-activated odor control, affordably priced
  • Price: $0.45/pound

Clumping cat litter makes the task of scooping the litter box a little easier but you pay for the convenience. Non-clumping cat litters like this Tidy Cats formula tend to be cheaper but can be equally effective in controlling odors.

This non-clumping formula from Tidy Cats is affordably priced under $0.50 per ounce and it is made from sodium bentonite clay. It also contains deodorizing crystals that activate on contact with moisture to help deliver an instant odor-reducing effect.

Like many non-clumping litters, this formula is a little on the heavier side. The large, heavy granules track less than the average clumping clay litter. In testing, we didn’t find that the wet litter stuck to the sides of the litter box. Even though it doesn’t clump, the litter is fairly easy to scoop.

What We Liked:

  • Affordably priced under $0.50 per pound
  • Starts neutralizing ammonia odors on contact
  • Large, heavy granules help reduce tracking

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Not a clumping formula
  • May need to be replaced sooner than clumping litter

#7 Best For Kittens: Fresh News Recycled Paper Original Pellet Litter

Product Info

  • Brand: Fresh News
  • Material: Recycled paper
  • Clumping: No
  • Flushable: No
  • Features: Made from recycled materials, highly absorbent, low dust
  • Price: $0.84/pound

Finding the right cat litter for kittens can be tricky. You need to choose a litter that’s soft enough for sensitive kitten paws and non-toxic in case of accidental ingestion. Clumping clay litter can swell up to 15 times its size in the stomach, potentially causing a dangerous obstruction.

Fresh News is a non-clumping cat litter made entirely from recycled paper. This all-natural litter is eco-friendly and biodegradable, and the materials are safe in case your kitten accidentally ingests some.

Non-clumping cat litter doesn’t typically contain odors as well as clumping varieties, but Fresh News is infused with baking soda to help neutralize odors. Customers confirm that the litter does have decent odor-blocking properties and it is very low in dust.

One thing to be mindful of with recycled paper litter is that moisture can build up in the bottom of the box. While this litter may be up to 3x more absorbent than clay, large volumes of litter or diarrhea may seep through to the bottom of the pan and make cleaning a little more difficult.

What We Liked:

  • Non-clumping formula may be safer for kittens
  • Incredibly low in dust, great for sensitive noses
  • Made from 100% recycled paper materials

What We Didn’t Like:

  • May accumulate moisture if not changed often enough
  • Non-clumping litter has limited odor control

#8 Best Pine Pellet Litter: Feline Pine Original Non-Clumping Wood Cat Litter

feline pine

Product Info

  • Brand: Feline Pine
  • Material: Pine
  • Clumping: No
  • Flushable: No
  • Features: Sustainably sourced materials, no synthetic fragrance
  • Price: $0.55/pound

Pellet-style litters are popular among cat owners because they tend to track less than finer granules and natural litters like this don’t produce silica dust. Our top pick for the best pine pellet litter is Feline Pine Original. This litter comes in 7lbs, 20lbs, and 40lbs, bags.

This is a non-clumping, clay-free formula made from 100% pure pine. The pine fibers are highly absorbent, and the new and improved formula absorbs liquid twice as quickly as the original.

Feline Pine is completely free from chemical additives and synthetic fragrance, though it does have a natural pine scent. Some customers say it develops an unpleasant odor when wet, however, so it may need to be scooped and refreshed often.

What We Liked:

  • Made from 100% pure pine
  • Pellets may track less than fine clay granules
  • Completely free from chemicals and fragrance

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Not a clumping formula
  • Can be heavy, especially the 40-pound bad
  • May develop odor when wet

#9 Best Plant-Based Litter: Sustainably Yours Multi-Cat Plus Cat Litter

Sustainably Yours Multi-Cat Plus

Product Info

  • Brand: Sustainably Yours
  • Material: Corn and cassava
  • Clumping: Yes
  • Flushable: Yes
  • Features: No
  • Price: $2.10/pound

While clay cat litter is technically natural, many cat owners are in the market for plant-based or biodegradable cat litter. Our top pick in this category is Sustainably Yours Multi-Cat Plus Cat Litter.

This is a fine-grained cat litter made from corn and cassava. It produced a little bit of dust when pouring it into the litter box, but we found it performed quite well overall. This litter forms very firm, cohesive clumps that are easy to scoop, and the odor control was pretty good.

