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The Best Cat Litter for Even the Most Finicky Feline

Written By
7 min read

Updated - May 26th, 2022

Let’s face it – no cat parent looks forward to scooping litter, but purchasing one that meets your standards can make the task slightly less cumbersome.

From dust level to odor control, every person (and cat!) has different preferences. We’ve taken the guesswork out of litter shopping by bringing you a shortlist of the our top picks for cat litter and why we like them.

Before we get into our choices, let’s discuss what types of cat litter are out there and answer some commonly asked questions about them.

Types of cat litter 

Clay cat litter is the most common type of litter, and is usually made of sodium bentonite. Sodium bentonite is natural clay gathered from clay beds. It has superior absorbency qualities, absorbing up to 15 times its dry weight in liquid. It also clumps around waste making it easy to scoop from the litter box.

This type of litter is high in dust, making it not flushable or eco-friendly as it takes longer to bio-degrade than litters made from wheat, corn, or grass.

Other types of litter are made from:

  • Corn
  • Wheat
  • Grass
  • Silica gel (crystal granules)
  • Sorghum
  • Recycled paper
  • Wood

Some of these clump while other do not. Nonetheless, these all work well in a litter box.

What type of litter do most cats prefer?

Cats prefer soft, grainy substances they can dig in easily. That may be why they prefer to leave their calling cards in your garden. Cats with sensitive feet may find pelleted or sharp litters like crystals irritating to their toe beans.

When cats are raised on a particular type of litter, such as pellets or clumping clay litter, they develop a strong preference for it. For instance, when you try to change from pellets to a finer textured litter, a cat with strong litter preferences may refuse to use their litter box.

Scented vs. Unscented: What is the best cat litter for odor control?

A common misconception is that scented cat litter eliminates odors better than fragrance-free litter. Cats have a more acute sense of smell than humans and can find strong odors like scented litter offensive enough to refuse to their litter box.

Manufacturers designed scented litters to cover the smell of waste, but what they accomplished was a scent that mixes with the offensive smell. “Poovendar” isn’t always pleasing to our noses. Most cats would appreciate non-scented litter, but some will tolerate it.

The most effective way to eliminate odors in the cat box is to scoop it at least daily, and maybe more if you have multiple cats.

Clumping vs. non-clumping: What kind of litter is easy to clean?

Clumping litter is a popular option for easier clean up. Made from clay, corn, wood, and sorghum, this litter forms a solid mass when surrounding liquid, which makes scooping easier. 

On the other hand, non-clumping litter is made from silica gel, wood, and pine pellets that become saturated, breaking down over time. The contents of the cat litter box must be stirred daily to distribute the ammonia evenly throughout the box.

Both clumping and non-clumping litter varieties manage odors well. Clumping litter should be removed from the litter box daily, whereas non-clumping litter must be completely emptied and refilled according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, which is usually every 2-7 weeks.

Dust-free litter

No cat litter is entirely dust-free, but some help keep dust to a minimum. This type of litter helps reduce the risk of coughing or sneezing for cats with asthma or allergies. The same is true for us humans!

Flushable litters

Even if a litter label says it’s flushable, that doesn’t mean your municipal wastewater facilities or your septic system are suited for cat waste.

Cat waste can carry toxoplasma Gondii, a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis in warm-blooded animals and humans. Most wastewater treatment centers can’t filter it out, so it ends up in treated water, to be redistributed into our environment.

Toxoplasmosis can cause flu-like symptoms, and in rare cases, fetal development disorders. So even if the label says flushable, it’s not a good idea. Double bag the cat waste and dispose of it in the trash can. There are many biodegradable poop bags available for an eco-friendly option when disposing of cat waste.

Smart litters

Smart litters change color in reaction to certain chemicals found in your cat’s urine. They can indicate a bladder or kidney problem and can alert you to the need for a vet visit. Should any unexpected infections arise, pet insurance can help reduce a portion of the vet bill, allowing you to focus on getting your cat the best care possible.

