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This is a question that more than 5722 of our readers have been asking us! Luckily, we have found the most appropriate information for you!

The stinky, sometimes sticky mess that cats leave in the litter box is easier to handle if you have the right cat litter. After two years of testing 17 cat litters, we think Dr. Elsey’s Ultra does the best job of making litter box chores a little easier, because it masks odors, clumps well, and keeps dust to a minimum. Plus, it’s cheaper than many other options—an important factor, considering this is something you’ll use a lot of in a cat’s lifetime.

We sniffed out how well each formula controlled odors by adding the sulfur-smelling hing spice and an ammonia mixture to each pan. Read more No brand of cat litter outperforms Dr. Elsey’s Ultra ’s combination of solid odor control, scoopability, and low dust profile—all at an affordable price. It does a good job of trapping odors, and it smells more neutral, not fruity like some other litters we tested, so it’s easier on your nose come scooping time. Arm & Hammer Cloud Control is a good litter overall, but it’s generally about 30 percent more expensive per pound than Dr. Elsey’s Ultra, and most people (and cats) won’t get much more value out of it. The scoop’s generous size and sturdy construction make it easy to rake through the litter box and catch everything. Though the DuraScoop costs more than other scoops, it’s a one-time purchase that will make one of the more unpleasant parts of your day nicer and keep your litter box cleaner. She interviewed Alexandra Medley , a veterinarian who had recently graduated from the Ohio State University (and now works for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and had her survey the vets in her network for answers to Wirecutter’s toughest litter questions. Shannon also consulted Michael Lund, a vet with the ASPCA ; Anne Levin, president of the Brooklyn Bridge Animal Welfare Coalition and manager of the Brooklyn Cat Cafe ; and Ray Brown , VP of household R&D at Church & Dwight, the company that owns Arm & Hammer (which sells several kinds of cat litter). Lowe gave the neighbor some of the dried clay bits his father used to help clean up grease spills at factories. Lowe made a career of selling Kitty Litter under a handful of brands (including the enduring Tidy Cats name). If you and your cat are picky, it’s easy to find a slightly different kind without having to drastically change litters. About a decade ago, the company tried out a silica litter that consisted of white spheres the size of marbles. Not only did about a third of the cats reject it (because it felt weird to step on, Brown figured), but it didn’t wear so well, either. Clumping litter forms a block when your cat pees on it, allowing you to scoop out the waste rather than having to change the entire pan. Chances are good the litter you buy advertises itself as more than just “clay clumping litter.” But what do those terms mean, and are any of these extra features actually effective? In fact, companies that make only a couple of litter varieties often label them all “good for multiple cats.” We erred on the side of multi-cat formulas when they were available, but it wasn’t a strict requirement. We tested a few of these litters because we were curious about how well they’d perform in covering odors, and—because scents can be a personal preference—we wanted to be able to provide information about them. In general, larger particles are going to track less than small ones, because they are heavier and take more force to stick to fur. This is all relatively hard to discern from the box itself—especially because a combination of factors is involved—so we didn’t select litters to test based on how they might track. Though some brands recommend using non-clumping litters until your kitten is 4 months old or so, others, like Cat’s Pride, note that there’s no evidence that sodium bentonite has actually caused harm to a kitten; this is a conclusion supported by vets Medley and Lund, as well as by everything we found when scanning the literature and reading many Internet forums. “In my 7 years experience as a vet I’ve not seen a foreign body from a kitten who has ingested clay clumping litter,” said Lund. We graded the cat litters on how easy their containers were to carry and pour, their dustiness and scent, how well they masked stand-in odors (an ammonia mixture and hing , a spice that smells like sulfur), liquid-waste scoopability and clumping hardness, and how easy it was to clean caked-on messes at the bottom of the pan. We also brought five different scoops—which were highly rated on Amazon or that came recommended by another source—with us to the cat cafe, and took notes on how easy each was to hold, how effective each was at collecting clumps, and how much litter stuck to the scoop. For your money, Dr. Elsey’s Ultra forms tough clumps and does an outstanding job of trapping odors. Wirecutter staffers report that the clumps held up well during scooping, sometimes breaking into large chunks if they were being excavated from a corner or side. “They never crumble into oblivion,” said Wirecutter senior staff writer Kimber Streams, whose cats have used it for six years. Though this litter is sometimes sold in small boxes , the lowest price is found on a 40-pound plastic bag from Amazon. Pet owners with minimal arm strength may have difficulty pouring Dr. Elsey’s Ultra into a pan, so we recommend transferring some of the litter into an easy-pour container (like this one , which Wirecutter editor Tim Barribeau uses) or using a large kibble scooper that you store in the bag. But those tiny granules may track throughout the home, and the Cloud Control litter’s traditional cardboard-box container can be a hassle to carry and open. In our tests, the Cloud Control cat litter trapped stinky ammonia and sulfur-like hing odors better than the competition, and only a faint stench remained when we were sitting next to the dirty litter; only Dr. Elsey’s Ultra beat it in this area by completely trapping the odors. ( Cat’s Pride Total Odor Control Unscented , a brand with similarly sized granules, broke apart into smaller pieces that were harder to scoop.) The Arm & Hammer Cloud Control Clumping Litter (left) is the only one we tested that never stuck to the bottom of a dirty pan. “After using Elsey’s for my two cats over the course of about a year, the switch to Cloud Control was actually a revelation,” said Michael Hession, Wirecutter’s head of photography and video. “I always struggled to scrape clay litter off of our boxes, and the Cloud Control makes scooping much faster and less labor-intensive. The Cloud Control’s minuscule dust profile means that nearby surfaces stay cleaner longer, and this brand of litter should be easier to tolerate if you or your cat has allergies. The Cloud Control litter’s smaller granules are easier to scoop and clean, but those tiny specks are also more likely to stick to your cat’s paws and track throughout the house. Finally, the Arm & Hammer Cloud Control litter comes in a cardboard box with a plastic handle, making it easy to hold and to store compared with the packaging for Dr. Elsey’s Ultra (though it’s not nearly as comfortable to carry as Cat’s Pride’s plastic jug ). The DuraScoop lives up to his intent, and its rubber handle is easy to grip and won’t bend or dig into your hand. Overall, the DuraScoop makes an unpleasant chore as simple as possible, a fact reflected by the scoop’s impressive, 4.8-star rating on Amazon. The DuraScoop is more expensive than the competition, though we think that about $13 is still a small price to pay for something that makes it easy to clean out your pet’s litter box. Han admits that So Phresh is pricey (it’s more than three times the cost of our top pick), and he says it works best with a layer of baking soda added to the bottom of the litter pan (another expense). Special pine pellets go in the box, and beneath them there’s an absorbent pad that you can swap out, in addition to scooping. Again and again while working on this guide, we heard from people who swore by World’s Best Cat Litter , which is made of corn. As we’ve written in our guide to dog poop bags , the US Environmental Protection Agency classifies pet waste as a pollutant , which can introduce excess nutrients and harmful microorganisms like parasites and coliform bacteria into rivers, streams, and groundwater. If your cat is also frequently defecating or urinating in other locations, that may be a sign of a health issue, rather than a litter problem. This feature was nice when we were testing with fake waste; flat clumps are easy to scoop because they don’t require any digging. Of the three scented litters we tested, Arm & Hammer Slide did the best job of removing the sting of the ammonia. Purina Tidy Cats 24/7 Performance comes in a pail with a long handle that’s unwieldy to hold. It was more expensive than the other litters we recommend, but it came in an easier-to-pour container and tended to form tougher clumps compared with everything else we tested. It’s best to place the litter box in a quiet room with limited foot traffic, and against a wall so your cat will feel safe when they use it. If a litter box is too hard to reach (on a high platform) or too far away (the opposite end of a 2,000-square-foot home), your cat may not be able or even willing to go there. The US Environmental Protection Agency classifies pet waste as a pollutant, which can introduce excess nutrients and harmful microorganisms like parasites and coliform bacteria into groundwater, rivers, and streams. Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii— which may be present in up to half the cats in some areas , and is most commonly found on pets that spend time outdoors. Currently, the best way to prevent infection when you’re around a cat, litter box or surfaces that may have been exposed to fecal matter is to thoroughly wash your hands before touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

