The Best Cat Litter: Ratings, Reviews, and Vital Information For Your Kitty!

When your cat has to go, she has to go. None of this pee dance, not going, waiting until the last moment thing like kids do.

Nope. It’s just straight up nature.

So, do you want your cat to find her own space somewhere in your house, forcing you to clean up and potentially throw out furniture or other household goods?

Or, do you want to just get the litter box situation right, and keep your cat happy (and healthy)?

Yeah, option 2 sounds much better.

That’s why we wrote this article – to give you top notch information on choosing the right cat litter.

We’ve broken this up to include 13 different litter styles, depending on what you’re looking for.

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The type of litter you choose is one of the most important decisions to make for your cat. If you’re looking for the best one, this is not a one-sized fits all deal (unlike most websites, we’re not going to give you just a “top 5”. It totally depends on your individual cat!).

Your particular cat, its habits, and health, influence what you pick. Of course, there are also ratings and reviews to consider, because thanks to the glory of the internet, we can now crowdsource the quality and effectiveness of most options on the market.

If you’re like most cat owners, you’ll know how hard it is to find good information on what type of litter is best for your cat’s needs.

That’s where we come in.

Researched and tested, we break down cat litter like you’ve never seen it before. You’re sure to find just the right option for your cat if you choose one of our recommended picks.

Why The Right Litter Is Important

The right kind of litter matters to you and your cat. It must provide the appropriate level of absorption for urine and optimal odor control. Aside from these primary qualities, here are some other criteria you can use.

  • Ease of Cleaning: Some cat trays or boxes require less frequent cleaning than others. Dusty products need to be cleaned more often and tend to be tracked around the house. Soiled litters will be avoided. Your cat will decide to go somewhere else, adding more cleaning work.
  • Safety: Chemicals can trigger health problems in your pet, especially if ingested. Dusty, chemical-filled products may cause allergy or respiratory issues in cats and people. Non-organic clay or silica products are the main culprits.
  • Price: Cost is always a factor. You want to find an option that lasts and which there’s no need to dispose of the clean product. Low-price brands must often be used in large volumes to make them worth it. Higher priced ones tend to last a little longer, and we found are generally more high quality.

The main categories include clumping and non-clumping cat litter. Clumping sticks together when it comes in contact with liquid, making cats’ urine or fecal waste easy to pick up, scoop, and dispose of when it’s been soiled. The clean remainder is left behind. Also, you don’t have to empty the entire tray every time. It’s also inexpensive, but the clay or silica dust or clumps can be problematic for kittens.

Non-clumping eliminates the chemical agents found in the clumping variety. Safety is the main advantage as the risks of intestinal problems associated with clumping chemicals are reduced. It’s dusty nature, however, can mean respiratory irritation for cats and people. There may also be other odor masking compounds that can be irritating, especially to cats with sensitive noses. Spot cleaning is harder, and trays often need complete changes. That’s a trait of the cheapest ones mentioned earlier.

Organic or natural cat products are biodegradable and better for the environment. They’re often made of plant matter. Liquid absorption is usually effective and localized. You can pick out individual parts as the whole box is not soiled at once. In terms of cost, this depends on the materials used and what it costs to produce the raw material and final product. Straw, for example, is a waste product and yields a cheaper product. Other materials include pine, corn, wheat, and grass.

What Are The Consequences Of Choosing The Wrong Cat Litter?

Surprisingly, cat litter is often used in nuclear waste plants to soak up liquid nuclear waste. Makes clean up a breeze, I guess.

Anyway, in 2014, a New Mexico plant switched brands (from a non-organic clay litter to an organic type), and it proved disastrous.

Basically, the chemical composition of the new cat product caused an explosion and burst one of the drums, which is pretty serious stuff in a nuclear waste plant.

All because of the wrong cat litter!

Now, choosing the wrong option at home is not quite that dramatic, but do take this stuff seriously, because it can actually have devastating, sometimes fatal, consequences for your cat.

