The Best Cat Litters For Odor Control 2023, Tested & Reviewed

Our pets tested best-selling and best-rated cat litters. Here are the results.

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You love your cat, but the litter box? Not so much. The best cat litters for odor control handle unwanted smells while also keeping tracking and dust low. The best option for you will also come in an option your feline will actually use and be easy for you to keep clean — to figure out the best match for you, Bustle reached out to a veterinarian and a cat behavioralist for their expert advice.


After researching cat litter, talking to experts, and testing 10 kitty litters, we found six noteworthy options. Our research showed that clay-clumping kitty litter is the best for odor control and Fresh Step’s clumping cat litter was our top pick in this catagory. If you’d prefer a non-clay litter, World’s Best is a great all-around option, and for sensitive noses, Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Ultra cat litter had by far the most “neutral” smell one sensitively nosed tester tried.

The Experts

Candy Akers, DVM, is a holistic veterinarian and the owner of Journeys Mobile Veterinary Services in Colorado. She received her doctor of veterinary medicine degree from Oklahoma State University.

Joey Lusvardi is a certified cat behavior consultant and the owner of Class Act Cats in Minneapolis. He’s also a member of the Pet Professional Guild, which promotes positive, ethical pet training practices.

What To Look For When Choosing A Cat Litter For Odor Control

When it comes to odor control, Dr. Candy Akers, a veterinarian at Journeys Mobile Veterinary Services, and Joey Lusvardi, a certified cat behavior consultant at Class Act Cats, both recommend clumping litter over non-clumping options. “Clumping cat litter is made from materials such as clay or silica gel that bond together when they come into contact with moisture,” explains Akers. “This makes it easier to remove both feces and urine from the litter box and helps to control odors by trapping them in the clumps.”

Clay litters are the most common option on the market because they’re typically easy to use and affordable. However, many choose to avoid them because clay litters can kick up silica dust which can potentially be irritating to both cats and humans. There are also questions about how sustainable clay litter is. Luckily, non-clay litters have come a long way, and many brands even offer clumping litters made from things like corn or walnut shells if you’d prefer that route.

Shop The Best Cat Litters For Odor Control

In a hurry? Here are the best cat litters for odor control:

  1. Overall Best Cat Litter For Odor Control ($): Fresh Step Advanced Simply Unscented Clumping Cat Litter
  2. Runner-Up Clay Litter ($$): ARM & HAMMER Clump & Seal Cat Litter, Fresh Scent
  3. Best Non-Clay Cat Litter ($$): World’s Best Cat Litter Unscented Litter
  4. Runner-up Non-Clay Cat Litter ($): Naturally Fresh Walnut Shell Cat Litter
  5. Best Crystal Litter ($$$): PetSafe ScoopFree Premium Blue Crystal Litter
  6. Best For Sensitive Noses ($$): Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Ultra Cat Litter, 18 Lbs.

1. Overall Best Cat Litter For Odor Control

  • Also available on: Chewy, $22

What we like:

  • Unscented and free of dyes
  • Low dust
  • Convenient handle made it easy to transport from room to room
  • Barely detectable odor
  • Easy to scoop
  • Very little tracking outside of the box

What we don’t like:

  • Grittiness may be a little harder on a cat’s paws

From effectiveness to price to the fact that it’s unscented, as vets usually recommend, Fresh Step’s Advanced clumping cat litter is the top pick for the best odor-controlling cat litter. It has also garnered more than 10,000 perfect five-star ratings on Amazon and a 4.5-star overall rating. Activated charcoal helps with odors while the clay-based litter clumps efficiently for odor and mess control.

Tester Notes: “I never thought I could be so impressed by a cat litter, but, here we are. [...] While the litter itself is virtually unscented, the bathroom where we keep the litter box actually had an overall pleasant smell a day after trying this litter out. My cat’s often very picky, so I was a bit concerned about whether or not she’d handle the change. But, she did [...] Everything clumped perfectly, the odor seemed contained, it was easy to scoop, and there wasn’t too much tracking outside of the box. This litter is a game-changer.” — Karen Belz, Associate Editor

Type Of Litter: Clay | Clumping? Yes | Scented? No | Price Per Pound: $0.83

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2. Runner-Up Clay Litter

  • Also available on: Chewy, $19 for 19 pounds

What we like:

  • Clumps very well
  • No dust
  • Good odor control

What we don’t like:

  • Handle is uncomfortable
  • Scented

If you don’t mind a scented litter, Arm & Hammer’s Clump & Seal is a great clay option that seriously cuts down on dust. It clumps well and the baking soda-packed formula is tough on odors. And it has a solid following on Amazon, too, with shoppers giving it 4.5-stars overall for much the same reasons an editor loved it.

Tester Notes: “Out of all the litters I’ve tried, Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal is the one I keep repurchasing for my cat, who’s a prolific litter box user. [...] Their formulas' clumping powers are brick-like, which makes daily cleanings less of a chore, while the odor control is effective enough for a one-bedroom Manhattan apartment.” — Scarlett James, Associate Editor

Type Of Litter: Clay | Clumping? Yes | Scented? Yes | Price Per Pound: $0.94

The “formulas' clumping powers are brick-like, which makes daily cleanings less of a chore, while the odor control is effective enough for a one-bedroom Manhattan apartment.”

