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The 10 Best Cat Litters

results are based on 82 reviews scanned

Yellow first place 1 AmazonBasics AmazonBasics AmazonBasics Cat Litter Pads, 20-Count
67 reviews
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2 DuraScoop DuraScoop Duranimals DuraScoop Cat Litter Scoop (colors may vary)
18 reviews
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3 Arm & Hammer Arm & Hammer ARM & HAMMER Cat Litter Deodorizer With Activated
75 reviews
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Orange best value 4 Dr. Elsey's Dr. Elsey's Dr. Elsey's Precious Cat Ultra Cat Litter, 40
17 reviews
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5 World's Best Cat Litter World's Best Cat Litter World's Best Cat Litter Multiple Cat 28-lb Clumping
90 reviews
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6 Fresh Step Fresh Step Fresh Step Cat Litter Odor Shield Scoopable, Unscented
11 reviews
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7 Fresh Step Fresh Step Fresh Step Multi-Cat with Febreze Freshness, Clumping Cat
33 reviews
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8 Purina Tidy Cats Purina Tidy Cats Purina Tidy Cats LightWeight 24/7 Performance Clumping Cat
78 reviews
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9 Litter Genie Litter Genie Litter Genie Ultimate Cat Litter Odor Control Refill
88 reviews
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10 Litter Genie Litter Genie Litter Genie Plus Ultimate Cat Litter Odor Control
89 reviews
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A Guide to the Best Cat Litter

By Yehuda Posnick

Cats seem relatively easy to care for, since they tend to prefer tidiness, and even like privacy when they relieve themselves. Some cats are already taught by their mothers(!) how to use a litter box. In any event, keeping the litter box clean is your responsibility--and you need a cat litter that will be economical, good at absorbing both waste and their odors, and will be easy to clean out. We’ll examine some cat litter options, in terms of the types of material from which cat litter is made, as well as their advantages in absorbency and waste disposal. The first cat litter was made from clay, which would have the advantage of clumping up--that way, you just scoop out the clump every so often, until you have to add more litter. But now, seeing the environmental impact, companies have turned to biodegradable materials: corn, sawdust pellets, soya--and even orange peels. We’ll examine how economical and effective each type is, to help you make a decision. 

We’ve composed this buyer’s guide to help you make the right decision when selecting a cat litter. It'll help you:

  • Choose the right type of cat litter,

  • See useful tips about that particular type of cat litter,

  • Read reviews of different cat litters, and what customers are saying,

  • Select the right brand of cat litter, and

  • Compare prices and find the best deals.

Types of Cat Litters

  • Clay: Clay has been used for decades as cat litter because of its absorbency, as well as for its being so economical. Unless the manufacturer adds some odor-fighting ingredient, clay doesn’t do a very good job of absorbing odors, so usually, you have to use baking soda or odorized crystals to take care of the odor.

  • Biodegradable materials: There are cat litters made from corn, pine wood pellets, clumping sawdust, wheat, walnuts, barley, soy pulp, dried orange peel--even recycled newspaper. Biodegradable cat litter is to be preferred since it can be used as compost and does not clog up landfills. It can also be flushed down the toilet. Grain-based litter is preferred overdrawing clay from clay mines and further degrading the environment. The Purina Tidy Cats Pure Nature Cat Litter is a combination of cedar, corn, and pine to create a biodegradable and naturally absorbent cat litter.

  • Silica gel litter: This has the highest absorbency, moisture control, and odor elimination. It is also more compact and economical: 4-5 pounds of silica gel can do the work of 20-30 pounds of clay litter!

What Reviewers Say

  • Clumping versus non-clumping: Clumping cat litter is designed to lump together when wet. This is very effective in getting rid of cat urine--it’s absorbed by the cat litter, instead of seeping to the bottom of the litter box and sitting there. Clumping cat litter is better for you since you just remove the clump of cat waste with a scoop. But, clumping litter is also better for your cat! When the cat litter clumps up, it lets your cat avoid the clumps, so it can find a clean area of the litter box to relieve itself. However, there are brands of non-clumping litter, such as the Purina Tidy Cats Non-Clumping Clay Litter, which are popular because they require less maintenance. The advantage here is that you don’t have to scoop out the clumps every day--just empty out the whole litter box on a weekly basis.

  • Scented versus unscented: You would think that buying scented cat litter is the obvious choice since your aim is to cancel out the litter box odors. But, cat noses are sensitive: if the cat doesn’t like the smell, it’ll find somewhere else to go. That’s why manufacturers will say that their litter is “lightly scented”.

  • Dust free: Some clay-based litter creates silica dust. This can cause respiratory problems and even cancer in humans. It can also cause bladder problems and urinary tract infections if it enters the cat’s system. That’s why you should aim for cat litter that is dust-free.

  • Odor absorption: Some cat litters use activated carbon or plant extracts to absorb odors. That’s the method used in the Fresh Step Ultra Unscented Cat Litter. They claim that their formula can absorb odors for as long as 10 days! (But veterinarians recommend changing a litter box every week or so.)

Important Features

  • Flushable cat litter: The advantage of biodegradable cat litter is that you can safely flush it down the toilet. When using clay litter, there are regulations about it depending on which state you live in, since clay can cause serious clogs in the plumbing. So you have to be aware of whether the cat litter can be disposed of in the toilet or not.

  • Changing to a new type of cat litter: The brand “World’s Best Cat Litter” recommends performing a smooth transition to a new cat litter. You should fill the litter box with 2-3 inches depth of cat litter. Starting with a clean litter box, put in ⅔ of your current cat litter, and ⅓ of the new type. If your cat doesn’t protest, change the proportion to ⅔ new, ⅓ old litter, until you eventually get to 100% new cat litter.

  • Clean up accidents: If your cat has an accident and relieves itself outside the litter box, clean it up quickly. Otherwise, your cat might start choosing this alternate spot over the litter box.

  • Texture: One of the advantages of clay litter is that the pellets are soft on your cat’s feet. Purina’s Yesterday’s News is made from newspaper, which has the advantage of being biodegradable. It also achieves a softness similar to that of clay. It’s recommended for cats that have been declawed.

  • Lightweight litter: Purina’s Tidy Cats Lightweight litter is much more lightweight than clay litter. It is much less dense--so a little bit will fill your cat’s litter box.

Top-Rated Brands

  • World’s Best Cat Litter was founded in 1998, when they developed their first cat litter formula. Their litter formula uses corn, which features good odor control, quick clumping, and is dust-free.

  • Fresh Step was founded in 1984, with a unique formula for cat litter that includes odor-absorbing carbon. They make scented and unscented cat litter, clumping and non-clumping litter, as well as distinct cat litters for each cat age group: kittens, adults, and seniors.

  • Purina Tidy Cats was founded in 1964. It is a brand of the Ralston Purina Company, founded in 1894 as a maker of cereals, pet foods, and animal feeds. The Tidy Cats brand includes clumping and non-clumping litter, lightweight cat litter, and the “Tidy Cats Alternative”--the Purina Yesterday’s News cat litter, made from recycled paper.

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