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6 best cat litters for 2023, approved by vets

Updated January 22, 2023

Treat your cats and your home to the best kitty litter around — and learn which litter to skip.

Outside of love and affection, cat litter is one of the most important parts of being a cat owner. Not only is it a frequent purchase, but it often affects the smell of your home, which means you will want the absolute best. Luckily for you, our experienced pet parents at betterpet have tested several cat litter brands to help you find the best one for your beloved four-legged friend. 

There are a variety of cat litters on the market, so it can be difficult picking the right one. We evaluated cat litter using multiple criteria, including cost, odor control, and clumping ability. Here are our six best kitty litters on the market – and one silica gel litter that may be popular on social media but falls short on performance. 

Best cat litters, reviewed

Best kitty litter overall: Naturally Fresh Unscented Walnut Cat Litter

Why we recommend the Naturally Fresh Unscented Walnut Cat Litter

Naturally Fresh’s Unscented Walnut Cat Litter came out on top in several categories, including superior odor control, overall cost, and even appearance. 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, made with natural materials, is its ability to absorb odor. Our bp reviewer noted that even when neglecting to scoop, she couldn’t smell anything. While not recommended for automatic litter boxes, she would use this in her manual litter boxes. (Read more about our picks for the best cat litter box here.) For all of these reasons, betterpet selects Naturally Fresh Unscented Walnut Cat Litter as the best overall cat litter for pet parents.

Features of Naturally Fresh Unscented Walnut Cat Litter

  • Materials: Walnut shells
  • Clumping or non-clumping? Clumping

Best clay cat litter: Tidy Cats Lemongrass Scented Cat Litter

Why we recommend Tidy Cats Lemongrass Scented Cat Litter

I reviewed the Tidy Cats Lemongrass Scented Cat Litter. I am a fan of Tidy Cats in general, but this particular litter was exceptional compared to other types of Tidy Cats. I particularly enjoyed that the perfume scent is minimal, which helps reduce the odor rather than making it worse. My kitten tends to get excited and kick the litter, and it scatters easily, but it’s simple to vacuum up. The litter produces tight clumps, which makes it easy to clear the litter box. 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.

Features of Tidy Cats Lemongrass Scented Cat Litter

  • Materials: Clay, natural lemongrass fragrance
  • Clumping or non-clumping? Clumping

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

Why we recommend World’s Best Clumping Corn Cat Litter

Our bp reviewer enjoyed this litter as an alternative to clay. She liked the fact that it was biodegradable and unscented, which helped keep odor to a minimum while maximizing environmental sustainability. Many online reviewers claim this to be the best corn litter they’ve used. One of the main downsides to the World’s Best Clumping Corn Cat Litter is that some cats tend to eat the litter, but if you can keep that under control, this is a great, incredibly affordable option.

Features of World’s Best Clumping Corn Cat Litter

  • Materials: Corn
  • Clumping or non-clumping? Clumping

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

Why we recommend Dr. Elsey’s Respiratory Relief Clay Cat Litter

Our bp reviewer loved this Dr. Elsey’s cat litter for her more sensitive kitties and her cats with respiratory problems. “I’ve tried numerous clay litters before and so far this is one of the better ones,” she said. “It clumps well without leaving behind a lot of smaller pieces, it reduces odor very well, and it doesn’t bother my more sensitive cats breathing-wise. All around a great choice!” She also added that it worked exceptionally well in her Litter Robot litter box. Compared to other clay litters, such as Tidy Cats, this clay litter is quite affordable, too.

Features of Dr. Elsey’s Respiratory Relief Clay Cat Litter

  • Materials: Clay
  • Clumping or non-clumping? Clumping

Best odor-blocking cat litter: Arm & Hammer Litter Clump & Seal Multi-Cat Scented Clumping Clay Cat Litter 28lb

Would we recommend Arm & Hammer Litter Clump & Seal Multi-Cat Scented Clumping Clay Cat Litter?

Our bp reviewer says she’s an Arm & Hammer convert! According to her, “When my pet assistant (also known as my high school-aged daughter) falls down on her poop-scooping chore, the odor lets us know it’s overdue. I purposely let my cat’s litter box linger and the Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal Multi-Cat Scented Clumping Clay Cat Litter lived up to its 7-day odor-free promise.” It comes as no surprise that Arm & Hammer litter blocks odors exceptionally well, as it takes after Arm & Hammer’s baking soda products, known for keeping your fridge nice and fresh. If you’re looking for litter with low dust, Arm & Hammer offers its dust-free Cloud Control litter.

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

  • Materials: Bentonite clay
  • Clumping or non-clumping? Clumping

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

Why we recommend Frisco Unscented, Non-Clumping Recycled Paper Pellet Cat Litter

Most cat litter options consist of either silica gel crystals or clay-based litter. This environmentally-friendly option provides pet parents with an alternative that, according to our reviewer, has little dust and minimal mess while also reducing odor. This paper litter does not produce solid clumps, and many online reviews cite problems with the pellets tracking and crumbling.

Features of Frisco Unscented, Non-Clumping Recycled Paper Pellet Cat Litter

  • Materials: Recycled paper
  • Clumping or non-clumping? Non-clumping

Not worth the hype: Pretty Litter

We’ll acknowledge our bias and say that we’re not the biggest fans of silica or crystal litter. However, Pretty Litter is highly rated on social media sites by fans of this color-changing litter, so we decided to give it a try. I used Pretty Litter with both my kitten and my larger cat, and both reacted the same way: they were hesitant to use it, and the crystals seemed to irritate their paws. It also was much dustier than the Tidy Cats litter I regularly use. The dust combined with the cats’ discomfort made me hesitant to continue using the litter at all. For these reasons, we recommend you skip Pretty Litter – it’s not worth the hype or the price tag.

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. We tested these cat litters in-house, so you can trust that when we say a cat litter is effective, it comes from firsthand experience.

Frequently asked questions

How often should you change out your cat litter?

If you use a clumping litter, it’s best to change the litter each day to keep your cat comfortable and avoid a strong odor from urine and solid waste. Also, be sure to change your clumping litter once a month.

Is litter made from natural materials effective?

While clay litter seems to be a preference for many cat parents, there are several kitty 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 furry friends 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.