While the odor control of this litter isn’t as strong as some of the clay litters on this list, we found it to be much stronger than some other plant-based litters we’ve tested. The primary downside of this litter is the degree to which it tracks—it has incredibly fine granules that can stick to your cat’s paws and make their way out of the litter box onto your floor.

This plant-based cat litter comes in three different formulas—two for multi-cat households and one with large grains to help prevent litter tracking and scatter. It comes in easy-to-manage 13-pound bags.

What We Liked:

  • Forms firm, cohesive clumps for easy scooping
  • Fine granules are gentle on your cat’s paws
  • Biodegradable, made from plant-based materials
  • Performed fairly well in odor control

What We Didn’t Like:

  • May be a little bit dusty when you first pour it
  • Very fine granules tend to track and scatter easily
  • Fairly expensive, almost $2 per pound

#10 Best For Sensitive Noses: Fresh Step Simply Unscented Clay Litter

Fresh Step Simply Unscented Clumping Clay Cat Litter

Product Info

  • Brand: Fresh Step
  • Material: Sodium bentonite clay
  • Clumping: Yes
  • Flushable: No
  • Features: Large granules to reduce tracking, no added fragrance
  • Price: $0.67/pound

This fragrance-free Fresh Step litter can be a good choice for cats (and humans) with sensitive noses. It also comes in a sturdy box with a reinforced handle which makes it easier to lug around than heavy bags.

This formula is designed with larger granules that are less likely to get stuck in your cat’s paws. Few cat litters are completely non-tracking, but our tester found this litter to be a little less messy than the average clumping clay formula.  It was a little dusty when first poured, but the dust settled quickly, and it didn’t kick up clouds during scooping.

This litter clumps quickly, though the clumps aren’t quite as hard-packed as you would get from a finer litter. It’s still easy to scoop and it controls odors well. Some reviewers also comment that the litter sticks to the side of the litter box when wet.

What We Liked:

  • Large granules help reduce tracking
  • Controls odor well
  • Comes in a sturdy box with reinforced handle
  • Free from artificial fragrance

What We Didn’t Like:

  • May be dusty when first poured
  • Clumps aren’t as hard as some litters

#11  Best For People Who Hate Scooping The Litter Box: Tidy Cats Breeze Litter System

Product Info

  • Brand: Tidy Cats
  • Material: Zeolite
  • Clumping: No
  • Flushable: No
  • Features: All-in-one litter system, dehydrates solid waste
  • Price: $42.98

No one loves cleaning out the litter box, but for cat owners who particularly loathe the task, the Tidy Cats Breeze Litter System could be a good choice. This system consists of a high-sided litter box with dehydrating pellets and a pull-out drawer that holds an absorbent pee pad.

What makes this litter system unique is the zeolite pellets. Zeolite is a natural desiccant, so these pellets help dry out solid waste to make scooping easier while liquid waste filters through into the pee pad below. By separating solid and liquid waste, this system helps control odor.

The Tidy Cats Breeze system isn’t our favorite but it could be a good option for some people. Not only did some cats seem to dislike the texture of the pellets, but we found them a little hard to clean up and they did tend to scatter a lot.

What We Liked:

  • Complete litter box system, all in one
  • Dehydrating zeolite pellets help dry out solid waste
  • Urine collects in the pee pad beneath the system

What We Didn’t Like:

  • One of the more expensive options on the market
  • Can be tricky to scoop solid waste
  • Some cats may dislike the texture of the pellets

Now that we reviewed the best cat litters you can buy, let’s build a foundation of knowledge. We’ll start with the qualities of the best cat litter, then discuss the different types of litter and how they measure up to those requirements.

Here’s What We Look For In The Best Cat Litter

1947_cat litter

The Best Cat Litter Is 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 your litter creates loose, crumbly clumps and leaves chunks of waste behind after every scooping, think about finding a better litter. Move on to another product that creates firm, scoopable clumps.

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.

The Best Cat Litter Offers Great Odor Control

The best 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.

The Best Cat Litter Is Low-Dust

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.

Read customer reviews instead.

Also Read: Best Dust Free Cat Litter

The Best Cat Litter Is Affordable

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.

That being said, don’t think you need to choose an expensive litter box filler. The most affordable litter is often the best. You might even be better off using soil from your backyard rather than spending big bucks on premium litter.

Many cat litter shoppers explain that they save money by buying cat litter in bulk or from store brands like Chewy’s Frisco and Petco’s So Phresh.

The Best Cat Litter Is Low-Tracking

Litter tracks. It 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. Secondly, consider using dense litter with heavy granules.

