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7 best cat litters for 2023, approved by vets

Updated November 16, 2023

Treat your feline and your home to the best cat litter, and learn which litter brands to avoid.

The essentials

  • Choosing the right cat litter is important — Felines can be very particular about where they do their business, so you may have to try a few before you find the right one.
  • Consider the material and fragrance — Factors such as the material, scent, dust level, and clumping ability are all important to consider when picking a kitty litter.
  • Litter made popular by social media isn’t necessarily the best — Color-changing litters like Pretty Litter have some drawbacks that are worth noting.

Outside of love and affection, the right cat litter is one of the most important things a cat owner can provide for their pet. Not only is it a frequent purchase, but it often affects the smell of your home, which means you will want the absolute best. We’re here to help you find the best cat litter for your beloved four-legged friend based on criteria such as cost, odor control, tracking level, and clumping ability.

Why trust betterpet?

The writers, editors, and staff of betterpet are experienced pet parents, and we know the value of accurate, trustworthy information. Because of this, the content we create is reviewed and approved by our veterinarians.

At the end of the day, the best cat litter for your feline will depend on their needs, your preferences, and your veterinarian’s advice. It may take some time to find the one that works for your cat, so be patient as you navigate through different options and observe how your cat responds.

Best cat litters, reviewed

Best cat litter overall: Naturally Fresh Unscented Walnut Cat Litter

Pros Cons
✓ Odor control ✕ Not for automatic litter boxes
✓ Cost ✕ Not suitable for those with nut allergies
✓ Appearance

Naturally Fresh’s Unscented Walnut Cat Litter is a clumping litter known for its superior odor control and low dustiness. Available in a 14- or 26-pound bag, this litter stands out for its lack of added fragrance, making it an ideal choice for sensitive cats and scent-averse households. Its dark color helps to hide the gross appearance of solid waste, and as a natural litter, it doesn’t aggravate allergies, so long as you don’t have a walnut allergy.

One of the most attractive qualities of this cat litter is its ability to absorb odor. With minimal tracking, the larger granules tend to stay contained in the litter box area, reducing mess around the house. While not recommended for automatic litter boxes, this is a great option for manual litter boxes. (Read more about our picks for the best cat litter box here).

Best clay cat litter: Tidy Cats Lemongrass Scented Cat Litter

Pros Cons
✓ Easy scooping ✕ Scatters easily
✓ Fresh scent ✕ Not low tracking
✓ Natural ingredients ✕ Pricier than other clay litters

Tidy Cats Lemongrass Scented Cat Litter, available in a 20-pound plastic bin, features a clay type of litter known for its efficiency in clumping and easy cleanup. The lemongrass fragrance masks bad odors and adds a pleasant aroma to the litter box area. However, some users note a moderate amount of dust, which may pose concerns for cats and their owners with sensitivity to dust particles.

In terms of tracking, the litter shows average performance, with some granules being carried out of the box, but not excessively. As a natural alternative to the more chemical litters, it’s easy on a cat’s paws and does not seem to affect sensitive lungs. Unlike other natural cat litter made out of edible products like corn or walnuts, cats tend to avoid eating this clay.

Best plant-based cat litter: World’s Best Clumping Corn Cat Litter

Pros Cons
✓ Biodegradable ✕ Cats tend to eat it
✓ Unscented ✕ Pricier than other options
✓ Low dust

World’s Best Unscented Clumping Corn Cat Litter stands out as a clumping corn-based litter that provides an eco-friendly and biodegradable option for cat parents. One of its most praised features is its exceptionally low dustiness, which reduces respiratory concerns and keeps the environment cleaner.

Although it’s unscented, this litter is recognized for its top-notch odor control, effectively trapping and neutralizing unwanted smells. It also has minimal tracking, as the larger granules tend to stay contained in the litter box area, reducing mess around the house. This cat litter comes in 8-pound, 15-pound, and 28-pound bags.

Best cat litter for automatic litter boxes: Dr. Elsey’s Respiratory Relief Clay Cat Litter

Pros Cons
✓ Affordable ✕ Moderate dust
✓ Hypoallergenic ✕ Heavy

Available in 7.5-pound, 20-pound, and 40-pound bags, Dr. Elsey’s Respiratory Relief Clay Cat Litter is specially designed to control respiratory issues in cats and humans. Despite being unscented, this cat litter is exceptional at preventing litter box odor. It’s low tracking and has a hard-clumping texture, making for easy cleanup.

While Dr. Elsey’s litter typically produces little dust, some reviewers have noted that it can depend on the bag — and others didn’t love the heavy weight of this litter. Overall, Dr. Elsey’s Respiratory Relief Clay Cat Litter offers a potential solution for cats with respiratory sensitivities, making it a great choice for both feline health and a cleaner living space.

Best odor-blocking cat litter: Arm & Hammer Litter Clump & Seal Multi-Cat Scented Clumping Clay Cat Litter

Pros Cons
✓ Odor control ✕ Strong scent
✓ Low dust ✕ High tracking

Arm & Hammer Litter Clump & Seal Multi-Cat Scented Clumping Clay Cat Litter offers a comprehensive odor-fighting solution to maintain a fresh-smelling litter box. Utilizing odor-neutralizing plant-based micro granules and Arm & Hammer baking soda crystals, this litter swiftly reduces and holds odors for up to a week.

