The 10 Best Cat Litters Of 2021

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Our Review Process

Our reviews are based on extensive research and, when possible, hands-on testing. Each time you make a purchase through one of our independently-chosen links, we’ll receive a percentage of the proceeds. Read more about how we’re supported here.

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

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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.

OVERALL BEST
9.9
Picked by 2 people today!

Dr. Elsey's Cat Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter

  • Creates hard, easy-to-scoop clumps
  • Affordably priced under $0.50 per pound
  • Relatively large granules help reduce tracking
Best Budget
9.9
Picked by 31 people today!

Fresh Step Simply Unscented Clumping Clay Cat Litter

  • Affordably priced around $0.38 per pound
  • Forms tight, hard, easy-to-scoop clumps
  • Performed fairly well in controlling litter box odor
BEST FOR ODOR CONTROL
9.8
Picked by 1 people today!

Ever Clean Extra Strength Cat Litter, Unscented

  • Creates hard, easy-to-scoop clumps
  • Relatively low dust production for a clay litter
  • Offers strong, long-lasting odor control
Best Silica Cat Litter
9.8
Picked by 31 people today!

Fresh Step Premium Crystals Easy Care Cat Litter

  • Moderately sized crystals, excellent absorption
  • Relatively low levels of dust when pouring
  • Lasts longer than the average clay litter
Best Plant-Based Litter
9.7
Picked by 31 people today!

Sustainably Yours Multi-Cat Plus Cat Litter

  • Forms firm, cohesive clumps for easy scooping
  • Fine granules are gentle on your cat’s paws
  • Biodegradable, made from plant-based materials
Best Pine Pellet Litter
9.6
Picked by 31 people today!

Equine Bedding

  • Very affordable, priced around $0.14 per pound
  • Made from highly absorbent pine materials
  • Kiln-dried to make it safe for cats and other small animals
Best for Cats with Litter Box Issues
9.5
Picked by 31 people today!

Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Attract Unscented Clumping Clay Litter

  • Contains an herbal cat attractant to encourage litter box use
  • Forms tight, hard clumps that are easy to scoop
  • Performed fairly well in odor control in a multi-cat household
Best for Kittens
9.5
Picked by 25 people today!

Yesterday’s News Paper Cat Litter

  • Non-clumping formula may be safer for kittens
  • Incredibly low in dust, great for sensitive noses
  • Made from recycled paper materials
Best for Sensitive Paws
9.4
Picked by 21 people today!

Yesterday’s News Unscented Clumping Paper Cat Litter

  • Made from recycled paper with 100% recyclable packaging
  • Soft, lightweight texture is gentle on sensitive cat paws
  • Offers some clumping ability to help make scooping easier
Best for People Who Hate Scooping the Litter Box
9.3
Picked by 18 people today!

Tidy Cats Breeze Litter System

  • Complete litter box system, all in one
  • Dehydrating zeolite pellets help dry out solid waste
  • Urine collects in the pee pad beneath the system

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 10 cat litter products as the best you can put in your cat’s box.

Top Picks Explained

At the top of the 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 10 Recommendations

choosing the best cat litter

A quality cat litter is essential for cat owners, but you and your cats have your own unique preferences. We’ve assembled a list of the 10 best cat litters on the market in different categories so you can find the option that best suits you and your cat.

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

Dr. Elsey's Cat Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter

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Year after year, this no-frills clumping clay litter 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.

It’s an all-around strong litter that comes at an economical price. Plus, Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat litter clumps exceptionally well, helping to make box maintenance easy. Reviewers also note that it’s less dusty than most other clay products and we’d agree.

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. Because the granules are fairly large, the litter ends up being a little heavy. Chewy sells this litter in 18-, 20-, and 40-pound bags. If you’re not up to lugging around a giant bag of cat litter, choose one of the smaller sizes.

What We Liked:

  • Creates hard, easy-to-scoop clumps
  • Affordably priced under $0.50 per pound
  • Relatively large granules help reduce tracking/scatter
  • One of the least dusty clay litters on the market
  • Unscented formula, good for sensitive noses

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Can be on the heavy side, especially in large bags
  • Like all clay litter, produces some dust

#2 Best Budget: Fresh Step Simply Unscented Clumping Clay Cat Litter

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Priced around $0.38 per pound, this clumping litter is extremely affordable. You can easily purchase it online, but this brand is also available in many grocery stores and major retailers.

Fresh Step Simply Unscented cat litter is a clay litter, so it does produce silica dust. In testing this product, I found it to be significantly dustier than Dr. Elsey’s which could be a problem. That being said, my test cats really seemed to enjoy the litter.

This cat litter comes in fairly small granules which are gentle on your cat’s paws and, because it is unscented, it is both cat- and human-friendly. The litter formed tight, hard clumps that were easy to scoop and it controlled litter box odor fairly well.