Choosing the wrong cat litter can actually have terrible consequences!Choosing the wrong stuff can actually have terrible consequences!

An example is using clumping stuff for kittens. First, they’re still learning how to use a litter box, and second, their intestines are smaller and more prone to blockages. Swallowing the granules can form a mass of the material inside your cat. This blocks food and fluid flow. It can also coat their insides, preventing nutrient and fluid absorption, causing dehydration.

Cats sensitive to dust can also develop severe respiratory problems. It has also been found that sodium bentonite, a clay that swells in volume, can block plumbing lines. Flushing the wrong stype is therefore not a good thing.

Some cat owners pick based on the environment. Some materials, such as sodium bentonite, are strip mined, which is very destructive to surface environments. It must also be transported and processed requiring fuel and use of additional compounds. Non-biodegradable litters fill up landfills.

Aside from the extreme, but apparently accurate, imminent death and nuclear explosions it can cause, the wrong stuff may also trigger an aversion to the litter box. That’s not good for your cat, and it won’t be good for your carpets, either. If she’s tearing up your carpet or couch, you don’t want yet another house destruction issue.

Cats usually like a soft, sand-like material that feels good, and they can use to dig and cover. Texture and smell are important to most cats, so these are important to keep in mind. You may need to try a few different types before you get the perfect one, but hey, your cat is worth it!

The Best Cat Litter for Your Needs, Household, Lifestyle, and Cat

Flushable

An alternative to clay, the flushable variety offers an easy way to dispose of the soiled stuff. There is still the risk of clogging up pipes, and a parasite in cat feces has been scientifically linked to dying sea otters. If you don’t live near a sea otter colony (or don’t care), a flushable solution may be your best bet.

The cost savings may be significant depending on how often you change it.

#1. Better Way Flushable (EDITOR’S CHOICE)

Forms nice clumps, making the soiled material easy to remove, provides odor control, and the actual granules are small and soft, which are great for kitty’s feet.

This one has an attractant, which helps with litter box training for kittens, so this is something you can use from literally the very start of the training cycle, all the way through their life!

Just a note, don’t use this if you use a septic tank. Flushable isn’t for you!

My kitties had no issues with this, likely because it was soft and had a nice smell for them, and I found it clumped well enough for me to easily clean it without wasting a lot of it. My favorite in this category.

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#2. Next Gen Pet Flush Clean

Happily, this uses recycled wood for odor control, which makes it a bit more eco-friendly. The clumps are small and light, and it actually absorbs pretty well…not a lot going through to the bottom of the box.

It’s actually easily compostable, and its wood material provides a natural way to suppress bacterial growth. 

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Clumping

Clumping makes it easy to remove cat feces, and fluids cause the material to clump together as well. There’s usually no need to empty the whole box. A complete refill may be needed just once a month.

Pet owners we talked to still cite the presence of dust and the potential for ingestion as drawbacks.

This is still one of the more common varieties as it’s affordable and convenient to clean. Consider it the “standard”.

#1. Dr. Esleys Precious Cat Scoopable Clumping (EDITOR’S CHOICE)

Basically the best, most popular litter in the world right now (and for years).

It’s super basic, using just one ingredient – clay.

The way it’s manufactured, however, means it’s got almost zero dust (i.e., kitty won’t track it all over your house after doing her business), and it clumps amazingly well.

It’s unscented, but does a great job at keeping odors at bay by locking them in.

It’s really good for pretty much any cat, any litter box, and any home.

No complaints at all, and it’s usually on at a really good price, too.

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#2. Integrity Clumping

Massive, Integrity comes in a 25-pound bag of pure Wyoming bentonite clay.

Dust isn’t a huge problem, as there’s minimal dust even for kitties who like to dig about before doing their business. You won’t notice much tracking about the house, especially if you add a litter mat.

Clumps are easy to remove and tend to stay intact. Not a bad option!

