As a cat owner, you want to provide the best environment for your lovable feline. Nutritious food, engaging toys, and a comfortable bed are items that can help an anxious cat adapt to a new home, but have you selected a cat litter for your young friend? There seem to be just as many different brands of litter as there are cat toys, and the selection process can be challenging for new pet owners.
Although litter pellets are made from different materials, all litter products can be grouped into clumping and non-clumping. If you’re unsure which type to purchase, we can help make your decision a little easier. In this article, we’ve included detailed reviews of the 10 best non-clumping litter brands and a handy guide that examines the pros and cons of using non-clumping products over clumping litter.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites of 2023
|Best Overall||Feline Pine Non-Clumping Cat Litter||
|Best Value||Cat’s Pride Non-Clumping Cat Litter||
|Premium Choice||Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Non-Clumping Cat Litter||
|Naturally Fresh Non-Clumping Cat Litter||
|Purina Tidy Cats BREEZE Litter System Pellet Refills||
The 9 Best Non-Clumping Cat Litter
1. Feline Pine Non-Clumping Wood Cat Litter – Best Overall
|Size:||40 pounds, 20 pounds, 7 pounds|
Our best overall non-clumping cat litter is Feline Pine Original Non-Clumping Wood Cat Litter. We chose this brand over the competitors because of Feline Pine’s highly absorbent pellets and 100% chemical-free formula. Although it’s more expensive than clay litter, it’s more reasonably priced and effective than other pine non-clumping products. Feline Pine’s sole ingredient is pine fiber, and it doesn’t use artificial fragrances or additives to cover the smells from urine and feces. Its litter is twice as absorbent as its previous formula, and you’re unlikely to find another brand of non-clumping litter that performs as well.
Unlike clay litter and some of the other non-clumping pine litters, Feline Pine is dust-free and will not send clouds of dust into the air whenever you fill up the litter box. The brand’s only drawback is the pellets’ inability to eliminate fecal odor. Urine is absorbed instantly, but the pine does not dry out or absorb feces as well. However, like most non-clumping litters, you can remove the fecal matter every day to prevent lingering odors.
2. Cat’s Pride Premium Clay Cat Litter – Best Value
Finding an affordable non-clumping litter is a daunting task, but we awarded Cat’s Pride Premium Clay Cat Litter our best non-clumping litter for the money award. The large clay granules are highly effective at absorbing urine and eliminating odors. It does not include chemical fragrances or additives, and it absorbs 100% of its weight in moisture. For the money, Cat’s Pride is an excellent clay litter.
However, the primary issue with the litter is the high level of dust. When you fill up the litter box, you may need a mask and goggles to keep the dust cloud from coating you. Cats and owners with respiratory issues are better off using a dust-free formula. Tracking is also a problem, but it’s not as bad when comparing it to clumping products. Most of the product’s negative comments came from customers who were expecting a clumping litter. The product’s packaging does not label the litter as clumping or non-clumping. Overall, it’s a fine product if you can handle the dust.
3. Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Crystal Cat Litter – Premium Choice
|Litter material:||Silica sand, water, oxygen, and hydrolyzed herbs|
Premium litter products command a large share of the market, but our favorite high-end litter is Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Unscented Non-Clumping Crystal Cat Litter. It uses silica crystals to absorb liquid and reduce odors quickly. Its hypoallergenic formula is ideal for kitties with allergies or respiratory issues, and the fine-grained crystals are 99.9% dust-free. Dr. Elsey’s does not contain artificial additives, but it uses hydrolyzed herbs to create a soothing environment and reduce lingering odors.
If your cat has not used crystal litter before, it may take time for the animal to adjust to the product’s texture. Dr. Elsey’s is finer than other crystal products and has a softer feel than litter with larger pieces, but the sound the material makes when a cat scratches the box may be off-putting to some felines. Although it’s not a clumping litter, Dr. Elsey’s solidifies into a dense block after absorbing urine. This makes cleaning the litter box difficult and irritating.
4. Naturally Fresh Pellet Walnut Cat Litter – Best for Kittens
|Size:||26 pounds, 10 pounds|
Cat breeders typically use non-clumping litter for kittens under 4 months old. Non-clumping litter tracks less, and it’s less likely to be ingested by a young feline. Our pick for the best litter for kittens is Naturally Fresh Pellet Unscented Non-Clumping Walnut Cat Litter. The walnut pellets effectively absorb odors from feces and urine, and the manufacturer claims its litter is seven times more effective at controlling odors than other pine, wheat, corn, or clay products.