What cat litter is best for odor control?

Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal Multi-Cat Odor Control Cat Litter. ….Fresh Step Odor Shield Cat Litter. ….Tidy Cats Lightweight Cat Litter for Odor Control. ….Fresh Step Ultra Unscented Odor Control Litter. ….Nature’s Miracle Odor Control Cat Litter. ….Cat’s Pride Unscented Total Odor Control Litter.

How do I keep the litter box from smelling?

Scoop Daily. The best way to reduce litter box smells is to get rid of the stuff that’s smelly. ….Wash Thoroughly. ….Replace the Boxes. ….Add More Well-Sized Boxes. ….Ventilate. ….Baking Soda. ….Clean Messes Quickly and Thoroughly.

Cats are cute and all, but their stench certainly isn’t. Lucky for you, cat odor can often be controlled with the right cat litter, litter box set-up and cleaning schedule. The root of the problem often lies in the kitty litter itself, which is why it’s so important to find the best cat litter for odor control — clumping and non-clumping cat litters, depending on your cat’s needs and preferences. But once you lay the foundation, it’s crucial that you, as their caretaker, maintain everything so it looks nice and smells fresh.

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If you have a feline that’s good at releasing toxic fumes from their backside, you’ll give anything to mask the stench. Some cats just have a knack for fuming up the whole house with their bodily odors. Or maybe you have a few cats in a desperate battle to outdo the others—either way, it’s unpleasant, to put it mildly.

