Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Home > Cats > Scented vs Unscented Cat Litter: Our 2024 Comparison

Scented vs Unscented Cat Litter: Our 2024 Comparison

Scented vs Unscented Cat Litter - Featured Image

Unfortunately, dealing with a litter box is one thing that naturally comes along with owning cats. Keeping odors under control can be very challenging for owners. One of the ways that companies combat odor is to offer scented cat litter to consumers. But what exactly goes into scented or unscented cat litter, which is safer, and what is the difference between them?

We have a basic overview here for you describing the differences between scented and unscented cat litter and all the components in between. Hopefully, once you finish this article, you can pick the one that suits your cat’s needs best.


Overview of Scented Cat Litter

Scented cat litter can be a real godsend to many people. After all, who wants to walk into their house and immediately smell everything your cat excreted while you were away? Scented cat litter can work to mask those pesky odors. They tend to lock them in instead of letting them go through your home.

But is scented cat litter suitable for your cats? This is debatable regarding any type of fragrance. Some cats are allergic to certain artificial fragrances in cat litter and require a natural base. But we want to point out that cat litter can contain natural additives, like safe essential oils.

pouring cat litter in the litter box
Image Credit: Seika Chujo, Shutterstock

How It Works

Often, scented cat litters use some fragrance to combat unwanted odors. Depending on the brand, some use natural components while others use chemically manufactured fragrances. There are also scented boosters that you can add to unscented cat litter to achieve the same results.=

Even though many scented cat litter might stay fresher longer, you should still aim to clean out the litter box every day for your cats.

Even though scented cat litter is made of different components that react differently to waste, the general concept is the same. Most scented cat litter has some fragrance to lock in foul odors and exude better-smelling ones.

Granted, this is not a fix-all. Buying a scented cat litter doesn’t mean you will be able to clean the litter box less often. It simply means that your house might not reek quite as severely.

What It’s Good for

Scented cat litter is perfect for virtually any home. Still, it might be especially useful for multi-pet households since things tend to get a little stinkier than a single-cat home. Scented litters mask odors by locking them in.

cat sitting in litter box
Image Credit: Mila Naumova, Shutterstock

Downfalls of Scented Cat Litter

Even though scented cat litter is fabulous at removing a bulk of unwanted smells, they aren’t a solution for everything. Some cats can have allergic reactions to certain types of sense-making it an unsuitable option for some felines.

More natural scented cat litters combat odor without using these types of chemicals. Some of them fight odors with natural essential oils instead. If you notice any irritation on your cat’s paws, you might have to discontinue use and devise a different option.

  • Awesome long-lasting aroma
  • Great for multi-cat households
  • Widely available
  • Generally inexpensive
  • Often contains artificial fragrance
  • Some cats might be allergic or sensitive


Overview of Unscented Cat Litter

Unscented cat litter is exactly what it sounds like. It is natural litter without adding artificial fragrance to control odors. These types of cat litter work very well for sensitive cats. There are several reasons to use unscented cat litter.

You also might see more unscented cat litter options with natural litter such as paper pellets, corn, walnut shells, and other litter varieties.

kitten on cat litter box
Image Credit: Sharaf Maksumov, Shutterstock

How It Works

You might wonder just how you can keep your house smelling fresh if you have unscented litter. There are several options. Most owners find that getting unscented litter with a component that controls odor, such as activated charcoal or baking soda, helps to reduce these odors significantly without overwhelming the home with fragrance.

What It’s Good for

Unscented cat litter can be terrific because they tend to be more naturally compatible with a larger number of cats and humans. Unscented litter is less likely to trigger allergies. Also, they are much less likely to trigger skin irritation or respiratory issues.

Buying an unscented litter helps protect human handlers and kitties alike. It also provides a more natural option to chemical fragrances. Chemical fragrances can contain some pretty toxic stuff, and not everyone is so crazy about that.

You have to consider that your cat will be traipsing in and out of their litter box, getting it both on themselves and your belongings. Unscented cat litter doesn’t contain the same toxins or potentially dangerous additives.

siamese cat sitting in a litter box
Image Credit: Axel Bueckert, Shutterstock

Downfalls of Unscented Cat Litter

Sometimes, certain unscented cat litter doesn’t control odors as effectively as scented varieties. However, if you clean the litter box as you should, you probably won’t notice much difference.

  • Terrific for cats with sensitivities
  • Widely available
  • Many brand and material options
  • Not as scent-masking

Comparison of Scented vs. Unscented Cat Litter

Here, we can do a little side-by-side comparison of scented versus unscented cat litter. What are the differences besides smell anyway? The truth is, not much. You have quite a variety on both sides of the coin. Let’s dive in so you can get a better understanding.

Remember, rather than buying a product based on whether or not the litter is scented, you can also buy boosters. These litter box boosters fix the odors, helping control the smells in your home.

Clumping vs. Non-Clumping Cat Litter

Both scented and unscented cat litter can come in clumping or non-clumping varieties. Clumping cat litter forms around the urine and feces to create a nugget, so to speak. That way, it contains the waist without it seeping into the rest of the clean litter, which sometimes saves on cost in the long run.

Non-clumping litter can sometimes pull up or drip down to affect a lot more of the litter contents, making it a requirement to clean it more frequently. But both options come in both varieties. Non-clumping litter is a little bit more difficult to scoop, but it often costs less.

Clumping litter usually makes the cleaning experience a little more seamless, so many prefer it. However, the more natural options are generally non-clumping. That is because natural options like wood chips, walnut shells, recycled paper, and other litter don’t clump naturally like certain types of clay.

clumping cat litter
Image Credit: Karnstocks, Shutterstock

Which Option Is More Common?

There are plenty of unscented and scented cat litter options both in-store and online. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding either one.

Which Option Is Safer?

If cat litter is scented with a chemical fragrance, unscented cat litter would be the safer option of the two periods. However, certain cat litters use natural sense to make their products. Check labels if you’re looking for something a little more natural.

Which Type of Cat Litter Is Less Expensive?

Cat litter can vary a lot in price, but much of that is not determined by scent. Cat litter is usually determined based on brand. Nothing in scented or unscented cat litter would make it more or less expensive than the other.

When to Use Scented Cat Litter When to Use Unscented Cat Litter
Multi-cat homes Single pet homes
Longer lasting freshness Cats  or humans with allergies
Combatting ultra-terrible smells Natural Approach

No matter what kind of litter you use, bad smells often linger. That's where an effective litter additive like Hepper's Advanced Bio-Enzyme Cat Litter Deodorizer can make a big difference.

Hepper Advanced Bio-Enzyme Cat Litter Deodorizer Powder
  • Bio Enzymatic Cat Litter Freshener - Smart formulation uses natural ingredients eliminating cat...
  • Save Money - Stuff for cats isn’t the cheapest. With this litter box odor eliminator, you’ll...
  • Every Litter, Every Surface - Are you afraid this additive won’t work on your litter? Fear not!...

This biodegradable deodorizer is fragrance-free and safe for all ages of cats and types of litter. It uses bio-enzymes to naturally get rid of odors and help your litter last longer. 

At Pet Keen, we've admired Hepper for many years, and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool company!



Essentially, most cat owners can freely pick which cat litter they prefer. However, in some cases, you may choose one or the other based on certain factors like sensitivities and allergies. More sensitive cats will likely do better with unscented litter. Or, if you just like a chemical-free home, you can probably find a lot of value in unscented litter.

There is no right or wrong answer here. It all comes down to preference. But if you’re someone who needs extra odor control, you might find it nearly impossible not to use cat litter without fragrance.

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets