There are two products that you will buy more than any other when you own a cat: cat food and kitty litter. And finding the right option for each for your cat is really important if you want to keep them happy and healthy.
People often ask what the best cat litter is and the answer is always subjective, so I always say, "The one that works for you and your cat!". There are no scientific rules around which is the best cat litter, and there are different types that some people prefer to use, or that some cats just seem happier with.
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- Best Kitty Litter Overall
- Types of Kitty Litter
- Floppycatter Recommendations
- Best Kitty Litter for Multiple Cats
- Best Kitty Litter for Litter-Box Training
- Best Clumping Kitty Litter
- Best Non-Clumping Kitty Litter
- Best Affordable Kitty Litter
- Best Kitty Litter for Urinary Problems
- Best Non-Tracking Kitty Litter
- Best Kitty Litter for Odor Control
- Best Paper Kitty Litter
- Best Smelling Kitty Litter
- Best Dust-Free Kitty Litter
- Best Natural Kitty Litter
- Best Kitty Litter for Kittens
- Unscented Kitty Litter
- Lightweight Kitty Litter
- Do you need to switch litter?
- Kitty Litter FAQs
- Final Word
So instead of a single definitive answer for “this is the best cat litter”, what's included below is all the kitty litter that I’ve reviewed or used in the past, I’ve looked at the top-reviewed kitty litter on some of the biggest pet retailer sites, and (most importantly) I’ve asked our readers, the Floppycatters, what their own recommendations are.
With all that info, here’s a definitive guide to the different types of kitty litter you can buy, and some good options for each of those. I do have a personal best overall that I use, but that might not be right for you and your cat.
So read the whole guide, see what sounds best for you, and if you have any of your own suggestions too then I’d love you to leave a comment so I can update this guide even further.
Best Kitty Litter Overall
Dr. Elsey's Ultra premium cat litter is a cat litter that I’ve reviewed previously. It’s a good overall clumping litter that can be used in regular litter boxes as well as mechanical ones. It uses a mix of medium and large granules which clump together quickly and form a solid bond, so they shouldn’t break apart when you’re scooping. It also helps to stop any urine making it to the base of the litter box, which is good for controlling odor.
Types of Kitty Litter
There are a few different types of kitty litter, so let’s do a quick overview of the various options available. These aren’t mutually exclusive types – a kitty litter might be clumping and unscented, for example.
Clumping kitty litter – designed to clump together when it is wet, so as your cat pees it forms small clumps that you can then scoop out, leaving behind the clean litter.
Non-clumping kitty litter – rather than clumping together, this absorbs liquid, so in theory it captures urine and also dries out poop. You can scoop the dried poop but for urine you’ll need to change the whole tray at once.
Scented kitty litter – litter that has an artificial scent added to it to cover up any odors, or that uses natural materials for a natural scent such as pine. I cannot recommend artificially scented litter – I’ll explain more below.
Unscented kitty litter – litter that has no scented additives.
Lightweight litter – litter that mixes clay with other, lighter materials. These often don’t reveal their full ingredients, calling them a ‘proprietary’ blend, so be wary of these.
Dust-free litter – litter made using a blend that is designed to prevent dust, which can sometimes be an issue with regular clay litter. Can help to stop your cat kicking up bacteria when they use the litter box.
Natural litter – made using natural ingredients such as wood or wheat. Often biodegradable over time too, but may be less comfortable for your kitty.
Flushable litter – litter that can be safely flushed down the toilet once used (clumps, not whole trays at once). A downside is usually that the clumps aren’t hard forming since they’re designed to break down to avoid clogging pipes – they may break apart while you scoop.
Cat litter is a massive industry – worldwide it was valued at $10.89 billion in 2021 and is expected to rise by around 4.8% from 2022 to 2023. In the US alone it’s a $2 billion industry. So it’s no wonder there are so many options, not just in terms of types of kitty litter but also brands too.
With all that context, let’s look at some of the best kitty litter options for each category, based on those I’ve reviewed, popular options on Chewy and Floppycatter recommendations.
