What is the best cat litter?

Last Updated 31 OCT 2021

This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Carla Paszkowski, BVSc

Whether you're a seasoned cat lady or about to adopt your very first feline friend, choosing the right cat litter can be far from a simple task. Clumping vs non-clumping? To flush or not to flush? Odour eliminating or fragranced? With so many features available, how do we choose a product that is not only convenient and affordable for us humans but the best choice for our cats?

Nobody wants to become a slave to their cat's litter tray, so we've done the hard yards for you and produced our definitive guide to choosing the best cat litter.

Dr Carla discusses the pros and cons of the 5 main litter materials. For more videos, view and subscribe to our Pet Circle Youtube Channel.

1. Clumping and non-clumping: which is better?

Since its invention, most cat owners who try clumping litter never go back. People generally agree that clumping litter saves them time, money, and hassle in the long run. But what are the pro's and cons?

Clumping Litter: The Pros

Convenience! - Clumping technology will save you a lot of time and effort. Your day-to-day clean up will be much easier as the litter bonds with the urine to form scoopable clumps. By removing these clumps, only clean litter is left behind - this means full litter tray cleanouts are usually only required every week or two.

Odour Control - Clumps can also help to contain odours, providing an aroma-free litter box when serviced regularly. For anyone with an indoor cat or a small apartment - I'm sure you don't need to be told how important odour control is!

The Cons

The Cost - Sure, a bag of clumping litter is more expensive than non-clumping litter. However, this 'con' comes with a big caveat, because the value is so incomparable. While the upfront cost of a bag of clumping litter may cost you more, the value is much, much greater. 1kg of clumping litter can last up to 14x longer than the same amount of non-clumping litter, as it needs to be replaced so infrequently.

Clay = Not so eco-friendly - Some clay based clumping litters are not suitable for flushing or composting, which means used litter is destined for your garbage and ultimately landfill. To reduce your environmental impact, consider choosing a clumping litter made from flushable or compostable ingredients such as corn, recycled paper or wood.

2. Litter Tracking Factor

How To Reduce Litter Tracking

Even with your best efforts, litter tracking on the floor is a common issue! It doesn't matter where you place the litter tray, cats tend to get litter stuck on their paws and shake it all off as they walk around your home.

In general, anything with larger or heavier pellets tracks less. Large pellets such as recycled paper or corn-based pellets rank best on the reduced-tracking chart, while litters made from clay or plant fibres tend to stick to the feet more. With regards to litters made from recycled paper, plant material, corn or soy, the general rule is that the smaller the particles, the more tracking you will experience.

Finding litter strewn all around the house? See our article for more tips on reducing litter tracking

3. Environmental impact

How to Reduce Your Environmental Paw Print

If you are particularly clued into your impact on the environment, the disposal of your litter is definitely something to think about.

Flushable Litters

There are now many types of litters which can be flushed down the toilet in small quantities. This is particularly convenient with clumping litter made of natural, biodegradable material, as the clumps can be popped straight in the loo and flushed away. Litters suitable for this include Rufus & Coco Wee Kitty Clumping Corn Litter and Catlux Softwood Clumping Litter (only flush small quantities at a time).

Typically if a litter is marked as 'flushable', it does not contain any chemicals that are harmful to ocean life.

Compostable Litters

Materials such as wood, recycled paper or plant material are generally ok to put on the garden, but aren't ideal for flushing. Note - it's never recommended to put soiled litter in a vegetable garden intended for human food, due to the risk of disease transmission.

Our top recommendation for a compostable cat litter is Scrunch and Sticks Recycled Paper Litter. This natural, eco-friendly litter is made from recycled paper and is completely biodegradable.

Least eco-friendly: Rubbish Disposal

Certain litters must be disposed of in the garbage and end up in landfill, as they are not biodegradable. Most clay and crystal litters fit into this category. It's also worth noting that some natural litter will end up in the rubbish too, as you will need to throw out whole tray fulls at a time if you are unable to compost or flush them.

4. Odour Control: Should you pick a fragranced litter?

Cats have a much keener sense of smell than humans and can be very sensitive to where they do their business. If their litterbox is too smelly and not cleaned regularly, they will often avoid using it.

Do cats like fragranced litter? While fragranced litters might appeal to the human senses, they can be a deterrent for your cat. Some cats may find the smell of fragranced litter a little overpowering,. If you know your cat is particularly fussy, it's best to avoid fragranced litters and instead look for an odour eliminating or natural litter such as Scrunch and Sticks.

5. Cost: Which Cat Litter is Best Value?

At a glance, you may be led to believe that non-clumping litter is the cheaper option. However these litters generally need to be replaced much more frequently than clumping alternatives making the initial difference in price almost negligible. For example, you might need to replace a recycled paper pellet litter every 1-2 days, but you can make a tray of clumping litter stretch for up to 2 weeks. Regardless of which litter you choose, cleaning out solid waste and clumps regularly will help to extend its usable life and save you dollars in the long run.

Don't be fooled by poor value bag sizes on supermarket shelves

You can easily save money by buying cat litter in bulk online.