Our reviews explore six types of litter powerful enough to mask the strongest scents—we think your cat may have finally met their match. Tidy Cats Lightweight 14-day ammonia blocking guarantee Very lightweight A pleasant, subtle scent Check Latest Price Fresh Step Ultra Unscented Litter Unscented Protects against bacterial growth Uses activated charcoal Check Latest Price Nature’s Miracle Odor Control Safe for all pets Money-back guarantee Natural corn cob and bio-enzymatic properties Check Latest Price Of all the great products we reviewed, the Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal Multi-cat litter is our favorite. If you have multiple cats or simply want to reduce litter box odors, this is a winning ticket. If you are having trouble finding the time to scoop your cat box daily, this litter has a 7-day odor-free guarantee. The added Ultra Odor Blasters counteract urine and fecal matter to create a more pleasant atmosphere. There are no irritating clouds to account for, although we still did notice some airborne debris when you pour it from a higher range. Odor Fighting Ingredients: Febreze with ammonia-lock technology Absorbency: High Dust: Low Tracking: Moderate Granule Size: Small The granules are small for ultra packing, adhering to waste to make easy-to-clean clumps. Unlike some other litters, Fresh Step doesn’t fall apart or leave behind small clods of debris. It’s essential to clean your cat box daily, refilling it as necessary to reap the full benefits. This formula uses bacterial odor protection to get to the root cause of smells, defeating them with unscented, activated charcoal. This product offers 10-day odor guarantees, meaning you will have to change the litter less frequently in comparison to some. It has tiny green granules that activate carbon traps to seal in any of the gross stuff. As soon as moisture hits this best odor control cat litter, it clings, so it doesn’t seep through to the bottom. Odor Fighting Ingredients: Bio-enzymatic formula Absorbency: High Dust: Low Tracking: Moderate Granule Size: Small This updated formula uses a bio-enzymatic property that effectively asserts control over litter box odors. So, if your dog likes to sample your cat’s latest droppings, this litter won’t harm them. One significant upside is that this best cat litter for odor product has a total satisfaction guarantee right on the bag. Odor Fighting Ingredients: Dual clay blend Absorbency: High Dust: Low Tracking: Moderate Granule Size: Small Cat’s Pride Unscented Total Odor Control is an honorable mention that is affordable, lightweight, and odor-reducing. It uses a dual-clay blend with a patented maximum power formula, keeping things fresh for up to 10 days. Often made of natural materials Higher absorbency No added dyes, perfumes, or fragrance Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock Each odor-fighting litter comes with its own formula designed to reduce the unpleasant smells of cat waste. There are tons of products on the market that offer chemical compounds to counteract bad odors. You should continuously monitor your cat’s behavior after changing their litter to ensure no symptomatic responses or allergic reactions. Many cat lovers try to opt for natural odor control to keep their kitties safe, but these products are sometimes less effective long-term. Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal Multi-cat litter is our favorite because we found that the odor control it offers is absolutely optimal. In any case, we hope our reviews introduced you to new and fantastic products that conquer the litter box once and for all.

Our pick

Dr. Elsey’s Ultra

The best cat litter

This cat litter forms sturdy clumps, effectively controls odors, and is one of the cheapest options available.No brand of cat litter outperforms Dr. Elsey’s Ultra’s combination of solid odor control, scoopability, and low dust profile—all at an affordable price. It’s the only cat litter we found that completely traps simulated cat-waste odors. And its neutral smell is easier to stomach than some litters’ fruity fragrances, which clash with litter box odors. Dr. Elsey’s granules are of average size, so cats are less likely to track litter throughout the house. This litter also quickly clumps when wet, and the clumps retain their shape when you’re scooping better than most other litters. Dr. Elsey’s also produces less dust than half of the brands we tested, and the dust won’t overwhelm you when you’re pouring fresh litter into the pan or scooping out a day’s worth of cat mess. But this litter is sold in a giant plastic bag, which is a pain to carry and pour from. And like most of the litters we tested, Dr. Elsey’s granules are likely to stick to the bottom of a dirty litter pan and can be a pain to deep-clean.Advertisement

Also great

Arm & Hammer Cloud Control Clumping Litter

Easier to clean

This litter does a good job of controlling odors, and it doesn’t leave gunky messes stuck to the box like other litters we tested. But it’s more expensive per pound than our top pick.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $15.No litter is so good at controlling scents that it can replace regular scooping and strategic box placement. But if you are very sensitive to litter smells or hate having to constantly dust surfaces near the litter box, consider Arm & Hammer Cloud Control Clumping Litter. It does a good job of trapping odors, and it smells more neutral, not fruity like some other litters we tested, so it’s easier on your nose come scooping time. This litter has fine, sand-like litter granules that form tight clumps and won’t stick to the bottom of a dirty litter pan—but those fine granules do track more litter throughout the home than our main pick does. This cat litter’s low-dust profile means you won’t cough uncontrollably when you’re pouring, scooping, or deep-cleaning the litter box. Arm & Hammer Cloud Control is a good litter overall, but it’s generally about 30 percent more expensive per pound than Dr. Elsey’s Ultra, and most people (and cats) won’t get much more value out of it.

Our pick

DurAnimals DuraScoop Original Cat Litter Scoop

The best scoop

This large and easy-to-hold scoop makes a gross chore as pleasant as possible.Out of five scoops we used during testing, the DurAnimals DuraScoop Original Cat Litter Scoop is the one we’d buy for ourselves. It’s the only scoop that wasn’t gross by the end of testing, with minimal pee and litter crust on the edge, and no bits of litter stuck in the mesh. The scoop’s generous size and sturdy construction make it easy to rake through the litter box and catch everything. Though the DuraScoop costs more than other scoops, it’s a one-time purchase that will make one of the more unpleasant parts of your day nicer and keep your litter box cleaner.

Everything we recommend

Our pick

Dr. Elsey’s Ultra

The best cat litter

This cat litter forms sturdy clumps, effectively controls odors, and is one of the cheapest options available.

Also great

Arm & Hammer Cloud Control Clumping Litter

Easier to clean

This litter does a good job of controlling odors, and it doesn’t leave gunky messes stuck to the box like other litters we tested. But it’s more expensive per pound than our top pick.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $15.

Our pick

DurAnimals DuraScoop Original Cat Litter Scoop

The best scoop

This large and easy-to-hold scoop makes a gross chore as pleasant as possible.

Why you should trust us

Why clay litter?

