Finding the kind of litter your feline buddy will like can need some trial and error. Numerous variations are available, each promising special advantages for you and your cat, from simple cleanup and odor management to reduced dust and improved materials. Fear not, though, as we’ve created a list of the best cat litter of 2023.
I’ve had a cat for ten years, and over that time I’ve discovered that some cat litter stinks up your entire apartment, some explodes in a cloud of dust once you scoop, and another gets stuck in your cat’s paws and leaves messes all over the floor. The fact that cats are notoriously picky and that one cat’s preferred litter could be completely repulsive to another doesn’t help.
The nine cat litters listed below (plus a deodorizer) were chosen by our team of experts and should please even the pickiest feline companions. Alternatively, you can scroll down and click on the cat litter type you’re interested in.
Best overall cat litter
Clump or no clump: Clumping | How it smells: Unscented | Dust levels: Low dust | What’s it made of: Corn
Bosley and Kerrie McKeon, resident cat expert at the animal welfare and adoption group Bideawee, suggest World’s Best as a litter that checks all the right boxes and should be suitable for the majority of cat-owning homes. I have asthma and allergies, but it doesn’t bother me since it’s clumping and natural, claims McKeon. “A bag lasts a long time if you scoop it morning and night.” It is a natural alternative that is septic-safe and made from corn kernels, making it simple to flush away both liquid and solid waste. According to Bosley, this litter “cuts down on the scents the greatest” out of all the ones her shelter has tried.
Clump or no clump: Non-clumping | How it smells: Unscented | Dust levels: Low-dust | What’s it made of: Silica gel crystals
PrettyLitter doesn’t only collect liquids around it; it actively absorbs them because it is comprised of gel crystals. This implies that all you need to do is scoop solid trash, which you can flush effortlessly. I tried a number of different types of litter before settling on this one at home. It produces the least amount of dust and, in my experience, has the least odor. The crystals don’t attach to my cat’s paws nearly as easily as clay or other types of litter, so it doesn’t track around the house as much.
The crystals aid in keeping track of your cat’s health since they alter color in response to substances in urine that could signify bladder or kidney illness. Tembe Denton-Hurst, a strategist writer who uses PrettyLitter with her two cats, says she loves the peace of mind it offers in between visits to the vet. It makes her feel a little better that cats are “very skilled at hiding sickness until they’re actually at death’s door,” she says.
Rebecca Greenstein, the veterinary medical adviser for pet-sitting website Rover, claims that the brand is a member of a new generation of so-called “smart” litters since it allows you to monitor your cat’s health. While these cutting-edge litter options are undoubtedly a step in the right way for responsible cat owners, they’re best used as a screening tool, according to Greenstein.
Even Dr. Gabrielle Fadl, a medical director at Bond Vet, cautions against overly relying on cat litter that tracks your pet’s health, such as PrettyLitter, as it may result in unneeded trips to the veterinarian. She claims that you can get a more accurate sense of your cat’s urinary health by keeping an eye on them and observing their behavior, which includes frequent use of the litter box and increased water consumption.
Clump or no clump: Clumping | How it smells: Unscented, with odor-absorbing charcoal | Dust levels: Low dust | What’s it made of: Clay
Angie Krause, a holistic veterinarian and consultant for I and Love and You pet food, has three litter boxes at home, so she truly appreciates that this litter offers good odor control and is lightweight and convenient to carry. Although she says her cats use the litter box more than most—one has renal failure and the other has irritable bowel syndrome—she claims this litter is just as good for owners of cats in better condition who just don’t want to carry around bulky bags of litter.
According to Krause, this also provides “the finest odor management” of a light litter. Bosley is another lover of Tidy Cats litter since it is unscented and won’t disturb cats with allergies, and veterinarian Elizabeth Bales frequently buys the brand at her neighborhood stores. The litter has activated charcoal to naturally absorb odors, despite not having aroma.
