Excellent cat litter doesn’t have to be expensive.

In the world of cat litter, effectiveness is not directly proportional to price.

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That doesn’t mean that your options are unlimited. Price limitations do cut out a good chunk of the market. You won’t find a lot of specialty biodegradable litters in the budget tier, nor are many silica gel crystal products available at a lower price. You’re essentially limited to clumping or non-clumping clay litter from large, well-established brands.

Clay cat litter is the most affordable and most popular type on the market. It’s simple, it’s classic, and it works. In fact, clumping clay litter is the type most cats prefer. The simplest, cheapest clay litter can also work the best.

Being an educated shopper and knowing which products work is a far more powerful tactic than shopping by price. If you know what to look for, it’s easy to find solid products that won’t break the bank.

Quick Look : Top 5 Best Cheap Cat Litters

Litter Price Rating
Dr. Elsey's Precious Cat Ultra Clumping Cat LitterDr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Ultra Clumping Cat Litter
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$.38/lb A+
Frisco Multi-Cat Clumping Cat LitterFrisco Multi-Cat Clumping Cat Litter
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$.30/lb A
Arm & Hammer Litter Super Scoop Fragrance-Free Clumping LitterArm & Hammer Litter Super Scoop Fragrance-Free Clumping Litter
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$.40/lb A-
Premium Choice Carefree Kitty Unscented Solid Scoop Cat LitterPremium Choice Carefree Kitty Unscented Solid Scoop Cat Litter
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$.35/lb B+
Fresh Step Simply Unscented Cat LitterFresh Step Simply Unscented Cat Litter
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$.44/lb B+

4 Key Questions to Ask Before Choosing Cat Litter

Again, you can find good cat litter at almost every point on the price spectrum, but in order to find it, you need to know what you’re looking for.

Here are four key questions to ask before choosing a cat litter.

1. Does it control odor well?

Cats are sensitive and naturally like to be clean, so a foul-smelling litter box will repel them and could lead to inappropriate elimination and even health problems like constipation and urinary tract disease.

Thorough and frequent cleaning is the best way to ensure that your cat’s litter box smells fresh – but it’s not all up to you. A great cat litter minimizes the odor impact of your cat’s litter box activities.

Fortunately, there are plenty of budget litters that do an excellent job of controlling odors. Although it does work for some households, scented litter doesn’t usually do a better job than unscented. Fragrance-free litter is gentler on your sensitive cat’s nose and skin.

Some products contain deodorizers – usually activated carbon or baking soda. Although these additives aren’t usually feline favorites, they can make a difference in odor management. Even if you don’t have multiple cats, consider using a multi-cat litter. These products typically offer superior odor control.

ALSO READ:  How to Litter Train a Cat: 7 Ways to Get Your Cat to Like Using Their Litter Box

2. Is it clumping or non-clumping?

While non-clumping clay litter is marginally cheaper than its scoopable sodium bentonite siblings, you’ll need to replace the contents of the box about once a week. This frequent disposal and replacement adds up.

Clumping litter makes it easier to clean your cat’s litter and allows you to go for longer periods of time without replacing the full contents of the litter box. Cats typically prefer the cleanliness and feel of clumping clay cat litter.

Clumping clay cat litter isn’t perfect, though; it could lead to gastrointestinal distress or intestinal blockage if your cat ingests it. Small, curious kittens are particularly susceptible to intestinal blockage and shouldn’t use clumping clay litter until they’re at least 3-4 months old.

3. Does it produce a lot of dust and how much does it track?

It’s impossible to find a clay litter that doesn’t track and doesn’t produce any dust. That’s just the nature of clay. And unfortunately, the cheapest products are often the dustiest of the bunch.

Packaging tends to do little in indicating how dusty the litter will be – you’ll need to read customer reviews and experiment with different products to find a litter that works for you. As a general rule, the finer and lighter that a litter is, the more dusty it will typically be.

Tracking is also something to think about – trackability tends to follow the same pattern as dustiness. Light, fine litter sticks to your cat’s paws and travels around the house, depositing crunchy grains on the floor.