Cat litter was invented in 1947 by a 20-something named Edward Lowe to help out a neighbor who ran out of sand (which is what people put in litter boxes those days, if they let their cats inside at all). Lowe gave the neighbor some of the dried clay bits his father used to help clean up grease spills at factories. He called it Kitty Litter, as a 1984 People magazine story on Lowe explains.Lowe made a career of selling Kitty Litter under a handful of brands (including the enduring Tidy Cats name). The term he coined became generic, and the number of options for litter exploded. Today, you can also purchase litter made of corn, pine, silica, or recycled newspaper. Clay remains the most common type of litter, and that’s what we’ll focus on in this guide. “In my experiences with my own cats, and cats coming through the clinic, most are going to do very well with a clay clumping litter,” said Michael Lund, one of the vets we spoke with. (If you prefer non-clay litter, we have some recommendations at the end of this guide.)Clay litters are inexpensive and can produce solid clumps to make scooping easier. You don’t need to add baking soda or pee pads to make them work. And because clay litter dominates the market, it comes in a variety of scents and grain sizes. If you and your cat are picky, it’s easy to find a slightly different kind without having to drastically change litters.Plus, cats like clay. Clay is similar in consistency to soil, as veterinarian Alexandra Medley pointed out, so going in a clay litter will feel pretty natural for your cat. When we tested litter at the Brooklyn Cat Cafe, the cats—who normally get pine pellets during the day because those don’t track easily—were so excited to use it that they jumped in the boxes and started pooping as soon as we poured the litter.If you’re skeptical that clay’s soil-like qualities matter, consider this anecdote from Ray Brown, VP at Church & Brown, maker of Arm & Hammer litter. About a decade ago, the company tried out a silica litter that consisted of white spheres the size of marbles. Not only did about a third of the cats reject it (because it felt weird to step on, Brown figured), but it didn’t wear so well, either. “When you first put it in the litter box, honestly it looks great, but after the cat starts to use it, it doesn’t look so great,” he said. To put it less politely: On a white background, pee and poop stick out.

Is clumping litter safe for kittens?

Our starting requirement was simple: clay litter that clumps.Clumping litter forms a block when your cat pees on it, allowing you to scoop out the waste rather than having to change the entire pan. It’s made from a particular clay, sodium bentonite, that sticks to itself when wet and also soaks up some odor.Unless you have enough cats to fill an adoption center (and therefore need to toss the whole litter box every day), you’ll get the most mileage for your money out of a clumping litter. Most clumping litters we found averaged 58 cents per pound, but they can cost up to 78 cents per pound. Scooping out clumps means you change the entire box less often. Lund and other vets recommend changing the litter entirely about every two weeks to clean out any ammonia build-up, which can be irritating to cats (if you scoop your litter box very regularly, you might be able to get away with changing the whole thing a little less often).Chances are good the litter you buy advertises itself as more than just “clay clumping litter.” But what do those terms mean, and are any of these extra features actually effective? Here’s a guide to what else you might find written on the side of your bag:

How we tested

To reduce litter waste, we turned 14-by-11-by-3¼-inch storage containers into makeshift litter pans and filled each one with 2 inches of cat litter. We graded the cat litters on how easy their containers were to carry and pour, their dustiness and scent, how well they masked stand-in odors (an ammonia mixture and hing, a spice that smells like sulfur), liquid-waste scoopability and clumping hardness, and how easy it was to clean caked-on messes at the bottom of the pan. Cat litter that performed poorly in multiple categories were eliminated.For an earlier version of this guide, we took the four litters that performed the best in those previously mentioned tests— Dr. Elsey’s Ultra, Cat’s Pride Natural, Fresh Step Simply Unscented, and Boxiecat Premium All Natural Scent Free Clumping Clay Litter—to Brooklyn Cat Cafe, home to a few dozen rescue cats and kittens (including weeks-old kittens that you can watch snuggle on a 24/7 kitten cam). We paid attention to how well each brand of cat litter masked litter box odors, clumped pet waste, and prevented litter scatter. We also relied heavily on anecdotes from the cat cafe’s staff to determine which brands of litter the cats generally preferred.We also brought five different scoops—which were highly rated on Amazon or that came recommended by another source—with us to the cat cafe, and took notes on how easy each was to hold, how effective each was at collecting clumps, and how much litter stuck to the scoop.

Our pick: Dr. Elsey’s Ultra

Our pick

Dr. Elsey’s Ultra

The best cat litter

This cat litter forms sturdy clumps, effectively controls odors, and is one of the cheapest options available.For your money, Dr. Elsey’s Ultra forms tough clumps and does an outstanding job of trapping odors. It also produces less dust and is significantly cheaper than many other cat litters we tested.In tests with liquid waste, Dr. Elsey’s Ultra formed clumps that were in the middle of the pack in terms of hardness, and that were on the flat side, making them less prone to sticking to the bottom or side of the litter pan. Wirecutter staffers report that the clumps held up well during scooping, sometimes breaking into large chunks if they were being excavated from a corner or side. “They never crumble into oblivion,” said Wirecutter senior staff writer Kimber Streams, whose cats have used it for six years.Our long-term testers said Dr. Elsey’s Ultra does a great job of masking waste odors. The litter itself smells neutral and isn’t overwhelmingly fruity like the Purina Tidy Cats 24/7 Performance. In our control tests, Dr. Elsey’s Ultra masked the odor from stinky ammonia and pungent hing so well that we could smell only the clay litter when the waste stand-ins were just partially covered by litter.Though tracking was tough for us to test at the cat cafe, Dr. Elsey’s Ultra has grains that are on the larger side, meaning it should track less than some of the competition. Our staffers’ long-term experience experimenting with litter bears that out. “It tracks a bit, but not as bad as other litters I’ve used,” Streams said.Dr. Elsey’s does throw up some dust when you’re pouring it into the pan, but not as much as other inexpensive options—and even some of the pricier stuff—plus the dust settles faster than with the competition. In our most recent round of testing, only the Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal Litter and the Arm & Hammer Cloud Control Clumping Litter outperformed Dr. Elsey’s Ultra on dust control.Dr. Elsey’s low price secured this litter its position as our top pick. Its average cost is 48 cents per pound, while most cat litters we reviewed average 58 cents, or up to 78 cents per pound. You’ll buy a lot of litter over your pet’s lifetime; we think most people will like that this litter is half the price of many others on the market. As Streams said, “I’m not paying a lot for fancy poop rocks.”