Attractant litters

Kittens and cats who are not used to using litter boxes are attracted to the natural herbal additive in these litters. They are made from bentonite which has a hard-clumping reaction. The kitten versions contain herbs attractive to kittens (since many don’t respond to catnip until over a year old). 

Which type of cat litter is best? Our choices for best cat litters of 2022

Best Overall

Dr. Elsey’s Precious Ultra Cat Litter

dr-elsey-cat-litter_best-cat-litter

This one checks all the boxes for a standard litter for multiple cat households. When you need a hard-clumping, odor-reducing litter, that makes scooping litter a breeze, this litter fits the bill.

Best clumping

Arm & Hammer Platinum Clump & Seal

arm-hammer-clumping_best-cat-litter

The price of this litter is very reasonable and can be found almost anywhere. It has the clumping, odor control, and scented or unscented features every cat parent desires.

Best non-clumping

Feline Pine Platinum Non-Clumping Pine Litter

feline-pine-litter_best-cat-litter

This litter has been around for a long time and holds up well to the manufacturer’s claims. It has a pleasant pine scent, holds moisture in the bottom of the tray, and is easily scoopable, although not clumping.

Best odor control

Tidy Cats Breeze Pellets

tidy-cats-litter_best-cat-litter

This is litter controls odors with its unique design. A pan full of proprietary pellets drains the liquid down to the super absorbent liner in the lower tray while catching all of the solids for daily scooping. The pellets dehydrate the solids for easy removal. 

The drawback of this litter system is the cost. For multiple cat households, it can be pricey, but for single cat homes, it seems reasonable and works like it’s intended.

Best eco-friendly

Skoon All-Natural Cat Litter

swoon-eco-friendly_best-cat-litter

Made from diatomaceous earth, this litter was available in many varieties, including a monthly subscription to have it delivered to your door. The materials used for the litter were natural and super absorbent with strong odor control. There were enough varieties to please any fussy cat, and it can be easily purchased from Amazon if you choose not to subscribe to the litter service. It also offered a disposable cat box for purchase!

Best litter for kittens

Dr. Elsey’s Kitten Attract Litter

dr-elsey-attract_best-cat-litter

Made with 100% bentonite, but with natural herbs that appeal to kittens. When you rescue and raise foster kittens, or have a new kitten that isn’t box trained, this litter promises to solve the problem. 

Best dust-free litter

Yesterday’s News Original Paper Cat Litter

yesterdays-news-litter_best-cat-litter

This litter consists of recycled newspapers and can be used for kittens, cats recovering from surgery, and even domestic small animals. 

It’s non-clumping but very absorbent and unscented. The soft paper pellets are perfect for a kitten’s tender paws and have strong odor control for even the stinkiest deposits.

Best litter for multi-cat households

Arm & Hammer Platinum Clump & Seal

arm-hammer-clumping_best-cat-litter

This was specially formulated for use in multiple cat families. The superior odor control from the baking soda additive and hard clumping formula work well according to users, and it scoops easily with most standard scoops.

Best smart litter

PrettyLitter Health Monitoring Cat Litter

A relatively new addition to the litter market, this one shows promise and has won the approval of many veterinarians. It’s a low-tracking, non-clumping litter that changes color according to the chemicals found in your cat’s urine. It helps determine if your cat should visit the vet and may detect problems before symptoms are noticed.

When your cat suffers from FLUTD or urinary tract issues, this litter is reported to be quite helpful and will catch urinary chemical changes before they get uncomfortable for your kitty.

With so many cat litters to choose from, shopping can be overwhelming. But so long as your choice litter has your cat going to the bathroom like a pro, you can’t go wrong!When shopping for any product for your precious pup, their health and happiness is always your top priority. At Pumpkin, pets’ health and happiness are our priority, too! That’s why Pumpkin Pet Insurance plans help pay back 90% of eligible vet bills – so you can worry less about cost, and more about care.

Writer, Mom of a Fab Fur Fam of Five
Lynn is a writer and long-time Learning & Development Manager at a large PNW retailer. She's also mom to 3 dogs & 2 cats!

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