Best Cat Litter for Odor Control: Eliminate Cat Litter Smells

Kitty infront of a cat litter box
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Who doesn’t remember Friends’ Phoebe Buffay’s Smelly Cat song? Regardless of how often you clean out the litter box, or how good your furry feline’s diet is, there is a fairly good chance visitors to your home will know you have a cat long before they actually see it. Let’s tackle this problem by discussing the best cat litters for odor control!

In my quest to combat Oscar and Joey’s ‘odor’ parfum, I’ve discovered five of the best odor control litter products that are currently available on the market. Whether your cat prefers odorless cat litter to a scented type, I’ve got one that will suit your needs, as well as your budget.

What You Need to Know About the Best Cat Litter for Odor Control

Before we look at the best kitty litter for odor control options, let’s start with the basics. Gone are the days when all cat litter was created equal. Today you have a myriad of choices such as clumping clay, non-clumping, clay, recycled paper, wheat, and even grass, which is all well and good, but how do you go about choosing the best one for your moggy?

What you need is a handy buying guide and a breakdown of the types of cat litter available, and guess what? I’ve included both.

The Different Types of Cat Litter Available

Clumping clay

Clumping cat litter, as the name suggests, forms clumps when it comes into contact with urine. This is because it’s made using bentonite, which is an extremely absorbent clay. The reason this particular litter is so popular is because it’s easier to scoop up.  A negative, although definitely not a dealbreaker, is that it can be heavy to carry around, it’s non-biodegradable, and it can create dust. Also, the bentonite, although safe for adults cats, isn’t suitable for kittens.

Non-clumping clay

Non-clumping clay doesn’t contain bentonite, which means it doesn’t clump when it’s wet. As a result, it’s not as easy to clean, and there’s a good chance the litter box will get smellier sooner. Also, you might need to clean out the box more often to keep the unpleasant odors at bay.

Silica gel beads

Although cat litter made using silica gel crystals or beads does everything it needs to do well, they can be a bit more expensive when compared to other types. Unfortunately, they tend to track and cats don’t seem to like that too much, which means they lick them off.  As a result, these can be harmful if too many are ingested.

There are also a few organic cat litters available, including ones made from recycled paper, pine, corn, walnut shells, wheat, and grass. While these are biodegradable, they might pose a few health risks for your feline when eaten, especially the corn and wheat options.

Although not a litter, you could also use a cat litter odor eliminator or odor deodorizer. These sprays or powders are made using ingredients such as borax, zeolite, or baking powder, which work to neutralize unpleasant litter box smells. Some deodorizers will also contain a fragrance, neutralizing the odor and freshening the air.

Deciding on which one to use invariably comes down to your, and your cat’s, personal preference, but there are a few other things to keep in mind when you’re looking for the best kitty litter for odor control. Want to know what these are?  Take a look at my comprehensive buying guide.

The Best Odor Control Cat Litter Buying Guide

Odor control is key

When you’re looking for the best cat litter for odor control, it goes without saying that you want a product that’s going to eliminate and control the smelliest of smells. So one of the main things you need to consider is how well the litter will work.

No dust zone

Ideally, you want a cat litter that doesn’t create too much dust as this can cause respiratory issues for you and your feline. It’s a good idea to choose an odor-busting litter that produces as little dust as possible when you’re filling the box or when your pet’s answering nature’s call.

Safe and non-tracking

It’s inevitable that some litter is going to get on your cat’s paws, which is why you need to think about the ingredients that are used. Whatever is stuck on the bottom of his feet is going to be swallowed when he gives himself a clean, so be aware of any allergens like wheat or corn, or any potentially toxic ingredients.

It’s also worth looking at products that are either non-tracking (i.e., stay in the litter box) or track very little. This will keep your cat’s paws clean, as well as your floor or rug.

The cost

Very few people are in a position where cost isn’t an issue. Some really great brands offer excellent value for money, so don’t think you have to spend a small fortune on a good quality cat litter.

Scented or unscented

Depending on what you need, you can choose from scented or unscented cat litter. While some cats and their people prefer a scented cat litter that fights odors, others may be too sensitive to the fragrance and want a product that simply neutralizes the smell.

You can, if you like, choose one that eliminates the cat litter smells while freshening the air in the room at the same time.