I won’t be recommending any artificially scented litter though. They are scented through the use of chemicals that can be harmful to both cats and humans. There is no need to risk it. If you want to use a scented litter, make sure it’s natural, but there are other ways you can control odor too, which I’ll cover below.
While I have my own favorite cat litter, I don’t assume that only the ones I use are good! Which is why I like to ask Floppycatters for their recommendations too.
Join the conversation on the Floppycats Facebook page.
One tip was that some people prefer to mix litter together – they’ve just found that this works best for them. You need to be careful trying this as different types of litter can become ineffective when mixed, but if it works for you then go for it!
Best Kitty Litter for Multiple Cats
Choosing the best litter for multiple cats means finding one that is good for a lot of heavy use. Unlike litter boxes that are only for one cat, these trays will see a lot of traffic throughout the day.
So, you’ll want to pick one that has good dust control, and that is low tracking. Multiple cats digging through a litter box over the course of the day will lead to more dust being kicked up, creating an unhealthier atmosphere, and if you don’t choose a low-tracking litter then your cats will make quite the mess of your home.
Also you might want one that’s hard clumping, since you don’t want your cats to constantly break apart the clumps left by their brothers and sisters when they use the tray.
Alternatively, if you have multiple cats that aren’t sharing litter boxes, your priority might just be finding one that’s affordable – after all, the more cats you have, the more litter you’re going to get through, and not everyone’s budget can stretch to a lot of bags of a premium litter.
Best Kitty Litter for Litter-Box Training
To be clear, when we talk about litterbox training we are talking about helping a cat to adjust to a new cat box. We aren’t referring to training a kitten to use a cat litter – that needs a separate recommendation, which I’ve covered below.
Both of these cat litter contain a natural herbal attractant to help relax your cat and get them used to their new litter tray – the Cat Attract is suitable for cats aged 1 or older, while the Kitten Attract is suitable for cats from 8 weeks to 1 year, according to the manufacturer.
They also use a smaller granule that is softer on cats’ paws, with the Kitten Attract being slightly softer again due to the tenderness of younger paws. This will help your cat to feel more comfortable using the litter tray.
Best Clumping Kitty Litter
Clumping cat litter is the most popular type used - in 2021 75.6% of cat litter purchased was clumping litter. These litter – normally clay cat litter - are much easier to scoop, and it’s easier to see when the litter tray needs to be emptied – as you scoop clumps and poops, you’ll see the litter level dropping.
Clumping litter are often more absorbent, which means urine has less chance of reaching the bottom of the litter tray where it can stagnate and create odors. And while it will vary by cat, most tend to prefer the feel of a granulated clumping litter than crystals or gel-based litter.
Dr. Elsey’s Ultra litter is an exceptionally good clumping kitty litter, but since I’ve already recommended that one, this Clean Tracks litter is another good option too. As well as being hard-clumping it’s also non-tracking so your home won’t be a mess from clumps breaking up or from tracked clay granules.
Best Non-Clumping Kitty Litter
Rather than clumping together, non-clumping litter use materials that are designed to absorb moisture. This dries out poop and also gathers urine.
Non-clumping litter can either be natural or crystal/silica gel based, but one of the main ‘benefits’ listed of non-clumping litter is how it is better for odors. With natural litter there may be a natural scent that can help, but artificial litter usually have those chemical scents added that I mentioned earlier. Avoid these.
Normally, clay litter are clumping, but this is a non-clumping clay litter from Tidy Cats that is designed for low maintenance – good if you don’t have time to clean it out every couple of days. It’s got hundreds of positive reviews with an average 4* score on Chewy.
Best Affordable Kitty Litter
Whether you have multiple cats at home sharing a litter tray or using multiple trays, or your cat is having some health problems that mean more frequent toilet trips, or you just need to work to a budget, there are some good options for affordable kitty litter.
‘Affordable’ kitty litter doesn’t always mean the cheapest though – it’s more about value. It’s better to spend 25% more on a bag of litter if it weighs 50% more than a cheaper alternative. It’ll cost you less in the long run.
