Many discerning cat owners will tell you that unscented litter is the only way to go, and science agrees. Studies have shown that cats tend to prefer odorless litters to those treated with perfumes, extracts, and other fragrances.
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Since cats have a keen sense of smell and may be put off by scents that they don’t naturally associate with the places they instinctively go to do their business, unscented litters help ensure that both liquid and solid waste end up where they belong—inside the litter box.
You’ll find a dizzying selection of unscented cat litters on the shelves of your local supermarket or pet supply store, but not all of them are deserving of a portion of your paycheck. Luckily, narrowing down the best unscented cat litter for your home doesn’t have to be a stress-filled nightmare of trial and error. Following is a list of 10 of the top odorless litters out there, along with a few reasons why they’re worth your hard-earned money.
What are the Best Unscented Cat Litters in 2020
- Frisco Multi-Cat Unscented Clumping Clay Cat Litter
- Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Ultra Unscented Clumping Clay Cat Litter
- Tidy Cats Free & Clean Unscented Clumping Clay Cat Litter
- World’s Best Multi-Cat Unscented Clumping Corn Cat Litter
- Cat’s Pride Total Odor Control Unscented Clumping Clay Cat Litter
- Naturally Fresh Multi-Cat Unscented Clumping Walnut Cat Litter
- Scoop Away Unscented Clumping Clay Cat Litter
- Yesterday’s News Original Unscented Non-Clumping Paper Cat Litter
- sWheat Scoop Multi-Cat Unscented Clumping Wheat Cat Litter
Benefits of Unscented Litters
Odorless kitty litters offer a number of advantages over scented ones. For example, unscented litters:
- Are more inviting to your cat
- Are free from chemicals and other additives that could cause skin irritation or allergic reactions
- Are less likely to make your cat sick if accidentally ingested
- Won’t fill your home with overpowering aromas
- Are more sustainable in terms of manufacturing and disposal
It’s also worth mentioning that scented litters don’t actually eliminate unpleasant odors, but instead just mask them with a stronger smell—one that’s not guaranteed to be much more pleasant.
Clumping vs. Non-Clumping Cat Litters
Anytime you choose a new type of litter, you’re faced with the question of whether to go with a clumping or non-clumping variety.
If you’re a long-time cat owner who swears by clumping litters, you might be asking yourself why anyone would ever use a non-clumping litter. The reality is that there are more factors to consider than just how easy a given litter is to clean.
Most clumping cat litters are made from a highly absorbent type of clay known as bentonite. When urine and feces come into contact with bentonite clay, the individual particles immediately begin soaking up moisture, expanding around the waste and forming solid clumps. These clumps lock in unpleasant odors and are a cinch to scoop out, leaving behind clean, ready-to-use litter.
Because clumping litters are so easy to sift, you can get away with changing them less often. Assuming you’re scooping out your cat’s litter box on a daily basis, you shouldn’t need to replenish it with fresh litter any more than about once a month (for a single-cat household).
The main downside of clumping cat litter is that it’s heavier and more expensive. Some cats may also be reluctant to relieve themselves in a pile of hard, lumpy litter, which means there’s a greater chance of stumbling upon messes where they’re not supposed to be.
By comparison, non-clumping cat litters are more absorbent, but don’t allow for any separation between clean and dirty litter. This makes changes more time-consuming (and more frequent) since each change requires you to dump out all of the old litter and clean the litter box before refilling it.
On the flipside, non-clumping litters are typically lighter and softer, so cats like the way they feel underfoot (er, paw). If your feline friend is comfortable with their litter, they’re more likely to use it regularly without incident. Non-clumping litters are also less expensive as a rule, which is no small perk if you have multiple cats.
Neither of these types of litter is better or worse than the other—it’s mostly a matter of which sort your cat will use reliably. That being said, the majority of the highest-rated cat litters on the market are the clumping kind, as ease-of-cleaning is a major selling point for the average cat owner.
