The Cat Litter Low Down: Everything You Need to Know About Cat Litter

Are you ready to become a cat litter expert?

In this article, you’ll learn how the story of cat litter has paralleled transformations in cat culture, discover how it’s made and what makes it work, and get to know the different types of cat litter available today.

My recommendation is to go with a natural, non-clumping and poop scoopable litter like Feline Pine which you can get over on Amazon. This is my current litter.

You’ll also gain practical knowledge that will help you choose the best healthiest cat litter for your home and become familiar with the leading cat litter brands.

Let’s get started with our choices…

Our top choice for the best clumping litter:

❤️SmartCat All Natural Litter – this is great for kittens.

Our top choice for the best litter for kittens:

❤️Purina Yesterday’s News Unscented Cat Litter

Our pick for the best paw-friendly litter:

❤️ World’s Best Cat Litter Multiple Cat Clumping Formula

Not that our choices are out of the way, let’s think outside the box and delve into some common questions.

What’s the best litter for multiple cats?

Almost every type of litter has multiple cat formulas. It’s basically marketing and adding extra this or that for odor.

These are concentrated to provide good odor control under heavy use. The best performers are clumping litters and those with heavier granules that won’t track. (any litter will track, some more than others).

I have 4 cats and 1, yes 1, jumbo litter box. And it works just fine cleaning it twice per day.

On rare occasions, my picky princess will pee right in front of the litter box but not enough to make me get another box!

You literally can pick any of the non-clay litters for this scenario.

I use the wheat cat litter at the moment but looking for more cost-effective solutions, like the horse bedding but not really excited about the sifting so much.

What’s the best dust-free litter?

It’s in clay’s nature to be dusty, so trying to find a dust-free clay litter is a bit like trying to make your cat vegan.

It doesn’t work that way.

Dusty Road Matching Dusty Cat Litter

Splitting from the clay tradition doesn’t mean that you need to sacrifice quality for health. There are plenty of non-clay options for those who want an effective litter that doesn’t create dust.

What is the best litter texture?

Cats prefer fine-grained litter.

They naturally bury their waste in soft, fine soil or sand in the outdoors, and litter with a similar texture is the best accepted.

Cats have sensitive paws and don’t like harsh crystals or large pellets.

It’s worth considering, however, that finer granules are typically messier than other litter types.

Litter tracking and scattering can be a problem with the finest-grained litter products.

It’s a good idea to pair your litter box with a good litter mat to reduce the spread of litter around your house.

What’s the best non-tracking litter?

Minimizing tracking is all about choosing a heavy litter – one that won’t easily stick in your cat’s paws and fur.

Pellet-style litter is often recommended for those concerned with tracking.

What’s the best cat litter for odor control?

The best litter for odor control is one that absorbs well and that’s easy to clean.

That’s why as a general rule, clumping litter is a superior solution for odor control.

The firmer the clumps, the easier it is to effectively clean out the box.

Some litter products contain deodorizers to help destroy odors but I like to keep it as natural as possible here.

If you think about it, you’re bringing them into your world… cat urine smell will exist no matter what. Its a matter of how fast they absorb and how fast a cat will cover it.

My point is, don’t use any scented, deodorizers, clay clumping type litters… put in the work to make your world a safe and healthy place for them.

Suck it up when it comes to the odors.

If you can’t.

Don’t get a cat.


Activated carbon and baking soda are the two most common deodorizing agents used in cat litter.

While these additives are helpful, added fragrances aren’t. Perfumes can help to mask odors, but cats usually dislike them.

What’s the best lightweight litter?

Clay litter is notoriously heavy.

I opt for wood/pine pellets.

Here is a great set up to use if you want to start with pine pellets: Love this video!


The above set up: (My System For My 4 Cats) – Get all of these at Amazon, Tractor Supply or Chewy

Whether you’re hauling the litter home from the store or bringing it to the trash, transporting it can be backbreaking work.

Lightweight litter formulas allow you to get an equal volume of a litter with less weight.

Let’s start at the beginning – in a world before cat litter.

Cat Litter In The Shape Of A Cat

When Was Cat Litter Invented?

Remember: cat litter has helped transform the way we live with our cats.


Cats have been a part of human society for at least 4,000 years.

Since the advent of grain storage, these small predators have been hunting and purring their way into our hearts and homes.

Yet it wasn’t until the last century that we had any consistent means of providing “indoor toilets” for them.

In the attempt to trace the history of cat boxes and litter, you’ll find a surprising lack of documentation on feline potty habits before the creation of the first commercial cat litter.

We can speculate that the trivial matter of cat waste wasn’t worth anyone’s paper and that using an indoor cat box was directed by common sense and word-of-mouth wisdom.

Pet historian Kasey Grier observes that:

“As I did research on these early versions of cat-box filler, I was struck  by how little anyone talked about it.  Even a 1903 volume on breeding and showing cats, whose author was obsessed with cleanliness, failed to offer specific instructions for creating and keeping a sand box.”

