Best cat litter for odor control

If you are in a rush and want to skip ahead to our number one choice of cat litter for odor control, our recommendation is Dr. Elsey’s Premium Clumping Cat Litter.

We (cat lovers) often consider cats to be one of the cleanest creatures on Earth. They spend whole days grooming themselves and they know very well where their bathroom is (sorry for dog lovers out there).

It may even be difficult to imagine a cat making your house smell bad. The sad truth is that he/she can, indirectly, through her litter box. The good news is that there are plenty of litter options that help you keep the litter box from smelling. To save you the hassle, we picked the 5 best odor control cat litters and described them in detail below, so that you can find what works best for you (and your lovely cat).

Here are our top 5 picks, read on for more detailed reviews

Before making a purchase, it is important to know the main characteristics to consider.

What to look for in odor control litter

Photo of a cat covering her face with his paws, maybe because her litter box smells so bad?

The main thing that we are looking for here is preventing litter smell.

The best odor eliminating cat litters, usually advertise it on their package, so they are very easy to spot. Other than that, clumping litter usually performs better than non-clumping one.

Finally, we found that litters that contain activated carbon and baking soda contain smells most effectively.

Clumping Ability

As we mentioned, clumping is an important aspect of eliminating odors. Clumping litter attaches to the excrements forming a clump that does not allow odors to spread. That also makes it easy to remove from the box without having to throw away the rest of the litter. This will not only make your cleaning job easier, but it will help you use less litter and keep the box clean for longer.

Note of caution for kittens: It is recommended to not use clumping litter with kittens under four months of age as they may try to ingest it. That would be very dangerous once the litter clumps, and expands, potentially blocking the kitten’s intestine. That’s why the best kitty litter for odor control will always be non-clumping.

Materials

There are mainly three types of litter materials: Clay, Silica Gel and Natural materials

Clay is the most commonly used material as it is used for clumping litter. It is so popular since clay is highly absorbent and it is good at reducing odors. Clay can be dusty, but many products manage to contain dust very well, so this is something to look out for.

Silica gel is a relatively new type of litter, which is also good at absorbing moisture and minimizing odors. It is also the truly dust-free type of litter. The main downside is that since it is made of larger granules, not all cats like to use it. It is also quite expensive and not very easy to find.

Natural materials such as sand, wood pellets, coconut and corn. These materials are becoming more popular among environmentally-minded cat owners. They are clearly 100% safe for your cats, flushable, biodegradable and have a smaller impact on the environment. However, they may not fare as well when trying to contain odors.

Tracking

Tracking refers to the pieces of litter that can remain stuck in the cat’s paws and get carried around the house. No matter what the package says, it is not always possible to completely eliminate tracking. In this case, different products will work better for different cats. In general, litters with slightly bigger clumps will be less likely to be carried around.

The downside? Cats usually don’t like bigger clumps as don’t find them comfortable enough to totally relax.

Your best bet to minimize tracking is to place a carpet around the litter box or, even better, a cat litter mat. Either of those will help to trap the litter clumps right after your cat exits the box.

Photo of a cat, standing right next to a litter box that has been turned almost upside down

Scented or Unscented Cat litter?

This is a question that often comes up. Which one to pick? From personal experience and conversations with cat owners and vets, it seems that unscented litter is usually the best way to go (unless you are already doing fine with a scented one).

Artificial scent may turn off your cat and cause them to poop or pee outside of the box, making everything worse. It is most important to have a litter that your cat wants to use and that neutralizes odors effectively (rather than one that smells good). 

If you are looking to freshen up the room, your best bet might be to get a pluggable air freshener or another type of home deodorizer.

How to Keep Litter Box from Smelling

Ok, I want to make this clear. A great cat litter for smell is not going to solve all your litter problems. You will still need to put some effort to keep it clean. These are the main steps you should follow to maintain your house and litterbox fresh, and your cat happy.

Daily scooping

It is important to clean up your cat’s litterbox daily, making sure to remove any excrement. If you are using clumping litter that’s going to be pretty easy and quick. With non-clumping litter, you want to have a spoon that you use to remove poops and any other litter that has absorbed urine during the day. As part of your daily cleaning, you should also replace the litter that you removed with new, fresh litter.

Image of someone scooping a litter box to maintain good odor control

Bi-weekly deep cleaning

Scooping the litterbox daily goes a long way to make your cat’s litterbox clean and fresh. For optimal odor control, it is also essential to regularly empty the box, wash it and sprinkle some baking soda in it, before filling it back up with new litter.

Pick the right location

It may sound obvious, but when trying to minimize odors, the litterbox locations also plays a crucial role. Placing the box in a ventilated area (rather than in a small closed room), is going to make a huge difference. At the same time remember that the ideal location for the litterbox should be a place where your cat can feel safe. It is best to pick a corner, so that your cat can always see if someone is approaching.

Fill with enough litter

Litter is there to absorb liquids and odors. If you are not putting enough litter in the box, it is likely that not all the liquids are absorbed, causing the bad smells to persist. It is recommended to fill at least 2-3 inches of litter to see any result in terms of odor control.

Multi-cat households and number of litter boxes

Vets recommend at least 1.5 boxes for every 2 cats. I know, that sounds confusing. It actually means that if you have 2 cats, you can pull it off using only one litterbox. But if you have three cats or more, you should seriously consider getting one more box to reduce odors and help your cats feel more comfortable.

After this primer on choosing the best cat litter for odor control, we are ready to dive into the reviews of our top 5 litters.