4. Is it cat-friendly?

As always, your cat litter is worthless if your cat doesn’t like it. Fortunately, most cats don’t judge their litter by price – they just want a comfortable litter box experience.

Cats like a well-maintained litter box filled with litter that feels good under their delicate paws. Typically, this is a fine-grained product similar in paw-feel to the soil or sand they might find in nature.

Top 5 Best Value Cat Litter Products

All of the products in the following list are star performers with a reputation for cat and customer satisfaction. They provide good odor control, clump for easy cleaning, don’t typically create a huge amount of dust, and cats like using them.

None of them cost more than $.50 per pound.

Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Ultra Clumping Cat Litter Review

Price: $.38/lb

Dr. Elsey's Precious Cat Ultra Clumping Cat Litter

This widely-praised litter is known for its remarkably minimal dust output, superior clumping ability, and odor control.

Dr. Elsey’s claims that the litter is 99.9% dust-free, and customer reviews confirm that it is a low-dust product. Despite being a clay litter, the dense grains produce remarkably little dust. The weight of the medium-sized granules also makes it a low-tracking litter.

The formula was designed specifically for multiple cat homes, so it has excellent odor control. Cats appreciate the hypoallergenic formula made without added fragrances or irritating additives. – Buy It

Pros

  • Free from chemical fragrances that might irritate your cat
  • A heavy, low-dust, low-tracking litter
  • Creates solid clumps

Cons

  • The litter tends to stick to the bottom of the box
  • A heavy litter that may be difficult to handle

Frisco Multi-Cat Clumping Cat Litter Review

Price: $.30/lb

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Frisco Multi-Cat Clumping Cat Litter

Frisco’s clumping clay litter is the lowest-priced product on this list. It’s a Chewy-exclusive brand that’s only available through the Chewy website, so you won’t find it in any local stores at this time.

It’s a multi-cat formula that creates solid, easily-scooped clumps, helping you to maintain litter box cleanliness with ease. Liquids are quickly trapped before they reach the bottom of the box, eliminating the need to scrape and pry at damp litter cemented to the inner surfaces of your cat’s litter pan.

The product has a unique deodorizing system that works to eliminate unwanted odors without the use of perfumes. Besides being free from added fragrances, this natural litter is dye-free and made without any plant proteins that could irritate sensitive or allergic cats

A proprietary de-dusting system helps to keep this litter relatively dust-free. According to the company and customer reviews, the product is also low-tracking.

This litter has a 4 out of 5 star rating on Chewy with 1,952 customer reviews. 81% of reviewers say that they would recommend it. Most reviews are positive, referring to the litter’s strong clumping and odor control. Critical reviews, however, usually talk about poor odor control. It seems that this litter doesn’t always do a great job of keeping unwanted smells in check. It’s also not a lightweight litter and some people find it cumbersome to scoop the dense clay granules. – Buy It

Pros

  • Superior clumping ability
  • Low tracking and low dust
  • Hypoallergenic and made without added fragrances
  • The lowest price on this list

Cons

  • Some reviews suggest that this litter doesn’t control odors well
  • A heavy clay litter

Arm & Hammer Litter Super Scoop Fragrance-Free Clumping Litter Review

Price: $.40/lb

Arm & Hammer Litter Super Scoop Fragrance-Free Clumping Litter

This cat litter features baking soda crystals and other odor neutralizers to help eliminate odors. It creates solid clumps that are easy to remove. Although it does contain deodorizers, the litter is fragrance-free.

According to Arm & Hammer, this clumping clay litter is 99% dust free and low-tracking. It’s a dense litter with heavy granules – perfect for those looking for a less tracking and dust. Because the litter is so dense, some people find the container difficult to handle.