Though we can’t place a date upon the first usage of a cat toilet box, we know they existed before the creation of the first commercial cat litter.

By the early 1940s, progressive cat people could purchase the “E-Z Klean Kitty Toilet” (Pets In America: A History)” – a heavy porcelain pan lined with waterproof disposal sheets.

Charmingly, the toilet came with a decorative screen to keep kitty’s powder room private.

Early references to cat boxes point to sand as the litter type of choice, but you’ll also hear about shredded newspapers, dirt from outdoors, and ashes.

That all changed in 1947. The cat litter industry was born.

Ed Lowe, a 27-year-old Navy veteran (the kitty litter inventor), had returned to his Michigan hometown to work at his father’s industrial materials company.

On a cold January day, Ed’s neighbor appeared on his doorstep, requesting sand to fill her cat’s litter box.

Her own sand pile had frozen in the frigid temperatures.

In a flash of inspiration that would create an industry, Ed decided to offer her something else.

Mr. Lowe’s father had started using Fuller’s Earth as a non-flammable absorbent alternative to sawdust. (Learn why this isn’t dangerous)

Oil spills were no match for this absorbent clay, and Ed guessed it would work equally well with cat waste. Instead of giving his neighbor what she thought she wanted, he gave her something better.

Calcium Bentonite Clay For Cat Litter

His neighbor loved the clay, and soon, the rest of the world would as well.

The first cat litter was called “Kitty Litter”, and soon shoppers would ask for it by name.

Unlike the fillers of the past, it was a product they could rely on.

Kitty Litter was highly absorbent, neutralized odors, and it was easy to use.

Suddenly, keeping a cat indoors was cleaner, fresher, and simpler than ever.

The Cat Litter Industry Is Constantly Innovating.

Almost 40 years after the advent of “Kitty Litter”, biochemists made a discovery which revolutionized cat litter into the scoopable substance that is most popular today.

In the 1980s, they recognized that sodium bentonite clays’ propensity to expand in contact with water made it the perfect cat litter ingredient.

Although traditional non-clumping clay litter still has a following, it’s clumping clay litter that leads the pack.

It’s the most popular type in North America and Europe by a large margin.

In the 1990s, silica gel crystal cat litter hit the market, offering a lower-maintenance solution.

Despite its strengths, however, silica gel crystal litter hasn’t caught fire the way that clay litter did.

Recently, natural and biodegradable cat litter emerged from the underground.

Celebrity cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy reflects on the changing biodegradable litter scene:

“Early in my career, when I recommended a change to my cat guardian clients, the cost was prohibitive, they had to conduct a bit of a scavenger hunt to find it, and, sadly, the clumping and odor control was just not up to the standards they were used to.”

cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy

Today, natural and biodegradable litter is not exclusively for the impractical granola vanguard.

Our options are diverse and a number of the products available are both effective and affordable.

Let’s Learn About The Different Types Of Cat Litter On The Market.

Clay Litter:

What is clay cat litter made of?

Clay is a natural fine-grained material primarily composed of hydrous aluminum silicates.

These minerals are formed by the breakdown of rocks and are abundant around the globe.

The clay is mined from below the surface of the soil, then transported to a production facility, where the clay is dehydrated, milled, and sifted.

Once the litter has been reduced to litter box-appropriate granules, the manufacturer may add in additives to decrease dust, improve deodorizing action, or add a scent.

So, is clumping clay litter bad for cats?

Possibly, the dust and the clump-able clay particles can cause issues for cats if ingested.

Think about it:

“. . . something able to block household plumbing must be wreaking havoc on the plumbing of our feline companions.”

Below: Dr. Karen Becker gives some great insights into this and other preferences for cats:


Is clumping litter safe for cats or the environment?


Since the typical clay litters don’t serve the possible health hazards that clumping clay cat litters do, they do have their own set of problems:

  • Clay cat litter has come under scrutiny by environmentalists, who describe the product as an environmental catastrophe from collection to disposal.
  • Strip mining is an environmentally invasive process.
  • While the damage is typically followed by restoration, opponents point to the idea that the process permanently changes the area, displaces wildlife, and causes erosion.
  • After use, the non-biodegradable litter heads to the landfill for an indefinite stay.

The Bureau of Waste Management estimates that some 8 billion pounds of litter wind up in landfills every year.

Clay contains particles of crystalline silica, so it’s dangerous to inhale large amounts of its dust.

“There has been a rise in depressed immune systems, respiratory distress, irritable bowel syndrome, and vomiting (other than hair balls) among cats that I have seen in the past two years. All had one thing in common…a clumping product in their litter box. In several cases, simply removing the litter improved the condition of the cat.” – Dr. Lisa S. Newman, Ph.D. founded Azmira Holistic Animal Care® in 1982

I think the awareness of theses clumping type litters isn’t prevalent yet.