Despite its 99% dust-free and low-tracking properties, some reviewers have pointed out a strong perfume, excessive weight, and higher tracking issues. However, its exceptional clumping capability simplifies cleanup, especially beneficial for multi-cat households. Choose from 14-pound, 19-pound, and 28-pound bags.

Best paper-based cat litter: Frisco Unscented, Non-Clumping Recycled Paper Pellet Cat Litter

Pros Cons
✓ Low dust ✕ Pellets track and crumble
✓ Environmentally friendly

Frisco Unscented, Non-Clumping Recycled Paper Pellet Cat Litter offers an eco-friendly and odor-fighting solution for cat owners seeking a chemical-free litter option. Crafted from 95% post-consumer recycled paper, these non-clumping pellets absorb liquid efficiently and contain added baking soda for outstanding odor control.

The low-dust formula facilitates easy scooping and cleaning, contributing to a cleaner environment while safeguarding against lingering odors. However, some reviewers have mentioned concerns about pellet crumbling and tracking, which could lead to minor messes beyond the litter box. This cat litter product comes in a 25-pound bag.

Best wood cat litter: Arm & Hammer Feline Pine Original Non-Clumping Wood Cat Litter

Pros Cons
✓ Absorbent ✕ Large scoop needed
✓ Low tracking

Arm & Hammer Feline Pine Original Non-Clumping Wood Cat Litter offers a natural and odor-fighting solution with its sustainably sourced pine shavings. This low-dust, natural pine-scented litter immediately absorbs liquids and odors upon contact, ensuring a fresh-smelling environment for cat owners and their furry companions.

However, some reviewers have noted challenges with scooping as it doesn’t form solid clumps, requiring a larger scoop due to the size of the pellets. This can make it difficult to separate dust litter from larger pellets. Despite these drawbacks, the litter’s natural, pine-based formula provides a gentle and eco-friendly option for sensitive cats and conscientious pet parents. This cat litter is available in 7-pound, 20-pound, and 40-pound bags.

Not worth the hype: Pretty Litter

While Pretty Litter garners positive attention for its color-changing feature designed to monitor a cat’s health, there are notable drawbacks that might render it less worthwhile. Despite its appeal, many users have expressed concerns about the litter’s use of silica or crystal material, which proved to be problematic for some cats by causing paw irritation.

It’s also been reported as dustier compared to other litters, potentially causing respiratory discomfort for both felines and their owners. These drawbacks raise questions about the overall comfort and well-being of cats, making Pretty Litter less appealing for pet owners seeking a more cat-friendly litter option.

What to look for in cat litter

When considering the best cat litter for your feline friend, several critical factors need attention. Litter material, dust control, tracking, fragrance, and the type of litter box are all things cat owners should consider when choosing cat litter.

The right material for you and your cat

Cats are known for their discerning nature and might have preferences when it comes to litter material. Some might be sensitive or allergic to certain materials, so understanding your cat’s needs and behaviors is crucial. This can help guide you in choosing between clumping clay, silica, and crystal, or natural and biodegradable options like corn, wheat, paper, and pine-based litters.

Dust control and low-tracking

Dust control and low tracking are key considerations for a cleaner environment and to reduce potential respiratory discomfort. Opting for litters with minimal dust and reduced tracking helps maintain a tidy home while keeping your cat comfortable during their litter box routine.

Fragrance vs fragrance-free

The decision between fragrance or fragrance-free litter often depends on personal preferences. While some cat owners appreciate the added scent to mask odors, others prefer fragrance-free options to avoid potential irritations or sensitivities, especially for cats with allergies or aversions to scents.

Odor control

An important factor in selecting cat litter is its ability to control and neutralize odors effectively. A good litter should trap and minimize odors, keeping your living space smelling fresh and pleasant for both you and your feline companion.

Type of litter box

The type of litter box is an often overlooked but critical factor. Sifting, automatic, and other specialty litter boxes have unique requirements, some needing specific litter types for optimal performance. Compatibility issues — like fine crystal litters causing problems in certain automatic litter boxes — can lead to maintenance challenges and unexpected expenses. It’s important to choose a litter that works well with your preferred litter box.

Frequently asked questions

How often should you change out your cat litter?

If you use a clumping litter, it’s best to clean out and scoop the litter daily and change it completely monthly. For non-clumping litter, it should be changed daily to keep your cat comfortable and avoid a strong odor from urine and solid waste.

Is litter made from natural materials effective?

While clay litter seems to be a preference for many cat parents, there are several cat litters on the market made from natural materials. Popular choices include plant-based litter like walnut cat litter or corn cat litter. Companies like Tidy Cats and Fresh Step have created different types of cat litter that are eco-friendly and made from clay. If you’re switching cat litter, be patient with your cat as they adjust to the new formula.

What type of litter do most vets recommend?

It depends on your cat, their needs and preferences, and your own beliefs regarding plant-based or paper-based litter, but many vets support the use of unscented clumping cat litter.

How do you clean a litter box?

Changing a litter box is a relatively straightforward process. Start by wearing gloves for hygiene and a face mask to prevent breathing dust or contaminants from litter (this is especially important for pregnant women who should avoid scooping cat litter altogether). Then, scoop out clumps and waste daily, replacing the litter entirely at least once a month. Empty the old litter, clean the box with mild soap, and ensure it’s completely dry before adding fresh litter. Proper disposal of used litter and regular maintenance helps maintain a clean and odor-free environment for your cat.