Convenience and easy cleaning

While it might not seem like a big deal at first, cleaning out your cat’s litter box can lose its novelty fairly quickly. In my experience, a product that’s easy to carry around and can be stored somewhere conveniently will make your life easier.

Also, keep the area around the litter box nice and clean by choosing one that doesn’t create plumes of dust or get stuck on your cat’s paws when he’s finished his business.

  • Dr. Elsey’s Ultra Premium Cat Litter
  • Fresh Step Multi-Cat Scented Litter
  • Fresh Step Extreme Scented Litter
  • Purina Tidy Cats LightWeight 24/7 Performance Clumping Cat Litter
  • NonScents Cat Litter Deodorizer

Dr. Elsey’s Ultra Premium Cat Litter

Best Budget Cat Litter for Odor Control

It really isn’t difficult to see why Dr. Elsey’s Ultra Premium Cat Litter features on so many ‘best of’ lists. It’s affordable, works exceptionally well, is almost 100% dust-free, and because it doesn’t contain plant proteins, any fragrances or perfume, it’s completely hypo-allergenic.

Dr. Elsey has been a cat-only vet for the last 35 years and is a member of the American Association of Feline Practitioners as well as the Denver Veterinary Medical Association and the American Veterinary Medical  Association. Having treated over 8000 cats, Dr. Elsey has become somewhat of a cat litter expert.

Ultra Premium is made using a unique formula that combines heavier non-tracking grain granules with a medium grain clay, resulting in a product that clumps perfectly. It also stops moisture of any kind seeping through to the bottom of the litter box.

Scooping up poop is a pleasure with Ultra Premium because the clumps don’t crumble or break, and it is dust-free. The formula is safe for even the most sensitive pets, and it neutralizes odors quickly and efficiently. It’s suitable to use when you have more than one cat and can be used with mechanical litter boxes.

Pros.

  • Affordable, high quality clumping cat litter
  • Because it's free of any chemicals, perfumes, plant proteins, dyes, and other additives, it's 100% hypo-allergenic and safe for even the most sensitive cats, and their humans
  • It’s by far one of the best odorless cat litter products available on the market
  • It is dust-free, non-tracking and won’t harm your cat
  • Effective at getting rid of odors

Cons.

  • In some instances, the clumping formula works almost too well, creating hard, almost concrete-like lumps, which can be hard to remove from the bottom of the tray

Fresh Step Multi-Cat Scented Litter

Best Scented Cat Litter

This is undoubtedly one of the best scented cat litters for homes with more than one cat. The formula clumps quickly and traps bad odors effectively, and what I particularly like about this litter is how the fragrance is only released when the granules are moved around. The scent, in my opinion, is also pleasant and not at all overpowering.

Even with more than one cat using it to ablute, your litter box will stay fresh and odor-free for up to 10 days, and because it’s almost 100% dust-free, it won’t irritate your cats’ lungs. It’s also safe for you.

When it comes to ease of use and convenience, Fresh Step Multi-Cat Scented Litter with Febreze stands out from the rest. It comes in four separate packages that last for around a week to 10 days, and they’re easy to move around and store.

Pros.

  • Because the litter is packaged separately, the litter stays fresher for longer
  • It’s easy to move around and convenient to store
  • The cat litter is dust-free and won’t cause any respiratory problems
  • It works for seven to 10 days and is suitable for homes with more than one cat

Cons.

  • There is a small chance of your cat being allergic to Febreze

Fresh Step Extreme Scented Litter

The Best Odor Eliminating Cat Litter

Just like Fresh Step Multi-Cat Scented Litter, Fresh Step Extreme uses the power of Febreze to keep your home odor-free, and the air fresh and clean.

The activated charcoal traps any unpleasant odors, and the innovative “Clumplock” technology effectively absorbs any liquid, forming clumps that don’t crumble or track after use. Carbon is an ingredient that is used to stop bacterial growth for up to 10 days, and like other Fresh Step products, there is very little dust when you fill the litter box.

The resealable packs keep the litter fresher for longer, which means there is very little waste.

Pros.

  • While the scented cat litter works well to eliminate extreme smells, it isn't overpowering or unbearable
  • The Clumplock technology absorbs liquid well
  • With almost zero dust, this cat litter doesn’t irritate cats or people with sensitive noses

Cons.