They can make your kittens/cats very sick, it can harshly impact their intestines and even kill them.

What’s the best type of cat litter for kittens?

One teaspoon of litter could expand to ⅓ cup of an insoluble mass in your cat’s body.

Because kittens are curious, slightly messy creatures with a tendency to eat litter and because their tiny intestines can’t handle even small amounts of clay, it’s recommended that kittens avoid clumping clay litter until they’re 3-4 months of age. (Or all together!)

What can you do?

Switch your litter!

Marina Michaels from has a list she recommends as alternatives for you to get instead. Looks like it was last updated around the mid-2000s.

We’re all going for a clumping, non-clay litter that’s scoopable (or somewhat scoopable or somewhat clumping) – Now understand, these options don’t control odors 110% either even though that’s what it might state.

Also, understand that I will mention types of litter that doesn’t clump but are still great for your cats.

But for a quick recap for what she recommends: Clump and Non-Clump

1. CareFresh –  It’s soft bedding that will definitely soak up the urine and states #1 in order control. (This “litter” doesn’t clump!)

2. FelineFresh – (This “litter” doesn’t clump) These are the pine pellets that are biodegradable/flushable. (Although, I would still just throw them out.

You don’t want to run the risk of clogging your plumbing or septic tank.

This litter doesn’t clump but will turn into like a sawdust form that you can carefully remove.

  • Absorbs 4X more odor-causing liquid
  • No dust and no tracking
  • Flushable and biodegradable
  • 100% pure pine pellets
  • No chemical additives
  • Pine neutralizes odor on contact
  • Longer lasting than clay litters
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Feline Fresh cat litter is clean, sterile and safe for pets

3. sWheat Scoop – (This litter does clump) This is the litter I personally use for my 4 cats – but in the process of changing to Feline Pine.

I switched to this (from the Arm & Hammer Clump N Seal) while doing the research for this article. The cost is more but I’m ok with it for my peace of mind.

  • Non-Clumping Clay Litter

This type of litter is made from a variety of clay minerals.

Most commonly use are:

  1. Attapulgite
  2. Montmorillonite
  3. Sepiolite

Attapulgite (palygorskite) Clay

This clay is commonly found in the Southeastern United States.

The name is derived from Attapulgus, a Georgia town where the clay mineral is mined.

Attapulgite clay has a three-dimensional structure that doesn’t swell – which is why attapulgite clay litter doesn’t clump.

You can read more about its properties and uses here.


There are 2 types of montmorillonite.

  1. Sodium
  2. Calcium

The sodium type is the primary component in all bentonite clays. (the swelling of this mineral is why it’s so sought out)

Bentonite clay is formed from the alteration of volcanic ash.

It has a loosely bound particle structure that allows for water absorption and facilitates cation exchange.

In non-clumping clay, calcium cations are trapped within the structure of each clay particle, giving it unique absorbency characteristics.

The calcium type is actually used in pet foods. It’s mineral properties act to improve the production of enzymes in living organisms.

Earth’s Natural Clay – Dr. Plechner Talks More About This Below: 3 minutes



This is a soft clay mineral mined from only a few sources around the world.

Its porous structure naturally absorbs 2.5 times its weight in water.

Because non-clumping clay is such an effective absorbent, it’s sometimes used for other purposes.

It can provide traction in snowy and icy conditions and can also dry out and preserve flowers.

What are the benefits of using non-clumping clay litter?

Non-clumping clay litter is often recommended for young kittens, who need a safe litter that won’t cause intestinal blockage if consumed.

It’s both less popular than and cheaper than clumping clay litter.

Non-clumping clay may be as much as 50% cheaper than the clumping type.

Some people and cats prefer it. Cats who are accustomed to non-clumping clay litter may not want to switch to a clumping product.

People who don’t like scooping litter and would prefer to dump the box out regularly may prefer the non-clumping action.

What are the disadvantages of using non-clumping clay litter?

You’ll need to dump out the full contents of the litter box regularly.

Non-clumping clay doesn’t control odors, as well as clumping litter, does.

  • Clumping Clay Litter

Clumping clay litter is generally made from sodium bentonite clay.

Sodium-rich bentonite clay has a larger hydration sphere than other types and can expand 12-15 times its original size when wet.

The clay can be dried and hydrated an infinite number of times without ever losing its swelling capacity.

The same dynamic that makes sodium bentonite an effective cat litter has made it popular in a number of other applications:

It’s used for:

  • plugging holes
  • treating porous soil
  • used as a pond and landfill liner
  • Most US states require a lining of sodium bentonite or similar material to seal toxic waste lagoons and abandoned wells.

What are the benefits of using clumping clay litter?

Clumping clay litter creates cohesive, easy-to-scoop clumps. When litter clumps well, it’s easy to maintain a fresh litter box without regular dumping.