No doubt you want to find the best price for your favourite litter. Many savvy cat owners will naturally compare prices online to their local supermarket to ensure they get the best value possible. However, if you're comparing prices, always be sure to check the size of the bag you're looking at. While supermarket prices might seem cheap, you may be surprised to learn that many supermarkets only sell smaller bags than those available online. This means you may be purchasing a smaller volume of litter, which means the value per kilogram is not as great.

6. A Complete Review Table

Product Name The Details Main Material Clumping? Biodegradable? Fragranced?

Scrunch and Sticks Recycled Paper Litter

This is a natural, biodegradable, eco-friendly litter made from recycled paper. It is scientifically proven to be the most absorbable and odour-controlling paper-based litter on the market.

Paper ✘ ✔ ✘

Scrunch and Sticks Tofu Clumping Litter

This natural eco-friendly litter is made from natural soy pellets, without the use of any chemicals. It has excellent absorbency, natural odour control and low tracking.

Soy ✔ ✔ ✘

Breeder's Choice

Breeder's Choice is made from recycled paper making it light, cost effective and highly absorbent. The entire tray needs to be changed every few days.

Paper ✘ ✔ ✘

Rufus and Coco Wee Kitty Corn Clumping Litter

This incredible clumping litter is a favourite in the Pet Circle Office! Wee Kitty Clumping Corn Litter is completely biodegradable, flushable and forms tight clumps which rival traditional clay clumping litters.

Corn ✔ ✔ ✔

Rufus and Coco Wee Kitty Eco Plant Clumping Litter

This vegan-friendly litter is extremely absorbent, and with daily removal of solids can last up to 3 weeks! It is also low tracking and provides fast odour control.

Wheat & Soy ✔ ✔ ✘

Catmate Wood Pellet Cat Litter

A fully biodegradable wood pellet based litter that offers excellent absorbency and odour control. Use with a sieve tray for ultimate results.

Wood ✘ ✔ ✘

Oz Pet Animal Litter

Made from biodegradable wood, this litter is highly absorbent and provides good odour control. Use with a sieve tray for ultimate results.

Wood ✘ ✔ ✘

Catsan Ultra

Catsan Ultra is a classic clay litter that forms tight clumps for easy removal of liquid waste, while also offering excellent odour control.

Clay ✔ ✘ ✘

Applaws Nature's Calling Cat Litter

Made from the reclaimed lining of walnut shells this all natural litter forms hard clumps when exposed to liquid which may be flushed for easy disposal.

Walnut Shells ✔ ✔ ✘

The Catsentials Crystal Litter

This crystal litter is a budget friendly option for those who prefer low tracking, long lasting crystal cat litter.

Crystals ✘ ✘ ✘

Feline First Premium Clumping Litter

This unfragranced clumping clay litter is a good budget option for clumping litter fans. One bag lasts up to 4 weeks if solid and liquid waste is removed daily.

Clay ✔ ✘ ✘

Catlux Softwood Litter

A flushable, environmentally friendly alternative to clay clumping litters, Catlux still offers superior absorbency but does not form clumps as tightly as some traditional clay litters.

Wood ✔ ✔ ✘

Max's Cat Litter

Made from highly absorbent, compost friendly plant material, Max's cat litter can also be used in reptile, small pet and bird housing.

Plant Material ✘ ✔ ✘

Trouble and Trix Lavender Crystal Litter

This long lasting, highly absorbent crystal litter features a delicate lavender scent to neutralise odour and is ideal for reducing dust and litter tracking through the house.

Crystals ✘ ✘ ✔

The final summary

Choosing a litter ultimately comes down to your cat's individual preference as well as your budget and lifestyle. Live in an apartment or keep your cat's litter box in the kitchen? Odour reducing clumping litter is probably the best choice for you. Prefer to minimise your environmental impact and don't mind putting soiled litter in the compost? Go for biodegradable natural litter alternatives. Don't want to be constantly replacing your cat's litter tray? Try a long lasting, highly absorbent crystal litter that only needs to be changed every week or two.

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Our top picks

Dr Teagan

Catsan Crystals "I prefer to use crystal litter to reduce tracking and it also means I don't have to empty out the tray every few days. I find if I keep the litter deep enough and remove solids daily one tray can last 2 weeks before the litter needs to be completely changed."

Dr Carla

Rufus & Coco Wee Kitty Corn Clumping Litter "In terms of litter for my cat Smudge, I highly recommend the Rufus and Coco clumping corn litter. The clumps are firm and solid without being too sticky or concrete-like. Clumping technology is so convenient - I only need to do a full-tray clean out every couple of weeks. This was life-changing for me! The larger pellet size also means less tracking. Do yourself a favour and give it a try!"

Dr Jacqui

Catsan Clumping Clay Litter "My cat Jasper prefers unscented clumping litter which makes Catsan Clumping Litter perfect! The clumping allows easy daily removal of urine and faeces to keep my cat happy and stress free!"

Further Reading

Why Do Some Cats Pee Where They Shouldn't?

How to Make Your Home Cat-Friendly

Reduce Anxiety In Your Cat

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