Best Cat Litter for Odor Control for 2020 (Update)
Last Updated by Brandon F. on May 7, 2020
Every once in a while, we feel that it is important to update some of our recommendations for the best cat litters. And since handling odors if one of the most important criteria that people look for, compiling a new 2019 list of the best odor control cat litters seemed like a no-brainer!
In this guide, we will go over what factors go into odor control, list out some helpful tips for maximizing the odor control ability of your existing cat litter, and of course provide our top recommendations.
For those of you in a hurry, check out our table below that provides our top choices. And for those who want to get more into the details, scroll further down!
Best Cat Litter for Odor Control – Our Top Picks
Why is Cat Waste so Smelly?
Look, we get it. Cat waste NEVER smells good. But people have often asked us why cats (and in particular THEIR cat) had such smelly stool?
There are many factors that can play a role in why your cat’s stool is smelly. It is important to recognize that cat urine, in particular, is extremely concentrated. It contains what are called pheromones for marking its territory. This is part of a cat’s evolutionary progression: wild cats have relied on marking their territory for thousands of years.
And while your critter at home might not have the stature of a wild lion or tiger, they still have many of their traits. In addition, cat urine is high in ammonia and, as it breaks down, it releases these strong ammonia odors in addition to what is called mercaptans. All of this combines for what can be a pretty stinky experience!
Beyond this, there are many outside factors that can attribute to stool smell. You cat’s diet, bacteria in the colon, bacteria, digestive disorders, and more can all play a role. If you notice that your cat’s stool has become increasingly smelly or smells different than it usually does, be sure to check with your veterinarian to make sure that there aren’t any more serious issues at play.
Cat Litter – Your Primary Line of Defense
No matter your cat’s health or diet, cat waste will always smell bad. It is simply a matter of fact and something that you will have to deal with if you hope to keep a home that smells nice. And while there are many other ways that you can help to combat these smells (which we will discuss later in this guide), the most important and primary line of defense lies with your cat litter. Purchasing a quality cat litter that prioritizes odor-fighting ability should be at the top of your list of things to look for when shopping around.
So what makes one cat litter better at fighting odors than another?
There are actually several different approaches that a litter can take to help with odor-fighting. We will briefly break down some of the top ones:
Cat Litter Material
If you have shopped around very long for cat litters, you likely noticed that there are many different litter types that you can pick from. They can include your traditional clay cat litters, crystal (AKA silica gel) cat litters, and a host of eco-friendly litters that can be made of paper, corn, wheat, and even coconut!
In our experience, two materials typically lead the pack when it comes to odor control: clay and silica gel crystals.
That isn’t to say that there aren’t other types of cat litter materials that can adequately lock in cat waste odors. However, typically they don’t perform as well in that regard.
Clay and silica gel have the innate ability to really fight off those smelly cat scents. Clay cat litter does it by locking in the cat waste in a protective shell (oftentimes with the help of baking soda), while silica gel’s impressive absorption capabilities soak up the moisture from cat waste (which is a primary source of where it comes from). While both methods are quite different in their approach, both have been proven to be quite effective.
Cat Litter Clumping
Clumping cat litters almost always will out-perform non-clumping cat litters when it comes to keeping odors in check. This is because with clumping litters, granules are literally wrapping around the cat waste, forming a sort of barrier between it and the outside air.
Non-clumping litters, on the other hand, rely on your being timely in physically removing the cat waste before the smells get out of hand. If you are someone who follows a strict litter box routine, non-clumping litters can work fine. But for the rest of us who have busy lives and aren’t always able to get to cleaning the litter box twice a day, clumping litters offer superior odor retention.
The one caveat of this is back to our crystal cat litters. These litters typically don’t clump. Instead, you will “mix” in cat urine while removing hard stools. The incredible moisture retention of silica gel will lock in the smell from the wet waste.