Flaws but not dealbreakers

The most obvious downside of Dr. Elsey’s Ultra is its container. Though this litter is sometimes sold in small boxes, the lowest price is found on a 40-pound plastic bag from Amazon. Out of all the containers that litter comes in, a plastic bag is the hardest to seal, and isn’t as easy to stow away as a box or a plastic bin.That 40-pound plastic bag is twice as heavy as other litters, which come in 20-, 30-, or 40-pound cardboard-box containers that are easier to lift and store. Pet owners with minimal arm strength may have difficulty pouring Dr. Elsey’s Ultra into a pan, so we recommend transferring some of the litter into an easy-pour container (like this one, which Wirecutter editor Tim Barribeau uses) or using a large kibble scooper that you store in the bag. Or you can grab one of Dr. Elsey’s 18-pound bags, which cost 7 extra cents per pound.Dr. Elsey’s Ultra fell in the middle of the pack in our cleanability tests because it can leave sticky messes at the bottom of the pan. Its average-size granules don’t pack as tightly as tinier granules, like those in the Arm & Hammer Cloud Control Clumping Litter, so more moisture can get to the bottom of the litter box. Dr. Elsey’s Ultra performed about as well as two cheaper litters we tested: the Arm & Hammer Super Scoop Clumping Litter and the Frisco Scoopable Cat Litter. If you are willing to pay a premium for harder clumps that won’t stick to the bottom of a dirty pan, try our other pick, the Arm & Hammer Cloud Control Clumping Litter.

Also great: Arm & Hammer Cloud Control Clumping Litter

Also great

Arm & Hammer Cloud Control Clumping Litter

Easier to clean

This litter does a good job of controlling odors, and it doesn’t leave gunky messes stuck to the box like other litters we tested. But it’s more expensive per pound than our top pick.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $15.We like the Arm & Hammer Cloud Control Clumping Litter because it does a good job of trapping odors, and it has tiny litter granules that clump better than those of most cat litter brands we tested. Also, the Cloud Control litter doesn’t gunk up the bottom of a pan, and it produces virtually no dust. But those tiny granules may track throughout the home, and the Cloud Control litter’s traditional cardboard-box container can be a hassle to carry and open.In our tests, the Cloud Control cat litter trapped stinky ammonia and sulfur-like hing odors better than the competition, and only a faint stench remained when we were sitting next to the dirty litter; only Dr. Elsey’s Ultra beat it in this area by completely trapping the odors. The Cloud Control cat litter quickly negates odors if your cat regularly buries their waste, but it’ll take a few minutes for the smells to dissipate if your cat is rude and never covers things up.Even though Dr. Elsey’s Ultra had the best odor control, the Cloud Control litter did the best job of making tighter, defined litter clumps that were the easiest to scoop and clean during our tests. As with every litter we tested, with the Cloud Control litter the clumps were still wet after about 20 minutes, but it was the only litter that we could repeatedly scoop up in perfect mounds that didn’t crumble. We found that clay litters with finer granules, like the Cloud Control litter, produced tighter clumps than litters with average-size granules, like Dr. Elsey’s Ultra, which tended to break into larger pieces during scooping. (Cat’s Pride Total Odor Control Unscented, a brand with similarly sized granules, broke apart into smaller pieces that were harder to scoop.) The Cloud Control litter was also the only one that didn’t leave behind gunky messes at the bottom of the litter pan. The litter effortlessly slid out and left behind only a light dusting, which is easier to deep-clean than the sticky patches left behind by other litters, including Dr. Elsey’s Ultra, Arm & Hammer Super Scoop Clumping Litter, and Fresh Step Simply Unscented.“After using Elsey’s for my two cats over the course of about a year, the switch to Cloud Control was actually a revelation,” said Michael Hession, Wirecutter’s head of photography and video. “I always struggled to scrape clay litter off of our boxes, and the Cloud Control makes scooping much faster and less labor-intensive. I also find that it lasts much longer without getting gross. It costs more than Elsey’s, but it seems like I’ve been earning the money back in longevity.”And the Cloud Control’s moniker lived up to its name. It was one of two brands that produced no dust to the naked eye when we were pouring and scooping cat litter (the other was the Arm & Hammer Super Scoop Clumping Litter). The Cloud Control’s minuscule dust profile means that nearby surfaces stay cleaner longer, and this brand of litter should be easier to tolerate if you or your cat has allergies. (And, as Medley said, if your cat is breathing with their mouth open, get them to the vet right away.)The Cloud Control litter’s smaller granules are easier to scoop and clean, but those tiny specks are also more likely to stick to your cat’s paws and track throughout the house. Invest in a good cat litter mat, like the Easyology Premium Cat Litter Mat, which traps fine granules better than any mat we’ve seen.Finally, the Arm & Hammer Cloud Control litter comes in a cardboard box with a plastic handle, making it easy to hold and to store compared with the packaging for Dr. Elsey’s Ultra (though it’s not nearly as comfortable to carry as Cat’s Pride’s plastic jug). When we first opened a box of Cloud Control litter by punching in a cardboard tab to create a hole, sometimes grains of litter would go flying. (Life hack: Use a box cutter to remove the top of the cardboard box so it’s easier to scoop litter out with a kibble shovel.)