Clump or no clump: Clumping | How it smells: Lightly scented with cat-attracting herbs | Dust levels: Low dust | What’s it made of: Clay
This litter contains a special mixture of herbs that, like catnip, entices cats, making it ideal for cats who don’t use a litter box or are learning to use one as adults. “I’ve really seen it in action and it does work,” McKeon claims. She claims that after placing Cat Attract in each of the boxes used by the many cats her shelter had to rescue that had never used a litter box before, “no one ended up needing medication to use a litter box; they all finally learned how to use it.”
Krause concurs that this litter can be a tremendous benefit for cats who struggle with behavior problems, but she advises seeing your veterinarian before making a purchase to make sure your cat isn’t avoiding the litter box because of an illness.
Clump or no clump: Clumping | How it smells: Lightly scented with odor-absorbing baking soda| Dust levels: Low dust | What’s it made of: Clay
Some cats, like some people, have asthma, making them sensitive to dust. Look for a litter that has little to no dust for these cats, according to experts. Bosley writes, “Consider attempting to use the restroom during a dust storm.” Not enjoyable Cats can kick up a lot of dust when they dig in the litter, which can be unpleasant for people as well. According to Bosley, Arm & Hammer’s Clump & Seal litter is as dust-free as it gets. She adds that the inclusion of baking soda also makes it excellent for controlling odor.
Clump or no clump: Clumping | How it smells: Unscented | Dust levels: Low dust | What’s it made of: Wheat
Litter created from alternative materials, such as corn, wheat, and grains, is more environmentally friendly and quickly biodegrades as compared to regular clay litter. Bosley recommends this one, especially for cats who are sensitive to dust or odors, as it is made from farm-grown wheat.
Jen Trolio, senior editor at Strategist, likewise enjoys this natural litter so much that she has been using it with her two cats—who are now 15 years old—for more than ten years. She enjoys the brand’s plant-based composition and lack of potentially toxic substances like sodium bentonite and crystalline silica, which can be problematic if a cat has a propensity of eating litter.
Although the clumping is not as strong as with clay litter, she claims that it still does the job. Trolio advises securely storing backstock of natural litter if you intend to keep it in a basement or crawl room to avoid animals from building nests inside open bags (she uses a plastic Rubbermaid tote).
Weruva’s Classic Fresh Scented Clumping Wood Cat Litter, which combines naturally odor-controlling hinoki (cypress) wood and green tea, was suggested in an earlier version of this story by Heike Klassmann, an adoption-seminar leader with Anjellicle Cats. It is flushable and doesn’t contain sodium bentonite, just as the sWheat alternative above.
Clump or no clump: Clumping | How it smells: Unscented | Dust levels: Low dust | What’s it made of: Clay
Scott Bleicher, the creator of Stray Cat Social Club, and Zay Satchu, the co-founder and CEO of Bond Vet, suggest this litter for households with many cats. “Consider using multiple boxes if you have multiple cats in the house. Pet owners should have one box for each cat plus one in the ideal world “Why? says Satchu. Bleicher claims he can accommodate up to 10 cats at once (including his own and foster cats), despite the fact that he is fully aware that having more cats entails more litter maintenance and potential problems.
He agrees with the majority of experts in that clumping litter is “the finest at suppressing odors” and is particularly fond of this “multi-cat strength” variety. It “contains one component — natural clay — [and] [has] no added dyes, scents, or chemicals,” according to him, making it more likely to be effective for a variety of cats with various needs and preferences.
Clump or no clump: Non-clumping | How it smells: Unscented | Dust levels: Dust-free |What’s it made of: Recycled paper
When you have a new kitten, for example, you may want to use a non-clumping sort of litter even if it is typically the easiest to manage. Fox notes that clumping litter doesn’t allow you to monitor urine output, which is vital when caring for diabetic cats, and that it can stick to and irritate incisions in cats that have just undergone surgery (including spaying and neutering).
Additionally, kittens are more inclined to consume litter, and their delicate tummies may become irritated by clumping varieties. She suggests Yesterday’s News in these circumstances since it “essentially is newspaper in pellet form — it won’t stick to incisions [and] lets the urine to lie on the bottom” of the box for simpler monitoring. Additionally, it is what animal shelters use for freshly spayed or neutered kittens; for instance, McKeon claims that Bideawee is “using it for a cat with skin concerns because it is hypoallergenic” and doesn’t produce any dust.