What We Liked:

  • Affordably priced around $0.38 per pound
  • Forms tight, hard, easy-to-scoop clumps
  • Performed fairly well in controlling litter box odor
  • Texture seemed gentle on cat paws

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Produces a significant amount of dust

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

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Read Our Full Brand Review

This clumping clay litter has a full kit of odor-neutralizing features. It is highly absorbent to protect against urine odor and it forms tight, hard clumps.

The Ever Clean 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 Clefan 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. This may be worth considering if your cat has a sensitive nose.

It’s also worth noting that this litter is a little on the heavy side. This can be a challenge for cat owners when it comes to carrying and scooping the litter but it does help reduce tracking and scatter.

Want More Options? Click Here For A List Of The Best Litter For Odor Control

What We Liked:

  • Creates hard, easy-to-scoop clumps
  • Relatively low dust production for a clay litter
  • Offers strong, long-lasting odor control

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Fairly dense and heavy, may be a challenge for some
  • Somewhat expensive, priced around $1.50 per pound

#4 Best Silica Cat Litter: Fresh Step Premium Crystals Easy Care Cat Litter

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If you’re looking for a long-lasting cat litter or you’re trying to avoid dusty clay litter, silica is an option to consider. This silica crystal litter from Fresh Step offers a moderate crystal size which improves absorption and helps the litter last longer.

In testing this silica cat litter, I found it produced a relatively low level of dust and it did a good job controlling odors. Customer reviews lined up with my personal experience, so overall I’d call this a decent litter and a good choice if you’re looking for something that lasts a little longer than clay.

As a silica litter, this option is a little more expensive than clay at around $1.72 per pound. That being said, you may use less of this litter than you would with clay, so it may end up saving you money.

It’s also a very lightweight cat litter with an 8-pound bag lasting about as long as a traditional 28-pound bag of clumping clay litter.

What We Liked:

  • Moderately sized crystals, excellent absorption
  • Relatively low levels of dust when pouring
  • Lasts longer than the average clay litter

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Fairly expensive, over $1.50 per pound
  • Not a clumping formula, must be stirred to stay fresh

#5 Best Plant-Based Litter: Sustainably Yours Multi-Cat Plus Cat Litter

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While clay cat litter is technically natural, many cat owners are in the market for plant-based or biodegradable cat litter. My top pick in this category is Sustainably Yours Multi-Cat Plus Cat Litter.

This is a fine-grained cat litter made from corn and cassava. It produced a little bit of dust when pouring it into the litter box, but I found it performed quite well overall. This litter forms very firm, cohesive clumps that are easy to scoop and the odor control was pretty good.

While the odor control of this litter isn’t as strong as some of the clay litters on this list, I found it to be much stronger than some other plant-based litters I’ve tried. The primary downside of this litter is the degree to which it tracks – it has incredibly fine granules which can stick to your cat’s paws and make their way out of the litter box onto your floor.

This plant-based cat litter comes in three different formulas – two for multi-cat households and one with large grains to help prevent litter tracking and scatter. It comes in easy-to-manage 13-pound bags.

What We Liked:

  • Forms firm, cohesive clumps for easy scooping
  • Fine granules are gentle on your cat’s paws
  • Biodegradable, made from plant-based materials
  • Performed fairly well in odor control

What We Didn’t Like:

  • May be a little bit dusty when you first pour it
  • Very fine granules tend to track and scatter easily
  • Fairly expensive, almost $2 per pound

#6 Best Pine Pellet Litter: Equine Bedding

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As an alternative to clumping-style natural clay litters, pellet-style products are popular among cat owners. My top pick for the best pine pellet litter is not strictly marketed as a cat litter. This equine bedding is marketed for horses and small animals and is sold in a 40-pound bag for under $10.

While there may be some question about the safety of pine pellets because they contain a natural oil which can be toxic to small animals, kiln-dried products like this are generally deemed safe.

The primary benefit of this equine bedding is that it is a nearly identical product to pine-based cat litters like Feline Pine but comes at a much more economical price.

What We Liked:

  • Very affordable, priced around $0.14 per pound
  • Made from highly absorbent pine materials
  • Kiln-dried to make it safe for cats and other small animals

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Comes in 40-pound bags which can be heavy
  • Some cats may not like the large granule size

#7 Best for Cats with Litter Box Issues: Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Attract Unscented Clumping Clay Litter

Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Attract Cat Litter

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Read Our Full Brand Review

Avoidance and other litter box issues can be frustrating to deal with, and they generally aren’t related to the litter itself. That being said, switching to a new litter might help the situation, at least until you and your vet are able to determine the underlying cause of the problem.

Dr. Elsey’s Cat Attract clumping clay litter is similar to the first item on this list but it contains an herbal cat attractant. Though I was skeptical about this feature at first, my cats really seemed to love the litter and I found it performed fairly well in testing.

The first thing I noticed about this clumping clay litter is that it is incredibly dusty. In terms of clumping and odor control, however, it did quite well. There was some noticeable tracking and scatter, but not more than expected for this type of litter.