The best litter scoop: DurAnimals DuraScoop Original Cat Litter Scoop

Our pick

DurAnimals DuraScoop Original Cat Litter Scoop

The best scoop

This large and easy-to-hold scoop makes a gross chore as pleasant as possible.Out of five scoops we used to scoop litter at the Brooklyn Cat Cafe, the DurAnimals DuraScoop Original Cat Litter Scoop was the only one that didn’t end up with a crust of pee and litter on the edge, or bits of litter stuck in the mesh.This scoop is deeper and wider than the competition, making it simple to scoop up a large clump or to rake through the litter to pick up any bits you’ve missed. Its sturdy edge allows you to easily remove any clumps that may have gotten stuck to the pan’s edge or bottom.The DuraScoop’s inventor, Chuck Firth—aka the “poop scoop guy,” as he signs his emails—said he invented this scoop in 2003 because he was tired of using plastic scoops that bent easily. The DuraScoop lives up to his intent, and its rubber handle is easy to grip and won’t bend or dig into your hand.Overall, the DuraScoop makes an unpleasant chore as simple as possible, a fact reflected by the scoop’s impressive, 4.8-star rating on Amazon. One reviewer says, “30 years, 4 cats, and countless plastic scoops later, I bought the metal DuraScoop. What a relief.” Says another, “I can’t believe I’m in love with a litter scoop!” It’s also a firm staff favorite at Wirecutter.The DuraScoop is more expensive than the competition, though we think that about $13 is still a small price to pay for something that makes it easy to clean out your pet’s litter box.This scoop’s large size makes it impossible to fit in some scoop holders, like the one that comes on the Litter Genie. And a few reviews complain that the DuraScoop’s holes are too big, allowing smaller clumps to fall through. We did notice this during a new round of testing, so if your cat litter crumbles easily, you may prefer a litter scooper that has narrower sifting slots. Finally, if you use litter box liners, the DuraScoop’s metal edge may snag on the plastic.

The best alternatives to clay litter (according to Wirecutter staff)

Our experts said most cats do well with clay litter, and we think clay clumping litter will require less experimenting and less expense for most people. But if you’re looking for a different setup (whether it’s out of personal preference or because you have a defiant cat), here are a few personal recommendations from Wirecutter staff.

The best silica gel cat litter

Wirecutter contributing writer Gregory Han swears by the odor-absorbing properties of silica gel litter, and he has used So Phresh Scoopable Cat Litter for nearly a decade. “Guests have remarked our apartment does not smell like the usual small space, multi-pet abode, and most importantly the cats seem to like the sodium silicate best,” he writes in Apartment Therapy. Han notes that silica gel litter tends not to track as far outside the litter box as some clay litters he’s tried. For one of his cats who spent a lot of time scraping at the litter box, the dust from clay was a problem too. Han admits that So Phresh is pricey (it’s more than three times the cost of our top pick), and he says it works best with a layer of baking soda added to the bottom of the litter pan (another expense). Unlike silica with bigger crystals or pearls, the So Phresh silica is small enough that it coats poop reasonably well, though it does get a little yellow from cat pee.

The best pine cat litter and cat litter tray system

Several Wirecutter staff members are into the Tidy Cats Breeze system, which makes getting rid of cat pee easy. Special pine pellets go in the box, and beneath them there’s an absorbent pad that you can swap out, in addition to scooping. So you scoop daily, change the pad about once a week, and change all the pellets once a month. It’s more expensive than a regular setup—a little more than 2½ times as much as our top pick for litter—but Breeze advocates say the convenience is worth it (and you can bring the operating costs down by using plain pine pellets, sold in bulk as horse bedding, in place of Tidy Cats’s specialized pellets). However, if your cat doesn’t like it, you’re out the expense of a new litter box as well as a bunch of special pads and pine cat litter pellets.

The best flushable, corn cat litter—but use caution

Again and again while working on this guide, we heard from people who swore by World’s Best Cat Litter, which is made of corn. We ordered some to test, just to see what the fuss was about. It smells like a farm, and objectively, it forms soft mushy clumps. But those who love it mainly love it because the company claims that the litter is flushable (and the company says it’s performed tests to ensure that the litter doesn’t clog pipes and sewer systems).However, putting your litter down the drain can do damage to local wildlife. As we’ve written in our guide to dog poop bags, the US Environmental Protection Agency classifies pet waste as a pollutant, which can introduce excess nutrients and harmful microorganisms like parasites and coliform bacteria into rivers, streams, and groundwater. An issue particular to cat waste is toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection carried by cats that in humans can cause serious complications during pregnancy and for those who have weakened immune systems. In California, evidence has linked toxoplasmosis from cat feces to increased mortality in sea otters, prompting legislation to attach anti-flushing notices on cat litter bags. As a sanitation operations manager told The New York Times (Wirecutter’s parent company) about wet wipes, which are also supposedly flushable: “I agree that they’re flushable. A golf ball is flushable, but it’s not a good idea.”

Do you need to switch litters?

