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Best Cat Litters

Updated August 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 18 Models Considered
  • 68 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 116 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best cat litters

    Last Updated August 2018

    Cats can be fussy about what they eat, where they sleep, who can pet them, and most definitely about where they do their business. Choosing the right cat litter will encourage your feline friend to use her litter box, not to mention make your job cleaning that box much easier.

    But there are many different types and brands of cat litter, and it can be tough to sort the good from the bad. What makes a good cat litter? Which kind is right for your cat? What features should you be looking for?

    We aim to answer all your questions with our thorough shopping guide. Or save time and buy with confidence by picking from top choices.

    Most cats tend to prefer unscented, natural cat litters without odor-control additives.

    Types of cat litter

    Clumping clay litter

    Usually made from bentonite clay, this type of litter forms clumps when your cat urinates. It used to be the most popular type of cat litter, but thanks to newer advances in litter technology, this type is now one of the more basic choices.

    Pros:

    • It’s easy to clean; you just need to remove the feces and clumps of urine.

    • If you're on a budget, this litter tends to be the least expensive of all clumping varieties.

    • It’s easy to remove all the urine, so this litter tends not to smell too much between full changes.
       

    Cons:

    • This litter is dusty. Many experts believe that inhaling the silica dust from this litter is potentially unhealthy for your cat, and it may even be carcinogenic.

    • This litter isn’t eco-friendly because it must be thrown in the trash; plus, the clay itself is collected via strip mining.

    • It sticks to your cat's feet, which means she can then track it all over the house.

    Non-clumping clay litter

    Non-clumping clay litter is much like the clumping version except it doesn't form clumps when it gets wet.

    Pros:

    • This is the cheapest option on the market.
       

    Cons:

    • The dust could be carcinogenic, and your cat is going to breathe in at least a little while doing his business.

    • This litter is extremely heavy when dry and even more so when used.

    • Since it can't be flushed or composted, this litter ends up in the landfill.

    • Clay is strip-mined, which harms the environment.

    • This litter sticks to your cat’s feet, which means he can track it through the house.

    Litter for eco-friendly felines

    World's Best Cat Litter is made from corn and other natural plant ingredients, all of which are sustainable. And the litter is flushable and compostable (but cat feces should be disposed of in the trash). Since it's basically dust-free, this litter ideal for felines with respiratory issues.

    Clumping natural fiber litter

    Urine clumps in this litter, just like in clumping clay litter, but this type is made from natural plant fibers, such as corn, wheat, or walnut shells.

    Pros:

    • It’s easy to scoop out all the urine from this litter, which help to control odors.

    • The enzymes naturally contained in the fibers help control odors.

    • This litter is biodegradable, so it can be composted and often flushed (however, in both instances, you must throw the cat feces in the trash).

    • One bag lasts significantly longer than the same size bag of clay cat litter.

    • This litter is lighter and therefore easier to deal with than clay litter.
       

    Cons:

    • This litter can be dusty, but the dust isn't potentially carcinogenic like the silica dust in clay litter.

    • Because it's lightweight, it can stick to your cat’s feet and easily be tracked through the house.

    Non-clumping natural fiber litter

    Non-clumping natural fiber litter is made from natural, plant-based ingredients (including wood and paper) and may come in granule or pellet form.

    Pros:

    • Pellet varieties of this litter are virtually dust-free.

    • This eco-friendly litter is compostable and tends to be made from waste products.

    • Most types of this litter don’t track easily.
       

    Cons:

    • This litter may have more of an odor because it's harder to remove all the urine from it.

    • Some cats don't like the feel of pellet types of litter under their paws.

    Silica gel litter

    Silica gel cat litter is made from a crystallized version of sodium silicate, like you find in those small, moisture-absorbing packets tucked inside certain foodstuffs, shoes, and other products.

    Pros:

    • Silica gel is highly absorbent – an important quality in cat litter.

    • This litter is economical; a small bag lasts a long time.

    • This litter contains very little dust.

    • It is very low maintenance; you don't need to remove the urine – just scoop the feces and stir the crystals.
       

    Cons:

    • This litter can be messy, especially if your cat's a digger (picture hundreds of tiny beads of silica rolling all over your floor).

    • Not all cats will use silica gel litter.

    EXPERT TIP

    If your cat likes to dig in his litter before doing his business, it could be a sign that you aren't putting enough litter in his box; increase the amount.