What We Liked:

  • Contains an herbal cat attractant to encourage litter box use
  • Forms tight, hard clumps that are easy to scoop
  • Performed fairly well in odor control in a multi-cat household

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Fairly heavy, can be a challenge during scooping
  • A little bit pricy, around $0.74 per pound
  • Quite dusty, could be a problem for some cats

#8 Best for Kittens: Yesterday’s News Paper Cat Litter

Yesterdays-News-Original-Formula-Cat-Litter-1

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Shopping for cat litter for kittens can be tricky because you want to find something that is gentle on your kitten’s paws and safe in case of accidental ingestion. Clumping clay litter can swell up to 15 times its size and there’s a theory that if a kitten accidentally ingests it, it could be very dangerous.

Yesterday’s News non-clumping paper litter is my top pick for kittens because it is made from recycled paper and doesn’t clump, but it’s not one of my favorite litters in general.

It does an okay job of controlling odors, but it is non-clumping and not particularly absorbent. Moisture tends to build up in the litter box which can make your job of cleaning the litter box a little more challenging. You’ll need to change it out regularly to keep odor under control.

What We Liked:

  • Non-clumping formula may be safer for kittens
  • Incredibly low in dust, great for sensitive noses
  • Made from recycled paper materials

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Provides very limited odor control
  • Not particularly absorbent, moisture can build up

#9 Best for Cats with Sensitive Paws: Yesterday’s News Unscented Clumping Paper Cat Litter

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For cats with sensitive paws who need something softer than the typical clay litter, I recommend Yesterday’s News Unscented Paper Clumping Cat Litter.

This cat litter is made from recycled paper which gives it a soft, lightweight texture that is very gentle on sensitive cat paws. It contains natural guar gum to make it a clumping litter and mineral oil to help minimize dust.

While this litter is lightweight and gentle, it isn’t a high-performance litter. I still found it to be fairly dusty, it offered limited odor control, and the clumping ability could have been stronger. Scatter and tracking were an issue as well, given the lightweight texture of the litter.

What We Liked:

  • Made from recycled paper with 100% recyclable packaging
  • Soft, lightweight texture is gentle on sensitive cat paws
  • Offers some clumping ability to help make scooping easier

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Limited odor control ability
  • Scatter and tracking may be an issue

#10  Best for People Who Hate Scooping the Litter Box: Tidy Cats Breeze Litter System

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Read Our Full Brand Review

No one loves cleaning out the litter box but for cat owners who particularly loathe the task, the Tidy Cats Breeze Litter System could be a good choice. This system consists of high-sided litter box with dehydrating pellets and a pull-out drawer that holds an absorbent pee pad.

What makes this litter system unique is the zeolite pellets. Zeolite is a natural desiccant, so these pellets help dry out solid waste to make scooping easier while liquid waste filters through into the pee pad below. By separating solid and liquid waste, this system helps control odor.

Personally, the Tidy Cats Breeze system isn’t my favorite but it could be a good option for some people. Not only did my cats seem to dislike the texture of the pellets, but I found them a little hard to clean up and they did tend to scatter a lot.

What We Liked:

  • Complete litter box system, all in one
  • Dehydrating zeolite pellets help dry out solid waste
  • Urine collects in the pee pad beneath the system

What We Didn’t Like:

  • One of the more expensive options on the market
  • Can be tricky to scoop solid waste
  • Some cats may dislike the texture of the pellets

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.

Here’s What We Look for In the Best Cat Litter

1947_cat litter

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 that crumble when you scoop, and others yield firm clumps. 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 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.

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.

Also Read: Best Dust Free Cat Litter

The Best Cat Litter Is Affordable

Depending 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 pricey.

Don’t think 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 Low-Tracking

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.

Also Read: The 5 Best Non-Tracking Cat Litters

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

Today’s cat litter shopper has the privilege and challenge of dealing with an astounding product variety. Let’s break the marketplace down into three fundamental types: clay, silica gel, and biodegradable products.

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.

Also Read: Best Non-Clumping Cat Litter

– Clumping Clay Litter

Clumping clay litter is usually made from sodium bentonite clay. This type of clay expands 12-15 times its original size when wet. This swelling ability causes it to clump when it comes in contact with urine, making it easy to scoop.

Also Read: Best Clumping Cat Litter

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.

Also Read: What’s the Best Crystal Cat Litter?

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.

Also Read: The 5 Best Natural Cat Litters

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

  • Walnut – Made from the fibrous material of walnut shells, this litter 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 has strong clumping and odor control abilities. Because it’s so light, grass litter tends to track and scatter more than clay litter.
  • 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. Corn is also a top target for aflatoxin mold contamination, it’s doubly important to keep the litter box clean.
  • Paper – Paper litter is available in both clumping and non-clumping varieties. Pellet-style paper litter is most common, 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.

Many biodegradable cat litters are also flushable. Be sure to carefully read the label before you flush cat litter down the toilet, however – flushing the wrong litter could be an expensive (and messy) mistake.

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 your cat’s paws? Will dust fill his hooded box and make him uncomfortable? Is the artificial fragrance 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 offers a beautiful combination of features that meet 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.

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