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It’s a perpetual topic of discussion among cat owners: what’s the best type of litter? Is there one brand superior to the others out there? And which one makes the least amount of mess?
Let’s get the basics out of the way: The FDA regulates a lot of products related to your four-legged family members (like what they eat) but cat litter is not one of them. In fact, the agency doesn’t regulate where your cat urinates or defecates, or where it sleeps, or what it plays with. So that’s all on you, and your feline’s preference.
But if your cat is anything like mine, it will have very specific tastes. As far as her litter box goes, she used to love her pellet litter. Until she didn't, and began pooping all over the house.
So I called upon an expert, Dr. Carly Fox, a veterinarian at New York's Animal Medical Center, to get into the weeds of cat litter.
"I think the best type is the clumping unscented litter. But it depends on your cat. Most cats prefer clumping non-scented litter," said Fox. "The best litter is what your cat prefers. It sounds crazy but it’s true. Whatever your cat is used to."
The best clumping cat litter
The benefits of clumping litter: "It allows easier removal of urine and feces. You don’t need to dump the entire box of litter. It allows the easy replacement of clean litter. You need to clean your box less often," said Fox.
This is Amazon's bestseller, and two of our staff cat owners swear by this stuff.
Another top seller. "The holy grail of cat litter. It clumps solidly like a rock. It sifts through the scooper like fine beach sand. It doesn't kick up any clay dust clouds," wrote one reviewer.
Another crowd pleaser. "So far I love this litter and my cats do too," said one reviewer, who has "very fussy" cats.
The best non-clumping cat litter
The benefits of non-clumping litter: "It allows for better absorption of orders. It sucks up the odors of urine. People think it smells better. But I think it’s more difficult to remove urine and feces. You have to replace the litter more often and clean your box more often," said Fox.
"I'm a neat freak and can't stand bad smells. This pellet system is phenomenal!" wrote one reviewer.\
This is the cat litter we used for years until for whatever reason, my fickle feline decided she needed a bigger litter box. It made zero mess, had no odors and was so easy to clean out.
"This stuff is waaaaaay better than any clay or clumping kind though. While I wouldn't say a cat box ever really smells great after it is used, it keeps the smell down a bit," wrote a reviewer.
Is one product or brand safer than another? Nope. "Most commercial litters are very safe for cats. It’s more worrisome for dogs who will eat litter. I’ve never seen a cat eat litter. As far as toxins are concerned, they are safe," said Fox.
How often should you clean your litter box?
So let's get to the nitty-gritty here. "If you have one cat, you should clean it once a week. Most people stretch it. Scoop it twice a day and clean once a week, is a good general rule," said Fox.
The best way to clean it is using "warm water and unscented soap, or an enzyme spray cleaner. Cats are super sensitive to smell," said Fox. "Most people have an uncovered regular litter box. I like the ones cats can jump in and get in and have privacy. I love the way it looks and there’s no litter everywhere. Any change needs to be gradual."
For more recommendations, check out:
- The best cat litter box is a top-entry litter box
- The 6 best cat foods to buy, according to a veterinarian
- The best air purifiers of 2020
This article was originally published on Jan. 9, 2019.