Overall Best Unscented Cat Litter
- Changes color to indicate a range of possible health concerns
- Made from fine, ultra-absorbent silica gel
- Up to 80% lighter than competing litters
- Subscription-based monthly service
Best Overall – PrettyLitter is a game-changer for conscientious cat owners who understand the link between their pet’s bathroom habits and their overall wellbeing. The main thing that sets this litter apart from other, similar products is its special chemical formula, which causes it to change color when exposed to urine with an abnormal composition.
This unique feature makes it possible for you to detect underlying health issues before they develop into more serious and potentially costly medical situations.
For example, overly-alkaline urine, which can be a precursor to painful bladder and kidney stones, will cause the litter to turn blue; acidic urine, a common symptom of acidosis, will transform it to a deep golden yellow; and blood, which may be present in the event of a UTI, bladder infection, internal injury, or other serious condition, will tint it an unmistakable red.
Each of these colors strikes a bold contrast against the background of the fine white litter, so you’ll be able to tell with a single glance if something is off.
Along with its ingenious diagnostic properties, reviewers are wowed by how efficiently PrettyLitter wicks up messes, controls odors, and hardens into neat, scoopable clumps.
While it’s currently only available for purchase online through the company’s monthly subscription service (you’ll have no choice but to settle for having it delivered straight to your door), it’s well worth the recurring expense if keeping your furry ward healthy and happy is high on your list of priorities.
- Makes it easy to monitor your cat’s health
- Superior odor control and scoopability
- Simplified recurring orders optimized for various numbers of pets
- Free delivery for all domestic orders
- 30-day risk-free guarantee
- Somewhat pricey compared to similar products
- Not available in stores
- Clumps hard for easy scooping
- Immediate elimination of strong odors
- Low-dust formula minimizes tracking and respiratory issues
- Hypoallergenic—free from dyes, perfumes, fragrances, and plant proteins
Most Affordable – All other kitty litter brands have officially been put on notice: Frisco’s Multi-Cat Unscented Clumping Clay Cat Litter is the premium clumping cat litter to beat. Clocking 4- and 5-star average ratings across the board, it does what it claims, plain and simple, performing exceptionally well in all the areas that matter most.
That isn’t all that has savvy cat owners purring with satisfaction, though. At just around $8 for a 20-pound bag and $15 for a whopping 40-pounder, this litter boasts a value that’s second to none. Seriously, the payoff-to-price ratio is so high that it will practically make you feel like you’re stealing.
All in all, Frisco Multi-Cat Clumping Clay Cat Litter is a top pick among bulk and budget buyers who love nothing more than scoring a bargain that doesn’t force them to compromise on quality.
- Fine texture encourages consistent use
- Clumps fast and scoops clean
- Near-instant deodorization
- Highly affordable price point
- Ready availability both in-store and online
- Mixed opinions on continued odor control
- Prone to forming overly-large clumps
- May still track in small-to-moderate quantities
- 99.9% dust-free and 100% hypoallergenic
- Medium-gain clay absorbs more moisture to prevent pooling
- Heavy granules that cut down on sticking and tracking
- Ideal consistency for sifting and mechanical litter boxes
Most Popular – Dr. Elsey’s is a brand that has seen an impressive spike in popularity in recent years. Much of the company’s success stems from the fact that its products are formulated by veterinarians, meaning they reflect a commitment to the compassionate care of cats of all shapes, sizes, ages, and breeds.
The good people at Dr. Elsey’s understand well what makes a particular litter pleasing to finicky cats, and their Precious Cat Ultra Unscented Clumping Clay Cat Litter is the result of this expertise.
The weighty, medium-grain clay granules are designed to clump tightly and keep urine from finding its way to the bottom of the box, while at the same resisting tracking or clinging to your cat’s fur. Larger granules also mean less dust, which makes for cleaner air and is a plus come cleaning time.
