Cats litter

The 7 Best Affordable Cat Litters

Feb 4, 2021

The 7 Best Affordable Cat Litters

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Compared to dog owners, cat owners have it pretty easy.

We don’t have to worry about leaving the cat at home for long periods of time and we don’t have to put them outside to do their business. We certainly don’t have to worry about taking the cat for a walk when it’s freezing outside or pouring down rain.

Having a pet that does its business in the litter box is great, but any experienced cat owner knows that all cat litter is not created equal.

Every cat owner has had to deal with the hassle of litter box odor, dust, tracking, and other issues. These problems can certainly give you a headache, but you can avoid them by choosing the right cat litter. With so many different types on the market, however, that may be easier said than done.

Lucky for you, we’ve tested and reviewed just about every brand of cat litter on the market.

Here we’ve assembled a list of our top 7 picks for the best affordable cat litter. Read on to see what we’ve chosen and why. You might just find your new favorite cat litter on the list!

The 7 Best Affordable Cat Litters Review Video

What We Look For In Cat Litter?

We’re not here to tell you that one brand of cat litter is the absolute best. Every cat litter is unique and different cat owners have their own preferences. We’re simply here to introduce you to seven of the most affordable cat litters on the market that we think are worthy of your consideration.

Before we jump into the reviews, let’s talk about what we look for in cat litter.

First, let’s talk about our preferences.

Unscented.

A box where your cat does his business is never going to smell particularly good, but I tend to avoid scented cat litters. Though they may help cover up unpleasant odor in the short-term, sometimes the combination of artificial fragrance and natural litter box odor can be pretty rank.

Plus, some cats have sensitive respiratory systems and artificial fragrance may irritate the cat’s nose and lungs. I personally believe it’s better to scoop the box daily to control odors than to fill it with artificially fragranced cat litter.

Natural.

When it comes to affordability, you can’t beat traditional clay cat litter. The trouble with clay litter is that it can be incredibly dusty, and it isn’t particularly good for the environment.

Most clay cat litter comes from sodium bentonite clay which is harvested through a process called strip mining. Strip mining, unfortunately, can be very damaging to the environment – in addition to destroying natural habitats, it can kill native wildlife as well. Plus, used clay cat litter isn’t biodegradable so it generally ends up in a landfill.

Though my preference is for natural cat litter, I understand that it isn’t always the most practical option. It tends to be a little more expensive and sometimes it simply doesn’t work as well. For the purpose of this review, I’ve included a handful of natural and clay-based cat litters so you can choose for yourself.

Dust-Free.

In addition to being fragrance free, I prefer a cat litter that has little to no dust – I’m sure most cat owners do. It’s difficult to find a cat litter that doesn’t have some dust (especially clay litters) but you can find options where the dust settles quickly and doesn’t create a cloud when your cat digs around.

When testing cat litter in the past, I’ve found that natural cat litters tend to be less dusty than clay. It all depends on the material from which the cat litter is made, of course. It also depends how fine the granules are – smaller granules tend to be dustier.

Low Tracking.

Finally, I look for a cat litter that isn’t going to track all over the house. Unfortunately, this is difficult to find because any cat litter with small granules has the potential to get stuck in your cat’s paws and be tracked all over the house. On the flip side, large granules can sometimes be uncomfortable for cats.

Now, what about pricing?

We’ve already established that the cat litters we’ve chosen here are affordable, but what exactly does that mean? It’s difficult to make a direct comparison between cat litters from different categories, but when it comes to pricing, we generally go by the price per pound.

When choosing our favorites for the best affordable cat litter, we looked for products priced at or under $1.00 per pound.

Clumping vs. Non-Clumping Cat Litter

The biggest question most cat owners have to answer when shopping for cat litter is clumping or non-clumping. These are the two primary categories into which cat litter is divided.

If you’re new to the world of cat ownership, you may not know just why this is such a big decision. To help you understand, we’ve outlined a few benefits for each option:

Benefits of Clumping Cat Litter

  • Clumps are easy to scoop and discard
  • May reduce wasted litter
  • Controls feces odor very well
  • Available in clay and natural varieties

Benefits of Non-Clumping Cat Litter

  • Usually very affordable
  • Highly absorbent, controls urine odor well
  • Available in clay and natural varieties

In the same way both options have their benefits, both have their drawbacks.

Clumping cat litter absorbs odor well and is easy to scoop, but some litters don’t clump as well as others. If you have a cat litter that doesn’t form hard clumps, pieces might break off or you may have a hard time scooping the litter box.

