The 14 Best Cat Litters of 2021

Our Review Process

Our reviews are based on extensive research and, when possible, hands-on testing. Each
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The best cat litter helps to keep your home fresh and your cat happy. It combines excellent odor control, easy cleaning, low tracking, and minimal dust output.

After researching the litter industry, reviewing over a dozen of the biggest brands on the market, and performing in-box tests on more than 50 products, we’ve chosen the following litters as the best cat litter you can buy.

At a Glance: Best Cat Litter To Buy

1500

HOURS OF
RESEARCH

66

BRANDS
VETTED

14

FEATURES
REVIEWED

10

TOP
PICKS

In the comparison table below, we’ve highlighted some of the most important features of each product. You’ll find more detailed information about each product later in the article

9.9

5/5

Picked by 32 people today!

Dr. Elsey's Cat Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter

7.0

3.5/5

Picked by 3 people today!

Tidy Cats Instant Action Unscented Non-Clumping Clay Cat Litter

8.9

4.5/5

Picked by 32 people today!

Just the Crystals Premium Cat Litter

9.9

5/5

Picked by 32 people today!

Pretty Litter Ultra-Premium Cat Litter Subscription

8.9

5/5

Picked by 5 people today!

SmartCat All Natural Clumping Litter

9.9

5/5

Picked by 32 people today!

Ever Clean Extra Strength Cat Litter, Unscented

7.0

3.5/5

Picked by 1 people today!

Purina Yesterday's News Unscented Cat Litter

7.0

3.5/5

Picked by 32 people today!

Purina Yesterday's News Softer Texture Unscented Cat Litter

9.5

4.8/5

Picked by 9 people today!

Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal Multi-Cat Litter

8.9

4.5/5

Picked by 3 people today!

World’s Best Cat Litter Clumping Formula Litter for Multiple Cats

Why You Should Trust Us

Over the last two years, we’ve written in-depth reviews on over a dozen of the most popular cat litter brands and more than 50 litter products.

Our litter testing team has spent hundreds of hours testing these products’ dust production, clumping ability, odor control, tendency to track and scatter, and more. 

Based on extensive research and hands-on testing, we’ve selected the following 14 cat litter products as the best you can put in your cat’s box.

Top Picks Explained

At the top of that list is Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Ultra multi-cat clumping litter. We chose this clumping clay litter for its firm clumps, easy scooping, and minimal dust output. And as one of the most economical products on the market, Dr. Elsey’s is a great example of the fact that you don’t have to spend a lot to get great performance.

In addition to our top pick, you’ll find the best cat litter for various needs, including the best natural cat litter, best litter for odor control, best litter for declawed cats, and more.

The Best Rated Cat Litter: Our Top 14 Recommendations

Now that we’ve discussed the qualities of the world’s best cat litter and gotten familiar with the types of litter on the market, let’s go over our top 13 recommendations.

#1

Overall Best: Dr. Elsey’s Cat Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter

This is a no-frills clumping clay litter that consistently ranks among the best products on the market. It performed well in our real-world testing, earning a 4.1 out of 5-star rating. And we’re not the only ones who like it. Both Wirecutter and Business Insider name it as the best litter you can buy.

This litter clumps exceptionally well, helping to make box maintenance easy. In our in-box test, the litter clumped hard, though it didn’t stand up as well to larger urine volumes. If too much liquid hits the litter at once, it might fuse to the sides of the box. You can address this issue by using a large, deep box and scooping regularly.

The granules are on the large side, helping to keep them tidily inside of the box. Reviewers note that it’s less dusty than most other clay products.

What We Liked:

What We Liked:

#2

Best Non-Clumping Clay: Tidy Cats Instant Action Unscented Non-Clumping Clay Cat Litter

This is a no-frills clumping clay litter that consistently ranks among the best products on the market. It performed well in our real-world testing, earning a 4.1 out of 5-star rating. And we’re not the only ones who like it. Both Wirecutter and Business Insider name it as the best litter you can buy.

This litter clumps exceptionally well, helping to make box maintenance easy. In our in-box test, the litter clumped hard, though it didn’t stand up as well to larger urine volumes. If too much liquid hits the litter at once, it might fuse to the sides of the box. You can address this issue by using a large, deep box and scooping regularly.

The granules are on the large side, helping to keep them tidily inside of the box. Reviewers note that it’s less dusty than most other clay products.

What We Liked:

What We Didn’t Like:

#3

Best Crystal Cat Litter: Just the Crystals Premium Cat Litter

Crystal cat litter has a lot of potential, but most brands miss the mark. Just the Crystals appears to be among the few that showcases what silica gel can do for your litter box.

The brand claims the highest measured absorbency of any crystal litter on the market. Its moderately-sized, uniform crystals capture more water and help the box stays dry longer. This keeps your cat comfortable and your home odor-free.

According to customer reviews, the litter really is a level above most crystal products. One even performed detailed absorbency tests both at home and in a lab. Just the Crystals did better than any other litter tested.

Just the Crystals litter is only available in a blue color. It’s unscented, making it appropriate for sensitive cats and people.

The litter comes in 4.4-lb bags, which are just the right size to use with self-cleaning litter boxes.

What We Liked:

What We Didn’t Like:

#4

Best Cat Litter Subscription: Pretty Litter Ultra-Premium Cat Litter Subscription

Having cat litter delivered directly to your door is great but having a cat litter that alerts you to potential health issues is even better. Pretty Litter is described as the “World’s Smartest Cat Litter,” formulated to change color according to the pH of your cat’s urine. Changes in urine pH are often an indication of bladder issues and prompt treatment is essential for these problems.

Pretty Litter is a lightweight silica litter that absorbs and eliminates moisture. It doesn’t clump, but it helps dehydrate solid waste to make scooping easy. A single bag lasts up to 30 days with minimal scooping – you simply stir the litter to help it dry between uses.

This litter is great for single-cat households, but it is fairly pricey compared to other silica litters (though they don’t offer the health indicator benefit). A single bag may not last as long with a multi-cat household and if it changes color you may not immediately know which cat has the issue.

What We Liked:

What We Didn’t Like:

#5

Best Natural Cat Litter: SmartCat All Natural Clumping Litter

This star clumper is 100% sorghum grass.

It has a soft, lightweight body that cats like to dig in. While the texture is paw-friendly and the weight is easy on your back, prepare for some tracking and scattering. This is one litter that demands a good litter mat.

Unlike some other biodegradable products that lack muscle, this product creates excellent clumps and most reviewers state that it does a good job of controlling odors.

SmartCat’s biggest flaw is its price. Most natural and biodegradable products are on the expensive side, and this litter is one of the priciest. If you’re looking for a lower-priced alternative, try this grass litter from Frisco.

What We Liked:

What We Didn’t Like:

#6

Best for Odor Control: Ever Clean Extra Strength Cat Litter, Unscented

This clumping clay litter has a full kit of odor-neutralizing features.

The odor control system includes three agents. The first is activated charcoal to capture ammonia and feces odors, followed by an antimicrobial to stop bacteria growth, and plant extracts that, according to Ever Clean, eliminate any residual odors.

When we reviewed Ever Clean litter, we gave the brand a 4 out of 5 star rating. During our in-box test, Ever Clean Extra Strength clumped hard and offered excellent odor control. Though the litter claims to be unscented, it seemed to have a slight scent. Other reviewers agree that it has a noticeable fragrance.

What We Liked:

What We Didn’t Like:

#7

Best for Kittens: Purina Yesterday’s News Unscented Cat Litter

Just as it can clog the pipes in your house, clumping cat litter may block your kitten’s delicate plumbing.

While all cats face a risk of intestinal blockage from litter consumption, kittens are a uniquely high-risk group. Kittens are curious, playful creatures with a tendency to consume bits of litter. A teaspoon of litter could expand to ⅓ cup in your kitten’s tiny body.