And on that note, if you can bulk-buy then you’ll normally save. It depends on whether you have the storage space in your home, but buying larger bags of kitty litter usually costs less. And it’s also good in case your litter manufacturer stopped making that brand – it means you’ll have more in stock to help you transition your cat to a new litter.
While prices can vary, you’ll often be able to find Dr. Elsey’s Cat Attract litter for less than $30 for a 40-lb bag. Most 40-lb litter bags cost more than $30, or they’re scented – which makes this a good, affordable option for your kitty litter.
Best Kitty Litter for Urinary Problems
If your cat has urinary problems, this often means they’ll be making more frequent trips to the litter tray. They might not actually be urinating much more than normal – it may be more frequent, smaller and uncomfortable visits – but sometimes it does mean your cat will urinate more volume as well.
With that in mind, your two priorities for cats with urinary problems are a litter that is highly absorbent and good at clumping, to capture all that extra urine, and one that is comfortable for your cat to use since they’ll be visiting more frequently.
At the same time, don’t instantly change your litter if your cat develops health problems but they’re still comfortable using their tray. You shouldn’t change cat litter unless you need to, or there’s another good reason to (like improved cleaning), but even then you have to manage it carefully with your cat.
And if they’re going through some health issues, you don’t want to unnecessarily stress them out by changing litter type when they were otherwise happy.
This litter has 4+ star reviews online from hundreds of people who’ve bought it previously. It’s made from 100% grass, creating a finer texture than clay which is softer on cats’ paws. But it is still extremely absorbent and hard-clumping, so it’s good for cats who are making regular trips to the litter box.
Best Non-Tracking Kitty Litter
With kitty litter being made up of smaller particles, they can often get stuck to claws or kicked up as your cat climbs or jumps out of the litter box. This can get quite messy around your home.
You can combat it with a litter mat, which are often specially designed to grab onto loose litter and prevent it from being tracked around the rest of your home. It’s still spilling out of the litter tray, but at least it’s captured in one place to either be re-used or disposed of neatly.
But there are also non-tracking litter that are designed to stick to your cat’s paws less. Premium cat litter that are non-tracking will help to contain the litter within the tray, so it doesn’t escape whenever your cat needs the toilet.
I’ve not tested this litter but it is reviewed very well on retail sites. It’s a premium clumping cat litter that forms extra-strong clumps to prevent your cat from tracking loose debris around your home. It contains an antimicrobial agent too, which helps prevent bacterial odors.
Best Kitty Litter for Odor Control
Odor control is a contentious issue with cat litter, because there are those who believe that odors can be masked with other scents, and those who prefer to use a non-scented litter that captures the odors as best as they can.
Without being repetitive – don’t use artificially-scented cat litter, the chemicals used are harmful.
Before choosing a litter, look at what else might be causing the odor. Your cat’s diet is the starting point – certain foods will cause your cat’s toilet deposits to smell a lot more. A raw-fed cat will have a less stinky out-put, so consider whether there are changes needed to your cat’s meals.
Then, look at the location of the litter box. Is it an enclosed space, or is it well-ventilated? Moving air will help to disperse the odors, as the particles become diluted in more fresh air.
And humidity also plays a part – the more humidity, the thicker the air and the easier it is for odor-producing particles to stagnate and smell more.
So, try to place the litter box somewhere that has good ventilation and is quite dry, as this will help with odor control.
While I would normally suggest a clay clumping cat litter for the best odor control, I know that multiple Floppycatters swear by World’s Best Cat Litter, an all-natural litter that is quick-clumping and made from corn. It apparently is fantastic for odor control, and it’s also flushable, so you can get rid of it down the toilet.
As well as suggesting the best litter for odor control, there are also some products that can help. These are especially useful if you can’t move the litter boxes to a more ventilated space.
The Purrified Air Filter is a special filter that helps trap bacteria in the air, including the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that are responsible for odor from urine and feces. You can position it on or near the litter box for the most effective filtration.
Or a regular air filter will do the job – I’ve reviewed the Air Doctor 5000 and found it to be pretty effective for trapping all kinds of nasties in the air. It’s a lot bigger but would work well if you have multiple cats.