Throw in above-average odor regulation and a cost low enough to justify repeat purchase and you’ve got yourself an A-grade litter fit for long-term use. It’s no wonder why so many cat owners have made it their go-to choice.
- Dust-free, hypoallergenic formula is friendly to cats and people alike
- Creates strong clumps that won’t break down
- Heavyweight granules significantly reduce tracking
- Traps even strong odors almost entirely
- Made with the health and safety of your cat in mind
- Can form sticky, oversized clumps that are hard to scoop
- Bigger granules may be uncomfortable for kitties with sensitive paws
- Some users complain of flimsy packaging that’s vulnerable to tearing
7 Other Top-Rated Unscented Cat Litters
The aforementioned litters may stand atop the proverbial mountain when it comes to overall performance and value, but there are plenty of other great options to choose from. Here are 7 more upper-echelon odorless cat litters that warrant highlighting.
A consumer favorite that receives uniformly-excellent reviews, Tidy Cats’ Free & Clean Unscented Clumping Clay Cat Litter is a strong contender to the title of “Best All-Around.” It earns high marks in pretty much every category, and comes with big-name-brand availability, quality assurance, and value.
Diehard users are particularly chuffed by this litter’s clumping capabilities and TidyLock technology, which uses activated charcoal to banish bad odors before they have a chance to spread. Say goodbye to eye-watering stenches and hello to speedy, low-maintenance cleaning.
This vegetable-derived litter promises quick clumping and long-lasting odor control, and most reviewers agree that these claims are rightly advertised. What’s more, the granules, which are made from compressed whole kernel corn, are flushable and perfectly safe for both sewer and septic systems. To all cat owners who absolutely loathe scooping their pet’s waste into plastic bags and stinking up the trash—you’re welcome.
The one real downside of World’s Best’s clumping corn cat litter is its somewhat steep going price, which comes out to around a dollar per pound. If you don’t mind shelling out a little bit extra, though, you could do a lot worse than this safe, lightweight, conveniently-disposable all-natural option.
Another respectable unscented clumping clay litter, Cat’s Pride Total Odor Control distinguishes itself from its ilk by being 25% lighter than comparable litters and making use of a patented odor-control system that’s effective at suppressing stink for up to 10 days. On top of that, it’s virtually dust-free and track-proof, sells for a reasonable price, and even bears the Human Society seal of approval.
A few reviewers have dinged it for inconsistent clumping, but overall Cat’s Pride Total Odor Control Unscented Clumping Clay Cat Litter is a solid choice, especially for multi-cat households.
Naturally Fresh’s Multi-Cat Unscented Clumping Walnut Cat Litter provides environmentally-conscious cat owners with an all-natural alternative to conventional litters that’s dustless, low-tracking, and completely biodegradable. Since it’s made from minimally-processed walnut shells, it’s suitable for cats with allergies to other natural substances like corn, wheat, and pine.
The walnut-based litter clumps with the best of them and, by some estimates, actually does a better job of trapping and neutralizing odors than common litter materials like clay. A 14- or 26-pound bag will run you a bit more than the average unscented clumping litter, but that’s a small price to pay for keeping your cat’s litter box—and the planet—clean and green. In a nutshell (pun intended), it’s a winner.
Scoop Away has long enjoyed a reputation for delivering dependable, high-value kitty care products, and their Unscented Clumping Clay Cat Litter is yet another feather in the company’s cap. It’s about as basic as cat litter gets, but basic isn’t a bad thing—ultimately, all that matters is that a litter fulfills its function the way it’s supposed to, and this one does so in spades.
Like the other clumping litters on this list, Scoop Away Unscented Clumping Clay Cat Litter combines exceptional absorption, fast clumping, and a hygienic low-dust formula. But odor control is the area where it really shines.
The medium-weight clay granules are treated with antimicrobial agents that go to work almost instantly subduing stubborn odors and keep them at bay for up to a week, on average. That kind of funk-fighting power should take most of the ickiness out of daily cleanings.