This litter doesn’t clump, so you don’t have to worry about it forming an insoluble mass in your kitten’s intestinal tract. It’s dust-free, made without any added fragrances, and completely biodegradable. On the negative side, this paper litter doesn’t provide the best odor control, so you’ll want to change it at least once every week.

What We Liked:

What We Didn’t Like:

#8

Best Cat Litter for Declawed Cats: Purina Yesterday’s News Softer Texture
Unscented Cat Litter

Our conversation about the barbarism of declawing often omits a devastating complication.

Cats are prone to litter box problems after declawing. In the days after the operation, using the litter box is painful on their tender toes. Further down the recovery road, declawed cats continue to struggle. Because using the litter box can be particularly painful, declawed cats may avoid the gravel and plastic and opt for something soft that doesn’t press at the site of mutilation.

Litter box avoidance is a tremendous problem. Ironically, this operation intended to make cats more house-friendly may ultimately send them back to the shelter.

Veterinarians often recommend paper litter for any cat recovering from an operation. The tender touch of this extra-soft litter is gentle on declawed paws. Recycled paper is virtually dust-free and won’t contaminate wounds.

Another good quality of Yesterday’s News is the fact that it doesn’t clump. Cats who have recently been declawed should avoid clumping litter; clumping products could stick in their paws, leading to pain and possible infection.

What We Liked:

What We Didn’t Like:

#9

Best for Multiple Cats: Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal Multi-Cat Litter

Our conversation about the barbarism of declawing often omits a devastating complication.

Cats are prone to litter box problems after declawing. In the days after the operation, using the litter box is painful on their tender toes. Further down the recovery road, declawed cats continue to struggle. Because using the litter box can be particularly painful, declawed cats may avoid the gravel and plastic and opt for something soft that doesn’t press at the site of mutilation.

Litter box avoidance is a tremendous problem. Ironically, this operation intended to make cats more house-friendly may ultimately send them back to the shelter.

Veterinarians often recommend paper litter for any cat recovering from an operation. The tender touch of this extra-soft litter is gentle on declawed paws. Recycled paper is virtually dust-free and won’t contaminate wounds.

Another good quality of Yesterday’s News is the fact that it doesn’t clump. Cats who have recently been declawed should avoid clumping litter; clumping products could stick in their paws, leading to pain and possible infection.

What We Liked:

What We Didn’t Like:

#10

Best Flushable Litter: World’s Best Cat Litter Clumping Formula Litter for Multiple Cats

You flush your own waste down the toilet, so why not do the same with your cat’s? Instead of storing bags full of cat waste in your house, you can flush it all away.

A truly safe-to-flush litter is compatible with your system. Older plumbing is more susceptible to clogs. Even flushable litter can be risky, so it’s always recommended that you flush gradually rather than dumping a boxful of litter into the toilet. Allow the clumps to dissolve before touching the flush lever.

Remember to check with local ordinances before flushing cat litter. Flushing litter is illegal in some areas, primarily due to the fact that soiled litter often carries Toxoplasma gondii parasites.

Cats shed the parasites in their feces, and while most cats are asymptomatic carriers, the parasite can be deadly to other animals. The parasite is resilient. Water treatment systems cannot destroy it before it travels into environments where it can harm sensitive populations.

If you want to try a flushable litter, consider World’s Best Cat Litter. This biodegradable litter is made from compressed corn, which creates cohesive, scoopable clumps that won’t clog your plumbing. Instead, World’s Best Cat Litter is one of the few litter products that has undergone and passed flushability testing. The litter is septic-safe and won’t damage healthy plumbing.

In addition to exceptional flushability, World’s Best Cat Litter is a high-performance product that does just about everything well. It’s low-dust, controls odors well, and is affordable compared to other natural litter.

What We Liked:

What We Didn’t Like:

#11

Best Lightweight Cat Litter: CatSpot Lightweight 100% Coconut Cat Litter

Schlepping a 40-lb bag of cat litter from the car to the house can strain your back and make you loath to buy litter again. Because we use litter by volume, back strain and litter quantity aren’t always directly proportional.

