Your cat may be sweet, but chances are what they leave in the litter box is decidedly not. Many cat litter brands promise to banish stinky odors and leave your home smelling fresh, but which ones can pet parents count on to suppress those oh-so-smelly smells?
That question has been occupying the minds of cat lovers ever since the earliest domesticated felines started squatting over sand or sawdust to do their business. As the industry has evolved, so have the answers — from the clay granules Edward Lowe first introduced 75 years ago to everything from wheat to walnut shells, pinewood to paper, clumping clay to crystals…and beyond.
According to a recent Research and Markets report, the global cat litter market is set to exceed $10 billion within the decade. Yet the question remains: Of all the options available to pet parents, which cat litter is best for covering up the smell of your kitty’s business — or better yet, neutralizing the stench completely?
The answer is likely to vary based on the factors that matter most to you, your cat, and your household. That is why we’ve rounded up the best cat litters for odor — from formulas developed with all-natural ingredients to those safe enough to use with kittens and strong enough to leave for weeks at a time.
Here’s everything you need to know about this sweet-smelling segment of the kitty litter market, so you can choose the best cat litter for odor…and for your particular feline.
What is Odor-Control Cat Litter?
Cat litter designed to control odors typically works by neutralizing or masking offensive smells…sometimes, by using a combination of both tactics.
To neutralize odors, kitty litter often contains ingredients such as carbon or silica gel. These naturally occurring, highly porous materials absorb moisture and odor molecules, trapping smells inside.
To mask odors, scented kitty litter fights bad smells by introducing more pleasing ones. Though if the artificial perfume is too strong, it could discourage your cats from using their litter box at all.
In addition, the type of cat litter can also play a role in removing smells. For example, clumping cat litter forms solids when combined with cat urine, making it easier to scoop up and dispose of smelly waste.
Just like some people prefer one brand of toilet paper over another, cats can have strong opinions about the type of kitty litter you use. Some cats may like a smoother litter surface, while those with sensitive noses may dislike strong scents. Other cats have been known to develop allergies to the dust that can accompany clay litter.
The good news is that there are so many kitty litter options available to pet parents these days, you’re sure to find an odor control cat litter option to fit your cat’s preferences and keep your home smelling fresh.
What to Look for in Cat Litter for Odor Control
Choosing a cat litter is an important decision that impacts your cat, your budget, and your entire household. So it’s important to shop around and test out several options before deciding on the one you’ll rely on to prevent that dreaded litter box aroma.
Here are some important things to keep in mind as you make your decision:
- First, remember that cat litter can’t work miracles. No matter what materials or methods the brand employs to control odors, maintaining and replacing the litter in your cat’s litter box plays a big part in keeping bad smells under control.
- If you have a multi-cat household, there are formulas specifically designed for multiple cats. However, again, even the best multi-cat litter can only do so much. Be sure to use multiple litter boxes and clean them as frequently as possible.
- Many litter options, including traditional clay cat litter, are not biodegradable, making them a poor choice for earth-conscious pet parents. As an alternative, explore the growing range of cat litters made from natural materials, such as pine chips, nutshells, corn, and wheat.
- Though some cat litters are advertised as flushable or safe for septic systems, note that flushing cat waste is prohibited in some areas. In California, it’s banned because it could potentially harm the sea lion population. Always check up on regulations where you live before flushing any kind of cat waste.
- Like humans, cats can be sensitive to fragrances and dust. Look for unscented natural kitty litter or synthetic silica-based litters that neutralize smells instead of masking them.
- Crystalline silica dust, an ingredient in many clumping cat litters, is a known carcinogen. However, it’s unclear how much of a risk this presents to humans and pets. If you are concerned, opt for a low-dust or dust-free formula to reduce any potential risks.
- Cats with other health issues, like diabetes or kidney disease, might benefit from a non-clumping litter so pet parents can better monitor urine output.
Best Cat Litter for Odor: Our Top Picks
We chose the following odor-control cat litters based on a comprehensive analysis of customer reviews, availability, price, and personal experience as the head of a two-cat household — with very high standards when it comes to maintaining a stink-free home! Here’s what made the list.
- Best Overall Cat Litter for Odor Control: Tidy Cats Free & Clean
- Best Clumping Litter for Odor Control: SmartCat All Natural Clumping Litter
- Best Non-Clumping Litter for Odor Control: Pretty Litter
- Best Non-Tracking Cat Litter for Odor Control: Skoon All Natural Cat Litter
- Best Smelling Odor-Control Cat Litter: World’s Best Cat Litter
- Best Natural Odor-Control Cat Litter: Healthy Pet’s ökocat Litter
- Best Unscented Cat Litter for Odor Control: ExquisiCat Litter
- Best Odor-Control Litter for Kittens: Dr. Elsey’s Kitten Attract Litter
8 Best Odor-Control Cat Litter Options to Consider
All featured products are chosen at the discretion of the author. However, Great Pet Care may make a small affiliate commission if you click through and make a purchase.
