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10 Best Cat Litters in 2021: Reviews & Top Picks

Nicole Cosgrove

Cat Sand Litter

With the right cat litter, you can turn the odorous, dust cloud in the corner of a room into a neutral smelling kitty haven. A good choice of litter is inoffensive to you and the rest of your family, easy to clean out, and won’t leave your cat and your family gasping for breath after inhaling a lungful of clay dust.

When choosing cat litter, there is a huge selection to pick from, including clumping and non-clumping, scented and unscented, and those made from materials ranging from clay to silica gel and even corn husks.

To help you find the best cat litter for your home, we have compiled reviews of 10 of the best products for your litter tray.

divider-catA Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
World’s Best Clumping Cat Litter World’s Best Clumping Cat Litter
  • Low dust
  • Naturally removes odors
  • Made from environmentally friendly corn
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Ultra Litter Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Ultra Litter
  • Cheap
  • Quickly forms hard clumps
  • Less dust than other clay litters
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Fresh Step Crystal Cat Litter Fresh Step Crystal Cat Litter
  • Dust-free
  • Can be sifted
  • Gets rid of the smell of urine
  • Tidy Cats Clumping Clay Cat Litter Tidy Cats Clumping Clay Cat Litter
  • Clumps quickly
  • Activated charcoal controls odor
  • Naturally free of dyes and fragrances
  • Arm & Hammer Clay Cat Litter Arm & Hammer Clay Cat Litter
  • Minimal dust
  • Comfy on your cat’s paws
  • Creates rock-solid clumps
  • The 10 Best Cat Litters – Reviews & Top Picks 2021

    1. World’s Best Unscented Clumping Corn Cat Litter – Best Overall

    World’s Best Unscented Clumping Corn Cat Litter

    Material: Corn
    Clumping/Non-Clumping: Clumping
    Container Type: Bag

    The World’s Best Unscented Clumping Corn Cat Litter  is widely heralded as being the best litter. It is affordable, although not the cheapest on our list. It is low dust, although not entirely dust-free, and it clumps quickly.

    It does everything well, but it is especially good at controlling odors while its quick clumping nature means that if you scoop the contents out regularly, you do not have to do a full change every day and a bag of the litter will last you for some time.

    World’s Best has a good range of litters including those designed for multi-cat and single cat households, and there’s even a lavender scented option. However, it’s the standard litter that we found to be the best overall cat litter because it foregoes the unnatural smell added to some litter brands and relies on doing a good job of removing the smell of urine and poop instead. The use of corn means that it is an environmentally friendly option, too.

    Pros
    • Made from environmentally friendly corn
    • Naturally removes odors
    • Low dust
    Cons
    • Still produces some dust
    • Lightweight litter tracks

    2. Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Ultra Unscented Clumping Clay Cat Litter– Best Value

    Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Ultra Unscented Clumping Clay Cat Litter

    Material: Clay
    Clumping/Non-Clumping: Clumping
    Container Type: Bag

    If you are looking for the best cat litter for the money, Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Ultra Unscented Clumping Clay Cat Litter is not only very affordable but the traditional clay material clumps quickly and forms a long-lasting clump, too. For a clay formula, the dust clouds aren’t too bad, but you should expect a little dust and some minor tracking of the clay pieces. Also, like most clay litters, it goes really solid when it gets wet, which means that you will have your work cut out for you when it comes to cleaning the litter tray each week.

    Clay litter has pros and cons. It does form strong and long-lasting clumps that are easy to remove from the litter without having to empty everything. It is also inexpensive.

    However, it shouldn’t be flushed, it produces some dust, and will track on your kitty’s paws. It is also a chore to clean the solid clumps from the litter tray because they really do clump solid.

    Pros
    • Cheap
    • Quickly forms hard clumps
    • Less dust than other clay litters
    Cons
    • Still produces dust
    • Doesn’t mask the urine smell
    • Hard to remove dried clumps from the tray

    3. Fresh Step Scented Non-Clumping Crystal Cat Litter – Premium Choice

    Fresh Step Scented Non-Clumping Crystal Cat Litter

    Material: Crystal
    Clumping/Non-Clumping: Non-Clumping
    Container Type: Bag

    Fresh Step Scented Non-Clumping Crystal Cat Litter is expensive when compared to clay and materials like wood. However, crystal cat litter is known for locking in smells, which means less odor from your cat litter tray. Crystals also produce minimal dust, which not only makes them suitable for cats and owners with asthma and bronchial disorders but makes the area around the cat litter less toxic.