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Crystals (Silica gel)

Silica gel is an odorless, trackless solution. Often referred to as “crystals”, it’s the most absorbent option you’ll find, and 4-5 pounds can work for up to 30 days. Daily stirring is required, as urine can collect underneath in the box. Once saturated, the silica can start to smell, but that’s a good indication the litter box needs to be freshened up.

#1. Mimi Pet Silica Gel Crystals (EDITOR’S CHOICE)

This stuff is super absorbent if you’re going for a crystal option.

It tends to last longer than traditional clumping brands because it’s meant to suck up all the waste (3-4 weeks per bag), and can be “used” again and again until they’re fully saturated.

Personally I’m not a huge fan of silica, but for testing purposes, this was the best option for smell and cleanliness.

It just plain works, which is such a nice relief when you’re looking for a low-maintenance litter!

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#2. Just the Crystals® Premium Crystal

Fragrance-free, doesn’t track, and works pretty well.

Not 100% on the odor control, compared to our pick above, but not too bad. 

It’s a decent silica option that won’t break the bank, especially when you do the math with how long it’ll last vs traditional litter. You likely end up spending more on the clumping stuff since you have to use so much. This is a much more reasonably priced option!

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Dust free / low dust

The less dust it produces, the less cleaning you have to do. It’s also beneficial if you suffer from allergies triggered by minute dust particles. Cats can develop respiratory conditions from dust too, so this type is also good for them. Clay-based clumping litter (we gave our top picks above in the “clumping” section) tends to be dust free while non-clumping clay is available in dust-free varieties.

#1. The ökocat Natural Paper (EDITOR’S CHOICE)

Now, you could just scroll up and get our top clumping clay pick.

However, we wanted to give you some more options, so we’re going with a really cool paper product here.

This is dust-free paper pellets that absorb 200% of their own weight.

It is basically dust-free and suited for cats with respiratory problems and people with allergies and even asthma.

I also love that while it totally works for what it was designed for, it’s also super eco-friendly. They use naturally-fallen timber, or unused lumber that would otherwise go to waste. Plus, the used product is biodegradable, and will decompose quickly, unlike clay litter.

Overall worked really well, and I was happy to use it!

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#2. Precious Cat Dr. Elsey’s Respiratory Relief Clumping Clay

99.9% dust-free and hard clumping, it’s even scented with a stress-relieving herbal scent.

Now, I don’t love scented stuff, as I’d prefer it just stops the odor, rather than mask it, but it’s actually not a terrible smell.

It’s non-allergenic and great for cats with respiratory problems, and offers a 100% money back guarantee (though with Amazon, most products have good return/refund policies).

This is also fine to use in most mechanical litter boxes.

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Cedar

An alternative to clay, cedar offers a fresh wood smell and is much lighter. It typically costs a little less as well while lasting a little longer than clay. There’s also no dust to breathe in. Cedar, however, tends to be tracked more, and urine cleanup is not as convenient as it doesn’t form clumps. It can also take cats some time to adjust.

#1. Northeastern Products Cedarific Natural Cedar Chips (EDITOR’S CHOICE)

There are no chemicals added to this bag of reclaimed, renewable wood fiber chips.

Biodegradable, these can also be composted or incinerated.

The soft, porous fibers are highly absorbent, and processing has yielded virtually no dust, which means nothing to get in the air and aggravate your lungs. 

I would say nothing to track around the house, but this can get a bit messy, depending on your cat.

One of mine was fine, but the other somehow would get a decent amount out of the tray, which I figured would eventually give me or them splinters, since it was at the very least quite uncomfortable to get it in my socks while I walked by.

Probably just my cat (he’s a bit strange), but just a heads up! Either way, if you’re going for an ultra natural option and love the scent (it’s really nice!) then definitely try this, as it works (and keeps smells down).

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Organic

OK so there’s not a lot of actual “organic” options. There are lots of natural stuff out there, from wheat to biochar to wood…but in terms of organic, we’ve found just one working option. In general, organic options are better for your pet’s health and the environment. They tend to be biodegradable. Such products are less likely to have potentially harmful substances, dust, or synthetic chemicals. 