Non-clumping cat litter is cost-effective and handles urine odor well, but it can become saturated over time. Urine may then start to pool in the bottom of the box which makes for messy cleanup. If you choose non-clumping cat litter, you’ll probably end up emptying and refilling the entire box on a weekly basis – perhaps less often if you only have one cat.

Again, it’s largely a matter of preference and budget which option you choose. Before we get into our top picks, let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons for clay versus natural cat litter.

Clay vs. Natural Cat Litter

Once you’ve made your decision about clumping versus non-clumping cat litter, there’s another question to consider: clay or natural?

Clay cat litter is easily the most popular and readily available option. Most clay cat litter is made from sodium bentonite clay which is mined from the earth. It absorbs liquid with most varieties forming clumps around both solid and liquid waste, which you can then scoop out of litter box and discard.

The trouble with clay litter is that it can be dusty, and it isn’t the most eco-friendly option.

Natural cat litter is generally better for the environment because it is made from recycled or repurposed materials. You can find natural cat litter made from corn, wheat, or even walnut shells. You can also find cat litter made from recycled paper.

Though natural cat litter is better for the environment, it does tend to be more expensive. Depending which option you choose, natural litter sometimes also has a natural scent that doesn’t always mix well with urine and feces odor.

At a Glance: Best Affordable Cat Litter To Buy

Now that you have a better understanding of how we came to our top picks, you’re probably eager to see them! Here are our 7 favorites for affordable cat litter:

Compare Best Affordable Cat Litter

Overall Best
Dr. Elsey's Precious Cat Ultra Unscented Clumping Clay Cat Litter

1. Dr. Elsey's Precious Cat Ultra Unscented Clumping Clay Cat Litter

Best For Budget
Frisco Multi-Cat Unscented Clumping Clay Cat Litter

2. Frisco Multi-Cat Unscented Clumping Clay Cat Litter

Best For Odor Control
Arm & Hammer Litter Clump & Seal Multi-Cat Scented Clumping Clay Cat Litter

3. Arm & Hammer Litter Clump & Seal Multi-Cat Scented Clumping Clay Cat Litter

Best Lightweight
Tidy Cats Free & Clean Lightweight Unscented Clumping Clay Cat Litter

4. Tidy Cats Free & Clean Lightweight Unscented Clumping Clay Cat Litter

Best Multi-Cat
Naturally Fresh Multi-Cat Unscented Clumping Walnut Cat Litter

5. Naturally Fresh Multi-Cat Unscented Clumping Walnut Cat Litter

Best Natural
World's Best Multi-Cat Unscented Clumping Corn Cat Litter

6. World's Best Multi-Cat Unscented Clumping Corn Cat Litter

Best Non-Clumping
Yesterday's News Original Unscented Non-Clumping Paper Cat Litter

7. Yesterday's News Original Unscented Non-Clumping Paper Cat Litter

Type
Clumping Clay
Type
Clay
Type
Clay
Type
Clay
Type
Quick-Clumping
Type
Clumping Corn
Type
Non-Clumping Paper
Made In
United States
Made In
United States
Made In
United States
Made In
United States
Made In
United States
Made In
United States
Made In
United States
Key Strengths
Overall great performance at a low price
Key Strengths
Clumping, Multi-Cat, Unscented, Odor Control, Dust Free, Low Tracking
Key Strengths
Clumping, Odor Control, Scented, Multi-Cat, Dust Free
Key Strengths
Clumping, Unscented, Lightweight, Odor Control, Dust Free
Key Strengths
Clumping, Multi-Cat, Odor Control, Unscented, Natural, Dust Free, Low Tracking, Eco-Friendly
Key Strengths
Overall great performance
Key Strengths
Unscented, Non-Clumping, Odor Control, Dust Free, Low Tracking

Our Top Picks For The Best Affordable Cat Litter

Now that you have a better understanding of how we came to our top picks, you’re probably eager to see them! Here are our top 7 picks for best affordable cat litter:

Overall Best
1.

Dr. Elsey's Precious Cat Ultra Unscented Clumping Clay Cat Litter

Product Info

  • Type: Clumping Clay
  • Made In: United States
  • Key Strengths: Overall great performance at a low price
Pros
  • Unscented formula, no fragrance
  • Forms hard clumps, easy to scoop
  • Strong odor-absorbing qualities
Cons
  • Some problems with tracking
  • Large 40-pound bag is very heavy
Easily one of the most popular cat litter brands out there, Dr. Elsey’s offers several different formulas. My favorite in terms of function and affordability is Precious Cat Ultra Unscented Clumping Clay Litter.