Clump or no clump: Clumping | How it smells: Unscented | Dust levels: Low dust | What’s it made of: Clay
For geriatric cats, Tazz Latifi, a certified pet nutritionist and retail consultant, suggests using Dr. Elsey’s paw-sensitive litter. It has sand-like consistency and finer granules than the other choices on our list, which Latifi claims is good for older cats, especially those that have age-related health issues or limited activity. When kittens get older, their paws may get sensitive, making it uncomfortable for them to walk into the litter box, depending on the type of litter.
Senior cats may experience discomfort when standing on thicker litters like pellets in addition to paw soreness from joint inflammation. According to Latifi, this gentle choice offers all the benefits of a clay litter, such as quick clumping and little dust, but it can also assist avoid unintentional house-soiling.
Clump or no clump: Non-clumping | How it smells: Unscented | Dust levels: Dust-free | What’s it made of: Zeolite pellets
One of the two cats that Dr. Fadl keeps suffers from cerebellar hypoplasia, which impairs movement and mobility. Fadl uses the Breeze litter-box system to reduce dust and undesired tracking throughout her home due to her cat’s condition, and she adds that it’s “a terrific solution for cats that have respiratory concerns like asthma.”
Additionally, in contrast to the other litters on this list, this one employs pellets to separate solid waste from pee, which trickles down a grated tray to an absorbent litter pad that is hidden away in a drawer below for simpler cleanup. Although she says they may be washed and reused, she advises changing the pellets at least once a month so that you don’t have to buy fresh litter as frequently as you would with a standard box system.
Although this isn’t strictly a litter, we felt compelled to include it for cat owners who don’t want their houses to smell like their cats after contributor Julia Gomez Kramer gushed over it. Kramer, who has two cats named Tuna and Salmon, had previously experimented with charcoal filters, odor-absorbing balls, and deodorizing powders. The winner, though, was this deodorizer, according to the user, who claims that after using it, the litter box smells more or less nothing.
What We Look for In High Quality Litter
The majority of cat litters on the market are constructed of clumping, liquid-absorbing polymers. Even some flushable clumping litters exist. All of our experts concur that clumping litter is the most practical for the majority of cats. According to Carly Fox, a staff veterinarian at Animal Medical Center, “it enables for easy cleanup of pee and feces and you don’t have to dump the whole box of litter — simply scoop up the area that’s filthy and then replenish as needed.”
When given a choice of litters, research have revealed that cats tend to favor clumping litter. A non-clumping litter is still preferable in some situations, such as when your cat has just had surgery since clumping litter can adhere to incisions.
How it Smells
While it may be tempting to select cat litter that claims to cover up odors, vets advise against it. Veterinarian and Royal Canin scientific services manager Laura Pletz claims that these odours may discourage cats from using the toilet. Look for substances like charcoal and baking soda that absorb odor rather than mask it as an alternative to scents.
Nevertheless, frequent scooping is actually your best line of defense against stink. Cat World’s administrative assistant and trained feline training-and-behavior specialist Cathy Bosley says, “No one really appreciates using porta potties, and if the litter box is not cleaned regularly, that is how it smells to a cat.
Certain clay cat litters have a tendency to produce a lot of dust, which can irritate both cats and people. Consider using alternate materials like crystal or grain if you’re extremely sensitive to dust (or if you have a small bathroom where it’s difficult for it to evaporate).
What It’s Made Of
Clay (particularly sodium bentonite) has traditionally been used to make cat litter, and it is still one of the most often used substances due to its capacity to cluster around waste and absorb moisture. Due to the drawback that clay cannot be flushed, several manufacturers have resorted to substitutes including wheat, corn, and even silica crystals, which likewise clump but can be flushed. If you’re looking for an eco-friendly trash, one of these alternatives might be preferable than clay because clay takes a lot longer to decompose than wheat or corn.