#1. CatSpot Organic Coconut (EDITOR’S CHOICE)

As mentioned, there’s not a lot of actual organic brands out there, but we were really happy to see this cool coconut-based product.

And by coconut-based, I mean fully coconut.

It’s made with literally 100% organic coconut.

Turns out coconut is incredibly absorbent and good for fighting odors.

With a similar idea to crystals, you just fill it up, scoop the poop out daily, and give the whole thing a stir to help with absorption.

It works well for kitty doing her business, but I’d really recommend a closed off litter box with high walls and a mat to go along with it. Some cats who like to dig a bit will get this stuff EVERYWHERE since it’s so light.

Mine weren’t too bad (one worse than the other), but yeah if you need 100% cleanliness maybe ditch the need for organic and go for another natural option.

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Washable

With washable cat litter, you do not have to constantly replace it. Granules can last for months and can be washed and sanitized. They’re often only usable with self-sanitizing and self-flushing cat boxes, but the perks of not having to buy expensive bags every week can be significant.

#1. CatGenie Washable Granules (EDITOR’S CHOICE)

Basically your only real option, this stuff is used with theCatGenie Self-Washing Self-Flushing Cat Box, this product is dust-free and non-toxic.

A single box lasts 4-6 months. Just a few cups of granules are usually needed each month.

It replenishes the cat box when the level runs low while the materials degrade in septic systems within nine months.

The system this works with is self flushing and self cleaning, so it’s all contained. Basically, make sure you keep up with the right litter option so this system works for you long term!

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Clay

Clay is one of the most common varieties, and we’ve actually talked about them already in the clumping and other sections. The choices are quite broad as you can buy clumping or non-clumping clay. High absorption and odor control are commonly associated, and it’s usually easy to clean up. Non-clumping clay requires more frequent cleaning and replacement.

#1. Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Ultra Premium (EDITOR’S CHOICE)

As mentioned above, this is basically the top litter in general, so there’s no point picking something else as our top clay choice!

Great clumping action, doesn’t smell, very low dust…it’s got it all.

If you’re into a basic, affordable option that simply works the way you want it to, I can’t recommend this enough. No brainer, in my opinion!

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#2. Fresh Step Clay

I wanted to include a non-clumping option in case you were after that, but honestly the other clumping stuff is a lot better.

This is fine, and will get the job done if you don’t want it to clump, but it’s quite dusty and odor control is hit or miss.

Some people still swear by it, though, so it’s not bad!

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Pellets

Pellet-based kitty litter is quite absorbent and odor controlling. You can often conserve by using less, although such materials are more expensive. Depending on the material, it can be hard to walk on (especially silica), and this is not recommended for kittens. Paper pellets may track easily and remain wet without clumping up. Here are a couple of our favorite pellet options.

#1. Blue Buffalo Naturally Fresh (EDITOR’S CHOICE)

Walnut-based, which is kind of cool. It absorbs really well, and you’ll likely notice that no urine will seep through when you’re cleaning the box out.

Just scoop the poop and stir it up and you’re good to go!

Replace the litter once in awhile, and you’re good to go, as the odor control is really good, and as mentioned, you just stir it up now and then to help with absorption.

I really liked this stuff, and my cats did, too. Also love that it’s natural and eco-friendly.

Quick note that if you’re looking on the Amazon listing (which I recommend buying from, I personally buy pretty much everything from there ha), they combine reviews for ALL the Blue Buffalo products. So it’s hard to sift through them.

But for my review…highly recommended!

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#2. Simply Pine Natural Pellets

Another natural option!

I love the pine pellets. They’re quite absorbent, smell great (for cat litter, I mean come on), and last almost a month (based on one cat/one box).

Sadly some bags are shipping with splintery-type wood materials at the bottom, so you may have to be careful to sift the good pellets from the wood debris.

