The Best Cat Litter

While you may love living with your cat, there’s very likely one part that you’re not very keen on: cleaning up his potty habits. Unless you have an outdoor cat, there’s every reason to expect that your furry friend will leave you a mess to clean up several times a day and while there’s nothing (yet) to make that not true, there are products that you can pick up that will make it more bearable. For example, getting a good cat litter will go a long way in minimizing the impact his bathroom necessities have on your day.

We reviewed dozens of cat litter to identify the best of the best. We considered all types of cat litter from clumping to clay; scented and unscented. We looked at cat litters that are designed to accommodate multiple cats and those that you can just scoop into the toilet and flush away. Whatever type of cat litter suits your cat best, it will be on our list.

Top Pick

Dr. Elsey’s Cat Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter

Check out Dr. Elsey’s Cat Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter for a cat litter that will completely satisfy your cat’s bathroom needs.

During our research, Dr. Elsey’s Cat Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter was the obvious choice for out Top Pick. It’s hypoallergenic so you won’t worry about constant sneezing and has an odor control that’s strong enough for even your multiple cat home.

The 5 Top-Rated Cat Litters

Editor’s PicksBrandRating
Best OverallDr Elsey Cat Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter4.2
Runner UpPetSafe ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box Tray Refills4.1
Best Budget BuySpecial Kitty Unscented Natural Clay Cat Litter4.4
Best Multi-Cat LitterTidy Cats Purina Breeze Cat Litter Pellets Refill Multiple Cats4.5
Best Flushable Cat LitterHealthy Pet ökocat Natural Wood Cat Litter4.0

*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change

Our Top Pick: Dr. Elsey’s Cat Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter

Dr. Elsey’s Cat Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter uses a superior odor control to make it an ideal litter for a home with multiple cats. It contains no perfumes or deodorants but will still keep your home from smelling. In fact, they’re so confident in the clumping of this cat litter, they say that if you scoop twice daily and refill as needed, you won’t need to actually change the litter out but once a month. You can use it universally for a standard or mechanical litter box with no problems.

The heavy, medium-grain clay particles are perfect to prevent it from sticking to you cat’s paws and them tracking it all over your house or licking it off their feet. The clumping also ensures that the box itself stays dry and you won’t need to worry about scrubbing the box when you change it out or a smell during, either. And, added bonus, it’s 99.9% dust-free as well as being hypo-allergenic.

With an overall rating of 4.2 stars and over 3,600 customer reviews, this must be a good cat litter. Even the price – just under $20 for a forty pound bag – has us impressed.

Dr. Elsey’s Cat Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter Key Features:

  • 99.9% Dust-free
  • 2 size options
  • Multi-cat formula

Our Runner-Up Pick: PetSafe ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box Tray Refills

Runner Up

PetSafe ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box Tray Refills

Meet the PetSafe ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box Tray Refills and familiarize yourself with easy cat litter clean-up.

PetSafe ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box Tray Refills is the very picture of convenience. While it is designed for the self-cleaning PetSafe litter box, you don’t necessarily need it. You can use this tray as all you need and just scoop and toss each waste product until you toss the whole tray and replace it with a new one. We especially like the idea of taking your cat with you to travel and keeping these in the hotel with her. And because the tray is plastic, you won’t need to worry about any messes leaking through.

The crystal litter will dehydrate the solid waste and absorb liquid, locking all the odor away so you don’t have to suffer the smell before you can get to cleaning it up. It’s low-tracking so you won’t need to worry about your cat dragging it through your house or it sticking to his feet and later ingesting it as he grooms.

With an overall rating of 4.1 stars and over 1,500 customer reviews on Amazon, you can be reasonably certain this cat litter tray will be a win for you.

PetSafe ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box Tray Refills Key Features:

  • 3 crystal options: Sensitive, Blue, and Lavender
  • Includes 3 disposable plastic trays
  • Low-tracking crystals

Best Budget Pick: Special Kitty Unscented Natural Clay Cat Litter

Best Budget Buy

Special Kitty Unscented Natural Clay Cat Litter

For a cat litter that will meet your needs and not break your budget, look no further than this highly-rated cat litter.

Special Kitty Unscented Natural Clay Cat Litter is a fantastic option for cat owners on a budget. The formula, which is made from 100% natural ground clay, is fragrance-free. It’s also formulated to be low dust, so you won’t need to worry about lengthy cleanups.

With a solid 4.4 rating on Amazon, you can purchase this budget buy with confidence. Considering also that you’ll get a massive 25 pound bag for just over $6, it’s one of the most affordable and well-made budget kitty litters around. Yes, it comes to only $0.02 an ounce!

Special Kitty Unscented Natural Clay Cat Litter Key Features:

  • Made from 100% natural ground clay
  • No added fragrances or scents
  • Low dust

Best Multi-Cat Litter: Tidy Cats Purina Breeze Cat Litter Pellets Refill Multiple Cats

Best Multi-Cat Litter

Tidy Cats Purina Breeze Cat Litter Pellets Refill Multiple Cats

If you have multiple cats in your home, you won’t want to miss checking out these anti-tracking pellets with excellent odor control.