Also Read: The 5 Best Non-Tracking Cat Litters

The Best Cat Litter Is Made Without Irritating Fragrances

Some people prefer litter made with added perfume, but these fragrances may irritate sensitive noses. The best cat litter doesn’t lean on fragrances to disguise the smell of cat waste. 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 3 Main Types Of Cat Litter

Today’s cat litter shopper has the privilege and challenge of dealing with an astounding product variety. 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.

Dr. Dwight Alleyne, DVM says that "the personality of a cat may be the final determination on what is the best cat litter. But the ideal cat litter would be a scent-free clumping litter that has good odor control."

Let’s break the marketplace down into three fundamental types: clay, silica gel, and biodegradable products.

1. Clay Cat Litter

Clay cat litter is by far the most popular type on the market today. It’s the most widely available and most cost-effective. Cats usually prefer it to any other type.

Clay litter also has its flaws and critics. Because it’s gathered through strip mining and is non-biodegradable, its environmental impact has been described as an “absolute catastrophe”.

Considering that clay contains crystalline silica particles, it’s dangerous to inhale clay cat litter dust. Though the amount of dust produced by a good cat litter isn’t enough to cause health problems, extended exposure to crystalline silica dust can cause serious health issues.

– Non-Clumping Clay 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. These clays are used in industrial applications to clean up spills and can even dehydrate flowers.

Also Read: Best Non-Clumping Cat Litter

– Clumping Clay Litter

Clumping clay litter is usually made from sodium bentonite clay. This type of clay 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.

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.

Also Read: Best Clumping Cat Litter

2. Silica Gel Crystals

Crystal or silica gel litter is a relatively new addition to the cat litter shelf. It’s made from the same gel crystals found in the desiccant packets that accompany some moisture-sensitive products.

Also Read: What’s The Best Crystal Cat Litter?

Silica gel crystals are 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.

3. Natural and Biodegradable Cat Litter

The most head-spinning part of the cat litter marketplace may be the natural and organic department. Your options include wheat, coconut, grass, cassava, pine, cedar, paper, tofu, and walnut litter. These options are eco-friendlier than many traditional cat litters, but they come at a price. They also might not offer the same performance as other litters.

Also Read: The 5 Best Natural Cat Litters

Here’s a summary of the most popular types of biodegradable litter.

  • Walnut – Made from the fibrous material of walnut shells, this litter has a dark color that makes tracking particularly noticeable on light-colored floors and may impede your ability to identify waste in the box. It’s available in both clumping and non-clumping varieties.
  • Grass – Grass litter is lightweight but has strong clumping and odor control abilities. Because it’s so light, grass litter tends to track and scatter more than clay litter.
  • Corn – Possibly the most popular type of biodegradable litter, corn litter is made from compressed corn and may incorporate other ingredients to enhance its clumping and deodorizing power. Corn litter is relatively dusty and tends to track. Corn is also a top target for aflatoxin mold contamination, so it’s doubly important to keep the litter box clean.
  • Paper – Paper litter is available in both clumping and non-clumping varieties. Pellet-style paper litter is most common, made from highly absorbent recycled newspaper and other paper products. Because it’s gentle on paws and doesn’t create dust, this type of litter is often recommended to sensitive cats or those with healing wounds or incisions. This type of litter is among the worst where odor control is concerned.
  • Wood – Wood litter may be either clumping or non-clumping. It harnesses the absorbency and natural odor control ability of dehydrated wood fibers. Tracking, scattering, and dust vary depending on which type of wood litter you choose.
  • Wheat – This type of litter utilizes the odor-controlling enzymes and clumping starches naturally found in wheat. Wheat creates soft clumps and may be dusty.

Many biodegradable cat litters are also 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.

The Best Cat Litter Is Litter Your Cat Wants To Use

With “inappropriate elimination” near the top of the list of reasons cited when people relinquish their cats to the animal shelter, it’s clear that a harmonious litter box situation spells happiness in a cat-inclusive home.

If you look at it from your cat’s perspective, you’ll have a good foundation for evaluating any cat litter on the market. Will this litter feel good under your cat’s paws? Will dust fill his hooded box and make him uncomfortable? Is the artificial fragrance overwhelming?

Once you’ve satisfied your cat’s needs, you can start considering your own. Humans deserve a comfortable home too, and the ideal litter box benefits both you and your cat.

In an ideal world, the best cat litter offers a beautiful 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.

Your cat wins. You win. And any cat litter that contributes to this situation is a winning product.