We chose the following odor-control cat litters based on a comprehensive analysis of customer reviews, availability, price, and personal experience as the head of a two-cat household — with very high standards when it comes to maintaining a stink-free home! Here’s what we found.
Best Overall Cat Litter for Odor Control
Our Pick: Tidy Cats Free & Clean
Hard-working, budget-friendly, and widely available at nearly every grocery store, Tidy Cats is not only the #1 best-selling cat litter brand, it’s also the very first. Launched in 1954 by Ed Lowe, the inventor of cat litter, Tidy Cats has been at the forefront of cat litter trends ever since. And its “Free & Clean” formula is no exception. This unscented clumping clay cat litter uses odor-absorbing activated charcoal to banish bad smells instead of just covering them up. We didn’t detect any suspicious scents from our two cats. Plus, it’s dye-free, fragrance-free, and low-dust, which makes it a well-rounded best overall in our book.
- Fights odors with TidyLock technology, featuring activated charcoal
- Promises 10-day odor control when used as directed
- Available in a variety of sizes, including lightweight jugs and bulk bags
- Made without artificial fragrances or dyes, so it’s good for sensitive cats
- 99.9 percent dust-free
- Affordably priced
Things to Consider
- As is the case with clay litters, some tracking can be expected
Sample buyer review: “I didn’t know Tidy Cats made the Free & Clean formula and was curious to see if charcoal vs. baking soda really would make a difference. I have two large litter boxes which I keep at 4″ depth, scoop daily, and do a total change out every month. This particular formula does track, and I do have the mats under each box, but I cannot believe how little odor there is, even if I don’t scoop every day. It really does clump hard. My older cat, Abby, does her business in only one spot in the corner so sometimes it doesn’t clump up hard, but it is still an improvement. The low dust was also important as Abby has respiratory issues. Free & Clean is a win-win for me and my felines!”
Best Clumping Litter for Odor Control
Our Pick: SmartCat All Natural Clumping Litter
Though clay-based cat litter is best known for clumping, this all-natural, grass-based option from SmartCat clumps so fast and hard, smells don’t have a chance to escape. Plus, it’s biodegradable and better for the environment, which gives it a leg up on traditional clay cat litter. Made from 100% grass farmed in the U.S., it’s super-soft on paws, which makes this a great choice for kittens, too.
- Made from grass, so it’s biodegradable and renewable
- Clumps on contact to lock in odor-causing bacteria
- GMO-free, chemical-free, clay-free, fragrance-free
- Soft, sand-like texture cats love
- Ultra-lightweight, so it’s easier to carry, easier to scoop
- 99 percent dust-free, making cleanup a breeze
Things to Consider
- Some reviewers noted that this litter tends to track easily outside of the litter box
Sample buyer review: “I decided to take a chance on this since the reviews were so good. Yes, the reviews were right: it really is great litter. It makes solid clumps that don’t break up. It looks just as clean two weeks later as it did on day one. I added some more, but that’s all I had to do.”
Best Non-Clumping Litter for Odor Control
Our Pick: Pretty Litter
Save 20% with code GREATPET20 + get a FREE cat toy!
Though Pretty Litter is probably best-known for its color-changing crystals that help you monitor your cat’s health, those crystals do an incredible job suppressing litter box stink, too. Made from super-absorbent silica gel (yes, just like the little desiccant packets found in shoe boxes, purses, and countless other products), Pretty Litter crystals don’t clump at all. Instead, the unscented crystals suck up odors and liquids, trapping bad smells inside. Though you still have to scoop and dispose of any solid waste, that means less maintenance, less mess, and longer-lasting litter, plus a better-smelling home for you and your cats.
- Multi-tasking Pretty Litter controls odors and alerts you to potential health issues with crystals that change color when your cat pees
- Non-clumping formula requires less scooping, upkeep
- Only have to change litter once a month
- Crystals are up to 80 percent lighter than the leading clay cat litters
- 99 percent dust-free and resistant to tracking
- Ships free to your door with subscription
Things to Consider
- Subscription can be pricey — ranging from $22-$60 per month depending on the number of cats
- Get used to green crystals; yellow-to-green color indicates healthy urine
Sample buyer review: “The best kitty litter ever made. My cats love it! It truly does absorb odors and moisture. One thing I learned while staying in Florida for the winter is when it is humid out, turn on the air conditioner. The Pretty Litter absorbed some of the humidity from the air and shortened its lifespan in the litter box! Live and learn.”