It’s 100% natural and does not include chemical fragrances or plant-based additives, and the low-tracking formula prevents cats from spreading the pellets around your home or ingesting pieces of spent litter. Naturally Fresh controls urine odor better than most premium brands, but it’s not as successful at eliminating fecal odor. Also, some kittens and adult cats did not like the texture of walnut pellets and preferred using clay litter.
5. Purina Tidy Cats BREEZE Litter System Pellet Refills
|Size:||7 pounds, 3.5 pounds|
|Litter material:||Mordenite zeolite|
The Purina Tidy Cats BREEZE Litter System Pellet Refill is an excellent option for keeping the litter area clean. BREEZE uses a natural mineral pellet to trap odors, and the manufacturer claims the pellets will last up to a month before they need to be replaced. The dust-free formula helps maintain healthy air quality and a clean home. If you have not purchased a BREEZE litter system, you’ll need one before using the litter. Essentially, the BREEZE pellets act as filtering material that absorbs odors and allows urine to drain down to the absorbent pad positioned underneath.
You can choose between a hooded box, open box, or extra-large system (for multiple cats) to house the pellets, but be prepared to make a hefty initial investment along with additional expenses for pads and pellet refills. Several cat owners depend on the Purina pellets and systems to keep their homes dust-free, and BREEZE products are often out-of-stock and challenging to find. Regardless of its popularity, several customers were unhappy with the scent of the litter and suggested that it was ineffective at controlling odors for 30 days.
6. Frisco Unscented Non-Clumping Recycled Paper Cat Litter
|Litter material:||Recycled paper|
The Frisco Unscented Non-Clumping Recycled Paper Cat Litter is made from 95% post-consumer recycled paper, and it claims to absorb liquid three times as fast as other paper pellets. It uses baking soda to help control odors, and the larger pellets help control tracking. Frisco is another great eco-friendly litter, but it has a few issues that place it farther down our list. First, it’s hard to tell the fresh litter from the used sections since the dark grey pellets do not change color after absorbing urine.
Another issue with the paper is that it was harder to clean the litter box when the pellets broke down, and some cat owners noticed that soaked pellets sometimes stuck to their cats’ fur. Although it’s cheaper per pound than some premium brands, you’ll go through it quickly because it does not last as long.
7. CatSpot organic Non-clumping Coconut Cat Litter
|Litter material:||Recycled coconut coir|
CatSpot organic Non-clumping Coconut Cat Litter is unlike any of the non-clumping brands & products we’ve reviewed. Instead of pine, mineral, or paper, CatSpot uses organic coconut coir as the non-clumping material. If you’re used to seeing grey or tan pellets, you may be surprised by CatSpot’s dark brown color. The manufacturer claims that its five-pound bag of litter is as absorbent as 20 pounds of clay litter, and that’s nice because CatSpot is a bit pricey.
The litter is lighter than other brands, and it’s effective in controlling odors, but it has problems with dust and tracking. The makers claim it’s a low-dust formula, but some consumers complained that the fine-grained coconut fibers stuck the animal’s fur and tracked all over the house. Also, some cat owners disputed the company’s claim that the coconut eliminates odors for 15 days. Unlike some of its competitors, it’s biodegradable and compostable, but it’s less effective at reducing tracking and dust.
8. Jonny Cat Unscented Non-Clumping Clay Cat Litter
|Size:||20 pounds, 10 pounds|
Jonny Cat Unscented Non-Clumping Clay Cat Litter is one of the oldest litter brands, and it’s still one of the most affordable. The clay litter does not contain any chemical additives, but it uses natural botanical ingredients to help control odors. Although it’s much less expensive than other non-clumping brands we reviewed, Jonny Cat is also the dustiest formula we reviewed, and it had significant issues with tracking.
One issue that we noticed in several comments was the change in the litter’s color. Some customers have been using Jonny Cat for many years, and they were surprised that the beige color was replaced by a dark green hue. The company still advertises the litter as a light beige, and the new litter is more visible on carpets and floors. Since tracking is a problem, you’re likely to see dark green pebbles around your home if your cat is aggressive in the litter box.
9. Ultra Pearls Micro Non-Clumping Crystal Cat Litter
|Litter material:||Silica gel crystals|
Ultra Pearls Micro Unscented Non-Clumping Crystal Cat Litter uses silica gel crystals to absorb moisture and reduce odors instantly. The gel crystals are larger than other brands, but they’re not hard or uncomfortable on the cat’s paws. Although the larger pieces help minimize tracking, your cat can track some of the dust around after using the litter box. It’s much dustier than other premium products like our number three pick, and cats with allergies should stick to a dust-free formula.
Ultra Pearls does not seem expensive since the five-pound bag is supposed to eliminate odors for 30 days before it needs replacing. However, some customers mentioned that the litter needed to be changed after three weeks, and they weren’t happy with the odor control. The crystals absorb moisture fast, but after continued use, the crystals eventually morph into a solid mass that’s challenging to clean. The bottom and sides of the box can become pretty dirty with this litter.