And now for something completely different: Yesterday’s News Original Unscented Non-Clumping Paper Cat Litter, which has the distinction of being the only non-clumping litter on the list, as well as the only one made of paper.
What’s the logic behind using paper, you ask? For starters, it’s roughly three times more absorbent than clay, a quality that explains why some cat owners favor it over ordinary litter materials.
Additionally, it’s almost totally dust-free by virtue of being molded from compressed paper pellets. The pellets in question consist solely of recycled newsprint (hence the clever brand name), a fact that should be appealing if your goal is to shrink your carbon footprint as much as possible.
If you’re thinking about giving this a go as your first non-clumping litter, just remember that it can’t be sifted or scooped. You’ll need to change out all the litter in the box, dirty or otherwise, at least once a week.
Last but not least, sWheat Scoop has created another naturally-derived litter that cat owners who are focused on sustainability can feel good about buying.
Their Multi-Cat Unscented Clumping Wheat Cat Litter checks all the boxes that a clumping litter should, and while it may not be as scoopable or as tough on odors as some others, it chalks up serious bonus points for being safe, responsibly-manufactured, and 100% biodegradable. You can chuck it, flush it, or even compost it, if that’s your thing.
Needless to say, you’ll want to explore other options if either you or your cat suffer from a wheat allergy.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What makes unscented cat litters better than scented ones? Unscented cat litters don’t contain any perfumes, fragrances, extracts, essences, or dyes that could be harmful to your cat or any members of your household. They’re also formulated to minimize or eliminate odors rather than merely covering them up. If your cat is confronted by a strange smell it doesn’t recognize everytime it goes to use its litter box, there’s a high probability that it will pick another place to go potty. Simply put, scented litters are made for human sensibilities, not for feline needs.
- Are litters containing silica safe for my cat? There’s a lot of conflicting information about the safety of silica-based litters, also commonly known as “crystal” litters. Some sources warn that they can lead to cancer, lung infections, or other severe illnesses, while others insist that they present no real risks and offer unrivaled absorption and odor control. So which is it? Amorphous silica gel—the kind used to make cat litter—is not carcinogenic to either animals or humans, so you don’t have to worry about it causing cancer. Nor is it toxic when eaten. In fact, amorphous silica gel is specially formulated not to be dangerous, which is precisely why it’s used in cat litter and other pet products so often. The confusion surrounding this topic arises as a result of concerned cat lovers mixing up amorphous silica gel with crystalline silicate, the very-much-toxic substance found in those “Do Not Eat” preservative packets. You definitely want to avoid that stuff. In short, crystal cat litters are generally considered safe. However, if you still have misgivings about buying products containing silica, you’re probably better off going with a different material, if only for the peace of mind it will bring.
- Do unscented kitty litters cost more? Not as a rule, no. The price of a particular product generally has more to do with quantity, material, and number of marketable features than with whether or not it smells. If you’re debating making the switch to unscented litter, money need not be a factor.
- Do natural materials work as well as clay? Though many organic materials are just as absorbent as clay (if not more so), clay has a host of other benefits that are attractive to cat owners. Chief among these is its ability to form hard, compact clumps, which allows it to be sifted and scooped much more easily than litters with lower clumping capacities. Tighter clumps means a more concentrated mess and less odor. This isn’t to say that clay is better in every respect. Natural cat litters have their own strengths, which include ecologically-friendly production, varied disposal options, and decreased health risks for sensitive cats. In the end, it just comes down to which of these considerations are most important to you.
There you have it—10 of the best odorless cat litters currently on the market, curated and quality-reviewed for your convenience. What once seemed like a daunting task is now a simple matter of identifying your individual needs and picking out a product that fits the bill. So go forth and shop confidently knowing that a well-kept litter box is the key to a cleaner home and a happier, healthier kitty.