Cracked Ground Clay Litter

Cats usually like the texture of the fine clay granules.

Clumping clay litter offers good odor control and typically neutralizes fecal urine, and ammonia smells.

What are the disadvantages of using clumping clay litter?

Despite its ability to outperform the competition in so many areas, clumping clay litter isn’t perfect.

The key to its strength is also its greatest weakness.

Because clumping clay litter expands when it comes into contact with moisture, the risk of clogged plumbing makes this one product you should never flush or pour down the drain.

Because clumping clay litter typically has small granules, it tends to track more than other types of litter.

Like other clay products, clumping clay can be dusty.

The silica dust can lead to respiratory issues.

Silica Gel Crystals In Cat Litter

Crystal cat litter is made from the same type of silica gel crystals found in the desiccant packets that come with products like leather bags, cameras, and jerky.

Although these packets are well-known for their “do not eat” labeling, the silica gel crystals are non-toxic and safe for your cat.

Silica gel crystals are synthetically made from a combination of silicon dioxide, oxygen, and water.

Each crystal has millions of tiny pores that capture moisture.

Watch the video below for a closer look at how these types of “litters” work:


What are the benefits of using silica gel crystal litter?

It’s low-maintenance.

Silica gel cat litter doesn’t work the same way that most other products do.

Instead of scooping out liquid and solid waste daily, you would scoop out fecal matter and stir up any liquid waste.

Crystal cat litter doesn’t need to be replaced as regularly as other types of litter. Users can leave the litter in the box for up to one month.

It offers excellent odor control.

It’s extremely absorbent. Silica gel crystals absorb 40% of their weight in water and can reduce the relative humidity in a closed container by the same percentage.

What are the disadvantages of using silica gel crystal litter?

Comfort can be a problem. Cats often don’t like the sensation of the crystals under their paws.

It’s expensive.

The longevity of the litter offsets the price, but sometimes it doesn’t last very long.

Once the crystals have reached their absorbency limit, the urine will pool in the box.

In a single-cat home, it’s easy to maximize the longevity of the litter by stirring it daily.

Silica gel crystals are not safe to flush.

Natural and Biodegradable Litter (Eco-friendly?)

Biodegradable cat litter presents a solution to the environmental problems associated with traditional cat litter.

Biodegradable litter is geared towards environmentally-conscious people and is usually made from renewable substances and without artificial additives that could harm your cat.

Most biodegradable litter is flushable, but it’s important to check the labeling before attempting to flush it.

Flushing used cat litter is widely discouraged due to the risk of Toxoplasma gondii parasites entering the water supply.

This parasite is commonly shed in cat feces and can infect marine mammals.

Let’s take a look at the most popular types of biodegradable litter on the market today. (Possibly, healthiest cat litter)

? Walnut

It’s crazy when I first opened the bag of Naturally Fresh 100% Walnut Cat Litter.

It’s basically crushed fibrous walnut shells (granulated), that gives it the dark brown appearance.

These shells are definitely not soft or sand-like, but not super pokey either.

Didn’t seem to bother my 4 cats.

What I noticed right away are its clumping skills. This stuff clumps like nobody’s business! Odor control is very good, and there is virtually zero dust with this litter.


I don’t see too much of a drawback, other than some crumbles getting tracked around.

Especially if you have a floor that is light in color.

It’s going to happen even though this is low tracking.

I tried the Quick Clumping Multi-Cat Formula but they also have a non-clumping pellet style.

Make sure you try the litter out first with your cats to make sure there are no allergic reactions.

? Grass

Clumping is grass litter’s strong suit. I might be switching to this instead of the wheat or walnuts as I stated earlier.

I found a great holistic brand the SmartCat All Natural Clumping Litter.

The tidbits:

  • It has a fine texture that creates exceptionally cohesive clumps that are easy to scoop out of the box.
  • It literally becomes a power ball that won’t break apart!
  • Grass litter typically offers superb odor control.
  • Soft on the paws
  • Not super dusty and doesn’t leave a fine dust film on your hands

Below is a great review from helpfulnatural over on Youtube: 11 minutes long.



I was watching a comparison video and the reviewer stated that her dog was eating the litter and got really bad diarrhea.

So, be warned if you have dogs that might eat any of these litters. Or if you have cats that have food neurosis.

? Corn

This type of litter is made from compressed corn.

Most corn litter products incorporate other natural ingredients to enhance their clumping and deodorizing abilities. (it also contains pesticides)

Corn is one of the top targets for aflatoxin mold contamination.

SkinnedKnees explains here story here.

I’m going to tell you to avoid this litter. 

Despite inspecting the litter before it leaves the facility, corn cat litter manufacturers can’t ensure that the mold won’t develop in your home.

The fungus thrives in warm, moist environments, so a clean litter box is exceptionally important if you plan on using this.

? Paper

This type of litter is typically made from recycled newspapers and other paper products.