    The crystals are non-clumping but highly absorbent. The individual crystals increase in size when they get wet, which means that they can be sifted using a scooper, still enabling you to remove soiled litter and leaving the clean litter in place without having to empty and replace the full tray.

    Unfortunately, while this crystal litter can do a good job of preventing the smell of urine and they do not produce dust, they don’t catch all the urine so you will find a puddle at the bottom of the tray and the lightweight litter does track through the house.

    Pros
    • Dust-free
    • Gets rid of the smell of urine
    • Can be sifted
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Tracks
    • Doesn’t catch all urine

    4. Tidy Cats Naturally Strong Unscented Clumping Clay Cat Litter

    Tidy Cats Naturally Strong Unscented Clumping Clay Cat Litter

    Material: Clay
    Clumping/Non-Clumping: Clumping
    Container Type: Multipack Bags

    Tidy Cats Naturally Strong Unscented Clumping Clay Cat Litter is another inexpensive clay litter. It uses activated charcoal as a means of trapping odors and preventing the smell of urine and feces from traveling around the house.

    The litter quickly forms tight clumps, which are easy to scoop out, while the odor control prevents you from having to do a complete clean too often. Purina also claims that the formula is dust-free, so you don’t get a face full of clay dust when you fill the tray.

    It is also better for asthmatic and allergic cats. The litter is quite heavy, which is both a curse and a blessing. Heavier litter does not track as easily but is more challenging to lug around and pour in the tray. Also, despite claims, it does produce quite a dust cloud when it is being poured into the tray. It does not clump together when wet as well as other clay formulae, either.

    Pros
    • Cheap
    • Clumps quickly
    • Activated charcoal controls odor
    Cons
    • Dusty
    • Heavy
    • Doesn’t absorb all urine

    5. Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal Multi-Cat Scented Clumping Clay Cat Litter

    Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal Multi-Cat Scented Clumping Clay Cat Litter

    Material: Clay
    Clumping/Non-Clumping: Clumping
    Container Type: Box

    Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal Multi-Cat Scented Clumping Clay Cat Litter is a clay litter and is designed for households with multiple cats. Such households endure a large amount of urine and solids, and they need a litter that can work to control a lot of odor still without having to be emptied and replaced too frequently. Arm & Hammer claims that their proprietary micro-granules quickly form a very tight seal around urine, therefore preventing smells while negating the need to have to frequently change the whole litter tray. The microparticles are also designed to be softer on your cat’s paws. If a cat feels uncomfortable or endures any discomfort while in the litter tray, they may choose to relieve themselves next to the tray instead of inside it. The litter is designed to provide odor protection for up to 7 days and is one of the cheaper litter options on our list.

    The litter produces minimal dust, but it does track through the house. Baking soda does not do the best job of covering up smells, and the litter won’t last one week in most multi-cat households.

    Pros
    • Cheap
    • Minimal dust
    • Comfy on your cat’s paws
    Cons
    • Tracks badly
    • Doesn’t cover up all smells
    • Won’t last 7 days

    6. Tidy Cats Lightweight Glade Scented Clumping Clay Cat Litter

    Tidy Cats Lightweight Glade Scented Clumping Clay Cat Litter

    Material: Clay
    Clumping/Non-Clumping: Clumping
    Container Type: Box

    Tidy Cats Lightweight Glade Scented Clumping Clay Litter from Purina is a moderately priced, lightweight litter. The clay litter uses the air freshener, Glade, to mask the smell of urine and feces. It weighs less than other clay litters and has minimal dust, which means that it is less hassle to pour into the litter box compared to competing brands. Purina claims that the litter prevents the smell of ammonia and urine for up to 14 days and it uses the Clear Springs Glade scent.

    However, the addition of Glade is not welcomed by all, with complaints of a strong chemical smell, and a price increase. The unnatural scent of perfumes and fresheners can deter some cats from using the box, and you may find the number of accidents around the litter box increases in these cases. Also, the lightweight formula does not work as well at collecting urine, and it can turn into a mushy mess when used.

    Pros
    • Some will appreciate the Glade scent
    • Lightweight so easier to handle
    • Minimal dust
    Cons
    • Some cats do not like the Glade smell
    • Turns mushy when wet
    • Lightweight litter tracks

    7. Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Attract Clumping Clay Cat Litter

    Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Attract Clumping Clay Cat Litter

    Material: Clay
    Clumping/Non-Clumping: Clumping
    Container Type: Bag

    Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Attract Clumping Clay Cat Litter is different from most litters on this list. It is designed for cats that are struggling to get to grips with going in the litter tray. It uses a natural herb that is said to attract cats, therefore encouraging cats to use the litter tray when nature calls. Every bag also contains a book that includes instructions on teaching your cat to effectively use the litter tray.