Best Paper Kitty Litter
Paper litter is cat litter that has been made from 100% recycled paper, making it better for the environment since you’re helping to reduce landfill and also getting a fully biodegradable product.
Paper pellet litter is non-clumping but usually quite absorbent, and because it’s a softer litter it tends to be gentle on cat paws, and lower tracking too.
The Fresh News paper litter claims to be 3 times more absorbent than clay litter, and it’s 99% dust-free and 100% non-allergenic too. It contains baking soda, which can sometimes help to neutralize the ammonia odors in cat urine and poop. Note that just because it’s made of paper, that doesn’t mean it’s flushable – it still needs to be disposed of in the trash.
Best Smelling Kitty Litter
Non-scented kitty litter are usually the best choice because they aren’t off-putting to cats, but if you want to try a scented one, there are some that have a natural scent that can help to mask some of the odors caused by the metabolic waste in the litter tray. They won’t ever cover the smell completely, and you might find the blend of aromas to be unpleasant, but it could be worth a try.
Made from sustainably-sourced pine wood shavings, Feline Pine has a subtle pine scent. It doesn’t contain artificial fragrances or dyes and reviews say that it is effective at absorbing urine. As it isn’t clumping you will need to either scoop the soaked pellets or just replace the whole lot at once, but the reviews do say that it is good at masking that urine smell.
Best Dust-Free Kitty Litter
Some clay clumping litter naturally release a bit of dust when they are kicked around or scooped up – clay is a naturally crumbling material so when you have multiple clay granules being pushed around, some dust can be expected. Except that in clumps of used litter, this dust can excrete nasty bacteria and also release some odor particles too.
Dust-free kitty litter is rarely 100% free of dust but it can massively reduce it compared to some other types. If you or your cats have allergies then a dust-free litter is a good choice to make.
Another litter that is highly rated on retail sites like Chewy, this is 99.9% dust-free. It forms hard clumps that won’t crumble, so whether it’s your cat burying their waste or you scooping, you won’t be releasing a lot of dust and particles into the air.
Best Natural Kitty Litter
Natural Cat Litter are those made from sustainable, natural products. Clay is a naturally-occurring material but for litter it is normally manufactured – natural litter instead process existing materials, with the result being something that cuts down on the impact on the environment, especially as they are often biodegradable as well.
Some popular examples of natural kitty litter include:
Best Kitty Litter for Kittens
It’s very important that you choose the right litter for your kitten – as choosing the wrong one isn’t just uncomfortable for them, or messy – it’s dangerous.
You shouldn’t use clumping litter with kittens because they have a habit of exploring with their mouths, and so often will eat parts of the litter in their tray when they begin training.
And if a kitten eats a couple of pellets of clumping litter, and they meet in the stomach (where there is moisture), guess what happens? Clumps form, which can become very dangerous inside the kitten’s body. They may even require surgery to remove them.
For a kitten, you should use the same litter that they were using at their breeder’s or at the shelter. Consistency is key here, so make sure you find out what they were using and continue with the same one. Then, when the kitten reaches four months old, you should be safe to switch them to a clumping litter.
The Cat Attract litter for kittens does say it’s recommended for use from 8 weeks but it’s better to wait until 4 months for safety. But you can buy their proprietary herb blend separately and add it to the litter you’re using, to encourage them to use their litter tray and make them more comfortable.
Unscented Kitty Litter
Unscented litter is the best choice for most cats, because it doesn’t contain any bad chemicals, nor does it have natural scents that can sometimes be off-putting. Generally, cats prefer to use fragrance-free litter – they are naturally inclined to bury their waste anyway.
If you do decide to go with an unscented litter, look for one that forms a tight clump to trap odors, and make sure to either put the litter box somewhere that is well ventilated, or use an air filter or purifier nearby if you do have problems with odors.
Lightweight Kitty Litter
Some kitty litter are designed to be lightweight. There’s no real benefit to your cat here, but it’s more about the benefit to you – it’s easier to store and move around, and if you’re buying in bulk online then shipping costs might be lower too.