    EXPERT TIP

    If your cat meows and fusses in her litter box before doing her business, it could be a sign that she doesn't like her litter; you should try a different kind.


    Cat litter features to consider

    • Scent

    Some cat litters are scented to help mask the smell of urine and feces, but a litter box shouldn't smell much if you're scooping it regularly. If odor is a big issue, you might need to step up your cleaning game. The smell of scented cat litter can be more offensive than the smell of urine – to both cats and their owners – and can even put some cats off using their litter box.

    • Odor control

    Some cat litter contains extra odor-absorbing ingredients, but we'd generally recommend options without. Many fussy cats don't like litter with these extra ingredients, and if you need extra odor-absorbing properties from your cat litter, you might not be cleaning the litter box often enough.

    • Tracking

    Cat litter that sticks to your cat’s paws can get tracked all over the house. This tends to be more of a problem with granulated forms of cat litter, though not all granulated litter is easily tracked. Unless you love to vacuum, we'd recommend looking for a cat litter that isn’t easily tracked.

    • Dust

    The dust in some types of cat litter is more benign than others. Dust from natural fibers is probably harmless in small doses, while silica dust from clay-based litter has the potential to cause health issues. Whichever type of litter you choose, it's best to look for low-dust options.

    • Comfort

    Your cat's comfort is probably one of your concerns. You want him to not only use his litter box but also be comfortable using it. Your cat is likely to do his business anywhere but in the litter box if he finds it uncomfortable. Just like humans, cats all have their own preferences, but most cats prefer clumping litter that feels soft under their paws rather than hard or lumpy.

    We recommend buying a dedicated cat litter scoop to help you remove feces and clumps without taking too much clean litter out of the box.

    Cat litter prices

    It can be tough to compare the price of cat litter because it's sold in boxes and bags of different sizes, and some varieties last longer than others.

    To make things clearer, we're comparing the price per pound.

    Even so, it's worth noting that you'll use much less of some types of cat litter than others, so a pound-for-pound comparison is only approximate.

    • You can find cat litter for as little as 40 to 50 cents per pound.

    • High-end biodegradable or silica options can cost as much as $1.50 to $2 per pound.

    Easy to carry and easy on your wallet

    If you're looking for affordable cat litter, Purina Tidy Cats is an excellent option. It is virtually dust-free, the 24-hour odor control is designed to keep your cat's litter box smelling fresh, and it’s 50% lighter than other clumping litter.

    Tips

    • Consider your cat's age. Fine-grained cat litter isn't suitable for kittens under three months old because they can inhale the small particles, causing illness.

    • Take cues from your cat. Cats are fussy creatures, so they might not like the litter you've chosen even if it's the best on the market. If your cat is happy with a particular type or brand of cat litter, it's best to stick with it.

    • Don't change brands too quickly. When switching from one type of cat litter to another, you should gradually mix in a little more of the new litter with the old each day to acclimate your cat to it.

    • Consider placing a mat under your cat's litter box. If your cat tends to kick out a lot of litter, a mat under the box can help keep the mess in check.
    Households with several cats should find a litter formulated for use by more than one cat. Also, have one litter box for each feline because some kitties don't like to share.

    FAQ

    Q. How often do I need to clean my cat's litter box?

    A. A cat likes her litter box kept spotless, so you need to make sure you clean it regularly. You need to scoop out any feces and clumps of urine (if you use clumping litter) at least once or twice a day, but preferably after every time your cat uses the litter box. You'll also need to completely empty the box and refill it twice weekly for non-clumping litter and at least once every two to four weeks for clumping litter.

    Q. What should I do if my cat is reluctant to use his litter box?

    A.  Your cat may refuse to use his litter box for a number of reasons. If he's doing his business elsewhere, try any or all of the following.

    • Get him a larger or deeper litter box.

    • Put more or less litter in the box.

    • Clean out his litter box more often.

    • Try a different type of cat litter.

    • Place your cat's litter box in a more easily accessible spot.

    If your cat still won't use his litter box and/or seems to be experiencing pain when urinating, take him to the vet. He could have bladder stones or another medical problem.

    Q. How much cat litter should I put in the litter box?

    A. You might think that more is always better, but most cats like no more than two to three inches of litter in their box, and some prefer less.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Bronwyn
      Bronwyn
      Editor
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Lauren
      Lauren
      Writer
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor