Elsie lives with four cats, a dog, and has run her own pet sitting business for over 20 years.
Introducing: Clumping Cat Litter
Having worked in shelters, been a petsitter for at least 100 cats, and—most importantly—been a cat owner my entire life, I've had a lot of experience with kitty litter! Here's where all the unsavory time I've spent cleaning out cat boxes is well worth it. As a result, I'm sharing with you my cat litter reviews.
I have a lot of experience and recommendations for the best litter on the market today. Naturally, I'm the official “scooper” here in my house; I only gained a brief sabbatical from that duty while I was pregnant due to the risk of Toxoplasmosis.
Fortunately, kitty litter has come a long way over recent years with the introduction of clumping cat litter. There are many kinds to choose from; the decision isn't easy anymore. There are, however, a number of factors to consider when making the choice. To some extent, you and your cat will make the decision together. Kitty litter certainly isn't one size fits all. Hopefully my reviews will make this decision easier for you.
Read on for my exhaustive cat litter reviews and learn about many brands of litter and which are the best.
Things to Consider When Purchasing Clumping Cat Litter
Before reading the reviews, there are a number of things to keep in mind:
- Obviously, litter prices vary according to type, brand, and where it's purchased. You will need to comparison shop here.
- Is it biodegradable? Clay-based kitty litter is not biodegradable and has a huge impact upon the environment. Sadly, more than 2 million tons of litter is dumped into our landfills yearly. Most of the litter isn't biodegradable.
- Is it flushable? Some of the new plant-based litters can be flushed right down your toilet. This is not only convenient, but also environmentally friendly.
- How well does it control odor? Not all litters are equally as efficient at controlling odor. Clumping litters have become the most popular since actually removing the offending smell is one of the best odor control methods. However, there are alternatives as I will discuss below.
- Is it relatively dust-free? Many commercial brand litters are quite dusty, posing health issues for both owners and cats alike. Look for ones that say they're dust-free.
- Is it full of chemicals and perfumes? Many kitty litters have unhealthy amounts of additives in them. In addition to the health concerns, a lot of cats simply do not like the strong smell emanating from their litter boxes. They might choose another, quite unpleasant place to defecate.
- Is the texture one that's pleasant for your cat? Cats are funny about their paws. For example, many don't like the new crystal litters. They find them irritating on their sensitive paws. One of my cats would have nothing to do with the crystal litter; she looked like she was walking on hot coals in the pan.
The type of cat litter you choose will, in part, be dictated by the type of litter box you have. Obviously, the most common automatic litter boxes require scoopable cat litter.
A problem I've run into with the rake-type automatic litter boxes is they often cannot handle much kitty litter at once. The rakes get stuck and end up missing a lot of the urine clumps. The absolute best litter for these is called World's Best Cat Litter. It's made from whole-kernel corn and is very light, so the rakes have an easy time pushing the clumps.
Clay Clumping/Scoopable Litter
Most clay clumping cat litter brands use a type of clay called sodium bentonite, which acts as an expandable cement. Since they swell 15 to 18 times their dry size, they are absolutely not to be flushed—no doubt, you would have some clogged pipes on your hands.
Sodium bentonite has been implicated in some possible cat health problems. Just as it expands in your pipes, it will expand in your cat's digestive track, wreaking havoc. Cats naturally lick their paws and inadvertently ingest some of the sodium bentotite. There is concern among owners and pet health specialist this can cause blockage, malabsorption, dehydration, and even death in cats. This is even more of a problem with kittens, as many of them are curious and naturally tempted to sample their litter.
Meanwhile, an aging cat is prone to a condition called Pica, a condition that makes them crave inedible substances. More studies need to be performed, but there's some growing evidence of the dangers of sodium bentotite.
- Cat Health Problems and Clumping Clay Kitty Litters
Supporting data on sodium bentonite for an article on the possible cat health dangers of clumping clay kitty litters.
Plant-Based Clumping Litters
These are the new generation of clumping cat litters, and certainly the least environmentally offensive of all. These litters may be made from the following:
- wheat by-products
- wheat grass
- beet pulp
- oat hulls
I would stay away from wheat grass and beet pulp litters as they don't control odor very well. Kenaf is what's used to make tree-free paper and is related to cotton. I've had the privilege of using many of these and have been quite pleased with their clumping ability. Like the crystal litters, these don't weigh very much, a definite advantage for some. I've found the corn cat litters do a great job of deodorizing.
The negative part of their light weight comes if you have a cat who likes to perch on the edge of the litterbox while doing her duty. I've discovered many cat boxes overturned as a result, with a disastrous aftermath.
If you care about the environment, like I do, the plant-based litters, like World's Best Cat Litter are the best cat litter choice. They are flushable, biogegradable, and organic. Some can be quite spendy, however.
