Jenny Dean is the blogger behind Floppycats.com, a website that unites Ragdoll cat lovers worldwide. She has two 9-year old Ragdoll cats, Charlie and Trigg, that she adores. Jenny has been blogging and reviewing products for over 10 years, including many different kinds of litter—including clay, corn, walnut, paper, and more. She also covers topics such as cat care, cat behavior, and cat rescue. You can connect with the Ragdoll community on Instagram and spend hours browsing adorable cat photos.
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Table of Contents
When you’re picking out something that’s so subjective, experience is the greatest teacher. So we decided to ask Jenny, who has shared her home with cats almost her whole life, about how she looks for cat litter.
Give unscented litter a try. We know that cat litter that smells like lavender fields sounds like a great idea, but scented litter has too strong of a smell for most cats. And if your cat doesn’t like his litter box, he’s not going to pee in it.
Also, most perfume is synthesized from chemicals, and these chemicals get on your cat’s coat as he's doing his business. And the next time he licks himself clean, they enter his system. We don’t know just how harmful these chemicals are for your cat, but it’s not something you want to take chances with.
A good unscented litter is more than enough to control smell. If it has antimicrobial agents, then all the better—since now you’re rooting out and eliminating the cause of the odor.
Usually, scented litters fail because a cat stops using the litter box because it smells so potent and offensive to the cat. A cat’s nose smells 14 times stronger than a human's, and most scented litters are chemically produced, meaning that they use chemicals and perfumes that make a cat not want to use the litter box.
They aren’t [naturally] looking for something that smells like an artificial air freshener to do their business in.
You want litter that clumps. If the sand does not clump where a cat pees or poops, you won’t be able to get rid of it right away. The waste will slowly sink to the bottom, and you would have to dump out the litter box, rinse it, and start again.
And the longer you wait to clear out the litter box, the more time you give the bacteria and other undesirables to fester and grow. Clumping litter is easy, and it’s hygienic.
However, clumping litter will harden on any wet surface. That means if you keep the litter box in a bathroom with a shower—anywhere with a wet surface—when your cat kicks litter out of the box, it’ll stick to your floors and you’ll have to scrape it off.
I like clumping litter the best because you can remove the clumps from the litterbox, which then eliminates the smell in and around the litterbox. Just scoop it on a regular basis and put it into something like a Litter Genie—that works best for our household.
Clay litter is the most common on the market. That’s why it’s also the cheapest. It absorbs odor well—that is, until it becomes saturated with urine. That’s why it’s so important to get clumping litter so you can remove waste and lay down new litter regularly.
However, clay litter is dusty. If your cat has lung problems, it may aggravate them. And when he scrabbles around the litter box, he will kick dirt everywhere.
If you watch a cat go to the bathroom outside, they usually will pick a dry dirt spot to do their business. And the closest thing to dry dirt to me is fine clay clumping litter. I want to mimic where they would go outside the most I can in my house since I have indoor cats, and that’s why I like clay.
The better the brand, usually, the less dust is in the clay-based litter. And I think finer granules do better as well. If you have a cat that’s eating the granules, though, you don’t want to go with that. You should be buying them paper litter or maybe wheat litter or something that their digestive tract can take.
Paper is natural and biodegradable. It’s also highly absorbent, soaking up urine before it contaminates the rest of the litter box. And it’s gentle, so you know there won’t be a problem even if your cat eats a little.
It’s also light, which seems like such a minor thing—but it will keep you from straining your back when you lug the bag to, from, and around the house.
My cat Rags had a cut from his chest to almost his belly button. It was an abdominal incision. All of that was sutured together, and he had staples there to keep it together. And so when he went to the bathroom, that was exposed and closest to the litter. So that’s when we used paper litter.
I like paper litter for those kind of uses because it’s obviously safe. It’s non-toxic, and hopefully, it doesn’t have any artificial scent sprayed on it.
This category encompasses a few different kinds of litter. Wood, plants, wheat, even corn—basically, anything that sprouts out of the ground and is not produced in a lab is a plant-based litter.
Some plant-based litter clump well, some not so much. Some plant-based litter eliminates smell, some don’t. It all depends on what brand you’re using and what went into making the litter. But, in general, wood and corn are absorbent and good at stifling odor.
There’s many readers on Floppycats that like ökocat, or they like World’s Best Cat Litter. But—and I can’t emphasize this enough—cat litter and cat litter boxes are very subjective for the cat owner and the cat. What works in our house might not be the best combo for your house.
Silica litter is made out of something similar to those little packages of desiccant that sometimes come with food. It’s a porous material, and it can absorb a huge amount of urine. So technically, you don’t have to clean the litter box as often—but do you really want to leave cat pee sitting around for a month?
Silica is dust free (it’s a gel)—so it’s tempting if your cat has asthma or allergies. But it’s potentially harmful if digested in large amounts. It’s for you to decide if the pros outweigh the cons.