The cost is the main motivator here but… it doesn’t “clump” and there is virtually no odor control for this biodegradable litter set.

It will stink!

Granted the paper pellets are gentle on sensitive cats’ paws and if you had any type of surgery for your cats, something like Yesterdays News is a great choice.


It’s powerfully absorbent, and in most cases, is one of the least dusty types of litter available, allowing sensitive cats and people to breathe easily.


Because the pellets won’t contaminate wounds, paper litter is often recommended for cats with healing stitches.

? Wood

This type of litter is typically made from reclaimed wood fibers like pine, cedar, and other types or combinations of wood.

I think the pellets that are made specifically for cats aren’t that effective, but you can simply use horse pellets that do the same thing for less. (see alternatives below)

A great choice would be the Feline Pine

Wood cat litter is available in both clumping and non-clumping (most popular) varieties.

They’re made from extruded sawdust; as the powder passes through the high heat of the extruder, natural resins bind the powder into pellets.

When the pellets come into contact with your cat’s urine, the bonds break and the litter reverts to sawdust, which your cat might track around.

Granted these are a bit more work but it’s healthier for the cat and makes for a cleaner home.

But check out this video below on how to get these type of litter for a bit less:


? Wheat

This type of litter utilizes the odor-controlling enzymes and clumping starches that naturally exist in wheat.

I was really on the fence with this type of litter (sWheat Scoop and the grass litter) but I settled on the horse pellets because the cost is so low (only thing is its pain to change/clean).

Take a look at what goes into the wheat litters:

The wheat may be combined with other ingredients to enhance performance too.

Cat Litter Alternatives

? Poultry Crumbles

This is a type of cracked corn used as chicken feed.

Like corn cat litter, poultry crumbles clump when moistened, allowing you to scoop out urine and keep the litter box clean.

Many different types of poultry crumbles are available, but layer crumbles are typically the cheapest.

Poultry crumbles cost less than biodegradable cat litter products and most clay litter formulas.

? Horse Stall Bedding

I gave an example above about this type… like I said if I was in a financial pinch, I would certainly be using this. I’m seriously considering this one because of that though.

[You can get this from Tractor Supply Co. Here] – Make sure you buy the “kiln dried” pellets.

This is important because pine oil is toxic to cats/kittens.

This feed store staple is an alternative to the popular compressed wood fiber pellets sold specifically as natural cat litter.

The bedding is made from the same extruded pine or other wood materials and works in the same way.

Some users of horse stall bedding enhance it with baking soda for added odor control. (just be careful here with adding baking soda in your litter boxes.)

Is baking soda harmful to cats?

Seemingly, in large amounts, I would say a full cup or so, is very toxic for cats. I’m sure if we humans don’t like the taste of it, then your cats won’t either.

Is baking soda bad for cats?

If they do ingest an insane amount their potassium levels can drop, sodium levels/electrolytes may fluctuate, they might experience muscle spasms or their heart can stop.

Typical signs that they have swallowed too much, again the muscle spasms, eyes will look sunk in, the skin might lose its elasticity, overly tired, the mouth will be dry/or dehydrated and disorientation.

But it’s no cause for alarm that your cat may ingest some, like from their litter.

Baking soda can be used in a safe way for cats though. You can mix with water to make a paste and use it to soothe bug bites, stings or just irritated/itchy skin spots.

So, this horse stall bedding is considerably cheaper than wood cat litter, just a pain to clean up.

? Shredded Paper

Another alternative to a conventional commercially available cat litter product is homemade paper litter.

Some people keep it simple by shredding paper, dumping it in the box, and calling it litter.

This option tends to be messy and doesn’t offer great odor control.

A more sophisticated and effective approach involves shredding the paper, soaking it in warm soap and water, drying it, kneading in baking soda for added odor control, and then letting the paper litter dry to perfection.

If you choose to use newspapers, you may have concerns about potential ink toxicity.

Fortunately for us and our cats, most modern newspapers are printed with safe water and soy-based inks.

If you’re still worried, these tips will help you determine whether your newspaper’s ink is toxic or not.

Here’s a video demonstrating how to make homemade cat litter with shredded newspapers:


What are the best types of cat litter to use?

Kittens start showing instinctive digging and covering behaviors when they’re as young as 3-4 weeks old.

In most cases, using a litter box comes naturally for them because it imitates the soil or sand they’d use instinctively outdoors.

It’s important to respect your cat’s natural desire for cleanliness by providing an effective litter.

Best types:

  • healthy for your cat
  • absorb moisture well
  • control odors
  • feels good under your cat’s paws,

You’ll have big problems if your cat doesn’t approve.

NOTE: please avoid clay litters for any stage your cat may be in, I explained above why.

Cats are known for their finicky habits, and it’s not rare for a cat to go on strike against a dirty box or litter they aren’t fond of.

Inappropriate urination is a cat guardian’s nightmare.