Cat Litter Scents/Perfumes
Quite a few types of cat litter will come in “scented” varieties. This means that they are sprayed or mixed with various types of perfumes that are designed to not only mask the smell of cat waste but also provide a pleasant smell to the litter box’s surroundings. Some of these products will constantly emit the perfume scent while others are kicked up when your cat most the litter around.
Perfumes (or a lack thereof) really is a personal preference. Some owners and cats will find that many of these perfumes are way overpowering and, in some cases, may even cause you or your cat’s eyes to burn, noses to run, etc. In addition, many people consider perfumes to be a sort of “band-aid” for litter box odors: they are really just masking the smells rather than absorbing them or fighting them off.
There are certain litter box perfumes that we enjoy. They aren’t overpowering and, in fact, smell quite nice. And, if used properly, these types of litters can enjoy a slight boost in effectiveness. If you had a busy weekend and were unable to get to your cat’s litter box for a couple of days, having a scented cat litter can be what it takes to mask the odors just long enough for you to clean things up some.
So let’s say that you compare one clay scented cat litter to another clay scented cat litter. They both smell nice, they both clump, and they both absorb plenty of moisture. So why does one type outperform the other?
Sometimes it simply boils down to using a better litter formula. Many of these litter formulas are closely guarded secrets by the brands that manufacturer them. It’s what makes them be able to charge a premium compared to the other guys!
Higher-quality ingredients, proprietary additional materials added, or better manufacturing processes could be at play here. So sometimes finding the solution to your cat odor woes is to simply give another brand with higher ratings a try. And thankfully, CatLitterHelp.com is a great source for checking out the highest-rated cat litters (Cat Litter Comparison Chart).
Tips to Make your Cat Litter Go Further in Odor Control
In some cases, you may already be going with a cat litter that you and your cat enjoy. Or perhaps you don’t have the spare cash to spend on the premium brands and have to make do with the budget offerings. Have no fear! There are still quite a few ways that you can help to make your cat litter go further when it comes to fighting odor, no matter what product you are going with.
1. Regular Litter Box Maintenance
This one might seem like a no-brainer, but making sure to regularly maintain and clean your cat’s litter box is crucial in getting the most out of its odor control. This is particularly true in non-clumping varieties which aren’t designed to hold onto cat waste for long periods of time. And in the cases of silica gel cat litters, being sure to mix up the liquids on a regular basis will not only help in controlling odor, but your cat will appreciate it as well.
For scooping, ensure that you are using a proper cat litter scoop that is able to completely remove cat waste while retaining as much good cat litter as possible.
But it doesn’t stop just there. Always be sure to keep the walls (both inside and outside) of your cat’s litter box clean. Over time, bacteria can build up on the walls of the litter box, contributing to the smell. Occasionally, completely empty out your cat’s litter box and give it a deep clean with antibacterial spray and wet wipes. Your cat will appreciate it as well!
2. Monitor Your Cat’s Diet
Sometimes the source of particularly pungent odors can be derived back to your cat’s diet. Research has shown that certain high-meat diets or cat foods with vitamin supplements may lead to stinkier stools. If you find that no matter what you do, your cat’s waste is hard to handle, then consider trying to switch up their dietary intake. But if you decide to try this, always make sure that you consult your veterinarian before making any significant changes to your cat’s diet.
3. Try a Different Litter Box
Believe it or not, not all litter boxes are the same when it comes to odor control. We have found that litter boxes that have a larger surface area and are deeper seem to control odor better. In addition, litter boxes with lids on them may also contain the odor within the box better than an open-air configuration. There are even some litter boxes that come equipped with air filters! And for those who struggle to keep up with a good cleaning schedule, and an automatic cat litter box may be the solution for you.
4. Move the Litter Box
If you are happy with both your cat’s litter as well as their litter box, you could always try moving it to another location. You would be amazed at the impact that moving a litter box into another room with lower air circulation can make. And if you happen to have a room that has low foot traffic, then converting it into a litter box room can be a win/win for everybody.