  • Although it doesn’t happen often, the fragrance can be too strong
  • The packaging doesn’t seem to hold up if it gets wet

Purina Tidy Cats LightWeight 24/7 Performance Clumping Cat Litter

Best Lightweight Cat Litter

Purina has been a trusted household name for pet owners for the last 90 years or thereabouts, so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that Tidy Cats Lightweight Cat Litter is on the list. The clumping cat litter may be lightweight, but it definitely packs a punch when it comes to fighting odors.

Because it’s made using clay, the cat litter is approximately 50% lighter than other products, which makes it easy to move around. Fragrance and color free, this is a cat litter that doesn’t smell so it won’t cause any allergic reactions, but the activated charcoal quickly neutralizes and eliminates potentially bad odors.

Thanks to its unique TidyLock technology, the clumps are easy to scoop up, and the added Ammonia Blocker keeps that all too familiar smell away for up to two weeks, which makes it suitable for homes with more than one cat.

Pros.

  • Although this is lightweight, it absorbs moisture really well
  • It's 99% dust free, and the TidyLock technology prevents the clumps breaking or disintegrating
  • The lightweight formula makes this a convenient product to store and also move around easily
  • The added Ammonia Blocker keeps unpleasant odors away up to two weeks
  • It's hypo-allergenic

Cons.

  • Some people don't like that it has no fragrance; however, there are scented options available in the range
  • There is occasional tracking of the smaller granules

NonScents Cat Litter Deodorizer

Best cat litter odor eliminator

Although it doesn’t happen, every now and then Oscar and Joey’s litter box starts to smell especially bad, but there isn’t enough time for me to do a proper clean up, which is why I’ve included a cat litter deodorizer. This simple, yet ingenious life hack will keep those foul odors at bay and freshen up the air in your home.

Cat litter deodorizers are available in various forms, including sprays, beads, granules, and powders and contain ingredients like borax, zeolite or baking soda to eliminate smells. There are also scented and non-scented options available, depending on your needs.

Nonscents Cat Litter deodorizer is rated as one of the best products on the market at the moment because it’s four times more concentrated than others and neutralizes odors quickly and effectively. The zeolite granules are easy to apply, and because it’s fragrance-free, it doesn’t irritate sensitive skin or noses.

One of the main benefits of using a cat litter deodorizer is that it keeps the little box smelling fresher for longer periods, saving you money, and time. Simply sprinkle a layer over the litter so that it’s covered and reapply as and when needed. It can also be used around trash cans, kennels, and even carriers.

Pros.

  • The zeolite granules are safe to use around the whole family
  • It neutralizes strong odors within seconds and can be used around kennels, trash cans, inside animal carriers and bedding
  • Because it keeps your cat litter fresher for longer, it saves you time and money

Cons.

  • It is slightly more expensive, but it really gets the job done

Keeping it Clean with a Few Litter Box Hacks

Cats, by their very nature, are meticulously clean creatures, and if yours suddenly stops using his or her litter box, there is more than likely a good reason for it. It could be an underlying health problem, stress brought on by various factors, dirty litter boxes, or the type of litter.  

Below are a few handy hacks that’ll not only keep your cat in his ablution box, they’ll also keep your home smelling clean and fresh.

Scoop it Up

It’s one thing having a really good cat litter odor eliminator product on hand, but nothing’s going to help if you’re not keeping your cat’s litter box as clean as possible.

One of the easiest (and most obvious) ways to keep your pal’s litter box smelling ‘pawsome’ is by making sure you scoop up the lumps regularly. There shouldn’t be more than half a dozen lumps in the litter box at any given time. If it feels like you can’t scoop up the poop fast enough, chances are you need another box.

Change the Litter Regularly

Change the litter every seven to 10 days so that it doesn’t get too wet or too lumpy. If for some unexpected reason, you can’t do this, you could use an odor-fighting deodorizer like NonScents to neutralize the smell.

Keep it Clean

Before you replace the cat litter, give the box a good clean. It’s a good idea to use anti-bacterial soap, but whatever you do, make sure you rinse it thoroughly. Cats generally don’t like the smell of soap and will avoid it at all costs.

One of the best ways to tell if you’ve cleaned and rinsed it thoroughly is if your cat uses the litter box as soon as you’re done.

Replace Box Annually

Over time, a litter box gets damaged. No matter how often you clean it, there’s going to come a time when you just need to replace the whole thing. Experts recommend getting  a new litter box once a year.