This clumping clay litter comes in three different sizes: 18 pounds, 20 pounds, and 40 pounds. Both the 18-pound and 20-pound sizes come in boxes with carrying handles while the 40 pound size comes in a bag. The 40-pound size is by far the most cost-effective, but I did find it difficult to handle.

Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Ultra-Premium clumping litter is made from medium-grain clay. It forms hard, tight clumps that are very easy to scoop and which help minimize litter waste.

In terms of its odor-controlling ability, we found this Dr. Elsey’s formula to perform very well in a multi-cat household. We appreciated that the litter was unscented and found the litter stood up to its promises of long-lasting odor control. Even after a week of use, I hardly noticed any odor.

The one issue I had with this Precious Cat Ultra-Premium litter was with tracking. The litter seemed to stick to my cat’s paws a lot and I found it on the floor around the litter box.

This cat litter is made from medium-grain clay, so it doesn’t have as much dust as a finer grain clay litter might. Any dust settled quickly immediately after pouring and I didn’t notice any significant dust being kicked up when my cat used the litter box.

Overall, this Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Ultra-Premium clumping litter clumps and controls odors well, though there’s some room for improvement in the tracking category.
Best For Budget
2.

Frisco Multi-Cat Unscented Clumping Clay Cat Litter

Product Info

  • Type: Clay
  • Made In: United States
  • Key Strengths: Clumping, Multi-Cat, Unscented, Odor Control, Dust Free, Low Tracking
Pros
  • Forms hard, tight clumps for easy scooping
  • Highly affordable, priced under $0.40/pound
  • Not scented, hypoallergenic formula
Cons
  • Large bags can be heavy to lift
  • Fairly dusty and some tracking
When it comes to affordable cat litter, I would be remiss if I didn’t include Frisco. Chewy’s in-house brand, Frisco offers a wide variety of affordable pet products including several kinds of cat litter.

This Frisco Unscented Clumping Clay Litter comes in two sizes: 20 pounds and 40 pounds. Both come in bags, so they are a little unwieldy. I struggled a little to pour the 40-pound bag into my litter box without spilling it all over the place. I imagine the 20-pound bag would be a little easier.

In terms of performance, this Frisco cat litter performed very well in absorbing urine and controlling odor. Chewy comments that the litter is “especially formulated to neutralize odors quickly” and I found that to be true.

One thing I noticed when reading through the Chewy listing for this product is that there aren’t as many claims about the litter being low in dust as other brands I’ve tried. Many cat litter brands claim to be low-dust, some going so far as to describe the litter as 99% dust-free.

This Frisco Unscented Clumping Clay Litter makes a small reference to low dust on the back of the bag, but that’s about it. I wasn’t surprised, then, to find that the litter was fairly dusty. The dust settled quickly after pouring, however, so it may not be a big issue.

Another thing Chewy notes about this product is that it is hypoallergenic, free from added fragrance, dyes, and perfumes. This is why I chose this particular Frisco formula.

Overall, this Frisco cat litter is the most affordable option on the list (under $0.40/pound) and it performs well as a clumping cat litter, particularly in multi-cat households.
Best For Odor Control
3.

Arm & Hammer Litter Clump & Seal Multi-Cat Scented Clumping Clay Cat Litter

Product Info

  • Type: Clay
  • Made In: United States
  • Key Strengths: Clumping, Odor Control, Scented, Multi-Cat, Dust Free
Pros
  • Forms tight, hard clumps for easy scooping
  • Ensures 7 days of nonstop odor control
  • Very low in dust (100% dust-free)
Cons
  • Some tracking, possibly due to fine grain size
  • Very fine, sandy texture (some cats may not like it)
As the owner of three cats, I’m always looking for cat litter that controls odor for 7 days at a time. This Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal Multi-Cat Litter is definitely one of the strongest competitors I’ve found in this particular area.

The first thing I noticed when pouring this Arm & Hammer litter is how incredibly fine the granules were – they were almost sand-like. Surprisingly, for such a fine-grained litter, the level of dust was very low. Right on the front of the box, Arm & Hammer promises 100% dust-free litter and I have a hard time arguing against that claim.

I will say that while this cat litter is very low in dust, the fine granules do track a little bit. I found some litter scattered outside of the litter box, but it wasn’t a major issue.