Relevant Articles:

Recent Updates

  • April 17th, 2023 – Updated text for clarity and accuracy throughout, and verified that the picks are still available.
  • April 2nd, 2023 – Reviewed and updated content throughout, and revisited the picks to reflect recent customer reviews and availability.
  • April 22nd, 2022 – Interviewed veterinarians, asking about their recommendations and insights on choosing the best cat litter, added quotes throughout
  • July 2nd, 2022 - Updated content to reflect product testing and video on the best cat litter of 2022
  • January 5th, 2022 - Updated the text for clarity and accuracy throughout; added Litterbox.com All-Natural Clumping Clay Litter as Best for Automatic Litter Boxes
  • December 21st, 2021 - Medically reviewed by Dr. Bartley Harrison, DVM
small mallory photo

About Mallory Crusta

Mallory is the Head of Content at Cats.com and an NAVC-certified Pet Nutrition Coach. Having produced and managed multimedia content across several pet-related domains, Mallory is dedicated to ensuring that the information on Cats.com is accurate, clear, and engaging. When she’s not reviewing pet products or editing content, Mallory enjoys skiing, hiking, and trying out new recipes in the kitchen. She has two cats, Wessie and Forest.

10 thoughts on “11 Best Cat Litters Of 2023

  1. Lynn

    This is great information! There is one particular characteristic that you didn’t focus on, and is irrelevant to most people, but that I really need to know. I have a cat with Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome, and as a result her paws are EXTREMELY sensitive to any sharp edges. She can’t even use pellets, because The cutoff edge at each end of the pellet where they’re chopped down to the right size is too sharp for her. I’m not a fan of clay litter, and wondered which of the brands that come in crystals – or any other brands, really – have SMOOTH, ROUNDED granules, with ZERO sharp points or edges. Thank you in advance for your help!!

    1. small mallory photoMallory Crusta Post author

      Hey Lynn, good question. Kitty Poo Club has a few options for large-grained crystal litter that is formed into balls rather than crystals. Other, finer, litter like Pretty Litter and the fine crystal litter from Kitty Poo Club might work, simply because the edges are so small, like pieces of sand. However, I think that something like SmartCat litter might be ideal, as it’s softer than any crystal litter and doesn’t have rough or sharp edges that might irritate her.

  2. Cynthia

    Thank you for your research, Mallory! This is very informative. I currently use pine litter but it’s becoming such a pain to clean the “dust” that’s produced after urination. I think I’m going to try clay litter again, and will give your top choice a try. Thanks again!

  3. Jalal Kalam

    I was about to order the Dr. Elsey’s litter but the warning message on Amazon and exposure causing cancer is extremely concerning. Isn’t it better to go for natural wood pellets or something else that wouldn’t need a label like that?

    1. small mallory photoMallory Crusta Post author

      Hey Jalal, sorry it’s taken me a little while to get back to you! I’ve not seen this warning on Amazon in the United States, but I’m assuming it relates to the crystalline silica dust that Dr. Elsey’s litter (and other clay litter products) may emit. From everything I’ve read, the amounts emitted by a typical cat litter are not enough to have this carcinogenic effect. Most cases of cancer from crystalline silica inhalation involve people who work full days in environments with heavy exposure to this dust. A cat visiting the litter box on a few occasions each day shouldn’t have an issue, and neither should their owner after pouring it once a month. However, you can certainly try a plant-based litter as a less risky—and less dusty—alternative. Hope this helps!

  4. Kat H

    Sustainably Yours is my favorite! If you purchase it at Pet Food Express, you can buy 3 bags and get the 4th for free. As stated above, clay litter is HORRIBLE for the environment!!!

    1. small mallory photoMallory Crusta Post author

      Hi Andrita! Yes, we’re working on expanding our selection of international roundups, including, potentially, a piece on the best cat litter in India. Sorry we couldn’t meet your needs with this article. You might appreciate this article on the best cat litter in India this year.

  5. CJ

    I tried Fresh Step Simply Unscented Clay Litter. While it says no added fragrance, it does definitely have a perfume-y smell to it. Our cat has pollen allergies, so I wonder if it is a plant based additive. He started scratching like crazy ( the next morning) when I tried this kitty litter. I quickly emptied the box and sanitized it. I refilled it with his old kitty litter (Dr. Elsey). He was better soon after (I wiped his fur down). I’ll stick w/Dr. Elsey. I was looking for something that might not track quite as much, but I’d rather vacuum more often than try anything else.


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