Tidy Cats Purina Breeze Cat Litter Pellets Refill Multiple Cats has an anti-tracking concept that utilizes pellets rather than a more traditional “gravel” litter. You can typically get one full litter box out of each bag and depending on the size you choose, you’ll either get three or six bags. Each bag will typically last one or two cats about a month with daily scooping. With this type of litter, you’ll likely want to invest in some pads as well because the pellets don’t behave like standard clay litter. They will absorb the odor and dehydrate the feces, but allow urine to pass through to prevent it from being released into the air and you’ll want to replace the pads more frequently. You can save a bit of money and use newspapers though, and that will mitigate some of the extra cost.

While it is inevitable for the litter to get kicked out of the box if your cat buries his excrement, you won’t need to worry about it sticking to his feet and dragging all over for you to clean up later. It is designed to be used with the Breeze litter box, but is universal, as well, so you can use it with your standard box. (Although you may want to line the box to catch and absorb the urine.)

There are over 230 customer reviews on Amazon that have given this litter an overall rating of 4.5 stars. And considering how long your pellet litter will last, this is a purchase you won’t have to think about often!

Tidy Cats Purina Breeze Cat Litter Pellets Refill Multiple Cats Key Features:

  • 3 bags included; each bag lasts up to 1 month
  • 2 size choices
  • 99.9% dust-free

Best Flushable Litter: Healthy Pet ökocat Natural Wood Cat Litter

Best Flushable Cat Litter

Healthy Pet ökocat Natural Wood Cat Litter

Check out the Healthy Pet ökocat Natural Wood Cat Litter for a litter that lets you simply flush away your cat’s waste.

Healthy Pet ökocat Natural Wood Cat Litter is a natural litter than you can use with complete piece of mind. It’s made of unclaimed wood and fallen trees so not only are you not negatively impacting the environment by choosing this litter, you’re actually helping with a bit of clean up. It’s biodegradable and will not muck up a landfill if thrown out and for those times you flush, you can feel confident it won’t harm your well-functioning septic system or sewer.

This litter is so good at absorbing odor, you can push changing out the litter to over two months! In fact, the manufacturer claims that their odor control is so powerful, you can delay even scooping the litter for seven days without noticing any smell. It has a superior clumping that will make it a breeze to clean up your cat’s mess and there is so little residue you won’t need to worry about your cat tracking little pieces all over your home or any dust.

There are well over 650 customer reviews on Amazon and they’ve awarded this cat litter with a respectable 4.0 star rating. And for the large size box, you’ll only be spending right around $30, making this litter a great deal.

Healthy Pet ökocat Natural Wood Cat Litter Key Features:

  • 3 size options available
  • Bio-degradable and flushable
  • Absorbs 500% its weight

Who Should Buy Cat Litter

There are no two ways around it: if you have an inside cat, you’ll need a way to dispose of its waste. There are alternatives to the traditional litter box, but unless you have a cooperative cat and a lot of time on your hands, training him to use the toilet is probably not going to happen. You’ll have the least impact on your life by using cat litter to eliminate the smell and unhygienic aspects of your cat’s bathroom practices. Scooping the waste out each day will keep your house from smelling and, if you pick a good location and high quality cat litter, you may be able to push the clean up for a few days. If you need help training your cat to use his litter box, take a look at our how to guide, and be sure to check out our review of the best cat litter boxes if you’re in need of a quality litter box.

Even if your cat keeps his bathroom habits exclusively outside, you still may want to try to take advantage of a litter box for a long weekend or short vacation. Cats are a more independent breed than some other pets and they can typically be left for a few days without suffering any ill effects. Your house, however, may be a different story and the easiest way to ensure your home doesn’t smell atrociously when you return is to select a high quality cat litter. Switching between litters may not be well received by your cat, but if she’s willing, you can try to use a less expensive brand for her everyday when you know you’ll get to it nightly, and for the longer trips you can buy one that’s specializes in containing the mess and the smell.

Top Pick

Dr. Elsey’s Cat Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter

Check out Dr. Elsey’s Cat Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter for a cat litter that will completely satisfy your cat’s bathroom needs.

Important Features to Consider

Cat litter should have a few important features. Here’s what to consider when selecting a cat litter for your cat’s litter box:

  • Clumping and non-clumping clay. Clay that clumps is most commonly made of bentonite and will adsorb your cat’s droppings with ease. It may seem obvious but the clumping clay will allow you to remove the waste in its entirety and the non-clumping clay will be more likely to leave behind moist litter. Because of this, you’ll need to change the litter more frequently. The non-clumping clay litter is not made of bentonite, and will therefore, not leave behind a dust that the clumping clay often can.
  • Natural alternatives. Clay may be naturally occurring but it’s not exactly reoccurring and it’s not generally biodegradable, so you may want to find an alternative that won’t remain in a landfill forever. Pine, wheat, corn, walnut shells and grass are alternatives that you may consider but they’re generally more expensive. (Which seems silly because they’re renewable resources, but they’re still a relatively new market. We anticipate the cost evening out some over time.)
  • Scented or unscented. Even unscented litters will have some naturally occurring smells. It may seem obvious but keep in mind that the wheat litter will smell like wheat, pine like pine, etc, etc. Without the added perfumes, you’ll smell the urine and feces more easily. But some cats prefer the unscented and if your cat is one of those (and happens to be especially willful), you may need to get what she wants just to make sure she’s using her box. However, scented or no, you can get an odor controlling agent like carbon or baking soda that should minimize the smell. (But won’t “mask” it.)
  • Flush-able. Some types of natural cat litter are flush-able. They will always list that on their features, though so never flush anything that doesn’t have that listed. Even those litters that are safe to flush though, you’ll want to be careful. If you have a delicate septic system or piping, you’ll want to avoid it or only use it for waste clumps. That is, even when using flush-able litter, you shouldn’t discard the litter down the toilet when changing litter out.
  • Pads. In order to prevent cleaning the actual litter box frequently, you may want to look at a box that allows for a litter pad. A litter pad will catch any moisture that leaks through the litter and will absorb it so it won’t settle on the box itself. This can keep clean-up to a minimal while you switch out litter but also help the odor while doing so. If you remove litter, with it’s odor controlling agents, and there is still a puddle from days prior, that puddle is going to stink terribly. A litter pad may help you a great deal.
  • Hands-off approach. There is a more hands-off approach for your cat’s litter box and it comes in a few different forms of “self-cleaning.” You can use disposable boxes, where you’ll place a hood or supportive shell around a cardboard box that contains the litter and once your cat has used it enough, you’ll simply toss the entire box and replace it with a new one. Alternatively, you can pick up a litter box that utilizes a conveyor belt or automatic raking system to separate the waste from the unsoiled litter. This will keep you from changing litter so often but you will still need litter for all of these boxes, too.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is pine litter safe for cats?

Cat will often eat their litter either by accident or on purpose. Sometimes a cat wants to “clean up” after himself and will eat his own waste. To avoid some of that you can be diligent in your scooping, but even if they don’t do that, they do lick their feet and those feet have been in the litter. You can’t be there to monitor your cat’s every move, so you have to keep that in mind when you’re choosing your cat litter. You’ll need to try to prevent it, but you may find it unavoidable.

Some cats, with no further explanation than just because eat their litter on purpose. If that’s the case for your cat, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the safest option for him, because most litter is pretty bad for your cat to ingest. Some have carcinogens, some can’t be digested and cause blockages. Because pine is a naturally occurring substance, it’s one of the safest litters on the market.

Is cat litter bad for the environment?

Some cat litters are bad for the environment and some aren’t. The most common and the “traditionally used” substance for cat litter is clay. Clay is strip mined from the earth, which destroys the local environment and displaces wildlife. So while it is naturally occurring and not bad for your cat (unless ingested), it’s not especially great for the environment. Silica has carcinogens that you want to take particular care with for your cat. You’ll not want to use it, for example, if your cat is prone to eating his litter or if you plan on going to work all day and leaving him unattended for most of the day.

There are natural alternatives that use renewable resources; pine, walnut shells, grass, wheat or corn-based litter are all alternative cat litter options that are good for the environment. Please note, though, wheat and corn are “problem” ingredients for cats, so you may want to avoid those for your cat.

How do I dispose of cat litter?

For most cat litters, you’ll simply throw it away. If that is the type of litter you have (the kind you’ll need to toss), then when you’re changing out the full litter box, you’ll want to double bag the trash bag and place it in your outdoor trash can with a lid. Otherwise the smell can attract other cats or animals that will want to tear open the bag and spread it out all over your yard. If you’re just scooping and tossing one little shovel at a time, you won’t need to worry about any extra steps, but you may want to put it in the outside trash just for the sake of smell.

Flush-able cat litter is, of course, meant to be put directly into the toilet and flushed away. This is ideal for those with limits on their trash or those in a small community; an apartment complex, for example. Before flushing you will want to make doubly sure that the litter is in fact, flush-able and not just a natural alternative. Another option if you are in a position to do so, is using the dirty litter in your garden as fertilizer or mulch. That option is a bit more involved, though, so make sure you know what kind of commitment you’re making before you do so.

How often should you scoop or change cat litter?

Each cat litter has a different time expectation listed, but a fair expectation is that the more you scoop, the less you’ll need to change the litter. Scoop at least daily; if you can get the mess just after each release, you can push the litter change to roughly once a week. If you don’t scoop every day, you’ll need to change the litter every 3 days, depending on your cat’s messes.You can probably mess with your changes and scooping to find the best schedule or routine for you and your cat, but expect to do something with your cat’s waste every day or two. There are alternatives that offer you an extended time between cleaning, but you’ll need to purchase a self cleaning box and still will want to check on it daily to make sure everything is operating as it should.
Jenny Jarvis