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3. Overall Best Non-Clay Cat Litter

  • Also available on: Chewy, $11

What we like:

  • Lightweight and easy to maneuver
  • Good for travel
  • Sustainably-raised corn
  • Good odor control
  • Clumps well

What we don’t like:

  • Tracks more than clay litter
  • Less absorbent than clay

If you’d like a clumping that isn’t made from clay, World’s Best lives up to its name. Made from corn, it’s a lot lighter than your standard clay litter but still effective on odor. It works so well, it has earned a 4.6-star overall rating on Amazon after more than 8,000 shoppers have weighed in. Choose from three bag sizes: 8, 15, or 32 pounds.

Tester Notes: “I’ve been a traditionalist, sticking mainly to clay-based litters, but I was pleasantly surprised by this option made from compressed corn kernels (I had my doubts). [...] I found it to be a little less absorbent than clay. [...] Still, it clumped well, so cleaning the box was no big deal. The litter itself has a slight “natural” smell — sort of like animal feed, if you’ve ever spent time on a farm — but I only noticed it when scooping the box. I appreciate that the corn is sustainably raised, but the litter did track outside the box more than the clay option I usually use.” — Anna Anderson, Editor

Type Of Litter: Compressed Corn Kernels | Clumping? Yes | Scented? No | Price Per Pound: $1.22

World’s Best litter made from corn is impressively effective at clumping, especially for a non-clay option.Anna Anderson

3. Runner-Up Non-Clay Cat Litter

  • Also available on: Chewy, $22

What we like:

  • Good odor control
  • Low dust

What we don’t like:

  • Can stain light-colored paws
  • Clumps, but not that strongly

This biodegradable clumping litter is made from walnut shells, and is another popular option for non-clay litters. Not only is it one of the least expensive options on the list per pound, but it also works well when it comes to odor control. Amazon reviewers give it 4.4 stars overall, after more than 11,000 ratings. It comes in a huge variety of formats including formulas designed for multi-cat homes, scented versions, and even a non-clumping pellet option, and comes in bags that are 10, 14, 26, and 40 pounds.

Tester Notes: “From the first time I tried Naturally Fresh, I was impressed by how it performed on that dreaded cat piss smell, even when just sprinkled over top my cat’s usual pine-based litter. It has a faint nutty smell when you open the bag but that dissipates pretty quickly. In action, it’s absorbent and clumps, but it doesn’t clump as tightly as a clay-based litter, and you have to be very careful when scooping. It can also leave a little bit of brown residue on my cat’s white paws, and while I haven’t noticed a lot of dust, my cat does seem to kick some out of the litter box easily, probably because the graduals are very small and light.” — Jen Fiegel, Senior Editor

Type Of Litter: Walnut Shells | Clumping? Yes | Scented? No | Price Per Pound: $0.79

Naturally Fresh is made from ground up walnut shells, which the brand touts for their ammonia-fighting ability.

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5. The Best Crystal Litter

  • Also available on: Chewy, $25

What we like:

  • Absorbs odors well
  • Lightweight and 99% dust-free
  • Convenient pre-portioned bags

What we don’t like:

  • Based on my cat’s usage, the litter needs to be changed about once a week (so it can get pricey)
  • Doesn’t clump

While our two experts both recommended clumping litters for their ease of use and odor-controlling abilities, if you’d prefer a non-clumping option (and a “scoop-free life,” as one of our editors puts it), consider this popular crystal litter with more than 30,000 five-star ratings, and 4.5 stars overall. The preportioned bags make use extra easy, and it comes in Fresh Scent, Lavender, and Fragrance-Free versions. However, it’s also the priciest option on the list.

Tester Notes: “I switched my cat to this crystal litter a few years ago (paired with the PetSafe automatic litter box and the reusable tray) and have never looked back. The litter is good at absorbing odors and moisture and dehydrating solid waste, and the handy pre-portioned bags are lightweight and easy to store. Plus, the fresh scent is not overpowering, and most importantly, my cat doesn’t mind it. It’s also almost completely dust-free, though I do notice some particles when I’m emptying a new bag into the box.

One potential downside: The brand notes that one bag can last up to 30 days if you have one cat, but with my kitty, the litter becomes saturated and starts to smell after about four days. I usually refresh it by mixing in a deodorizer, but I do need to fully change the litter box about every five or six days. Your mileage may vary depending on your cat’s litter box habits — for me, the scoop-free life is worth the weekly cleanings.” — Cristina Sanza, Associate Editor

Type Of Litter: Crystal | Clumping? No | Scented? Fresh (but also available in lavender and fragrance-free) | Price Per Pound: $5.51

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6. The Best Option For Sensitive Noses

  • Also available on: Chewy, $16 for 20 pounds

What we like:

  • Clumps well
  • Good odor control
  • Zero scent

What we don’t like:

  • Bag is heavy and hard to maneuver
  • May be less sustainable than other options

If the humans or felines in your home are particularly sensitive to all sorts of smells, consider Dr. Elsey's Precious Cat Ultra cat litter. This unscented little made from 100% bentonite clay doesn’t just skip the fragrances, it’s also effective on litter box odors, and shoppers have given it 4.4 stars overall after more than 70,000 ratings. It clumps well, and the brand calls it allergen-free and 100% natural.