Critical reviews say that the litter clumps stick to the bottom of the box, making them difficult to remove. – Buy It

Pros

  • Good odor control
  • Unscented litter is good for sensitive cats and people
  • Creates cohesive clumps
  • Dense litter creates minimal dust

Cons

  • Clumps may stick to the bottom of the box

Premium Choice Carefree Kitty Unscented Solid Scoop Cat Litter Review

Price: $.35/lb

Premium Choice Carefree Kitty Unscented Solid Scoop Cat Litter

This clay litter neutralizes odors without added fragrances or chemical additives, making it ideal for sensitive cats. It forms solid, cohesive clumps that lock in odors and make cleaning the litter box simple.

The litter has a fine texture that cats like – it’s easy to dig in and walk on.

Although this litter has a good reputation with customers – 90% of reviewers on Chewy say that they’d recommend this product – there are a couple of recurring complaints.The first is that the litter is dusty. The second issue that pops up repeatedly in customer reviews is the litter’s tendency to stick to the inner surfaces of the litter box, making it difficult to scoop. – Buy It

Pros

  • Creates rock-solid clumps
  • Good odor control
  • One of the most affordable litter products on the market
  • Made without added fragrances
ALSO READ:  What is the Best Odor Control Cat Litter? - Top Smell Masking Brands for Multi-Cat Homes

Cons

  • Tends to be on the dustier side
  • Clumps may be difficult to scoop out

Fresh Step Simply Unscented Cat Litter Review

Price: $.44/lb

This unscented litter from Fresh Step is a concentrated formula that’s strong enough to satisfy the needs of multiple cat households. It utilizes activated carbon and plant extracts to neutralize odors and prevent bacteria growth. This gives it the ability to effectively stop odor without using any perfumes or dyes that might irritate your cat.

The litter clumps well, making it easy to scoop out the litter box. The clumps don’t stick to the bottom of the box – a common problem when using a clumping clay litter.

The company calls this a low-dust formula, but customer reports are mixed – some say that the litter produces minimal dust, while other say that any agitation unleashes huge clouds of dust. It’s a fine litter that’s easy on your cat’s paws, and according to reports from customers, doesn’t track a lot. – Buy It

Pros

  • Extraordinary clumping – easy to scoop
  • Offers great odor control
  • Made without added fragrances
  • Low dust and low tracking

Cons

  • Some reviewers say that this litter is dusty

Budget-Friendly Alternative Litter

Do you prefer biodegradable litter but don’t want to fork over big bucks to get it?

Try venturing beyond the pet product department. Check out the feed store.

Although these products aren’t marketed as cat litter, they’re popular among cost-conscious people seeking an affordable, environmentally-friendly alternative to clay litter and pricier biodegradable/natural products.

Horse Stall Bedding

Instead of purchasing pine pellet litter sold specifically for cats, you can use pine equine bedding.

This product is cheaper than most cat litter, including pine pellet litter, and many users say that it’s equally effective. Despite not clumping, these pellets control odors moderately well and have a naturally woody scent. Many users boost the odor control by mixing in baking soda.

Cats often don’t like the feel of pellets under their paws – your cat may prefer fine granules rather than the substantial pellets. That said, the pellet style can be beneficial for those seeking less tracking.

You can purchase pine pellet equine bedding around $.15/lb.

Poultry Crumbles

Poultry crumbles are another low-cost alternative to traditional cat litter.

This product is made from cracked corn and added nutrients and is typically used as chicken feed. It comes in numerous varieties at multiple price levels. Layer crumbles are low in protein and thus the most economical type to use as cat litter. These crumbles are absorbent and clump moderately well – similar to other biodegradable clumping cat litter products.

Some prefer chick starter crumbles because their finer granules clump better, but they’re more expensive than layer crumbles. Starter crumbles are often medicated, so it’s important to ensure that the product you choose is free from antibiotics or other medications.

It’s important to store poultry crumbles in a sealed container in a cool and dry location and to keep the litter box clean. This grain-based product is attractive to bugs and could quickly become contaminated.

Like the equine pellets, baking soda can help to neutralize litter box odors..

You can purchase layer crumbles for around $.32/lb.

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Mallory Crusta

Mallory Crusta offers simple, honest knowledge about natural cat care and products that work so that you can spend less time researching natural cat care and more time having fun with your cat. She blogs about it at WildernessCat.com.

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