You’ll also face the potential of urinary tract disease or constipation if your cat starts retaining waste in avoidance of the box.

For all of these reasons, it’s critical to provide an effective litter that your cat approves of.

Is clumping or non-clumping litter better?

Overall, clumping litter offers better performance.

Of course!

When you can scoop the litter, it’s easier to remove odor-causing waste, increasing the litter’s longevity and keeping the area smelling fresh.

In general, clumping litter is easier to maintain.

15 Cat Litter Brands on the Market Today

Now some of these are the commercial brands out there that are just popular and you’ll find at your local pet stores.

Again, I would hope after reading through this post you will have changed your mind about using any clay based, corn, actual newspaper etc. litters.

I mention them here for new kitty parents to be aware of and be more knowledgeable about.

What’s the best natural cat litter?

Any litter made without clay.


So, read on and make your best choice…

Please understand I do not recommend any of these, they are here so you are aware of what’s out there.

Also please do your best to choose a cruelty-free brand, one that doesn’t test on animals. Here is a site that lists cruelty-free brands as well.

Or you can do a search here on the PETA website.

#1. Arm And Hammer Essentials Cat Litter

Not a fan of this litter for health reasons and because they test on animals. Read more here. Thank you to one of our commenters for pointing this out.

Their offering includes clumping clay and biodegradable products, giving both traditionalists and ecologically-conscious shoppers a product worth trying.

Most of their products incorporate baking soda for enhanced odor control. (you read about baking soda above, right?)

This clumping clay litter is guaranteed to eliminate odors for seven days.

I used this litter for years before the sWheat and now that I learned more about clay litter’s I moved to Feline Pine.

But true that this hides odors over time, although the initial pee or poop will smell until covered.

It contains fine, comfortable granules that create tight clumps.

A proprietary blend of moisture-activated micro granule seal in odors.

Like other scented litters, this isn’t a good choice for sensitive or allergic cats.

It’s a low-dust formula and doesn’t tend to track much.

Petting Day On The Market Litter

“Creative Commons Petting Day litter 067” by Rocky Mountain Feline Rescue (formerly known as Animal Rescue and Adoption Society) is licensed under CC BY 2.0

#2. Tidy Cats

Tidy Cats specializes in clay litter and offers a broad selection of clumping and non-clumping formulas.

Again, not a fan here of clay litters but worth the mention.

  • The litter is designed to instantly neutralize odors and provide long-lasting odor control.
  • The litter is made with Purina’s “Aromaburst Technology”. (moisture-activated granules that give off a floral/herbal scent.)
  • The litter is 99.6% dust-free but does tend to have a problem with tracking.
  • The litter is moderately-priced.

#3. Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat

This brand was co-founded by Dr. Bruce Elsey, who has been a feline-only veterinarian for over 35 years.

All Dr. Elsey’s litter products are designed to promote good health, and some formulas target behavioral issues.

Their selection is innovative and varied.

Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Ultra Clumping Cat Litter

This litter provides good odor control without added fragrances, deodorants, or chemicals that might irritate sensitive cats. The granules are medium-sized and don’t provide rock-hard clumps.

This clumping clay litter has heavy non-tracking granules that help to keep your home clean. It’s also regarded as one of the least dusty clay litter products on the market. The price is in the budget range.

#4. World’s Best Cat Litter

World’s Best Cat litter offers a small selection of 100% natural and biodegradable corn litter.

The litter is made from compressed, concentrated corn kernels, along with other natural plant ingredients.

Just be careful here, corn processed in the US is laced with pesticides that are harmful to cats.

Choose your litter wisely.

It’s also known for litter that clumps well and controls odors effectively.

World’s Best Cat Litter Scoopable Multiple Cat Clumping Formula

This corn cat litter formula is designed with multiple cat homes in mind.

It offers:

  • odor control and good clumping.
  • The litter is soft, fine, and lightweight. While this makes it comfortable under your cat’s paws, it also makes the litter easy to kick out of the box.

Tracking is a common problem for this litter. Although World’s Best Cat Litter says that this is a low-dust product, some reviews say that it’s dustier than most biodegradable litter.

#5. Scoop Away

Scoop Away’s slogan is “Never Dump Your Litter Box with Scoop Away®” – it specializes in a litter that clumps well and is easy to scoop.

The brand keeps its focus narrow and offers a small selection of clumping clay litter. Their only deviation from traditional clumping clay litter is one product that incorporates silica gel crystals into the clay for added absorbency.

Below is a quick comparison between Scoop Away Litter and The Arm & Hammer:


This litter aims to eliminate odors through the use of plant extracts, odor-absorbing minerals, and antibacterial agents. It comes with Scoop Away’s 10-day odor control guarantee.

In addition to odor neutralizing agents, the litter contains an added fragrance – one that reviewers say is strong and even off-putting.

The litter isn’t a good choice for sensitive cats and people.

The litter tends to create a considerable amount of dust and, according to customer reviews, is prone to tracking.