Best Cat Litter for Odor Control

5. Purina Yesterday’s News Unscented Paper Cat Litter
Best Cat Litter for kittens + Best non tracking Cat litter

Image of Purina Yesterday's News Unscented Paper Cat Litter

We mentioned that clumping litter is not ideal for kittens (since they might eat it and it could block their intestine). But what if you have a kitten and want to control/reduce odors? If that’s your situation, we thought about you, and we found Purina Yesterday’s News Unscented to be a great choice.

First of all, it is natural and does not clump, thus making 100% safe for your kitten. Considering that it is unscented and non-clumping, it is remarkable to see how well it controls odor. However, as you might guess, controlling odors is not this litter’s biggest strength, especially compared to other litters reviewed here.

This litter is made from recycled newspaper, which comes with a lot of great advantages. It is environmentally friendly, it has virtually no dust and it is one of the best cat litters to prevent tracking. On top of all that, it’s sold at a reasonable price, making it a great choice if you are on a budget or don’t want to spend too much on cat litter.

Pros ✔️

Cons

  • No tracking and dust
  • Easy enough to clean
  • Made from recycled newspapers (good for the environment)
  • Good price point

  • Not as great as others for odor control (needs to be cleaned more often)
  • Not as easy to clean (because it does not clump)



4. Fresh Step Advanced Extreme Clumping Cat Litter
Best Scented Cat Litter

Image of Fresh Step Advanced Extreme Clumping Cat Litter

If you like your cat’s litterbox to smell fresh, this might be the litter for you. Fresh step partnered with Febreeze to formulate the most pleasant-smelling cat litter you’ve ever come across.

Their clumping and odor control formula is on point, managing to keep litter box smells at bay, so that you (and your cat) can enjoy a fresh smell in the air.

What could have been better in this litter is the dust control. It is surely acceptable, as this is a high-quality product, but it is not on par with some of the other cat litter below.

Finally, even though most people like the scent, it can be quite strong for others. Most importantly, it could be off-putting for your cat. This is why we usually recommend unscented litter unless you already know that your cat prefers it scented.

Pros ✔️

Cons

  • Great odor control
  • Clumps well and easy to clean
  • Scent is really enjoyable for some cats (and people)
  • Dust control could be better
  • Scent might put off your cat




3. World’s Best Cat Litter, Clumping Formula
Best flushable Cat Litter

Image of World's Best Cat Litter, Clumping Formula

Environmentally conscious cat owners will love this.

It is a 100% natural, flushable, unscented litter that

wait for it…

clumps very well and keeps odors at bay. It is corn-based which means that it is safe and not irritating (unless you or your cat are allergic to corn! Watch out).

The World’s Best Cat Litter, Clumping Formula is also not the best at dust control. Yet, we found that corn-based dust is very different and less disturbing than clay-based dust, so that will probably not be an issue.

Something to remember if using this product is that, since it’s made out of corn, the bag may attract some insects. This can be easily solved by tightly sealing the bag (insects don’t usually attack the litterbox).

Pros: ✔️

Cons:

  • Flushable and environmental friendly
  • Surprisingly good clumping considered it’s so natural
  • Great odor control
  • More expensive than others
  • Could attract bugs, recommended to seal the package tightly
  • Not scented but does have a slight smell



2. Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal
Best Cat Litter for Multiple Cats

Image of Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal  Cat Litter for odor control

Arm & Hammer is a household name when it comes to preventing bad odors in the house. Their premium odor-prevention litter does not disappoint. It uses a patented formula that uses baking soda to eliminate bad odors on contact, without letting them spread to your house.

Arm & Hammer also states that the product is 100% dust-free. While we don’t 100% agree with them, we can confirm that it creates less dust than some of the other products.

The company is so confident about this product’s efficacy that they have a 7-day odor-free home guarantee. They’ll refund you if you are not “completely satisfied”.

This litter is very slightly scented, almost unnoticeably so, but it is something to bear in mind if you know your cat can’t stand even lightly scented litters. Many people love it and it works for most cats. If it doesn’t for yours, you can always take advantage of the 7 day guarantee.

Another thing to bear in mind is that the smallest size bag is 27.5lb. Which is not exactly a lightweight to lift and transport for most people.

Pros ✔️

Cons

  • Amazing odor and dust control
  • 7-day odor free home warranty
  • Most people and cats like the light scent


  • Light scent may be off putting for some
  • Comes in very heavy bags



1. Dr. Elsey’s Premium Clumping Cat Litter
Best Overall – Best Natural Cat Litter

Image of Dr. Elsey's Premium Clumping Cat Litter for odor control

Dr. Elsey’s Premium Clumping is one of the best products out there for odor control and surely the best natural one. There are no perfumes, deodorants or other kinds of chemicals and the only ingredient is Natural Clay. 

That makes it a great choice for sensitive cats, as it does not cause any irritation or allergies. Despite the absence of deodorants, its great clumping ability keeps odors under control surprisingly well and makes it easy to clean. 

Another advantage of this product is its great dust control ability. Dr. Elsey makes a litter for cats with respiratory issues and they must have perfected the way to make litter truly dust-free.

Finally, of all the products we reviewed, this is one of the most reasonably priced cat litters making it a great purchase for anyone.

Pros: ✔️

Cons:

  • Exceptional odor and dust control
  • Long lasting
  • Amazing value for money
  • 100% Natural
  • Tracking control could be better



Best overall Cat litter for Odor Control

Out of all the cat litters we reviewed, we thought that Dr. Elsey’s Premium Clumping Cat Litter was the overall best. This litter’s excellent performance in terms of odor and dust control, combined with its affordable price make it a great example of having the cake and eating it too. Talking about cake, the cherry on top is that this product is 100% natural.

We hope you enjoyed this review. Feel free to reach out with comments about your experience with any of these or other cat litters.

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