5 Best Odor Control Cat Litters — No More Icky Smells

best odor control cat litter
Fresh Step Extreme Odor Control Scented Cat Litter. Image via Chewy.com

 

They say that new parents become desensitized to baby poo, and don’t really mind dealing with it when it comes out of their own bundle of joy. I know parents who would beg to differ.

However, I do understand where this sentiment comes from. I don’t mind cleaning up my cat’s poo, because I love her and it is just something that needs to be done. Even when it is a bit gross because she is unwell, I have no problem cleaning it up, I just want her to feel better.

However, what I can’t stand is a lingering smell of cat poo and pee in the house. Cleaning it up is one thing, but I don’t want to live with a constant odor hanging around.

The cat litter that I started with when I got my cat was really good and I didn’t really notice odor problems, but when they stopped selling it at my local supermarket I just switched to another brand thinking that it would be the same.

I was wrong. I went more than a month with the house having this unpleasant smell before a friend suggested to me that it might be the cat litter that was the problem.

Naturally, I went into research mode and discovered that cheap cat litters will absorb liquids, but just aren’t that effective at absorbing smell, and that if I wanted my house to smell normal again, I would need odor control cat litter. I went through a few different brands before I found one that controlled the smell, was easy for me to clean up, and my cat seemed to like using.

Based on my research and experience, I’ve come up with the five best odor control cat litters currently on the market. But before sharing that, I will let you know the main things to look for in an odor control cat litter, and also share some tips about actually using the litter. It is not very effective if you don’t use it properly.

 

If You Are in a Rush…

Any of the five cat litters on this list should effectively contain litter tray odors, so the challenge is finding one that your cat likes, probably through trial and error. My personal preference is the Fresh Step Febreze litter because of its paw-activated scent technology. Scents help masks smells, but it isn’t appealing to me or my cat to have scents, good or bad, hanging around the litter box all day.

 

This litter effectively contains the bad smells, and also releases a masking scent, but only when needed. It also promises to remain effective for 10 days, which means I can change my cat’s litter just once a week without worrying about it developing negative smells near the end of the time period.

Here’s the full list:

  1. Fresh Step Febreze Extreme Odor Control Clumping Cat Litter
  2. Arm and Hammer Clump and Seal Cat Litter
  3. Ever Clean Extra Strength Unscented Premium Clumping Clay Cat Litter
  4. Purina Tidy Cats Scoop Glade Touch Odor Solution Clumping Cat Litter
  5. Dr Elsey’s Cat Ultra Premium Cat Litter

 

5 Best Odor Control Cat Litters

These following five litters are all great, doing an excellent job of both clumping and containing odors. Any of them should do the job. Really the challenge is finding the one that your cat prefers, which may be a matter of trial and error.

 

Fresh Step Febreze Extreme Odor Control Clumping Cat Litter

Features:

  • Paw-activated scent
  • Clay clumping
  • Locks in scents with activated charcoal
  • Forms tight clumps
  • Low dust
  • Low tracking

 

Fresh Step has partnered with Febreze to make this cat litter that uses activated charcoal Ammonia Vlock Technology to effectively traps odors and leave your home smelling as it should. They have guaranteed that their litter will contain odor for up to 10 days, meaning there is no need to change it regularly, even with heavy use from multiple cats. It also uses ClumpLock technology to ensure that the clumps are firm enough for easy scooping. Actually, it clumps so darn well that this litter also made it to our top clumping cat litter roundup.

The litter has a special ‘paw-activated’ technology, which means that it is not constantly giving off a scent, but that a scent is released when the litter is rustled by the paws. The result is a pleasant smell when needed, rather than a constant, overwhelming smell.

The litter is also very low dust, so no felines or humans in the household should be irritated by inhaling it, and it is unlikely to hide in your cat’s hair and make its way into their digestive system. It is also low tracking, so shouldn’t stick to paws and turn up where it shouldn’t around the house.

