Fresh Step Cat Litter Review 2020: Good or Bad?

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Having a cat—or more than one!—is a rewarding experience. Living with their litter box, not so much. That’s what makes finding the right product so essential. 

We’re willing to pay for it, too.

Americans spend over $1.1 billion each year just on litter. The best product I’ve found to control odors is Fresh Step Cat Litter.


Things to Consider Before Buying a Cat Litter

There are so many brands and types of cat litter available that it can feel overwhelming to make a choice. The critical thing is that your cat likes her litter box setup and that the product eliminates odors. You can’t have one without the other. However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. 


Other things to factor into your decision include

  • How much easier does this product make cleaning the litter box?
  • How much maintenance are you willing to do?
  • Do you like scented or unscented?
  • Is the fragrance agreeable?

There are several types of litter. The main categories are non-clumping or clumping clay. Businessman Ed Lowe created the first absorbent clay litter in 1947. Believe it or not, people used sand and even ashes before his invention. We’ve come a long way since those days to improve the downsides of using these inferior materials.

While it works, clay in most forms is dusty and adds to the problem of having your cat’s litter box in your home. You have to clean up what she tosses out of the box and mop the floor afterward. On the other hand, it’s inexpensive. Unfortunately, you have to change it more often so that is probably a good thing. That makes cost more of an issue, depending on much more often you have to change the litter.

Clumping litters use bentonite clay. Dust is still a factor, but it’s much easier to clean but much more reduced. However, the bags are heavy, and it’s spendy compared to non-clumping products. You have to ask yourself if the pros justify the higher price? To be fair, the industry has responded with products that are lighter, which makes them easier to use—and more expensive. That is the trade-off.


Alternative Types of Cat Litter

You’ll also see crystal litters made from silica. They are dust-free, which is a definite advantage. They also manage odor control well. On the downside, they are expensive, even more so than some high-end clumping litters. There is also the concern about the impact on your cat’s paws and whether she’ll like it. You must also balance these concerns with the fact that it lasts longer.

Other cat litters are made from recycled paper. That gives these products a plus because of their green factor. Many veterinarians recommend these litters after declawing surgeries to protect the paws as they heal. On the downside, they often don’t contain the odor-control additives that clay-based litters have. While they’re inexpensive, you’ll have to change them more often, which can add to their cost.

All have their advantages and disadvantages for both you and your cat. Of course, your cat is the final judge. Our advice is that if you find a product she likes, then stick with it. Some pets are fussy about their litter. As we always advise, it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. Remember that a feline that avoids using the litter box creates more problems than you’d likely want on your plate.


Our Detailed Fresh Step Litter Review

Fresh Step Febreze Freshness Gain Scented Clumping Clay Cat Litter takes keeping your pet’s litter box clean to the next level. The manufacturer uses proprietary ingredients to address the shortcomings that these products may have. It makes clean up easier while not adding to the mess. It also provides a pleasant scent to keep the place where you have the litter box smelling fresh.

We liked the fact that the litter offers both a product that lasts longer and helps reduce our maintenance. It’s a complete solution to a vexing problem.



  • Noticeably less dust
  • Better clumping action
  • Pleasing scent
  • Long-lasting control
  • 10-day odor guarantee



  • Expensive
  • Tracking from the litter box
  • Lack of odor control with multiple cats


Features and Benefits of Fresh Step Cat Litter

Fresh Step Febreze Freshness Gain Scented Clumping Clay Cat Litter tackles odor control from both sides. First, its formula includes several ingredients to eliminate the offensive ammonia odor. It has activated charcoal, which filters out odors. It’s not unlike its use in water filters, albeit with different chemicals. It also has limestone. That helps neutralize the acidity of urine, which worsens the off smells.


The Chemical Properties of Sodium Bentonite

The litter has sodium bentonite as its base ingredient. This compound has several properties that lend itself well to its use in cat litter. It is quite absorbent so that it can take in any liquid waste quickly and effectively. That makes it easier to remove to make cleaning more manageable. After all, once you remove the source of the odor, you’re well on your way to a fresher-smelling house.

Other industries use this chemical as a sealant. For cat litter, that means it will absorb the liquids in solid clumps to contain it. Ironically, manufacturers will also make products for lining landfills. Another essential feature is its reaction to liquids. It will swell up, which makes daily maintenance even easier. The litter also contains borate compounds, which are antimicrobial.

That lineup gives you an excellent formulation to combat odors as well as their source.

The use of sodium bentonite and its chemical properties mean that it can reduce dust. One of the chief complaints of clumping litters is the mess that they make when trying to clean, well, a mess. That means two things for cat owners. The clumps will stay together and not break apart easily. It can also reduce the amount of litter that your cat tracks outside of the box. It’s not perfect, unfortunately.