The main claim this product makes has to do with its “clump and seal” action. Arm & Hammer claims the litter is formulated with a proprietary blend of moisture-activated micro-granules that form a tight seal around waste while baking soda in the litter helps destroy odors on contact.

More specifically, the claim on the box is “guaranteed 7-day odor-free home.”

I can’t refute that claim, though I will note that I tested the litter in a covered litter box. Sometimes covered litter boxes help control odor, but I didn’t even notice any odor when scooping the box.

In terms of the litter’s clumping ability, I was impressed there as well. For as fine as the litter is, it formed hard, solid clumps that were easy to scoop away. It was actually a little surprised at how long a single box of this litter lasted. It clumps well with very little waste.

Overall, I was very impressed with how well this Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal Multi-Cat Litter performed in terms of clumping ability and odor control. Plus, you can’t beat the price!
Best Lightweight
4.

Tidy Cats Free & Clean Lightweight Unscented Clumping Clay Cat Litter

Product Info

  • Type: Clay
  • Made In: United States
  • Key Strengths: Clumping, Unscented, Lightweight, Odor Control, Dust Free
Pros
  • Unscented, no added fragrances or perfumes
  • Very lightweight (8.5 pounds), equal to 20 pounds of litter
  • Strong clumping action and great odor control
Cons
  • Lightweight granules may be prone to tracking
  • A little more expensive than others on the list
By now you’re probably sensing a theme with some of the cat litter brands I’ve reviewed. It’s great to find cat litters that come in big bags and boxes, but they can get pretty heavy. That’s where this Tidy Cats Lightweight Free & Clean Unscented Clumping Clay Cat Litter comes into play.

This formula is unscented, so I didn’t have to worry about it irritating my cat’s nose or lungs. What I really loved about it, however, is that it comes in jugs that are easy to maneuver and they weigh just 8.5 pounds each. You get the same volume of litter you would in a 20-pound jug at less than half the weight.

In addition to being unscented, this Tidy Cats litter features TidyLock technology with activated charcoal to lock in odors on the spot.

I found this litter performed very well in terms of odor control and it didn’t seem to function any differently in the litter box than traditional clay litter. I will say there was a fair bit of dust at the bottom of the litter box when I poured it out, but the product didn’t kick up a lot of dust when my cats used it.

Tidy Cats says this cat litter is made with Ammonia Blocker to tackle ammonia odors from urine, leaving your home odor-free for up to 2 weeks.

With three cats, I’m always looking for a cat litter that really delivers on long-lasting odor control. This Tidy Cats formula had no detectable scent of its own but did very well in controlling litter box odor. You’ll find this litter also comes in a Glade-scented formula but reviews I’ve read comment on the fragrance being too strong. I was happy with this Free & Clean formula.

Overall, this lightweight formula cost a little more than the others strictly in price per pound, but if you consider the volume of the litter is equal to about 20 pounds it’s on par with the others I’ve included in this list in terms of pricing under $1.00 per pound.
Best Multi-Cat
5.

Naturally Fresh Multi-Cat Unscented Clumping Walnut Cat Litter

Product Info

  • Type: Quick-Clumping
  • Made In: United States
  • Key Strengths: Clumping, Multi-Cat, Odor Control, Unscented, Natural, Dust Free, Low Tracking, Eco-Friendly
Pros
  • Lightweight, easy to carry and manage
  • Strong odor absorption qualities
  • Decent clumping action, easy to scoop
Cons
  • Granules are a little jagged, some cats may not like it
  • Walnut material has a slight natural smell to it
In a multi-cat household, it’s important to find a cat litter that offers strong odor protection. I typically prefer to use natural cat litter, so my favorite ended up being Naturally Fresh Multi-Cat Unscented Clumping Walnut Cat Litter.

This natural cat litter is made from walnut shells which makes it biodegradable in addition to being natural. It has a dark brown, slightly variegated color, and a sharper texture than clay granules. Because it is made from walnut shells, it also has a slight natural scent to it, but nothing overpowering.

Naturally Fresh comes in two different sizes: 14 pounds and 26 pounds. Both came in sturdy plastic bags that were fairly easy to manage.

I found this Naturally Fresh walnut cat litter performed very well in clumping action and odor control, but it did track a little bit more than other litters. Maybe it has something to do with the jagged, almost sharp edges on the granules. Clay cat litter is usually a little softer around the edges.