Lightweight litter are either natural ones – such as the Swheat Scoop – or they are specially-designed clay litter that mix in other materials that are lighter than clay is normally.
These may be safe, but you need to be careful and check the full list of ingredients – sometimes they aren’t actually revealed, and just called a ‘proprietary blend’. Remember that your cat will naturally inhale and ingest litter in small quantities, so you need to be very careful when choosing a litter to use.
Also, unless your kitty is a particularly tidy cat, lightweight litter are more prone to being kicked up out of the box. Bear that in mind as you may need to do more cleaning.
This is a lightweight litter that has a couple of recommendations from Floppycatters, although it’s not super-clear on its ingredients so definitely be careful. It contains clay along with natural mineral product and activated charcoal to help with odor control.
Do you need to switch litter?
You shouldn’t switch to a new type of cat litter just because you want to, or because another one sounds better.
Cats are creatures of habit, and if they are used to a certain type of litter, they will want to keep using it. A change without good reason will only upset your cat, and it could result in problems such as spraying urine around your home.
But there are some times where you might want to switch litter:
- When moving to a clumping litter from your kitten’s first litter
- When moving to a clumping litter to help with cleaning
- When your cat has problems using their existing litter – either they aren’t comfortable, or they’re going toilet outside of their litter tray
- When your existing brand of litter suddenly becomes unavailable
You can mix litter to help your cat get used to a new one, but be aware that this can make them less effective. You also need to be prepared for your cat to reject the new litter – and forcing them will only do more harm.
If you’re worried about your cat’s preferred litter being withdrawn from stores, you might want to stock up, provided you have storage space. Litter can be kept safely in sealed bags for a long time.
Kitty Litter FAQs
How can I fix kitty litter smelling bad?
Often the problem isn’t with the kitty litter, but with either your cat’s diet or with the surrounding environment. If your cat is raw fed then their toilet trips shouldn’t smell quite so bad, and you’ll want to make sure that the litter tray is situated somewhere well ventilated and dry. Air purifiers can also help.
Can I change kitty litter when pregnant?
If you are pregnant, it’s recommended that you avoid changing cat litter if you have someone else in your home that can do it instead. If you have to do it, wear disposable gloves and then wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. It’s less of a problem with indoor cats – you’re trying to avoid toxoplasmosis, which is usually caught by cats eating infected animals outdoors.
What kitty litter is best?
There’s no single best kitty litter, it depends on what works for you and your cat. Avoid scented litter, and choose one that’s appropriate for the type of litter box you’re using – not all litter work with mechanical self-cleaning litter boxes for example.
What was kitty litter originally for?
Kitty litter was originally made by Edward Lowe as a product to clean up grease spills. The family had a business selling various aggregates including sand and clay, and found that it would absorb cat urine just as well as it would absorb grease, or even better.
He discovered it when a neighbor asked for materials for her cat’s sandbox but the sand he had was frozen, so he suggested trying clay – and the rest is history.
How often should I change kitty litter?
How often you change your kitty litter depends on a number of factors, including the type of litter you’re using, the type of litter box, how many cats use the litter tray and their diet/general health. Generally, you’ll want to spot-clean/scoop the tray once or twice a day, and change the litter every 1-2 weeks at most.
Why is it called kitty litter?
The word “litter” comes from the old French word for bed, “litiere”, which became associated with the hay and sawdust materials used for bedding in barns and stables. As Edward Lowe created his clay product and started selling it commercially, he decided to adopt the word and created ‘Kitty Litter’.
Experienced cat owners will have their own opinions on what is the best kitty litter to use, but if your cat is struggling with their current litter or you’re preparing to own your first cat, then some of the recommendations on this list might help.
You may also need to switch to help cut down on odors, but remember that artificial scents don’t solve the problem and can cause more issues. And if you notice a change in your cat’s odors, seek help – vets can diagnose any problems or help with dietary recommendations.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve got any other suggestions for kitty litter that you think other Floppycatters might find useful!