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Arm and Hammer Clump and Seal Cat Litter

Features:

  • Lightly scented
  • Clay clumping
  • Locks in odor with baking soda and moisture-activated micro granules
  • Forms tight clumps
  • Low dust
  • Low tracking

 

Arm and Hammer use a patented baking soda formula that eliminates odors on contact so that they never have a chance to spread and infect the home. They also use a proprietary blend of moisture-activated granules, that respond quickly and effectively to clump around urine on contact.

Arm and Hammer think that this combination will contain odors for up to seven days, so there is no need to change litter more than once a week, even with heavy use. It does come with a very light scent, which shouldn’t irritate your cat, and helps make it feel fresher for longer.

This is another ultra-low dust formula that cats won’t inhale, and also won’t irritate anyone in the house with allergies. It is also low tracking, so you are unlikely to find bits of litter, clean or otherwise, showing up around the house.

What’s more, this litter works really well if you have more than one cat.

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Ever Clean Extra Strength Unscented Premium Clumping Clay Cat Litter

Features:

  • Unscented
  • Clay clumping
  • Locks in scents with activated carbon and antimicrobial agents
  • Forms tight clumps
  • Low dust
  • Low tracking

Ever Clean’s Extra Strength formula is unscented, so you don’t need to worry about your cat not liking the scent but it still manages to completely contain the odors of urine and feces by using a combination of activated carbon and antimicrobial agents.

It has a very effective clumping mechanism that forms tight clumps that help contain the odor and won’t break apart when scooping, which can release odor during cleaning. In terms of cleanliness, it is also very low on dust, which means you won’t be cleaning up dust around the house, your cat won’t be inhaling it, and small particles are unlikely to make their way into her fur, and then into her stomach through cleaning.

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Purina Tidy Cats Scoop Glade Touch Odor Solution Clumping Cat Litter

Features:

  • Subtle scent
  • Clay clumping
  • Controls scents with TidyLock technology that neutralizes ammonia
  • Forms tight clumps
  • Low dust
  • Low Tracking

Similar to Fresh Step and Febreze, Purina has partnered with Glade to produce an industry leading odor control cat litter. Naturally, this means that the litter is scented, but the scent is subtle enough to not irritate most cats, yet strong enough to do the job.

The litter also locks in unwanted smells with unique TidyLock technology that neutralizes ammonia, urine, and fecal odors. It also has moisture locking technology that contains urine quickly, though look out for urine clumps in the under-layers of the litter when cleaning. It also forms strong, tight clumps, which aren’t quite as firm as some of the other brands on this list, but still shouldn’t break apart during scooping.

It produces almost no dust, and your cat is unlikely to track granules into other parts of the house.

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Dr Elsey’s Cat Ultra Premium Cat Litter

Features:

  • Unscented
  • Clay clumping
  • Low dust
  • Low tracking
  • Hypo-allergenic

Dr. Elsey’s litter makes the list by managing to produce an odor control litter that is also all natural. This makes it hypo-allergenic and appropriate for the most sensitive cats and cat parents. It does not mask odors quite as well as the other litters on this list but is a viable option if you are looking for something more natural.

It combines litter granules with medium-grain clay that allows for rapid clumping, for clumps that are tight and firm. This makes it an ideal litter for sifting and mechanical litter boxes as the lumps won’t break down as part of this process. It is pretty much dust free, and you shouldn’t see any tracking with this litter.

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What Makes a Good Odor Control Cat Litter

 

Clumping

Odor control cat litters will usually be described as clumping, and this is how it absorbs urine and contains its smell. It is also the clumps that are removed on a regular basis, so as much as possible we want the smells contained in the clumps.

Exactly how clumping is achieved depends on the litter. Clumping clay litter is very common and the most effective. The only concern is that it can be a bit dangerous to cats if ingested. Cats don’t eat their litter, so if they are actively doing that, change your brand and see your vet. However, they can accidentally ingest small amounts when cleaning themselves.