In terms of odor control, I found this walnut litter worked very well for ammonia odors because it absorbed urine very quickly and efficiently. I did notice a slightly unpleasant scent resulting from the combination of the natural walnut smell and the cat urine, but it didn’t go beyond the litter box, so it wasn’t an issue I noticed elsewhere in the house.

One thing I’ll note is that this litter is dark brown in color, so it may not be as easy to see dirty litter just by looking into the box as it is with lighter colored litter.

Overall, I was impressed with this natural cat litter. It was one of the priciest of the options I included in this list (priced right around $1.00 per pound) but I had very few complaints.
Best Natural
6.

World's Best Multi-Cat Unscented Clumping Corn Cat Litter

Product Info

  • Type: Clumping Corn
  • Made In: United States
  • Key Strengths: Overall great performance
Pros
  • Made from natural corn, biodegradable/flushable
  • Forms tight, hard clumps – easy to scoop
  • Low in dust, no added fragrance
Cons
  • Granules are a little jagged, some cats may dislike the texture
  • Slightly unpleasant odor when corn mixes with urine
  • A little more expensive than others on the list
In choosing the best natural cat litter, I had a hard time deciding between Naturally Fresh and World’s Best. Both offer an excellent alternative to clay and both are similarly priced, just over $1.00 per pound.

World’s Best Unscented Clumping Corn Litter is biodegradable and flushable, so that’s what really earned this litter my top pick for natural cat litter. It is made from compressed corn, so it has a different texture than clay litter, but the granule size was similar, if a little bit bigger. Some cats may not like the jagged texture of the granules, but my cats didn’t seem to mind.

Like the Naturally Fresh litter, this cat litter has a slight natural scent to it, but it doesn’t contain any added fragrance. I found that it did produce a slightly unpleasant odor when it mixed with urine, but the smell didn’t travel too far outside the litter box.

I will say that if you use this cat litter you may want to scoop several times a week. It absorbs liquid well, but once the corn material becomes saturated you may notice some odor setting in.

In terms of clumping ability, World’s Best performed very well. It forms tight, hard clumps and it’s definitely a bonus that you can simply scoop them right into the toilet for disposal. Overall, I was very pleased with this natural corn-based cat litter.
Best Non-Clumping
7.

Yesterday's News Original Unscented Non-Clumping Paper Cat Litter

Product Info

  • Type: Non-Clumping Paper
  • Made In: United States
  • Key Strengths: Unscented, Non-Clumping, Odor Control, Dust Free, Low Tracking
Pros
  • Made from recycled paper materials
  • Virtually no dust or tracking
  • Absorbs liquid waste very well
Cons
  • Doesn’t clump, scooping can be tough
  • Odor control is somewhat limited
Personally, I prefer clumping cat litter but I wanted to include a non-clumping option in this list. My favorite non-clumping cat litter is also a great option if you’re looking for an alternative to clay.

Yesterday’s News Original Unscented Non-Clumping Paper Cat Litter is made from recycled paper pellets rather than clay. These pellets are much larger than traditional cat litter granules, so your cat may need some time to get used to it. It means, however, that there is virtually no dust and no issues with tracking.

Created by Purina, Yesterday’s News is purported to absorb 3x as much liquid as clay. I wasn’t able to verify this particular claim, but I did find the paper material highly absorbent.

The thing to remember with this cat litter is that because it is non-clumping, it’s not really the kind of litter you scoop on a daily basis. The size and shape of the granules also makes that tough. I’d recommend removing solid waste as well as you can once a day then replacing the entire litter box about once a week, or as often as needed (depending how many cats are using it).

Another thing to keep in mind is that the dark color of the paper pellets may make it tough to distinguish between clean and dirty litter. Just to be safe, you may want to fill the litter box sparingly so you can empty it completely once a week or so.

In terms of odor control, Yesterday’s News didn’t perform as well as clumping litter, but that’s what I expected. Because I was replacing it every few days, however, it wasn’t really a problem.

Wrapping Things Up

In the end, the cat litter you choose is largely a matter of preference. Think about whether you prefer clumping cat litter to non-clumping litter and clay to natural alternatives. Consider additional factors such as odor control (be particularly careful with artificially fragranced cat litters) as well as dust, tracking, and clumping action.

If you’re looking for an affordable brand of cat litter, any of the choices reviewed above would be a good pick. You can also check out our other top picks for the best cat litter.

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Kate Barrington is avid pet lover and adoring owner of three cats and one dog, her love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. She has been writing about pet care and pet products since 2010
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