Tester Notes: “I’m very sensitive to any scents (even certain “unscented” products can give me a headache), so after some experimentation a few years ago, I was happy when I discovered that Dr. Elsey’s is totally neutral to my nose. Just as important, it does a good job of keeping cat odors under control in an apartment-size space. It forms solid clumps, so scooping is a fast and easy affair, and the grains don’t track too far outside the box, although I do have to sweep up around it every few days.” — Anna Anderson, Editor

Type Of Litter: Clay | Clumping? Yes | Scented? No | Price Per Pound: $0.99

This cult-favorite clay litter from Dr. Elsey’s is made with 100% natural Bentonite clay. Anna Anderson

Also Great: An Effective But Not-Too-Heavily Scented Deodorizer

What we like:

  • Pleasant smell that’s not overpowering
  • Made with plant-based ingredients
  • Can be used to deodorize other areas of the house

What we don’t like:

  • Only a little product comes out of the sifter top
  • Not completely unscented

The Rocco & Roxie deodorizer doesn’t have an overpowering scent but does an impressive job giving existing cat litter some extra odor-fighting power. It’s designed to work with all kinds of litters, and uses cinnamon, wintergreen, eucalyptus, citrus, citronella, and clove oils along with a corncob granule base.

Tester Notes: “I find the scent pleasant, especially compared to the overpowering fragrance of the last litter box deodorizer I used, and my cat didn’t seem to notice when I made the switch. This deodorizer also did a great job of refreshing the litter and absorbing excess moisture after my cat had used the box for a few days. (FYI, I’m also a big fan of this brand’s odor-eliminating spray to clean the litter box and remove any pet stains that happen around the house.)

One minor annoyance: Not much product comes out of the sifter top, so I found it easier to remove the lid when sprinkling it into the litter box.” — Cristina Sanza, Associate Editor

This shopper-favorite deodorizer is designed to work with any cat litter.Cristina Sanza

How We Tested

From water bowls to rugs even cats that like to scratch can’t destroy, Bustle’s editors and pet owners research a variety of products. We also interview experts like vets and pet behaviorists for expert advice and tricks on how to make life better for feline and humans alike.

When it came to the best cat litters for odor control, our team analyzed dozens of popular, well-reviewed options and considered many needs like biodegradable options and pets (or owners) that are sensitive to scents. The results were eye-opening. One of our editors noted during the testing process: "I didn't realize how inferior [my old litter brand] was. I just figured litter was litter until now."

In the end, we tested 10 litters and landed on these six based on odor control, ease of use, availability, price, and bonus features with many popular brands not making the cut.


How Often Should You Change Out All The Kitty Litter To Control Odors?

No matter which litter you choose, Lusvardi says it should be cleaned at least once a day. Additionally, clumping litter may last up to two weeks before needing to be completely changed. With non-clumping options, you’ll usually need to remove solid waste and stir the litter to help absorb liquid waste, plus change it out completely about once a week.

Can Baking Soda Or Activated Charcoal Help Control Cat Litter Odors?

“Both baking soda and activated charcoal are effective natural deodorizers that can absorb and neutralize unpleasant smells in the litter box,” says Akers, adding that both options are safe for cats and humans. If your preferred litter doesn’t contain these odor-absorbing ingredients or you’d just like to add an extra layer of odor reduction, you can add a thin layer of deodorizer to the bottom of the litter box and/or sprinkle some on top to help control smells.

Just keep in mind: Akers and Lusvardi caution that any litter or deodorizer with a strong artificial fragrance might deter your cat from using the box.

More Tips & Tricks For Cat-Owners

Cat parents, you don’t have to live with the smells and messes. Check out this roundup of the best litter boxes for messy cats, or our review of cat bowls for messy eaters. Even better? Bustle interviewed professional pet trainers on why they think your cat is misbehaving, and what you can do about it.

About The Authors

Cristina Sanza

Cristina Sanza is an associate editor and writer at Bustle and the proud cat parent of 17-year-old Champ. She has over a decade of experience finding cat products that are up to his high standards.

Jen Fiegel

Jen Fiegel is a senior editor at Bustle, with more than 10 years of experience writing and editing about products. She works on verticals from fashion to skin care and kitchen gadgets. Primarily, she is a devoted cat butler to 8-year-old Ruby.


Candy Akers, DVM, is a holistic veterinarian and the owner of Journeys Mobile Veterinary Services in Colorado.

Joey Lusvardi is a certified cat behavior consultant and the owner of Class Act Cats in Minneapolis.

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