The best way to ensure that they do not accidentally ingest their litter is to go with something dust free so that it does not have lots of small particles that can get caught in their hair. If your cat develops digestive problems, it might be worth changing their litter.

Natural clumping litter is also available and can be made from a range of different materials, such as pine, wheat, or corn. Different materials give different results, but in general, these are not as effective as clay, though corn is probably the best of them.

Crystal litters, made from silica gel, are also very good at absorbing smells, but they are not my favorite because they are made entirely from synthetic materials. This means that it isn’t environmentally friendly, and isn’t great if your cat eats it. However, we’ve recently come across Pretty Litter, which, though made with silica gel, has an interesting health detection feature added.

Also, consider the hardness of the resulting clumps. Whatever type of litter you use, you want the clumps to be hard so that they do not break apart when being removed from the tray, releasing odors into the air as part of the cleaning process.

 

Dust And Tracking

A good litter also won’t have much dust. If you empty a bag of litter into your cat’s tray and find yourself coughing and sputtering, you know that the litter is full of dust! This is bad for both you and your cat to inhale, which they are likely to do as they kick up dust as they cover their business. It is also dust that can make its way into your cat’s fur, and then be ingested as part of their cleaning process. If dust is a major concern for you, then you also need to check out our picks for dust-free litters.

The other thing to look out for is tracking. This is when your cat picks up pieces of litter, clean or not, on their paws and in their hair, tracking the litter to other parts of the house. You don’t really want to be finding litter granules all over the house, even if they are clean. Most good litters are now designed not to be picked up and tracked.

 

Deodorants And Perfume

The best odor control cat litters will have something in them that works to eliminate smells, such as activated carbon or baking soda, both of which absorb smells. Other litters contain perfumes or aromas that are designed to cover up the cat litter smell. While some cats are fine with this, other cats will find the smell overwhelming, and you may find them doing their business somewhere other than the litter box.

 

Using Your Cat Litter

Once you have found a litter that works for both you and your cat, you need to use it properly to make sure it does its job.

If you are worried about smell, you probably already have a closed litter tray, which also affords your cat privacy, which most cats prefer when doing their business. This should not be tucked away in a corner of your home but placed in a well-ventilated area so that the odors that are created are dispersed quickly.

You should also clean your cat’s litter tray as often as is practical, just scooping out solids and clumps. Sometimes you might only be able to do this once or twice a day, other times you might be able to do this five times a day, depending on your schedule. But if it is not sitting there, its smell is not penetrating your home.

Some people recommend changing the litter completely twice a week, though I only change mine once a week, as twice a week is just too expensive. But don’t just take out the old litter and fill it up with fresh stuff. Take the time to clean the box with soap and warm water.

If the plastic still has a lingering smell of ammonia, consider using some kind of odor removing spray. If you just leave it, you are letting the odors build up over time. Also replace your cat’s litter box regularly, maybe as often as once a year.

When putting litter back in the tray, make sure you use enough. Cats like to bury their business, and they need enough depth to do that. Ideally, the litter should be 2-3 inches deep, though you may need to experiment with what your cat prefers.

 

The Verdict

If you are looking for a cat litter that effectively masks the odors of cat urine and feces, any of these litters should do the job, but finding the one that your cat prefers is a matter of trial and error. My favorite litter is the Fresh Step Febreze litter because of its paw-activated scent technology. Scents help masks smells, but it isn’t appealing to me or my cat to have scents, good or bad, hanging around the litter box all day.

This litter effectively contains the scent, and also releases a masking scent, but only when needed. It also promises to remain effective for 10 days, which means I can change my cat’s litter just once a week without worrying about it developing negative smells near the end of the period.

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Kristen Chapple

Kristen Chapple

Hi I'm Kristen, cat lover and blogger. I was born into a cat-loving family and have been a proud kitty mommy ever since I can remember. I love sharing my cat knowledge and love being an active part of the kitty-loving community.