Clay litter is by far the heaviest type of litter. If you want lightweight clay, you’ll need to seek out a specially-formulated product. Most other litters, including silica gel and biodegradable products, are lightweight and easy to transport.

This natural litter is made from coconut husks (also known as coconut coir), and it’s feather light. Five pounds of this product are as absorbent and long-lasting as twenty pounds of clay litter.

In addition to helping you breathe easily while carrying litter up the stairs, CatSpot litter is virtually dust-free. It’s a non-clumping product, so you’ll need to scoop out feces and give the litter a stir each day to ensure even urine distribution and absorption. Because the litter is so light, scattering and tracking can be problematic

What We Liked:

What We Didn’t Like:

#12

Best Non-Tracking Cat Litter: Purina Tidy Cats Breeze Litter System Pellets

Tracking is inevitable, but you can minimize it by using the right products. Small, lightweight litter particles stick in your cat’s paws and are easily tossed out of the box. Opt for weightier granules that will stay in place.

This litter system takes a unique approach to cat litter. It combines a litter tray, absorbent pads, and deodorizing clay pellets to make litter box maintenance extraordinarily simple. The pellets are placed on a tray over an absorbent pad, allowing liquid waste to drop onto the pad. Solid waste remains in the odor-neutralizing pellets.

The heavy clay pellets seldom cling to your cat’s fur or paws, so it keeps tracking to a minimum. If your cat has a tendency to toss the pellets out of the box, you can use the hooded Breeze box for extra protection.

What We Liked:

What We Didn’t Like:

#13

Best Non-Clumping Cat Litter: Feline Pine Cat Litter

Feline Pine is made from dehydrated pine pellets, which are naturally absorbent. In most cases, the pellets can withstand considerable use before they become saturated and smelly. That means that you can safely change out the litter box as infrequently as once every two weeks.

When these pellets are moistened, they disintegrate and revert to sawdust. You can filter the sawdust out while scooping, dump out the box when all of the litter has reverted to dust, or use a sifting litter box. The latter method is the most efficient, so a sifting box is a worthwhile investment for long-term pine pellet users.

Pine provides phenomenal odor control and smells great by human standards. Because it is a pellet litter, Feline Pine doesn’t appeal to every human or every cat. Pellets can be uncomfortable under your cat’s paws.

What We Liked:

What We Didn’t Like:

#14

Best Dust-Free Cat Litter: Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Respiratory Relief Cat Litter

Feline Pine is made from dehydrated pine pellets, which are naturally absorbent. In most cases, the pellets can withstand considerable use before they become saturated and smelly. That means that you can safely change out the litter box as infrequently as once every two weeks.

When these pellets are moistened, they disintegrate and revert to sawdust. You can filter the sawdust out while scooping, dump out the box when all of the litter has reverted to dust, or use a sifting litter box. The latter method is the most efficient, so a sifting box is a worthwhile investment for long-term pine pellet users.

Pine provides phenomenal odor control and smells great by human standards. Because it is a pellet litter, Feline Pine doesn’t appeal to every human or every cat. Pellets can be uncomfortable under your cat’s paws.

What We Liked:

What We Didn’t Like:

Best Cat Litter Comparison Summary

Product Name

Type

Key Strengths

Price per
Pound

Dr. Elsey's Cat Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter

Clumping clay

Overall excellent performance

~$0.44

Purina Tidy Cats 24/7 Performance Non-Clumping Cat Litter

Non-clumping clay

High performance non-
clumping

~$0.59

Just the Crystals Premium Cat Litter

Silica gel crystals

Excellent clumping,
biodegradable

~$4.77

SmartCat All Natural Clumping Litter

Clumping grass

High performance non-
clumping

~$1.51

Ever Clean Extra Strength Cat Litter, Unscented

Clumping clay

Powerful odor control

~$0.64

Purina Yesterday's News Unscented Cat Litter

Non-clumping paper

Biodegradable, eco-friendly

~$0.63

Arm & Hammer Multi-Cat Clump & Seal Clumping Litter

Clumping clay

Top strength for multiple cat homes

~$0.59

World’s Best Cat Litter

Clumping corn

Biodegradable, flushable

~$0.99

CatSpot Lightweight 100% Coconut Cat Litter

Non-clumping coconut

Lightweight

~$3.29

Purina Tidy Cats Breeze Litter System Pellets

Non-clumping clay pellets

Low maintenance

~$1.86

Feline Pine Cat Litter

Non-clumping pine

Non-clumping biodegradable

~$0.64

Feline Pine Cat Litter

Non-clumping pine

Non-clumping biodegradable

~$0.64

Dr. Elsey's Precious Cat Respiratory Relief Cat Litter

Non-clumping silica gel

Appropriate for sensitive cats

$1.05

Here’s What We Look For In The Best Cat Litter

Now that we reviewed of the best cat litter you can buy, let’s build a foundation of knowledge. We’ll start with the qualities of the best cat litter, then discuss the different types of litter and how they measure up to those requirements.

The Best Cat Litter Is Easy To Clean

Clumping cat litter is usually the easiest to keep clean and dry. But not all clumping litter works equally well. Some products create soft blobs and others yield firm urine rocks. You don’t want to feel like you’re scraping chunks out of a bowl of cookie dough. The clumps should be cohesive, firm, and easy to remove.

If your litter creates loose, crumbly clumps and leaves chunks of waste behind every scooping, think about finding a better litter. Move on to another product that creates firm, beautiful clumps.

If you’re using a non-clumping product, it must do its job well. Any non-clumping litter should be insanely absorbent and won’t get saturated after a day’s use.

The Best Cat Litter Offers Great Odor Control

The best cat litter helps to keep odors at bay, but don’t expect a box of litter to take over your job. We’ve found that the best odor control comes from great clumping and easy cleaning. The more waste you can remove from the box, the better. That’s why we look for cohesive clumps, minimal stickiness, and great absorbency.

Once they’ve established a foundation of excellence, some products amp up the odor control with activated carbon and baking soda, which can significantly cut back on odors.

The Best Cat Litter Is Low-Dust

Most litter is advertised as low-dust or “99% dust-free”, but these are usually flimsy claims. Some so-called low-dust products create plumes of dust, so don’t trust the label. Read customer reviews instead.

The Best Cat Litter Is Affordable

Depending on what type of litter you choose, you could end up forking over $70 – $200 per year in cat litter expenditures. When you consider that a human’s annual toilet paper expenses are low as $15 and usually don’t exceed $50, cat litter starts to look a bit spendy.

Don’t think that you need to choose expensive litter box filler. The most affordable litter is often the best, and you might be better off using soil from your backyard than spending big bucks on premium litter.

Many cat litter shoppers explain that they save money by buying cat litter in bulk or from store brands like Chewy’s Frisco and Petco’s So Phresh.

The Best Cat Litter Is Affordable

Litter tracks. It gets trapped in your cat’s paws and fur and hitches a ride out of the litter box. Although many litter companies call their products “low-tracking”, the best way to control tracking is by investing in a good litter mat. Secondly, consider using dense litter with heavy granules.

The Best Cat Litter Is Made Without Irritating Fragrances

Some people prefer litter made with added perfume, but these fragrances may irritate sensitive noses. The best cat litter doesn’t lean on fragrances to disguise the smell of cat waste.

The 3 Main Types of Cat Litter

Some people prefer litter made with added perfume, but these fragrances may irritate sensitive noses. The best cat litter doesn’t lean on fragrances to disguise the smell of cat waste.

1. Clay Cat Litter

Clay cat litter is by far the most popular type on the market today. It’s the most widely-available and most cost-effective. Cats usually prefer it to any other type.

Clay litter also has its flaws and critics. Because it’s gathered through strip mining and is non-biodegradable, its environmental impact has been described as an “absolute catastrophe”.