Best Clumping Litters
Arm and Hammer Clumping Cat Litter
Reviews for Arm and Hammer litter are easy for me to do, I think they make excellent cat litter.I used to be a die-hard fan of Tidy Cat litter for multiple cats. I thought it was the best clumping and deodorizing litter on the market. Perhaps it was for a number of years. I certainly had more luck with Tidy Cat than I did Fresh Step Cat Litter. When I was desperate, I used Fresh Step. It's too perfumed, doesn't clump well, and my cats don't like all the fragrance emanating from it. I next began to use Arm and Hammer litter, found it clumped well and like the use of baking soda rather than the perfumes. Of all the cat litters you can buy in the grocery stores, I'd still pick Arm & Hammer over all the others for the price, quality, and its fewer additives.
Integrity Cat Litter
The ultimate clumping litter is called Integrity. It is, bar none, the best clumping litter out there. I will say it's expensive to purchase, but saves money in the long run. There is very litter that's actually wasted since it doesn't crumble. I rarely have to put a fresh layer of Integrity litter over the existing litter because what remains is still so clean. Unfortunately, it's not readily available, in fact it can be quite hard to find. Check with your natural pet food store.
World's Best Cat Litter
My top choice for plant-based litters: World's Best Cat Litter. It's is made from made corn, clumps better than any of the plant-based litter, deodorizes well, is non-toxic and good for the environment. It's costly at purchase, but lasts a long time.
Swheat Scoop Natural Wheat Litter
My next choice is: Swheat Scoop Natural Wheat Litter. It's organic, flushable, biodegradable, and worth the cost as a little goes a long way. Some recommend spraying a little vegetable or cooking oil (I use organic olive oil) onto the bottom and sides of the pan to disallow the litter from adhering to the sides and bottom. It doesn't do as good of a job clumping the litter as World's Best Cat Litter, however. So, it doesn't provide the same level of odor control, in my opinion. It's still an excellent litter, and better at clumping than most clay-based scoopable litter.
- Like the clay clumping litters, the plant-based litter clumps will dry out and crumble if you don't scoop them out within a reasonable amount of time. Both should be scooped out twice per day, morning and evening.
- I recommend you get an excellent, wide, sturdy cat litter scoop. You don't want one with gaps too wide or too close together. After some experimentation, I've found a cat litter scoop that properly scoops up the clumps and allows the clean litter to escape back into the pan. I recommend the Litter Lifter cat litter scoop. It's very durable, slides under the clumps and gets even the smallest little ones to leave nothing behind. Many of the other scoopers I've had have broken off at the handle, this one is made to last.
- If you decide to switch cat litters, do so gradually by adding a little of the new litter with each cleaning. Cats are fussy about change, sensitive about their paws, and notice new scents, so you want to make this a slow process. The last thing you want is a kitty who suddenly decides he or she will not use the litter box anymore!
Thoughts About Fecal Odor Control Litters
The most prevalent among these is Arm and Hammer's Double Duty cat litter. Here's my two cents: it does not work. Not only does it not cover up the fecal odor, but it's flat out terrible at controlling the urine smell.
I've searched high and low to find out HOW it purports to reduce the feces odor, but have yet to find an adequate explanation. All their site says is that it controls bacterial odor by way of their "breakthrough formula." Again, they don't give any adequate scientific explanation about what on earth the formula actually is. But, it does not work. You are best off sticking with their Multiple Cat Formula.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
GwEpley on October 22, 2017:
I appreciate the information here. I have been a loyal Tidy Cat customer for years. But for the last six months (in 2017) the litter, if it does clump, falls apart when I scoop it. The ammonia odor is terrible and even after cleaning you can still smell it throughout the house. I've been using Arm & Hammer recently, not quite as good as the old tidy cat. I'd love to hear what products others find best recently. THANKS :)
Stephen J Parkin from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada on July 20, 2015:
We have a new feral kitten and have noticed the litter sticking to her paws. We do not like that and when we wormed her she passed some sticky poo that looked and smelled like she may have been eating the litter too! Good timely information as we needed to find her a better choice fast.
Elsie Nelson (author) from Pacific Northwest, USA on July 19, 2012:
I can completely relate to the litter in the bed, Trope! Your best best is to opt for one of the natural kinds, like corn-based World's Best Cat litter. The clay based ones are the worst in terms of sticking to the paws.
Trope on July 19, 2012:
Please tell me what the best cat litter is that will NOT get stuck in her paws?
I get cat litter in my bed!
David Alderson on May 04, 2011:
From one cat lover to another....Great Hub!! I have tested many of these products for Max's art. A lot of good ideas that can be put to practical use just like my Litter Clump Art. The harder the clumping the better it works.