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These cat litters are purrfect.
Cat owners spend about $165 a year on cat litter, according to Kiplinger — which means they’ll drop nearly $2,500 over the life of their beloved feline. And while many people think you need a fancy litter for better cat health and less smell and tracking, vets say there’s no need to drop a lot of loot on litter. Here are picks from vets and experts for the best litter for your cat.
Dr. Elsey’s Ultra — unscented, clumping cat litter that better prevents cats from tracking litter — $18 for a 40-lb bag.
This litter — a best-seller on Amazon with an impressive 15,000 reviews — is affordable and a reviewer’s favorite, with multiple sites, including Wirecutter, putting it on their “best” list. Wirecutter notes that it’s great at preventing litter tracking and “forms sturdy clumps, has decent odor control and low dust.”
Veterinarian Rachel Barrack, founder of concierge practice Animal Acupuncture recommends it too, calling it a “great option for pet-owners with one or more cats.” She likes that it “is hypo-allergenic with no fragrances, but gets rid of odors” and notes that “the clumping nature of this litter allows for the easy removal of waste from the litter box, which will keep it from emitting any smelly odors.”
Vets often say that unscented clumping litter is best: “I always recommend unscented, clumping cat litter,” says Chicago-based veterinarian Jim D. Carlson. “Scented litter is designed for humans, not cats. Felines have a strong sense of smell with 67 million scent receptors. Scented litter can be a litterbox deterrent and cause irritation of your cat’s sinuses and respiratory tract.”
Tidy Cat Breeze Cat Litter System — includes litter box, litter and pee pads — about $22 on Amazon
Veterinarian Sara Ochoa of DogLab says this is what she personally uses with her cats: “The urine will fall through and collect on a pee pad on the bottom that can easily be switched and the litter can be easily scooped. This system has no odor and is very easy to clean,” she says.
This is clearly an Amazon customer favorite as well, with nearly 5,000 customer reviews, of which three-fourths are four or five star reviews. One customer simply writes: “This is the best litter system you can have in your home for all of the issues you face with litter boxes: Cost/Urine Smell/Tracking.”
The Tidy Cats brand also gets a vote from Dr. Nicole Fulcher, assistant director of Animal Medical Center of Mid-America, though she likes “the Tidy Cats varieties by Purina. There are several options that include clumping and non-clumping, and that are for multi-cat households etc.” The reason: “Soft-unscented clumping litters are preferred by most cats and these litters are easier for caregivers to clean.” Among her picks is the Purina Tidy Cats LightWeight 24/7 Performance, Clumping Cat Litter for Multiple Cats, roughly $20 on Amazon
Yesterday’s News Cat Litter — unscented non-clumping litter made from recycled paper — about $16 for a 30-lb bag on Amazon
This may be the litter for those who don’t like clumping litter. In addition to the Tidy Cats system, Ochoa says she loves Yesterday’s News. “Both of these litters are dust free and will not cause upper respiratory diseases.” What’s more, the manufacturer claims that this litter is 3x more absorbent than traditional clay litters and is unscented.
Other things to remember: Cats are picky. “It is best to try different types of cat litter to see which your cat prefers,” says Fulcher. “The old way of thinking was to stick to one type of litter, but it is best to try different types of substrate or litter and see which one your cat prefers.”
You also should scoop litter daily, says Dr. Matthew Goetz, medical director for the Arizona Animal Welfare League. “You don’t want to use a dirty bathroom, and neither do they.” He adds: “Pay attention to location. You may like the litterbox next to the dryer or out of the way, but if it buzzes or is awkward for them, they will stop using it.”