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Natural

With natural products, you avoid all the downsides to using clay. The adverse effects of swallowing sodium bentonite are also eliminated. You can also find natural alternatives that do clump without harmful chemicals and are naturally absorbent. There’s no harmful dust as well.

Forest Fresh

Marketed as 100% natural, this product yields smaller, lighter clumps and is absorbent and compostable. It is made from Hinoki Cypress Wood. In addition to having properties cat owners look for, it also resists mold, bacteria, and viruses. One package will last a single cat as many as six weeks.

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Scoopable

This is the type of litter if you want to keep the box as fresh as possible. The name is as it sounds. You can scoop out the cat excrement and absorbed moisture clumps, leaving behind only clean granules ready for use. Scoopables usually provide good odor control and limited dust.

#1. Precious Cat Ultra Premium Clumping (EDITOR’S CHOICE)

We’ve recommended this a lot on this page!

This is insanely popular.

In fact, it is the best selling item out of EVERY SINGLE pet supply product on Amazon. Dog food, cat food, cat litter, collars, leashes, you name it, this is more popular than any other product.

If only for that reason, it’s something you should check out! But luckily you don’t have to just buy into the herd mentality…because we’ve tried it and it’s my favorite option for “gets the job done” litter on the market.

It’s dust-free, virtually non-tracking, unscented, and made with natural ingredients. Oh, and did I mention it works? Can’t beat it!

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#2. Arm & Hammer Super Scoop Clumping

A bag of 40 pounds provides seven days of fresh scents. It is dust free and lighter than most, while supporting use by multiple cats. The complex odor destroying formula also includes Arm & Hammer baking soda.

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Odor control

Everyone with a cat can attest to the odors that come from litter boxes. The smell of ammonia is all too familiar. Many people, therefore, look for a product that not only absorbs but takes away these odors. Some do a better job than others, but here are a couple that does the job well.

#1. Fresh Step Extreme Odor Control Scoopable (EDITOR’S CHOICE)

Specially formulated for extreme odors, this product also inhibits bacteria and enables you to quickly scoop away the clumps. This odor control litter also comes at a very reasonable price for the size.

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#2. Tidy Cats Immediate Odor Control Formula

A 40-pound bag of non-clumping cat litter features a moisture-activated odor control system. As soon as it comes in contact with cat urine, the product neutralizes the odor instantly.

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Cat Litter Bags

A good bag is needed to dispose of used litter. Often the best way to do this is to scoop it up and put in a small bag. Flushing many products is not recommended as it can clog pipes or even harm the environment. How you dispose of it also depends on the type you use. Biodegradable bags options are typically the sensible choice.

Doggie bags often do the trick just fine. Any bag is important because it can be tied, so odors are kept inside. Plastic bags do this especially well. They also prevent the spread of bacteria. There are many options on the market that provide a bulk solution for throwing away used cat litter.

#1. Arm & Hammer 71040 Disposable Waste Bag Refills (EDITOR’S CHOICE)

Not only are these freshly scented, they provide activated baking soda for natural odor control.

An 180 pack features several rolls that can be re-loaded onto most standard dispensers. Blue, slate, and silver colors are available so you can choose based on this if you want, but I’m not sure that’s a huge issue for most people…

These may not be the cheapest bags, but they certainly do the trick and I never found them to rip or tear when you least want them to (i.e., when they’re full of litter and you don’t want cat “stuff” flying everywhere around your house.

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#2. ez Pickup Cat Poop Bags

Suited for cat litter and dog waste, these bags offer plenty of room at 9 x 12 inches.

It can fit pantries as well, and it comes with a useful little bag dispenser to keep at the ready.

You also get a pretty cool deal as there are 800 (!!) bags included. 

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Cheaper Cat Litter Plus Coupons

The expense of cat litter adds up. Some types are cheaper than others. Aside from trying to make your own, there are ways to get deals on quality products.

You can find some of the top brands on Amazon at discounted prices and/or with free shipping. As was evident in the many examples above, the site has many quality products from leading brands.

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  • Updated April 17, 2018
  • Litter
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