From here on out, you’re going to be constantly laying down new litter, dumping out old litter, and restocking litter—so it makes sense to be worried about cost. You want a litter you can afford and continue to afford into the future.
However, make sure that you only get brands you trust and your cat likes. If you’re on a shoestring budget, rather than gambling on something cheap and of doubtful quality, search for deals. There are plenty of promotions and sales—all you have to do is look.
The litter box and your cat’s food are two things that I don’t think that you skimp on, that you spend money on. You don’t want your cat peeing or pooping outside the litter box, so it’s a no brainer that you wouldn’t skimp on that. You want the perfect situation for the cat and for you.
Just watch the price of litter [or find] coupons online you can print off and bring in store to help you save.
Click to purchase
World's Best Cat Litter
World’s Best Cat Litter Multiple Cat Clumping Formula (28 lb.)
Safe Corn Kernels that Can Absorb Huge Amounts of Waste and Odor
Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter (18 lb.)
Clumps Quickly and Is Virtually Dust-Free
ökocat Super Soft Natural Wood Clumping Litter (16.7 lb.)｜Super Soft
Almost Like Sawdust–Gentle Wood Litter for Sensitive Paws
Weruva It’s A Tea Potty! Hinoki Wood & Green Tea Natural Cat Litter (11.7 lb.)
No Clay and No Grains–Try Weruva if You or Your Cat Has Allergies
sWheat Scoop Multi-Cat All-Natural Clumping Cat Litter (36 lb.)
Clumping Natural Litter that Smells Like Grain
Boxiecat Premium Clumping Clay Cat Litter (28 lb.)
Clumps on Top so You Don’t Need to Scrape the Sides of the Litter Box
Purina Yesterday's News
Purina Yesterday News Unscented Paper Cat Litter (30 lb.)
For Sensitive Cats: Recycled Paper, Dust-Free and Safe to Ingest
SmartCat All Natural Clumping Litter (20 lb.)
Dust-Free Grass Litter That Clumps into Concrete
Ever Clean Extra Strength Cat Litter, Unscented (25 lb.)
Strong Clumps that Keep the Litter Box Nice in Between Full Cleanings
Arm & Hammer
Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal Litter, Multi-Cat (38 lb.)
Easy to Clean and Eliminates Fecal Odor
World’s Best has been used by cat rescue groups taking care of dozens of felines, and it generally does a good job absorbing odor. It's still got a little bit of dust, but it has a nice texture, like sand, that cats like to step on. Plus, the clumps are tight and don’t break apart when you try to scoop them up.
Though you do need to clean the litterbox often, reviewers absolutely love how easy it is to do when using World's Best, stating that the litter is super absorbent. You can even flush it down the toilet instead of bagging it.
Reviewers do say that the clumps are super hard and you must be careful when scooping them out or you might break the scooper. However, they do also say that it's extremely good at eliminating odor, hardly has any tracking, and is dust-free.
Most reviewers expressed displeasure with recent price increases and a drop in quality (tracks, not dust-free). However, it has great odor control and clumps well.
However, with the strong smell, it does cover odors. Reviewers also like that it's lightweight and clumps fairly well.
Reviewers say that it doesn't do well with odor-controlling and doesn't clump well enough. However, reviewers like that it is flushable, biodegradable, and safe for cats.
On the other hand, reviewers do say it's good at keeping odors down, had very little dust, and is very absorbent.
Reviewers mention the above—and that it's hard to tell the used litter from the unused litter, which means more disposal and use of litter, which isn't super cost-efficient. However, it does work at keeping tracking to a minimum and is very safe for cats. Reviewers also use this brand for small pets like rabbits and guinea pigs.
Reviewers say that it's terrible because it tracks everywhere. But there’s barely any dust, it's lightweight, clumps well, and dries fairly quickly.
Reviewers say that it does release a lot of dust and has a pretty strong scent, despite being labeled unscented. On the other hand, they say that this litter is extremely good at clumping and reducing odors.
However, reviewers do like that it clumps well, meaning that you don't have to constantly change the entire litter box. Many people also say it eliminates odors well and is easy to clean.
Although you've chosen the litter to buy, you still need a litter box! Plus, you probably want to buy some toys or accessories to keep them happy. With so many products out there, though, it can be hard to choose. Check out one of our other buying guides below for help!
No. 1: World's Best Cat Litter｜World’s Best Cat Litter Multiple Cat Clumping Formula (28 lb.)
No. 2: Dr. Elsey’s｜Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter (18 lb.)
No. 3: ökocat｜ökocat Super Soft Natural Wood Clumping Litter (16.7 lb.)｜Super Soft
No. 4: Weruva｜Weruva It’s A Tea Potty! Hinoki Wood & Green Tea Natural Cat Litter (11.7 lb.)
No. 5: sWheat｜sWheat Scoop Multi-Cat All-Natural Clumping Cat Litter (36 lb.)
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