Best Non-Tracking Cat Litter for Odor Control
Our Pick: Skoon All Natural Cat Litter
Skoon offers a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee on its non-clumping cat litter “pebbles,” which the brand describes as ultra-absorbent, odor-controlling, microscopic mini sponges. Made from diatom — a biodegradable and highly absorbent mineral — these pebbles handle liquid waste handily, so all you have to worry about is scooping out the solids. Best of all, the scale of the pebbles is larger than traditional cat litters, so they don’t stick to cat paws and get tracked all over your house. Even the finer-grain option designed for automatic litter boxes is non-tracking, too. Overall, this is a low-maintenance litter both cats and parents will love.
- Absorbent diatom pebbles eliminate odors
- Hypoallergenic, non-toxic, and with a low amount of dust
- Oversized pebbles won’t stick to cats’ paws, preventing tracking
- Comes in scents like lavender and lemon in addition to unscented
Things to Consider
- Some reviewers claimed that there was more dust from the litter than they were expecting
- If your cat doesn’t like the larger pebbles, this litter also comes in a fine-grain formula
Sample buyer review: “Skoon had mixed reviews, but I’ve been trying all the litters that claim to be low tracking, so I gave this one a shot. I’m glad I did. This litter works great for us! We’ve been using it for a few weeks now. I know some cats don’t like the larger granules, but that wasn’t a problem for our kitty. This litter does everything it claims. No more litter stuck to her paws, no perfume smells, no wet messy clumps at the bottom of the litter box, and no more litter tracked all over the house! I will be buying this from now on.”
Best Smelling Odor-Control Cat Litter
Our Pick: World’s Best Cat Litter
Scented cat litter can be a tricky thing to perfect because smells are so subjective. But World’s Best clumping corn-based cat litter strikes the perfect balance. Instead of heavy artificial fragrances, the brand uses natural botanical oils to create light (but effective) and pleasant floral scents like lavender and lotus blossom. But the scents aren’t the only line of defense against litter box odors. The litter granules are made from naturally absorbent, whole-kernel corn, which traps waste and odors quickly and cleanly. So it’s tough on smells while remaining easier on the environment than clay alternatives.
- Lasts twice as long in the litter box as normal clay litter
- Uses natural botanical oils instead of synthetic chemicals or perfumes
- Flushable litter is safe for sewer and septic systems (though check local ordinances)
- Smell is pleasant, but not overwhelming
- 99 percent dust-free
Things to Consider
- Pricey, though the brand says you only need to use half as much as other litters
Sample buyer review: “First we tried the unscented version of this litter. With the original, if you don’t scoop for about 2-3 days it does get a funky smell. My husband doesn’t mind it, but I think it smells like stinky feet. I really like the clumping and scooping qualities of this litter, so I wanted to try scented and so far it covers up that smell. The lavender scent is very nice and it’s not overpowering. My cats really like it, even my picky girl. Very happy with this litter!”
Best Natural Odor-Control Cat Litter
Our Pick: Healthy Pet’s ökocat Litter
Though there are a lot of natural cat litter options on the market, ökocat gets our vote for the very best because it’s engineered to be both high-performance and environmentally responsible. The word ”öko” is German for “eco,” so it’s no wonder this earth-friendly cat litter uses the power of plants to stop smells in their tracks. Öcocat’s precision-cut wood fibers naturally absorb odors and prevent the buildup of ammonia by stopping enzymes from bonding with waste — all without added chemicals, dyes, or fragrances. A blend of spruce, fir, and pine provides a fresh natural scent to your cat’s litter box.
(Another great natural odor-controlling litter option is Naturally Fresh Walnut Shell Cat Litter, which is made from walnut shells.)
- Made from sustainably sourced, responsibly rescued wood fiber
- Clumps easily and naturally, thanks to a proprietary blend of plant fibers
- Smells fresh and outdoorsy
- Low on dust and hard to track
- Completely dust-free formula sold in smaller boxes with white paper pellets
Things to Consider
- This German-based brand is a bit on the pricy side, at more than $1 per pound for the standard litter
- Safe to flush (though check your local regulations)
Buyer Review: “I really like this litter. It has less dust than other natural litters I have used and because the pieces are larger, I find it tracks less than some other options. Of course, it DOES track, just not as much as the Nature’s Miracle that I used until they discontinued it. It’s a little trickier to scoop than some because of those larger pieces, but for me, that’s not a deal-breaker. I will continue to use this product.”
