The best cat litter

© Lightspruch/Shutterstock/Business Insider

By Kate Barrington, Business Insider

  • Cats are picky about the litter in their boxes, so it's important to choose a formula that's healthy for your cat and easy to clean.
  • Because there are so many different types of cat litter out there, it can be a challenge to make the right choice.
  • Our top pick is Dr. Elsey's Precious Cat Ultra-Premium Clumping Litter because it's a hard-clumping litter that traps liquids and odor without generating tons of dust.

Though cats can certainly be difficult at times, they are a low-maintenance pet in the sense that you don't have to take them outside for a walk to do their business. Cats are fastidiously clean animals that spend hours grooming themselves each day and they do their business in a litter box. It makes your job as a pet owner easier - you simply have to scoop the litter a few times a week and change it out as needed. 

When it comes to your cat's litter, there are many options to choose from and each cat has their own unique preferences for texture, fragrance, and absorbency. Because there are so many different types of cat litter out there, it can be a challenge to make the right choice. Lucky for you, we've done all of the research. We've looked into the different kinds of cat litter and read reviews for all of the top brands. We've also tested many of them ourselves to bring you our top picks for the best cat litters on the market.

Here are the best cat litters you can buy:  

© Precious Cat/Business Insider

Dr. Elsey's Precious Cat Ultra-Premium Clumping Litter uses an unscented, dust-free formula that traps liquid and odors to keep your cat happy and your home smelling fresh.

Although cats are naturally very clean, the litter box can get messy if you don't choose the right litter. The perfect cat litter forms hard clumps to make cleanup a breeze, it's dust-free and low-tracking, and it controls odors for days at a time. And that ideal litter is the Dr. Elsey's Precious Cat Ultra-Premium Clumping Litter

Made from traditional clay materials, this litter creates hard clumps from your cat's urine and feces that are easy to scoop up. It is unscented and dust-free so it won't cause respiratory problems, and its unique heavy clay granules help to reduce tracking. Dr. Elsey's Precious Cat Ultra-Premium Clumping Litter is surprisingly inexpensive as well, making it ideal for multi-cat households. 

Named the number-one pick by Buy the Best, Dr. Elsey's Precious Cat Ultra-Premium Clumping Litter is super-affordable and its hard-clumping action traps both liquids and odor, helping to keep your house fresh and clean. This litter is also a top pick for The Wirecutter, and it receives a positive review from Heavy. Both reviews mention that this litter can be used in sifting litter boxes as well for easy cleanup. 

With more than 18,000 reviews on Amazon and a 4-star rating, Dr. Elsey's Precious Cat Ultra-Premium Clumping Litter is one of the most popular cat litters on the market. Consumers love the dust-free, hypoallergenic, and hard-clumping formula, though some suggest that smaller bags would be helpful. 

Pros: Hard-clumping formula traps liquids and odor, unscented, dust-free and hypoallergenic formula, low-tracking, works well for multi-cat households, very inexpensive 

Cons: Only available in large bags 18 pounds and up, lack of deodorizers may not mask smells as well as scented litters, not biodegradable 

© World's Best/Business Insider

Made from all-natural corn granules, World's Best Cat Litter Clumping Formula is biodegradable, forms hard clumps for easy cleanup, isn't dusty, and offers excellent odor control. 

When it comes to cat litter, there are two main types to consider: clumping and non-clumping. Clumping cat litter works by absorbing liquid, turning it into solid clumps that can be scooped up and thrown away. This type of litter is usually low in dust and can be great for odor control, though some clumping litters are not biodegradable. Our top pick for clumping cat litter is World's Best Cat Litter Clumping Formula.

Made entirely from renewable, whole-kernel corn, World's Best Cat Litter Clumping Formula is both environmentally-friendly and biodegradable. The hard-clumping action makes scooping the litter box a breeze, and, because the granules are made from corn and not clay, they can be flushed or composted. This litter absorbs liquid quickly and controls odors for days at a time. It is also very low in dust, which is beneficial for your cat's respiratory health.

This litter is a top pick from Cat Litter Expert because of its odorless, all-natural formula. A detailed review from Pet Helpful speaks to the hard-clumping action, though the review does note that the clumps may dry out and crumble over time if you don't scoop them within a few days. This formula is fairly pricey compared to other litters, but it lasts a long time and it controls odors well if you scoop it often.

World's Best offers a variety of different cat litter formulas but this particular product has a solid 4.8-star rating out of more than 4,800 user reviews on Petco. Buyers love the dust-free, environmentally-friendly formula, though some users dislike the price.

Pros: Hard-clumping formula makes cleanup easy, biodegradable and environmentally-friendly, made from all-natural corn, can be flushed or composted, can be used in mechanical and sifting litter boxes, offers excellent odor control, dust-free

Cons: Fairly expensive compared to other clumping litters, some cats dislike the texture or scent of the litter, some cats have trouble with tracking, clumps may dry out and crumble after a few days

© Purina/Business Insider

Made from 100% recycled paper, Purina Yesterday's News Unscented Litter is a gentle, highly absorbent non-clumping cat litter that is great for the environment. 

One of the main benefits of clumping cat litter is, of course, the fact that it makes scooping the litter box easy. There are, however, some benefits that non-clumping litter has to offer. For example, non-clumping litters can be made from a variety of materials including natural materials like wood, corn, and grass, which might be important for cats who are sensitive to clay. Some of these materials also have a naturally pleasant smell, and, for cleanup, you can save yourself the hassle of scooping by simply dumping the entire litter box and refilling it. 

