Owning a cat can seem easier than owning a dog when it comes to their potty habits. Cats can be left alone for long periods without you having to worry about rushing back home to take them outside. Cats using indoor litter boxes offer convenience to their owners, but that litter does have to be cleaned and replaced. While cats are easier than dogs in this aspect, litter is something that you’ll have to regularly buy for the rest of the cat’s life.
These costs can add up quickly, especially if you’re on a budget. There are litters on the market for every price range, but you need one that has also earned your cat’s approval. If the cat doesn’t like the one that you choose, they may not use it.
We gathered our favorite budget litters and created reviews of each so you can browse them and choose the one that’s right for you.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites of 2024
|Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal Cat Litter
|Nature’s Miracle Clumping Cat Litter
|World’s Best Clumping Corn Litter
|Frisco Clumping Clay Cat Litter
|Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Ultra Unscented Clumping Litter
The 8 Best Budget Cat Litters
1. Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal Cat Litter — Best Overall
|Clumping, odor control, scented, multi-cat
Our best overall choice for budget cat litter is Arm & Hammer Multi-Cat Clump & Seal Cat Litter. The price is affordable for the amount of litter in the box. This litter is suitable for homes with multiple cats but can be used for just one feline friend too. The micro-granules have a fine, sand-like texture that makes them easy to pour out of the box while being comfortable for your cat’s feet. The litter is activated when wet, sealing in odors and using Arm & Hammer baking soda to eliminate them.
When used, the litter forms solid clumps that can be scooped away without any hassle. The rest of the litter will remain clean. The low-dust formula keeps the air clean for both you and your cat.
The litter claims to keep your home odor-free for 7 days. This product has a light scent added to it, which may irritate cats and people who suffer from respiratory issues. Tracking with this litter is said to be minimal, but there are reports of it happening outside and around the litter box.
2. Nature’s Miracle Intense Defense Cat Litter — Best Value
|Odor control, clumping, scented, multi-cat
The Nature’s Miracle Intense Defense Clumping Cat Litter is the best budget cat litter for the money when it comes to budget cat litter. It includes bentonite to destroy odors on contact. Whether you have one or multiple cats, this litter is formulated to be powerful enough for all of them.
The fast-clumping action stops liquids from pooling and sticking to the bottom of the litter box. It’s highly absorbent and will continue to work until the odors are gone. The clumps are easy to scoop, and liquids won’t saturate the surrounding litter.
This litter includes a light scent. While it claims to be dust-free, there are reports of dust clouds still forming as the litter is poured.
Daily scooping is recommended to help with odor control, and the clumps can get sticky if they aren’t removed regularly.
3. World’s Best Clumping Corn Cat Litter — Premium Choice
|Unscented, odor control, eco-friendly
Our premium choice for budget cat litter is World’s Best Unscented Clumping Corn Cat Litter. This litter has a different texture than clay litter because it’s made from compressed corn. It’s also biodegradable, flushable, and eco-friendly. It’s slightly pricier than some other options but can offer more benefits.
It’s completely free of clay dust, making the air cleaner for your cat. It’s safe for most septic systems, so you can flush the clumps, making cleanup easier.
The litter is also unscented. There are no perfumes added, so if your cat is sensitive to fragrances, this is a non-irritating option. The natural odor control helps keep your home smelling fresh.
The corn material absorbs liquids effectively but can produce an unpleasant odor when mixed with urine. This scent is reported to last for a short time and not travel beyond the litter box area.
After about a week, the litter can become completely saturated and needs to be changed. The clumps should be scooped daily or at least every other day to avoid the buildup of odors and urine.
4. Frisco Multi-Cat Clumping Clay Cat Litter
|Clumping, multi-cat, unscented
The Frisco Multi-Cat Clumping Clay Cat Litter is formulated to quickly absorb and neutralize odors. The clay litter forms hard clumps that are easy to remove. This product is hypoallergenic, containing no dyes or fragrances. While it’s unscented, it contains a deodorizing system for efficient odor control around the clock.
The liquids in this litter are trapped before they have a chance to pool on the bottom of the box. The clumps won’t break apart when you’re scooping them out. This litter is low-tracking, reducing the number of litter trails to and from the litter box.