The Scent of Fresh Step Litter Review

The other standout feature of Fresh Step Febreze Freshness Gain Scented Clumping Clay Cat Litter is its scent. We admit that it’s in the dealbreaker category for some. The scented-unscented camps are definitely polarized. Presumably, if you’ve made it this far in this review that it’s essential, albeit in the personal choice realm. However, you have to live with it, too.

You must consider this factor from both your and your cat’s perspective. There are several common ground issues. First, there is the strength of the scent. Your pet’s sense of smell is 40 times as keen as yours. If a product with a fragrance makes your nose wrinkle, just imagine what your cat is experiencing! Fortunately, the litter has a light scent that isn’t overwhelming for either of you.



The next thing to think about is the source of the fragrance. While we like the clean, fresh scent of citrus fruits like lemon, they are a repellent and even toxic to cats. It’s safe to say that some felines are more sensitive to what they smell than others. However, it’s a vital consideration for which only your cat can give the final verdict.

We can offer this advice. If you think it’s overwhelming, then your cat is probably experiencing the same thing. The manufacturer made this product so that it would only release its scent when your pet is in the box. You’ll likely find that it dissipates over time so that you don’t notice it as much. 

It’s worth noting that smell is a phasic scent. That means that once your brain has determined it’s not harmful, it’ll tune it out and not notice it again. However, if you find the scent disagreeable, you’ll likely detect it again every time your cat goes to the litter box.



On the downside, the odor control wasn’t ideal if you have more than one cat. It seemed to handle it fine for the guaranteed 10 days if you have one pet. As cat owners know, it’s sometimes hard to have just one. We felt that we had to add baking soda to keep it at an acceptable level. That adds to the mess and maintenance of using the product.

Alternatively, you can set up more than one box in a multiple-cat household. That’s probably a smart idea, anyway. However, that also means that this litter will cost twice as much. For one cat, you can expect to pay about $165 a year or $13.75 a month. When you do the math, the price of owning a pet is about $900, with litter making up about 20 percent of the cost.

We suggest that you observe your pet whenever you try any new product, especially litter. Some breeds are adaptable and roll with the punches. Others will scoff at any changes to their routine. If you notice your cat urinating outside of the box or in inappropriate places, it probably didn’t go over well. If you don’t like it, check out the Fresh Step Extreme review to see if the Mountain Scent is a better fit.


Social Proof

We scoured the Internet to see what other cat owners think about Fresh Step Febreze Freshness Gain Scented Clumping Clay Cat Litter. As it turns out, many people agreed with our take on the product. It came down to two key questions: performance and scent. From that perspective, it seems like the litter does the job. Whether you like it depends on your opinion of the Febreze Gain fragrance.



If you’re not in love with Fresh Step Febreze Freshness Gain Scented Clumping Clay Cat Litter, there are plenty of other products that deliver the same odor-control power without the same scent or even any one at all. Let’s explore a few of your options.


World’s Best Multi-Cat Unscented Clumping Corn Cat Litter

World’s Best Multi-Cat Unscented Clumping Corn Cat Litter sets a high bar with its name. It uses a sustainable source, which is a definite plus in its favor. Unlike other clumping litters, you can flush this one down the toilet, although we’d suggest avoiding it if you are on a well. It is dustless and unscented, if either of those issues is of concern. However, there is no cost-saving with a similar price point.


Tidy Cats Instant Action Scented Clumping Clay Cat Litter

Tidy Cats Instant Action Scented Clumping Clay Cat Litter delivers what it promises. It keeps odors under control in an easy to use form. It also costs about 30 percent less for a 14-pound size. However, it is heavy when you consider pound-for-pound use. It doesn’t have the same clumping properties when weighting Fresh Step vs Tidy Cat. 


Arm & Hammer Litter Clump & Seal Multi-Cat Scented Clumping Clay Cat Litter

Out of the box, Arm & Hammer Litter Clump & Seal Multi-Cat Scented Clumping Clay Cat Litter seems like an ideal fit for the manufacturer’s product line. Baking soda is an excellent way to neutralize the ammonia. It only seems natural to include it in the mixture of a litter. Like Fresh Step, it offers an odor-guarantee, but theirs is only seven days versus the other’s  10 days.


Final Thoughts About Our Fresh Step Cat Litter

Fresh Step Febreze Freshness Gain Scented Clumping Clay Cat Litter is formulated to launch a two-step approach to cat leaning up after your cat. It consists of ingredients that attack odors on several fronts. It both neutralizes them and replaces them with a pleasant scent. The product works as described, particularly if you have only one cat per box. It also comes down to the scent.

We’ll admit that it’s a preference, solely based on something other than its performance. For our part, we don’t like the fragrance. It smacks too much of being a coverup instead of odor control to us. However, it does reduce the unpleasant smells from the cat box in an effective way with long-lasting power. We’ll put this one in the cat’s court to decide if it’ the right choice for you and your pet.

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