    The litter itself is a clay litter that clumps quickly and forms a solid bond. It is 99% dust-free, and compatible with mechanical litter boxes. The litter does a good job of attracting cats and can work to minimize accidents outside the litter box. It is also a reasonable price but it does suffer in some other regards.

    Urine soaks through to the bottom of the tray and the smell that attracts the cats is quite strong so may be enough to put you off using it in the first place. What’s more, it is dustier than claimed.

    Pros
    • Decent price
    • Helps prevent accidents outside the tray
    Cons
    • Smells funny
    • Doesn’t absorb well
    • Dustier than it claims

    8. sWheat Scoop Multi-Cat Unscented Clumping Wheat Cat Litter

    sWheat Scoop Multi-Cat Unscented Clumping Wheat Cat Litter

    Material: Wheat
    Clumping/Non-Clumping: Clumping
    Container Type: Bag

    sWheat Scoop Multi-Cat Unscented Clumping Wheat Cat Litter is another unusual litter, this time for the material that it is made from. Litter can be made from materials that range from crystals to clay. Environmentally friendly materials have become increasingly popular, and sWheat Scoop, as the name implies, is made from wheat.

    The unscented litter utilizes wheat’s natural smell and properties so it is ultra-absorbent and considered suitable for houses with multiple cats. It can even be flushed, although you should always follow instructions before flushing used litter, and bear in mind that doing so is prohibited in some areas, regardless of whether the manufacturer claims it is possible or not. It is more expensive than clay litters but costs less than crystal litters, and it is naturally dust-free.

    However, it does track badly, so you may need to clean up around the tray more often. Also, it doesn’t clump particularly well, so you will have to work harder to remove soiled patches or replace the whole tray more often.

    Pros
    • Environmentally friendly, natural wheat
    • Dust-free
    • Flushable
    Cons
    • Tracks badly
    • Doesn’t clump that well

    9. Okocat Original Premium Wood Clumping Cat Litter

    Okocat Original Premium Wood Clumping Cat Litter

    Material: Wood
    Clumping/Non-Clumping: Clumping
    Container Type: Box

    Okocat Original Premium Wood Clumping Cat Litter is made from sustainably sourced wood fiber. Rather than the perfumed and even chemical smell of some litters, wood litter has a natural smell and it does a reasonable job of covering the odors of cat urine, feces, and ammonia.

    What’s more, local bylaws permitting, it is flushable.

    The plant-based material is 99% dust-free, having been de-dusted, and Okocat claims that it naturally clumps to prevent smell and make cleanup easier. It is reasonably priced for a natural litter.

    However, despite the company’s claims, it does produce a lot of dust and it drags through on your cat’s claws and in their fur so it tracks badly. Also, while the litter smells natural and fresh when it is fresh, it doesn’t do a great job of covering urine smells.

    Pros
    • Environmentally friendly, natural material
    • Can be flushed one scoop at a time
    Cons
    • Dusty, despite being de-dusted
    • Tracks badly
    • Doesn’t mask smells

    10. Yesterday’s News Original Unscented Non-Clumping Paper Cat Litter

    Yesterday’s News Original Unscented Non-Clumping Paper Cat Litter

    Material: Newspaper
    Clumping/Non-Clumping: Non-Clumping
    Container Type: Bag

    Yesterday’s News Original Unscented Non-Clumping Paper Cat Litter is made from recycled newspaper. It is highly absorbent, apparently more than three times more absorbent than clay in fact, and it is claimed that it is almost entirely dust-free.

    However, because it is made of newspaper, it is non-clumping. The unscented litter does not do a good job of masking or eliminating urine smells, either, and as the pellets get wet, they fall apart, leaving a mushy and somewhat smelly mess in the bottom of the tray. As the pellets get kicked and scratched, they fall apart and create a dusty mess, too.

    Pros
    • Made from recycled newspaper
    • Highly absorbent
    Cons
    • Creates dust
    • Tracks
    • Doesn’t cover the smell

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    Buyer’s Guide

    There are a lot of options when it comes to choosing cat litter. This means that it is possible to find the right product for your specific requirements, but it also makes it more challenging to sift through the options and decide which material is best, whether you want a clumping litter, and whether you want an unscented litter or something that is enhanced with a Glade air-freshener to create a better smelling local litter environment.