The litter is recommended to be fully changed every 1–2 weeks.
This product is not low-dust and can be fairly dusty when pouring, scooping, and changing the litter. It’s an affordable litter that does well with odor and urine control, so if you don’t mind a bit of dust, this is an ideal option for your home.
5. Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Ultra Unscented Clumping Litter
|Clumping, multi-cat, unscented, odor control
The medium-grain clay in Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Ultra Unscented Clumping Cat Litter is highly absorbent and creates minimal dust. The granules are big enough to limit tracking and stop liquids from reaching the bottom of the litter box.
The clumps that form in this litter won’t break apart. They’re tightly packed and easy to scoop. The rest of the surrounding litter stays clean and dry.
The low-dust, unscented formula is ideal for families with respiratory sensitivities and will keep the surfaces around the litter box clean.
The frequency at which to change the box depends on how many cats you have. If multiple cats are using the box, a complete litter change is recommended every 1–2 weeks. If just one cat is using it, it could last a month before you start to notice odor buildup. By scooping this litter daily, you can help eliminate odors that the litter alone can’t fight.
This 40-pound bag of litter can be heavy and difficult to try to use. There are reports of this litter becoming heavier when wet, so the clumps can be weighty.
6. Purina Tidy Cats 24/7 Performance Scented Cat Litter
|Non-clumping, odor control, scented
The Purina Tidy Cats 24/7 Performance Scented Non-Clumping Cat Litter offers around-the-clock odor control. The extended-release deodorizing system works to combat odors while giving off an added fresh scent. This formula is designed to accommodate multiple cats but can also work for one.
The non-clumping formula absorbs liquids to keep your cat dry and comfortable while they’re using their litter box. The long-lasting odor control works well to stop odors from building up, but this litter should be changed once a week to help keep your home completely odor-free. Solid waste should be removed daily.
If the liquid collects for too long of a period on the bottom of the litter box, the litter can take on a thick, muddy consistency. Frequent cleaning will be the way to get the most out of the benefits that this litter offers.
The texture of the litter is large pebble-type pieces of clay. Some cats prefer a litter that has a finer, sandy texture, so they won’t like this product.
7. Scoop Away Multi-Cat Scented Clumping Cat Litter
|Clumping, odor control, scented, multi-cat
The added meadow fresh scent in the Scoop Away Multi-Cat Scented Clumping Cat Litter will give your home a boost of fragrance every time your cat uses their litter box. It will work for one or several cats, offering long-lasting odor protection. The formula has enhanced Ammonia Shield and antimicrobial properties to fight odors and bacteria that cause odors for up to 7 days.
ClumpLock technology helps clumps form quickly and tightly so you can easily scoop them away. The carrying handle on top of the box makes this litter easy to move and pour.
This product has reports of being dusty when pouring and scooping, as well as being high-tracking.
8. Fresh Step Extreme Febreze Scented Clumping Cat Litter
|Scented, odor control, clumping
The Fresh Step Extreme Febreze Scented Clumping Cat Litter offers Ammonia Block Technology with a mixture of activated charcoal to eliminate odors for 10 days. A mountain spring Febreze fragrance helps fill the room with freshness every time your cat uses their litter box. The ClumpLock technology enables the litter to form tight clumps as it absorbs. These clumps won’t disintegrate when scooping the litter box.
A 25-pound box of litter can last up to 8 weeks if only one cat is using the litter box. For multiple cats, you’ll have to refresh the litter more often. For the price, this is a good value for the amount of litter.
While this is a low-dust formula, it’s not completely dust-free. There are also reports of the Febreze scent creating an unpleasant smell when mixed with urine.
Buyer’s Guide: Finding the Best Budget Cat Litter
Cat owners have to deal with litter box odors, dust, and tracking. By finding the right cat litter for your cat that fits your budget, these issues can be minimized. Once you decide which litter issues that you’d like to avoid, you will know where to start when choosing the best one for your home.
Unfortunately, there is no universal cat litter that will work well for every person and every cat. Some cats prefer clay litters and others want something more natural. Each litter is unique and your choice will be according to your (and your cat’s) preferences.