5. Use Cat Litter Deodorizer
Think of it as an air freshener for your cat’s bathroom. Just sprinkle some cat litter deodorizer into your cat’s litter, mix it up, and enjoy a supercharging effect when it comes to handling smells. Another cheaper alternative is to simply mix in some extra baking soda.
6. Install an Air Filter
While many cat litter boxes will come equipped with an air filter, you can always use an external one as well. You can find plenty of small filters that have replaceable charcoal canisters without breaking the bank.
7. More Litter Boxes
This one only applies to homes with multiple cats that share a single litter box. While there are cat litters out there that are specially designed to handle multi-cat households, all variations of cat litter will be able to perform at a higher level if their odor-control duties are limited to just one cat. If you have space and willingness to clean more than one litter box, consider splitting them up so that each cat has its own litter box. You may even be able to go with a lower cost cat litter.
Best Cat Litter for Odor Control
Now that we have gone over the causes of litter odors and clever ways to control it, it is time to list out our best cat litters for odor control for 2019 and beyond. These cat litters have proven to be among the industry leaders when it comes to odor control.
America Litter Cat Litter
A new one to make the list this year, America Litter impressed us with its ability to lock in odors at a reasonable price. So it is no surprise that their bag has the words “Ultra Odor Seal” printed right on it! You will enjoy the added benefit of a patented technology that ensures rock-hard clumps that are easy to identify and remove.
Boxiecat Extra Strength
While Boxiecat offers up several different cat litters (all of which we enjoy), we have to go with their Extra Strength edition in terms of pure odor-control performance. The effectiveness comes thanks to a really awesome clay that soaks up moisture in addition to the probiotics that are mixed into the Extra Strength formula. These probiotics help to step the growth of bacteria (which is the main cause of odors). This is really helpful for cats on high-protein diets.
Precious Cat Ultra
A crowd favorite, Precious Cat Ultra has been among the top sellers online for many years. While their odor control is great, what really bumps them up in this department is just how good their clay is at clumping. By really locking in cat waste, it forms a sort of protective barrier that makes it extremely difficult to smells to escape. We did notice that Precious Cat is one of those brands that will really benefit greatly from regular litter box maintenance. A properly-maintained litter box with Precious Cat Ultra should be able to handle even the most demanding multi-cat litter boxes.
Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal with MicroGuard
Arm & Hammer is another brand that has been around for a while, but we were really impressed with their relatively new product, the Clump & Seal with MicroGuard. Arm & Hammer cat litters have always benefited from great clumping and odor control thanks to the powerful 1-2 punch of bentonite clay and Arm & Hammer baking soda. But with Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal with MicroGuard, you will also have their new MicroGuard Technology. This technology helps to seal and destroy immediate odor on contact in addition to preventing the growth of future bacteria for up to 7 days. This is some powerful stuff!
This list wouldn’t be complete without a silica gel Cat Litter. And if you want one of the best crystal cat litters around, then Pretty Litter is a great choice. The silica gel that Pretty Litter uses is extremely absorbent and will easily slurp up your cat’s urine and moisture from solids with ease. You will need to manually remove hard waste but, with a proper litter box schedule, you will enjoy an essentially odor-free litter box for up to a month with just a single bag!
Tidy Cats 24/7 Performance
Out of all the cat litters available, Tidy Cats likely has the most recognizable name. And while we aren’t super impressed with some of their products, their 24/7 Performance Clumping Cat Litter did score some major points. This unique formula comes with triple odor protection: this means that it will attack smells derived from urine, feces, and ammonia. And you will enjoy good clumping along with this. This is a good product for those willing to deal with a bit of tracking in exchange for superior odor control.
We hoped that this list of the best cat litters for odor control will benefit you. We are always after the best cat litters for our readers and you can’t go wrong with any of these choices. Cat litter recipes are constantly changing so be sure to come back and check CatLitterHelp.com for any new updates or reviews. This will help you stay on top of the latest and greatest products and make sure that both you and your cat are happy!