Like all Scoop Away litter, this product is in the budget price range.

#6. Fresh Step

Although their selection is large, Fresh Step doesn’t venture past clay and silica gel crystals.

Their products tend to focus on odor control.

This formula aims to eliminate odors with deodorizers and antimicrobial agents. It also is formulated with a Febreze “mountain spring” fragrance. Customer reviews indicate that the scent is powerful.

Fresh Step Cat Litter

“Creative Commons Fresh Step Cat Box Filler Kitty Litter. 9/2014 Target Display, Clorox, by Mike Mozart of TheToyChannel and JeepersMedia on YouTube #Fresh #Step #Cat #Litter” by Mike Mozart is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The litter creates strong clumps that are easy to scoop. Fresh Step describes this as a low-dust formula, although some reviewers make the opposite claim.

This formula is at the lower end of the price spectrum.

#7. Cat’s Pride

Cat’s Pride is created by Oil-Dri, a world leader in the sorbent industry.

Cat’s Pride has been around since the 1960s and was one of the original players in the cat litter industry.

The brand focuses on innovating in the traditional clay litter space and offers a broad selection of products targeted for specific needs.

This lightweight clumping clay litter is up to 25% lighter than other leading products, making it a good choice for those who like the effectiveness of clumping clay litter but don’t like lifting and hauling it.

It has a quick-action formula designed to instantly neutralize odors and clump hard almost on contact.

It creates an exceptionally firm clumps that are easy to remove. The litter is lightly scented.

Although Cat’s Pride describes this litter as 99% dust free, negative reviews regularly revolve around the dustiness of the product.

The cost is similar to other mid-range clumping clay litters.

#8. Ever Clean

Clumping clay litter is the backbone of this brand, which offers a slim selection of scoopable products.

Ever Clean describes itself as a premium brand, and most of the products are priced to match this status.

This litter focuses on odor elimination. It utilizes activated carbon to eliminate odor on contact, while an antimicrobial agent inhibits odor-causing bacterial growth.

Although this litter is well-received and consistently gets positive customer reviews, it does have two flaws. The first is that it tends to be on the dusty side, and the second is that it’s more expensive than most other clumping clay products.

#9. Naturally Fresh (Formally Blue Buffalo)

Blue Buffalo, a brand perhaps best known for its cat and dog food, offers a small line of walnut cat litter.

They were bought out by Naturally Fresh.

All of their litter products are made from the fibrous shells of US-grown walnuts.

Top Product: Naturally Fresh Quick-Clumping Cat Litter, Multi-Cat

Walnut shells provide natural odor control and absorb 3X more than the leading clay litter. The highly absorbent walnut granules clump quickly to make scooping easier.

Walnut litter is virtually dust-free. Because the litter is both lightweight and a dark color, tracking can be a noticeable problem. Some users also complain that the dark color obscures waste, making cleaning a challenge.

#10. Okocat

All Okocat products are 100% biodegradable and made from renewable ingredients.

They offer a small selection of wood and paper litter, including both clumping and non-clumping products.

The litter implements patented “Odor Shield Technology” that provides odor control for up to 7 days.

It’s infused with added plant ingredients to give it clumping power.

Like most wood litter, this product produces minimal dust.

The lightweight granules do tend to track, though, so it’s a good idea to pair this litter with a litter mat.

Like most plant-based biodegradable litter, this product is premium-priced.

#11. Feline Pine

Feline Pine litter is made from reclaimed lumber shavings and is completely biodegradable, making it an environmentally-friendly choice.

The brand offers two formulas:

  • The original non-clumping pellet litter
  • And a newer clumping litter, which is enhanced with natural plant-based binders for scoop-ability.

Top Product: Original Feline Pine Cat Litter

This pellet litter is made from 100% pure Southern Yellow Pine.

The litter doesn’t clump, but is naturally absorbent and breaks down on contact with moisture. Once the litter has reverted to sawdust, it’s time to replace the contents of the litter box.

The litter is noted for its pleasant woodsy aroma and natural odor control.

It’s virtually dust-free.

Tracking is a common issue, particularly once the pellets have reverted to featherlight sawdust.

This litter is notably cheaper than other biodegradable and natural litter products, with a price similar to most clay litter.

#12. sWheat Scoop

sWheat Scoop sells natural, biodegradable litter made from secondary wheat grown across the Midwest.

This environmentally-focused brand uses only renewable resources to make a litter that’s better for cats, people, and the Earth.

Top Product: sWheat Scoop Natural Fast-Clumping Wheat Cat Litter

This litter uses the natural starches and enzymes in wheat to clump and neutralize odors. It’s free from added fragrances.

Customer reviews are mixed. Its odor control abilities are moderate, and numerous reviews indicate that it forms crumbly clumps.

It is low-tracking and virtually dust-free.

Like most biodegradable litter products, this litter is on the pricey side.