Litter boxes are bound to have odor buildup eventually. That’s why you have to empty all the litter out, wash the box, and refill it with fresh litter regularly. Artificial fragrances added to cat litter can do a good job at making the litter smell fresh every time the cat uses it. However, when these scents mix with urine and waste, they can produce an unpleasant odor.
Some cats have respiratory illnesses and are sensitive to artificial scents. When choosing your cat litter, decide if an added fragrance is something that would work for your cat or if daily scooping to combat odor buildup is what you’d rather do instead.
Cats don’t like when their litter boxes stink any more than you like it. If the boxes get too overwhelming, cats may even start refusing to use them. In addition to keeping the box scooped daily, your litter should have an odor-control feature that will meet the needs of your cat.
If your litter is unscented, there should still be some sort of odor control feature listed on the label to lock in and eliminate odors. Whether it’s an all-natural or clay litter, odor control technology helps make sure your home stays smelling fresh.
It may take a bit of trial and error to find a litter with a texture that your cat likes. Most cats like the texture of clay litters, but the bulkier pebble textures might be too rough for them. Some cats prefer natural cat litters made of walnut or pine.
If your cat doesn’t like the texture of the litter that you choose, you’ll know it. They’ll either stop using their box or their potty habits will drastically change. For example, they may stop burying their waste.
Cats like to dig in their litter and be able to easily move it around. Soft, grainy textures work well. If your cat is used to one litter texture and you’d like to switch to another, do so slowly. Mix the new litter into the old litter over time before you change it completely.
Clay or Natural Material
Clay litters can be dusty and aren’t created in an environmentally-friendly way. The litter isn’t biodegradable. Clay litters work well for odor control and absorption and are what most cats are used to. Natural litters can offer eco-friendly options and still provide odor protection. They can be more expensive than clay, so they may not be the most practical choice. Natural litters may also require much more frequent cleanings than clay litter.
Clay litters usually clump better and faster than natural litters, but natural litters can absorb more liquid. As you decide which material would be best for your cat, be sure to think about clumping or non-clumping litter.
Clumping or Non-Clumping
There are benefits to each type of litter. Clumping litter tends to be a bit more expensive, but the clumps are easier to scoop out when you’re cleaning the litter box. The litter surrounding the clumps stays clean, so less litter is wasted. The clumps also offer odor control by locking the odors inside and forming a layer on the outside of the clump that dehydrates waste.
Non-clumping litter is cheaper and can absorb liquid, but it will become completely saturated eventually. Urine may start to pool underneath the litter when the absorption has reached capacity. The litter must be emptied completely and refreshed more often than clumping litter due to this. Dirty litter also mixes with clean litter, so it becomes impossible to separate them. A complete litter change on average of about once a week is necessary to keep odors to a minimum and maintain the litter’s effectiveness.
How to Save Money on Cat Litter
Once you’ve decided on the perfect litter within your budget, you can stretch that litter further by following these steps.
Cut Down on Waste
Litter gets wasted by being thrown away before it’s dirty, being tracked around the house, or being kicked outside the box by your cat. While unintentional, these things repeating will force you to buy litter before you may have had to otherwise.
High-sided litter boxes can help contain litter that’s being dug into and kicked. If you purchase a low-tracking litter, it should cut down on unintentional scatter. Litter mats outside of the box can grab the litter that’s stuck on your cat’s paws. Then, you can lift that mat and dump the litter back into the box.
Buy on Sale
When litter goes on sale, that’s the time to stock up. Even buying two containers when you’d normally buy one will help get you more litter for your money. While the term “budget” can be subjective, buying on sale can help. Buying online will also help you find better deals than those on the shelves at your local store.
Our best overall choice for budget cat litter is Arm & Hammer Multi-Cat Clump & Seal Cat Litter. We like its low-dust formula, tight-clumping action and the fact that fights odors with baking soda. Our best value choice is Nature’s Miracle Intense Defense Clumping Cat Litter. It’s affordable and starts to control odors on contact. Our premium pick is World’s Best Unscented Clumping Corn Cat Litter. It’s flushable and biodegradable. We like that it’s made of corn too. We hope that our reviews help you find the best litter that fits your budget for you and your cat.
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Featured Image Credit: Grzegorz Petrykowski, Shutterstock