If your cat is using the litter box, and the litter you’re using right now is reasonably priced, clumps well, and doesn’t smell terrible with regular scooping, keep using what you’re using. Even our favorite litters can only do so much.Cats have a reputation for being picky about litter, but if your litter leaves room for improvement, chances are good that your cat will go along with a change. It’s common for about 2 percent to 4 percent of cats to reject any given litter, according to Ray Brown, of Arm & Hammer’s parent company, Church & Dwight. Ease the transition by mixing in some of the new litter with the old for a week.

How to solve common litter box problems

If you’re unhappy with your current cat litter setup—it’s hard having a small animal crapping where you live!—there are a couple of other solutions that you might try before or in addition to swapping litters.Scoop your litter at least once a day. When we went to the Brooklyn Cat Cafe to test litters, we were braced for the place to smell like a farm. It didn’t. That’s because the cafe’s volunteers were always scooping, often within minutes of a cat doing its business. Though Church & Dwight’s Brown told us that litter formulas are tested for their clump integrity and odor control for up to three days (that’s in case you miss a day, or a clump), you still need to try to scoop every day.If you’re having trouble with your cat scattering litter, you could try a partially enclosed litter box instead. Or try a mat that catches litter, like the Easyology Premium Cat Litter Mat, which traps litter scatter better than any mat we’ve tested.Several Wirecutter staffers have also found personal litter box happiness with a Litter Genie Plus Cat Litter Disposal System close-by. It’s a trash can, of sorts, that allows you to scoop litter into a small vestibule and close the lid, and then send the litter into a larger compartment; that way, your nose isn’t bombarded with a week’s worth of dirty litter every time you go to add newly soiled litter.Switching litter won’t solve health problems. If you spot your cat eating litter or having breathing issues when they’re in the litter box, that could indicate underlying health issues, so take your cat to the vet as soon as possible, said veterinarian Alexandra Medley. If your cat does have asthma, switching to an unscented litter or non-clay litter could help, added veterinarian Michael Lund. If your cat is also frequently defecating or urinating in other locations, that may be a sign of a health issue, rather than a litter problem. Cats will often seek comfortable and safe places when in pain—causing them to hunker down under your bed, rather than using their box. Also, if a cat associates their litter box with pain (which can happen if they have an infection), they may start avoiding it.

The competition

2020 testing

We re-tested the Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal Litter, and it did a great job of masking odors, was easy to scoop, and produced virtually no dust. But it smells a little fruity and sticks to the bottom of a dirty pan more than our also-great pick, the Arm & Hammer Cloud Control Clumping Litter.The Arm & Hammer Super Scoop Clumping Litter produced a lot of dust. Plus, soiled litter crumbled when we were scooping it, and the clumps really stuck to the bottom of a dirty litter pan.Both the Cat’s Pride Total Odor Control Unscented and Frisco Scoopable Cat Litter did a terrible job of masking odors, they were dusty, and their sticky clumps were hard to remove from the bottom of dirty litter pans.The Fresh Step Simply Unscented litter is a former also-great pick because it was good at controlling odor. But it’s really dusty, has average clumping action, and sticks to a dirty litter pan more than most of the competition.

2017 testing

Boxiecat Premium All Natural Scent Free Clumping Clay Litter boasts flat top™ (yes, ™) clumps. The clumps are indeed flat. This feature was nice when we were testing with fake waste; flat clumps are easy to scoop because they don’t require any digging. However, when we brought Boxiecat litter to the Brooklyn Cat Cafe, we discovered that the flatter clumps were also prone to breaking apart when cats stepped on them.Of the three scented litters we tested, Arm & Hammer Slide did the best job of removing the sting of the ammonia. The fine grains produced no dust, and would likely track less than our top picks. However, it smells like Starburst candy, which we don’t think will appeal to most people.Ever Clean Unscented Extra Strength litter will work just fine. The clumps are a little crumbly, though, and it’s expensive compared with our top pick.The lightweight version of a former upgrade pick for scent, Fresh Step Lightweight Simply Unscented, has slightly softer clumps than the regular version.Purina Tidy Cats 24/7 Performance comes in a pail with a long handle that’s unwieldy to hold. The clumps are relatively squishy and form deep in the pan. The litter’s smell is fruity, without eliminating the sting of ammonia.We used to recommend Cat’s Pride Natural as an upgrade pick. It was more expensive than the other litters we recommend, but it came in an easier-to-pour container and tended to form tougher clumps compared with everything else we tested. Unfortunately, it is no longer available.

Frequently asked questions

When should you switch litters?

If your cat is using the litter box, and the litter you’re using right now is reasonably priced, clumps well, and doesn’t smell terrible with regular scooping, keep using what you’re using. Even our favorite litters can only do so much.It’s common for about 2 percent to 4 percent of cats to reject any given litter, according to Ray Brown, of Arm & Hammer’s parent company, Church & Dwight—but if your litter leaves room for improvement, chances are good that your cat will go along with the change. Ease the transition by mixing in some of the new litter with the old for a week or two, or follow the transition instructions on the box, if they differ.

What is the best place to put a cat litter box?

Cats prefer a quiet, clean place to do their business, just like humans do. It’s best to place the litter box in a quiet room with limited foot traffic, and against a wall so your cat will feel safe when they use it. If a litter box is too hard to reach (on a high platform) or too far away (the opposite end of a 2,000-square-foot home), your cat may not be able or even willing to go there. And boxes that are near loud appliances can upset your pet.

Can you flush cat poop?