Considering that clay contains crystalline silica particles, it’s dangerous to inhale clay cat litter dust. Though the amount of dust produced by a good cat litter isn’t enough to cause health problems, extended exposure to crystalline silica dust can cause serious health issues.

– Non-Clumping Clay Litter

Non-clumping clay was the original commercial litter box filler and was first sold in 1947 as “Kitty Litter”. It’s made from a variety of absorbent clays, including sepiolite, attapulgite, and montmorillonite. These clays are used in industrial applications to clean up spills and can even dehydrate flowers.

2. Silica Gel Crystals

Crystal or silica gel litter is a relatively new addition to the cat litter shelf. It’s made from the same gel crystals found in the desiccant packets that accompany some moisture-sensitive products.

Silica gel crystals are made synthetically from silicon dioxide, oxygen, and water. Each crystal has millions of tiny pores that capture moisture. Instead of clumping, this type of litter dehydrates solid waste and absorbs liquids.

If you remove solid waste and stir the litter daily, crystal cat litter can effectively serve you for up to a month before disposal. Because this type of litter has such great longevity, it’s more expensive than clay and some biodegradable products.

3. Natural and Biodegradable Cat Litter

The most head-spinning part of the cat litter marketplace may be the natural and organic department. Your options include wheat, coconut, grass, cassava, pine, cedar, paper, tofu, and walnut litter.

Here’s a summary of the most popular types of biodegradable litter.

– Walnut

This type of litter is made from the fibrous material of walnut shells. It has a dark color that makes tracking particularly noticeable on light-colored floors and may impede your ability to identify waste in the box. It’s available in both clumping and non-clumping varieties.

– Grass

Grass litter is lightweight, but it has strong clumping and odor control abilities. Because it’s so light, grass litter tends to track and scatter.

– Corn

Possibly the most popular type of biodegradable litter, corn litter is made from compressed corn and may incorporate other ingredients to enhance its clumping and deodorizing power.

Corn litter is relatively dusty and tends to track. Concerningly, corn is a top target for aflatoxin mold contamination. For this reason, it’s doubly important to keep the litter box clean when using corn cat litter.

– Paper

Paper litter is available in both clumping and non-clumping varieties. Pellet-style paper litter is most common. It’s made from highly-absorbent recycled newspaper and other paper products.

Because it’s gentle on paws and doesn’t create dust, this type of litter is often recommended to sensitive cats or those with healing stitches. This type of litter is among the worst where odor control is concerned.

– Wood

Wood litter may be either clumping or non-clumping. It harnesses the absorbency and natural odor control ability of dehydrated wood fibers. Tracking, scattering, and dust vary depending on which type of wood litter you choose.

– Wheat

This type of litter utilizes the odor-controlling enzymes and clumping starches naturally found in wheat. Wheat creates soft clumps and may be dusty.

The Best Cat Litter Is Litter Your Cat Wants To Use

With “inappropriate elimination” near the top of the list of reasons cited when people relinquish their cats to the animal shelter, it’s clear that a harmonious litter box situation spells happiness in a cat-inclusive home.

If you look at it from your cat’s perspective, you’ll have a good foundation for evaluating any cat litter on the market. Will this litter feel good under my cat’s paws? Will dust fill his hooded box and make him uncomfortable? Is the Mango Aloha scent overwhelming?

Once you’ve satisfied your cat’s needs, you can start considering your own. Humans deserve a comfortable home, too, and the ideal litter box benefits both you and your cat.

In an ideal world, the best cat litter is a beautiful combination of your needs and your cat’s. Your cat’s natural instincts get the respect they deserve and you get to control the smell and appearance of cat waste in the house.

Your cat wins. You win. And any cat litter that contributes to this situation is a winning product.

About the author

Mallory Crusta is a writer and adventurecat enthusiast on a mission to make cats’ lives extraordinary. She’s one of the founders of Wildernesscat – a site for happy, healthy, and adventurous cats who are fueled by nature. Visit Wildernesscat for radically natural cat nutrition, home remedies, and lifestyle inspiration.