Best Unscented Cat Litter for Odor Control
Our Pick: ExquisiCat Litter
We prefer litter to be unscented; after all, isn’t that the point? No one honestly wants to detect any smells coming from the litter box. ExquisiCat offers totally unscented paper pellets that promise 10 full days without any odors.
- Made from paper, this formula eschews the dust from clay and claims it’s three times more absorbent; plus, it’s tough to track
- Three ingredients make this litter a straightforward pick, recycled paper, baking soda, and zeolite — a hydrated aluminosilicate that is great for absorption
- Made from paper, it couldn’t be lighter to handle
Things to Consider
- Some reviewers claim the larger pellets make it hard for some kitties to move around in the box
Buyer Review: “I’ve tried so many litters over the years and each one had its issues. I really wanted to find a dust-free, natural litter for my and my cats’ health. I love this litter! Can’t believe I can stop searching. I don’t notice dust. The very few pellets that get outside the box are easy to see and sweep up. No scooping. Once a day I stir. If any poops, I just toss in a baggy so no smell. Went cold turkey and completely switched and kitties adjusted. Once a week I slip the box into a trash bag to dump all litter. It’s not heavy. Then add all new. I actually spend less time now and it’s easier. I just bought my second bag.”
Best Odor-Control Litter for Kittens
Our Pick: Dr. Elsey’s Kitten Attract Litter
You might think, “Cats are cats. Why do kittens need special litter?” But inquisitive baby cats may be more inclined to chew on their litter than use it for a bathroom. Dr. Elsey’s kitten-specific formula is not only soft on tiny paws, but it’s also all-natural and virtually dust-free to protect sensitive kittens from potential allergens. The clumping formula offers superior odor control, which is great because cute, cuddly kittens are also capable of surprisingly stinky litter box deposits. Plus, the litter is infused with an herbal attractant designed to lure kittens to the litter box, which is especially important during litter box training so your kitty doesn’t pee everywhere.
We’d also like to shout out Purina’s Yesterday’s News, which uses recycled paper that won’t harm curious kittens looking to munch on pellets.
- Designed for kittens aged 8 weeks to 1 year
- Veterinarian-formulated by Dr. Elsey, himself
- Contains kitten-specific natural herbal attractant to aid litter box training
- Comes with free Litter Box Solutions booklet addressing common challenges
Things to Consider
- Dr. Elsey recommends switching to Cat Attract after first year to ensure consistent litter box use
- Some users found that the formula was dusty and not as absorbent as some litters for adult cats in the same brand
Buyer Review: “My 8-week-old kitten had a problem with regular litter I bought…I decided to try this one out and IT WORKED! I noticed that my kitten doesn’t produce a strong foul smell like my 8-year-old cat does so I can’t comment on the odor control part. But overall, he immediately noticed me putting litter onto his litter box and instantly used it.”
Tips for Using Cat Litter for Odor Control
No matter which brand of odor-ousting cat litter you choose, experts agree that there’s plenty you can do to ensure you get the best results for a great-smelling home. Here are some proven tips for success:
- The absolute best way to control odors is to regularly maintain and clean your cat’s litter box. Scooping daily, especially in a multi-cat household, is key to controlling unseemly smells. As an added bonus, if you scoop daily, you really only need to replace clay litter every two to three weeks, which saves you money, too.
- No matter what schedule the cat litter manufacturer recommends for changing the litter in your box, always rely on your best judgment (aka, your sniffer). There are a lot of variables that can affect how well litter performs, from your cat’s diet to climate and humidity. So dome boxes may need to be cleaned more frequently than others.
- If your cat will tolerate it, a litter box with a hood can help contain the stink (while also preventing nosy canines from intruding on your cat’s privacy). Automatic litter boxes that scoop and contain smelly waste are another odor-fighting option. Just be sure to choose a cat litter that’s designed for self-scooping litter boxes, which often jam when traditional cat litter is used.
- If using a litter liner to make cleanup easier, be aware that kitty claws can easily get caught in the tough plastic lining, which could harm your cat.
- Whatever litter you and your kitty decide on, it might be best to stick with it unless absolutely necessary to modify it. Cats don’t like change, especially when it comes to their bathroom habits. If you do find that you need or want to change your cat litter brand or type, do it slowly over time. An abrupt litter change could prompt your cat to stop using the litter box, leading to smelly messes throughout your home.
- Even if you’re using the best cat litter that money can buy, feline urine and feces contain bacteria toxic to humans; pregnant women are especially susceptible and should delegate litter box duties until after the baby is born.