#13. Frisco

Frisco is Chewy’s house brand, so you can only purchase it online through the Chewy site.

The brand currently offers just three products: a scented clumping clay litter, unscented clumping clay litter, and a natural grass litter.

Frisco Multi-Cat Clumping Cat Litter

This litter’s biggest selling points are its clumping ability and price.

It creates clumps upon contact with moisture.

These clumps are strong, cohesive, and easy to scoop out of the box.

The litter’s odor control is contested: some reviewers say that it provides great odor control, while others say that it does nothing to control them.

It’s made without added fragrances or irritating chemicals.

The litter granules are slightly larger and heavier than those found in most clay litter, allowing the litter to track less than other finer-grained products.

The litter isn’t extremely dusty, but most reviewers describe some moderate dust production.

This is a budget-friendly litter that’s considerably cheaper than most other similar products.

#14. So Phresh

This Petco house brand is available in Petco stores and online through certain Petco partners or on Amazon.

It’s an unusually diverse brand, offering a wide range of products including clumping clay, silica gel crystals, and biodegradable alternatives.

This clumping clay litter contains minerals to provide odor control without added fragrances.

Customer reviews indicate that it does a good job of controlling odors, but that’s a bright spot among numerous flaws.

Although So Phresh describes this litter as 99% dust-free, negative reviews continually describe a serious dust problem.

Disappointed customers also say that the clumping ability is poor.

Overall, it’s a budget litter with cheap performance.

#15. Smart Cat

Smart Cat by Pioneer Pet is a brand offering two varieties of litter.

The brand is best known for their natural, biodegradable grass litter, but they also sell a lightweight clay product.

SmartCat All Natural Cat Litter – Clay Free

Smart Cat grass litter offers excellent odor control without the use of added fragrances.

It creates strong, cohesive clumps that are easy to scoop.

This lightweight litter has a soft, fine texture that’s gentle on your cat’s paws.

These benefits are offset by the fact that the litter is easy for cats to kick out of the box.

Litter scatters and tracking is a common problem when using this product.

This litter is virtually dust-free.

Like most other biodegradable products, Smart Cat grass litter is an expensive choice.

Now you’re a cat litter expert.

Starting in a world before litter when the indoor cat was rare, we’ve followed the tale of cat litter from inception to present day.

We’ve learned how cat litter is made.

We know why it works. We’ve become familiar with the brands and varieties that fill pet store shelves.

Today’s cat litter market can be confusing, but educated shoppers like you can make intelligent choices based on your cat’s unique needs, the demands of your household, and of course, your preferences.

If you’re interested in finding the best litter box for your cat’s personality, check out our lowdown on cat litter boxes!

Happy scooping.


Modify your litter box system: I’m sure you could do this to any litter pan or box:

6 thoughts on “The Cat Litter Low Down: Everything You Need to Know About Cat Litter”

  1. Another concern with both the corn and wheat based litters is the fact that the corn used is GMO corn. In an of itself, GMO corn may or may not be dangerous, however, because it is designed to allow pesticides and herbicides to be sprayed on it, these residues can harm our cats. Also, corn and wheat (and any other grain or field grown products) are typically sprayed with glyphosate at the end of the growing season to facilitate the dessication of the plant (to prevent mold growth and aflatoxin) in preparation for harvest and storage. If you look up the effects of glyphosate in medical texts, you will see the harm it can cause. I would not recommend ANY grain based litter because of this. I am unsure if this also applies to grass seed litter (which is what I currently use in my home)

    1. Hi, I was just wondering if you ever found out if grass seed litter is sprayed with roundup? I’m using it and really like it but am very worried about this especially having young kids. Thank you!!

  2. I really appreciate the thoroughness of this post, but it’s worth mentioning that the #1 and #2 picks are both produced by companies that are NOT cruelty-free. While it is difficult sometimes to navigate caring for our companion animals while not causing unnecessary harm to other animals, it IS easy to google a product and a product’s company to find their policies on animal testing, and to, in turn, find a cruelty free product comparable in quality and price.

  3. I’m glad you pointed out that cats prefer litter with a fine texture, since it closely resembles the conditions they would use outdoors. My husband and I recently got a cat, so I’ve been doing some research on the different types of litter available. I didn’t realize that a certain texture would be preferable, so I’m glad you shared that advice!

  4. I am a cat foster mom and we have used the Naturally Fresh walnut litter for years. Clumps well, low odor, little to no dust. My son has asthma and hasn’t had any issues since the switch. It used to be made by Blue Buffalo but they were bought out.

  5. Hattie Schermerhorn

    Hi that’s a lot of litter but one I haven’t seen you use is litter maid walnut litter works great no dust clumps to clean no order smell and you don’t have to worry about your cats licking dust or trying to clean paws and digestion and Harding in tummy or colon. Your able to just add more as needed once the litter gets low. What’s your thought about this litter

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