Though there are many non-clumping litters to choose from, our top pick is Purina Yesterday's News Unscented Litter. Made from 100% recycled paper materials, our testing revealed that this litter is almost completely dust-free and biodegradable. It works quickly, absorbing up to three times the liquid of clay litter by volume, and it lasts longer than non-clumping pine litters. Purina Yesterday's News Unscented Litter is unscented so it won't irritate your cat's respiratory system and it is super gentle on his paws. 

Other reviewers like it, too. Heavy mentions the dust-free benefits of the paper materials as well as the fact that they are very soft and gentle on your cat's paws. BuytheBest10 notes that this litter is a top choice among veterinarians and loves that it is made from recycled materials, which is great for the environment. 

With more than 1,200 reviews on Amazon, Purina Yesterday's News Unscented Litter has a solid 4.2-star rating. Buyers love fast absorbency of the paper materials and the gentle, unscented formula. There are some cats, however, who dislike the larger pellets and paper litter needs to be changed often to control odors and wetness. Our test cats had no trouble with the texture of the litter, though. 

Pros: Made from recycled paper materials, three times more absorbent than clay litter by volume, unscented and 99.7% dust-free, soft pellets are gentle on paws, lasts longer than pine pellets, completely biodegradable 

Cons: Paper pellets may start to dissolve after absorbing liquid, odor control is limited which may require frequent cleaning, paper materials do not clump at all, some liquid may bypass the pellets

The best natural cat litter

© Ökocat/Business Insider

Made from all-natural reclaimed wood, Ökocat Natural Wood Cat Litter absorbs up to 500% its weight with 7-day odor control and superior clumping.

When it comes to natural cat litter, there are a number of different materials to choose from. One of the most popular materials, however, is wood because it is cost-effective, absorbent, and it has a naturally fresh scent. Natural cat litter is ideal for kittens, older cats, and cats who are sensitive to more abrasive materials. Many of these litters are also flushable for easy cleanup. Our top pick for natural cat litters is Ökocat Natural Wood Cat Litter

This Ökocat Natural Wood Cat Litter is made from 100% sustainable and natural wood fibers, making this litter eco-friendly, biodegradable, and all-natural. Our testing confirmed that this litter is free from fragrances, chemicals, and dyes but it still offers excellent absorbency and long-lasting odor control. Ökocat Natural Wood Cat Litter binds to liquids to form scoopable clumps and the natural antimicrobial benefits of the wood fibers help to kill bacteria, keeping your home cleaner and fresher than more traditional cat litters. 

A detailed review from Conscious Cat speaks to the benefits of the lightweight, highly absorbent wood materials. This litter absorbs liquid very quickly, though the clumps aren't as hard as clay litter clumps, and cleanup is easy. Another review from Me, Him and the Cats mentions that the litter is virtually dust-free and it has a fresher natural scent than clay litter. Our test cats did take a few days to adjust to the texture of the materials but, once they did, there were no problems. 

Ökocat Natural Wood Cat Litter has more than 1,498 user reviews on Amazon and a solid 4-star rating. Consumers love the lightweight formula as well as its fast absorbency and 7-day odor control. Some users note, however, that this formula tracks a little more than other natural litters due to the size of the granules. 

Pros: Made from 100% sustainable natural wood fibers, absorbs up to 500% its weight in liquid, forms clumps that can be scooped away, lightweight and dust-free, naturally inhibits bacteria growth, provides up to 7 days of odor control, contains no fragrances or chemicals, soft texture is gentle on paws 

Cons: May track more than natural litters with larger granules, some cats dislike the texture of the wood materials, clumps aren't as hard as clay litter 

The best multi-cat litter

© World's Best/Business Insider

Made from all-natural, renewable corn materials, World's Best Cat Litter Multiple Cat Clumping Formula offers fast-clumping action and excellent odor control for multi-cat households. 

As clean as your cats may be, litter box waste and odors accumulate quickly in a multi-cat household. A cat litter designed for multi-cat households should offer excellent odor control as well as antimicrobial benefits to kill bacteria. Many multi-cat litters have strong fragrances that may help to mask odors but doesn't actually eliminate them. These fragrances can also be irritating to your cat's respiratory system. Our top pick for multi-cat litter that is fragrance-free, hard-clumping, and highly-effective is World's Best Cat Litter Multiple Cat Clumping Formula

Made from all-natural, whole-kernel corn, World's Best Cat Litter Multiple Cat Clumping Formula is one of the safest and most effective multi-cat litters on the market. The natural corn materials absorb liquid quickly and form hard clumps that are easy to scoop away. The formula is eco-friendly, fast-clumping, and excellent for odor control. Though this litter may be a little on the pricey side, a 7-pound bag will last a two-cat household up to 15 days. 

With an A rating from Taildom, a detailed review notes that this corn-based litter is heavier than pine but easier to scoop. Named among its top 10 litters, Heavy suggests that while you might be able to flush this litter, composting may be a better option just to be safe. Cleaner Paws names this litter its top choice for cat litter overall, mentioning that it is all-natural, biodegradable and 99% dust-free. Our own testing confirms the low-dust benefits as well as the fast absorbency of this multi-cat litter. 

Pros: Made from all-natural whole-kernel corn, renewable and environmentally friendly, can be flushed or composted, excellent odor control for multi-cat households, high absorbency and fast clumping action, free from chemicals and fragrances, gentle on soft paws, 99% dust-free 

Cons: More expensive than many cat litter brands, some cats may not like the texture of the corn materials, litter may need to be changed more often in multiple cat households


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Pets Magazine: The best cat litter
The best cat litter
Using the right cat litter can make a huge difference for your cat and your cleaning time. These are the best cat litters you can buy.
Pets Magazine
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