    Below are some of the most important factors to look at when deciding on the right litter for you and your cat.

    Material

    Once upon a time, if you wanted cat litter, you lined a tray with newspaper and then poured sand over the top.

    Nowadays, however, there is a seemingly endless range of materials being used as a cat litter material, including:
    • Clay – After newspaper and sand came clay. Clay litter changed the cat litter world. It clumped up when wet, preventing the need to empty and refill the litter tray every day. The clumping nature also prevents at least some of the smell from escaping the clay granules. Clay litters are everywhere, and they tend to be the least expensive option. Unfortunately, they are also dusty, heavy, and when they do get wet and clump, they can form an almost concrete-like layer around the tray that is difficult to remove. There are still many proponents of clay litter, but there are alternative materials that might do a better job, depending on what you look for in a cat litter.
    • Wood – Wood has a natural smell and it absorbs liquids well. It can be quite dusty, however, and although it is claimed that wood pellets naturally clump, they do not clump as well as clay. Some wood litters can be flushed, but the pellets also tend to get stuck in a cat’s fur and between their claws, leading to the pellets being tracked around the house.
    • Wheat – Wheat is another natural material that can usually be flushed, although you have to follow guidelines, and some areas prohibit the flushing of cat litter altogether. Also, while wheat does have a natural scent, it doesn’t smell great once combined with cat urine, and it is lightweight and tracks easily.
    • Corn – Corn husks are a little heavier than wheat. They are environmentally friendly and they offer some, albeit minimal, natural clumping capabilities.
    • Newspaper – Recycled newspaper is a tried and trusted material for cat litter, but some modern litters take it a step beyond lining the bottom of the tray with yesterday’s New York Times. Recycled newspaper pellets are highly absorbent and have environmental credentials, but they can fall apart when they get wet and tend to track.
    • Crystal – Crystal cat litter is usually the most expensive option. The crystals are usually made from some form of silica gel combined with water and oxygen. The crystals can absorb multiple times their own weight, and because they become much larger when wet, it means that even though the crystals do not clump, you can still skim the soiled crystals out of the tray while leaving the clean ones behind. Crystals are lightweight, too, and do not produce dust. They are, however, very expensive when compared to all other materials.

    Clumping or Non-Clumping

    Litter is described as being clumping on non-clumping.

    Clumping litter will stick together when it gets wet, effectively creating a ball. These balls envelope odor, preventing the escape of urine and ammonia smells, and they are easier to lift out of the tray using a scooper, negating the need to have to replace the entire tray of litter each time.

    Non-clumping litter is usually more absorbent so it will swell as it gets wet, but it won’t form a clump. Most litters are clumping because of the convenience and ease, but non-clumping alternatives do exist.

    cat litter

    Scented or Unscented

    Scented cat litter includes some form of perfume or another scent to help mask the smell of urine and feces. Common options can include natural scents like pine, but there is an increasing number of litter companies that have partnered with air freshener companies, like Glade, to incorporate chemical fresheners. Some people appreciate the perfumed scent, which is freshened every time your car scratches, but some cats do not like the strong chemical smell in the tray which can lead to more accidents.

    Lightweight Litter

    Clay litter is heavy, which means that it takes effort to lug the bag around and can be difficult to pour from the container. It also means that the litter tray itself is quite heavy. For some people, this weight isn’t a problem, but others prefer lightweight litter. Lightweight materials are easier to lift and store, but they do tend to get stuck in your cat’s fur and claws more easily, causing the litter to track more readily.

    Dust

    Some cat litters may be described as dust-free. Dust is especially a problem with clay litters. As the clay sits in the bag, the tiny particles on the outside of the litter gather at the bottom of the bag, and when you open and pour the contents out, this can form a dust cloud.

    This cloud can be quite damaging to cats and people that suffer from asthma or respiratory problems, and some people simply don’t like the idea of cat litter dust around their house. Look for dust-free, minimal dust, and de-dusted options to avoid these clouds.

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    Conclusion

    World’s Best Unscented Clumping Corn Cat Litter is a great combination of affordability and good quality litter that clumps and masks smells. If you are looking to spend less, we found Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Unscented litter offered the best value for money.

    Hopefully, our reviews have helped you find the litter that best meets your needs, whether you value lightweight, dust-free, or any other litter feature.


    Featured Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

    Nicole Cosgrove

    Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.