What a lot of people do to remember it’s box-changing time, is to do it around a memorable event, like a birthday, Christmas or even the day you brought your kitten home. If you’re in the market for a new one, you could upgrade to a self-flushing cat box (yes, it exists), an eco-friendly type, or one that self cleans. There are loads to choose from, depending on your needs, and of course, your budget.

Multi Cats need Multi Boxes

It’s essential to have more than one litter box in your house, even if you only have one cat. A good idea is to place them in different areas of your home, where your cat likes to be. This way, when he needs to go, he won’t have to walk from one end of the house to the other, to get to his box.

Ideally, each cat should have its own loo, so to speak. Because cats, unlike dogs, aren’t pack animals, they prefer to do some things alone, and using the litter box is one of them. Even if you’re using a multi-cat litter odor control product like Fresh Step Multi-Cat or Fresh Step Extreme, you should still have one litter box per cat, and if space allows, one or two additional boxes around the house.

Location is Key

Where you keep the litter box is also important. Make sure it’s in a room that has lots of ventilation and don’t put it in a part of the house where there is lots of traffic. Ideally, you want to keep it as far away as possible from living areas, the kitchen and away from food, yours and your cats.

Use the Correct Amount of Litter

There is a cat litter to fight odors for every type of budget, so don’t skimp on it when you’re filling the box. Most manufacturers suggest a minimum of two to three inches, which allows for the formula to lock in the liquid before it reaches the bottom of the tray. Not using the correct amount will reduce its efficacy and you’ll end up with a smelly litter box sooner rather than later.

Consider Switching Litter

Most cats are very sensitive to smells, which is why odorless cat litter is so popular. If you change the type or brand of litter you’ve been using, and you notice your cat no longer wants to do his business in his box, check if it’s not maybe as a result of switching products.

Even if it has the slightest fragrance, your cat could be sensitive to the smell, or there’s a chance it could be irritating his skin. For Oscar and Joey, it was a case of trial and error the first few times, until we found one they approved of.

Take a look at the handy hints’  cat’ egory below. If you’re new to the world of cats, and aren’t sure where you should be placing the litter box and what you should try and avoid, this guide to litter box etiquette will make life easier for you and your feline.

The Best Spots for Litter Boxes

Make sure there are easy access and exit points

When you’re placing the litter boxes, consider the entrance and exit points. If it’s blocked for any reason, whether it’s the alpha cat or a closed bathroom door, it won’t get used.

Make sure there is space between the litter boxes

Don’t make the mistake of lining up all the litter boxes in a neat row in the same room. As mentioned before, cats prefer privacy when they’re doing their business and chances are if there isn’t any, they’ll find a spot where there is.

If space is limited and the litter boxes have to be in one room, then make sure they’re not right next to each other.

Make sure there is proper ventilation

Cats are sensitive to smell, and if their litter box is in a tiny room where there’s very little ventilation, they’re going to be reluctant to use it. Make sure there is plenty of circulating air.

The Worst Places for a Litter Box

Avoid areas where there is lots of traffic

Think about what you like when you go to the loo. You want some privacy with a door that closes. Cats might not be worried about a door, but if there are always walking up and down, children running past, or the family dog sniffing around, this will stress him out, and he’ll stop using the litter box.

Avoid noisy areas

It might make sense to put the litter box in the laundry room, but your cat is more than likely going to be put off by the noise of the washing machine and tumble dryer. Find a spot where there are no sudden or loud noises.

Don’t put the litter box close to air vents

Right, so I said make sure there is air and good circulation, but now I’m saying don’t place litter boxes near air vents. It seems like a bit of a contradiction, doesn’t it? But unlike an open window, an air con, for example, can create unexpected drafts of air that will stress your cat out. Instead, place the box where there is a natural (and continual) airflow, like a window.

While this might seem like a lot to take in, rest assured that once you have the correct number of litter boxes in suitable places around your home, filled with the right cat litter, your cat will be happy and your house will smell fresh and clean.

Oh, and don’t forget, if you think I’ve overlooked an odorless cat litter that you think deserves a mention, let me know in the comments below so I can share it.

Carmen Scott
Carmen Scott
I’m the “Mom” behind The Cat Mom. I adopted my two kitties back in 2014 and since they’re the heart and soul of our home so we decided to share our experiences and tips with everyone who share the same love for their furry friends as us.

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