The silica gel is non-toxic, but the product includes a warning to keep away from children. Unlike clay litter, the pellets could be mistaken for candy and appear more appealing to young children.
Buyer’s Guide: Selecting The Best Non-Clumping Cat Litter
As you’ve seen, not all non-clumping litter is the same. Before manufacturers began offering non-clumping products made of natural materials, the ordinary clay litter was much cheaper than the wet clumping types. Now, non-clumping brands command premium prices, and they’re made from pine fibers, recycled paper, silica crystals, walnuts, and other naturally-occurring materials. When you’re examining the different brands, there are a few elements to consider.
If your cat care budget is already packed with expenses and you need an affordable non-clumping product, you’ll generally pay less per pound for an unscented clay litter. However, the more expensive brands that come in tiny five-pound or three-pound bags are designed to provide longer odor control and require less frequent changing.
Is your feline meticulous about covering up its urine and feces, or does it enjoy bolting out of the box as soon as the act is complete? Your cat’s habits can play a role in choosing the ideal litter. Pine litter is biodegradable and absorbs urine, but it’s not the best material for felines who prefer to leave their stool uncovered. However, if you’re a daily litter box scooper, pine litter can be effective even with messy cats.
Crystal litter, such as our premium pick Dr. Elsey’s, is suited for cats who leave uncovered presents because the silica dehydrates the feces and absorbs the smell.
If you’re accustomed to scooping the litter box at least once a day, you can use any of our ten picks and keep tracking and odors to a minimum. For owners who prefer to check the box every few days, a BREEZE system or crystal litter can control odors better than other materials without frequent scooping. However, your cat will be happier and healthier if you’re able to keep the litter box clean.
Even companies that have provided the same product for decades, like Jonny Cat, make changes in their products. Sometimes the change improves the product, but unfortunately, the modification often infuriates the company’s most loyal fans. Jonny Cat isn’t the only company that’s changed its ingredients or quality, but it’s strange that the litter engineers decided that dark green was a better color for pellets than light gray or beige. Most customers that noted the color change also suggested that the new formula was less effective.
If you notice the litter you ordered arrives in a different shade or texture, contact the company before dumping it in the litter box. In the Jonny Cat case, the color change was not contamination or a mistake, but it’s best to check with a company rep to ensure the material is safe. An ingredient change may signify that the company must find its raw materials from another source, or it just changed recipes under new management.
Whether you or your cat have respiratory problems, you can look into a dust-free non-clumping litter to keep the air and litter box area cleaner. Dust-free formulas minimize the dust stirred up when your feline scrapes and covers up. Like our top pick, Feline Pine, pine pellets are excellent for keeping the air dust-free, and our premium pick Dr. Elsey’s is an excellent choice for owners and cats with respiratory issues.
Although several crystal products, excluding Dr. Elsey’s, claim to minimize dust, they’re often loaded with dust when they’re delivered. Some of the more fragile silica crystals are agitated when they’re transported, and unfortunately, they arrive partially disintegrated.
One of the advantages of choosing a non-clumping over a clumping litter is the reduction in tracking. Clumping litter can stick to paws, especially when the box is overloaded with feces and urine, and eventually wind up on your floors, furniture, and bed. Non-clumping material has larger pellets, but some brands are better at reducing tracking than others. Pine, walnut, paper, and premium silica were the best low-tracking pellets. The coconut, clay, and cheaper crystals had tracking issues, but they performed better than clumping brands.
When you’re caring for a kitten under 12 weeks old, a non-clumping litter is better for the kitty’s health and well-being. Veterinarians and breeders recommend using non-clumping for kittens because the little ones are more likely to eat their litter. Ingesting dirty debris can introduce harmful bacteria to the kitten’s digestive system and lead to urinary tract infections and kidney damage. Also, consuming clumping litter can cause intestinal swelling and damage if a large amount is swallowed. If you’ve seen your kitty frequently eating litter, you’re better off using a straining litter box that directs the urine to a pad underneath.
Using a non-clumping litter in your home can minimize tracking and reduce dust. Our best overall pick is Feline Pine. It absorbed odors better than the competitors and produced virtually no dust. Our winner in the best value category is Cat’s Pride Premium Cat Litter. Its chemical-free formula absorbs liquid quickly and controls odors, and it’s cheaper than some of the premium clumping litters. Finding a brand that fits your cat’s needs may seem daunting, but our reviews and guide have hopefully made your decision a little less challenging.
Featured Image Credit: Mila Naumova, Shutterstock