Putting any cat litter down the drain can be harmful to local wildlife. The US Environmental Protection Agency classifies pet waste as a pollutant, which can introduce excess nutrients and harmful microorganisms like parasites and coliform bacteria into groundwater, rivers, and streams. Also, cat waste can cause toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection carried by cats that, in humans, can cause serious complications during pregnancy and for those with weakened immune systems. In California, evidence has linked toxoplasmosis from cat feces to increased mortality in sea otters, prompting legislation to attach anti-flushing notices on cat litter bags.

Do cats prefer open or closed litter boxes?

Most cats prefer a clear view of their surroundings, so it’s best to opt for an open litter box. And since closed lids can trap smells, it may also make for an unpleasant environment for your pet. We like the open Nature’s Miracle High Sided Litter Box because it’s cheap, it has a low entryway but high sides that contain messes, and a smooth, easy-to-clean interior. You can read more about it in our guide to the best cat litter box.

What is the difference between scoopable and clumping cat litter?

Many cat litter manufacturers use the terms “scoopable” and “clumping” interchangeably when discussing clay cat litters. Scoopable is the ability to remove cat waste, either urine or feces, with a cat litter scooper. Clumping refers to when cat urine is absorbed or dehydrated by clay or silica-based litter granules, and forms hard clumps that are easy to scoop. There are some types of cat litter that are only scoopable, not clumpable, like pine litters and recycled paper litters.

Can you get toxoplasmosis from breathing in cat litter?

Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii—which may be present in up to half the cats in some areas, and is most commonly found on pets that spend time outdoors. Most humans come into contact with the parasite when they eat undercooked or contaminated food or water, while gardening in an infected flowerbed, or when they come in close contact with cat feces (for example, touching hand to mouth after cleaning the litter box). An infected person may be asymptomatic, the CDC notes, but the parasite can survive in a host for years. Pregnant people may pass it on to their children, where it can potentially be fatal; and immunocompromised people may have severe symptoms.Currently, the best way to prevent infection when you’re around a cat, litter box or surfaces that may have been exposed to fecal matter is to thoroughly wash your hands before touching your eyes, nose or mouth. If you’re pregnant or immunocompromised, it’s best to ask someone else to take over your litter-box-cleaning duties. If you live alone, clean the litter box daily, wear disposable gloves, and wash your hands. (Note, the parasite doesn’t become infectious until 1 to 5 days after it’s been in cat feces.) You can also keep your cat indoors and only feed them commercial can or dry cat food to limit their exposure to parasites.

A Look at Our Favorites (Updated in 2021)

The 6 Best Cat Litters for Odor Control

3. Tidy Cats Lightweight Cat Litter for Odor Control

Of all the great products we reviewed, the Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal Multi-cat litter is our favorite. It has intense odor-fighting properties that combat even the most challenging smells. If you have multiple cats or simply want to reduce litter box odors, this is a winning ticket.If you are having trouble finding the time to scoop your cat box daily, this litter has a 7-day odor-free guarantee. The added Ultra Odor Blasters counteract urine and fecal matter to create a more pleasant atmosphere.This formula is also 100% dust-free, which isn’t typical of a clumping litter. There are no irritating clouds to account for, although we still did notice some airborne debris when you pour it from a higher range.The most apparent downfall we see is that this litter has harsh chemicals to combat the odor. If you were looking for a more natural litter for a sensitive kitty, this wouldn’t work as well.To conclude, we think this is the best cat litter for odor control available.

6. Cat’s Pride Unscented Total Odor Control Litter

If you were looking for a more natural approach but still want all the benefits of odor-fighting litters, check out Fresh Step Ultra Unscented Litter. This formula uses bacterial odor protection to get to the root cause of smells, defeating them with unscented, activated charcoal.This product offers 10-day odor guarantees, meaning you will have to change the litter less frequently in comparison to some. It has tiny green granules that activate carbon traps to seal in any of the gross stuff.Scooping is no issue here. As soon as moisture hits this best odor control cat litter, it clings, so it doesn’t seep through to the bottom. When you pour, it does seem to have more dust than some other types, so if you have an extra sensitive cat, it might not be as dust-free as advertising would claim.It’s perfect for single or multi-cat households—so overall, we think it’s a terrific choice if you want to avoid perfumes and strong scents.

Buyer’s Guide: How to Select the Best Cat Litter for Odor Control

Litter box problems can be some of the most significant hiccups when you own a cat. It seems like you’re always trying out different products, tips, and tricks, to keep their bathroom use discrete. Sometimes, it can be challenging to find an effective and healthy development for your felines.So, what exactly should you look for when you’re shopping? Below, we will discuss how to swim through products to make sure you’re getting the biggest bang for your buck.

Cat Waste Odors

Cat urine has a very unmistakable smell—ammonia. It’s super overwhelming and can be very hard to hide. Their poop is no different in terms of pungency. So having major odor control is one of the primary aspects of purchasing litter.

Clumping vs. Non-Clumping Litters

There are two types of litter—clumping and non-clumping. Here’s a breakdown of the positives and negatives of each type.

Powerful Odor Fighters

Clumping litter often uses sodium bentonite to immediately draw to cat waste, creating a protective barrier around it. These litters are much easier to scoop up, only focusing on soiled areas.

Chemical vs. Natural Odor Control

There are tons of products on the market that offer chemical compounds to counteract bad odors. While this is majorly effective, it might concern some pet owners. Certain components can be irritating to cats over time.What is good for your sense of smell might not be so good for your felines. You should continuously monitor your cat’s behavior after changing their litter to ensure no symptomatic responses or allergic reactions.Many cat lovers try to opt for natural odor control to keep their kitties safe, but these products are sometimes less effective long-term. Scooping your cat box daily helps defeat most smell-related issues.