Emacsen's Blog

The Scoop on Cat Litter

It's time to take a break from the high minded to the mundane. Today I'm doing a review of cat litter!

I have two wonderful cats, one male and one female, both about one year old, both about 7lbs, and both adopted from the ASPCA.Since I've owned cats as an adult, I've been searching for the perfect cat litter. I've tried six different litters so far, with varying results.

My regime is to scoop the cat box once a day, and replace the litter about once a week, adding more cat litter as necessary to replace what's been used up. I have a very large cat box, which can easily hold 20lbs of clay litter.

Living in Manhattan, there is a premium on space, and so a cat litter needs to do excellent odor control, more than it might if I lived in a larger space and could put the cat box in a more out-of-the-way spot.

Feline Pine

The first cat litter up is the Feline Pine. This is what the local ASPCA uses, so I thought it would be a good idea to use the same product during the cats' transition. This is a dust free, chemical/fragrance-free product made from wood.

Pros: I like that this is an all natural product, made from a renewable resource. It also scooped/sifted well.

Cons: The product smelled a bit like used cat litter (ammonia) to me even when just out of the bag. I thought the smell would dissipate but it just saturated the apartment and I had to get rid of it.

It also didn't do any clumping, although the company apparently also makes a clumping version.

Overall: 2 out of 5. Of all the products, this one irritated me the most even when brand new. I like the idea that it's all natural, but ultimately the product needs to be something I can live with.

World's Best Cat Litter

The next product on my list is World's Best Cat Litter, another all natural (corn based) product. I've met several people who use World's Best and it seems to have a good reputation.

Pros: The biggest advantage to World's Best is that it's flushable. You can simply scoop, sift, and toss out kitty waste along with your own. It won't clog or damage your pipes. It's also all natural, uses no artificial chemicals or perfumes. It also claims to be longer lasting than other products.

Cons: Firstly, and most importantly, I was unhappy with the odor control. After a few days, the ammonia from the cat box smelled throughout the apartment. Secondly, the litter tracked throughout the entire apartment and were a mess to find/clean up. Thirdly, the urine clumps sometimes crumbled on their way to the toilet.

Overall: 2 out of 5. I wanted very much to like this product, but it disappointed me. It worked better than Feline Pine, and it is environmentally friendly, but the odor control and tracking issues need addressing.

Yesterday's News

The third product on the list is Yesterday's News. This product is different than the other products in that it's made from recycled newspapers, formed in pellets, rather than in small granules like the other litters.

Pros: This product uses recycled newspaper, which is good environmentally. It's also dust-free, just like the World's Best and Feline Pine. It's also completely odorless.

Cons: This product does a decent job of odor control for a few days, but after that, the urine soaked newspaper pellets at the bottom of the litter lose their appeal quickly. The product is also not siftable- the pellets are too large. One of my cats cries when he walks on the product, and after accidentally stepping on a few stray pellets in the apartment, I cry too.

Overall: 2 out of 5. I love the idea of using recycled newspaper, and it does provide some odor control, but not nearly enough to make up for its inability to be scooped and sifted.

Fresh Step Unscented Clay Litter

The online reviews suggested that Fresh Step is the best cat litter available, but people complain about the perfume, saying it has a chemical odor. I decided to try the Fresh Step Unscented Litter.

Pros: Odor control at last! Of all the cat litters I've tried, this one does the absolute best in controlling odor. Even when cleaning/sifting, it reduces the odor to a very controllable level. It's easily siftable, it clumps fairly well, and it doesn't track as much as some of the other litters.

Cons: Firstly it should be noted that clay cat litter is mined, and is generally not considered environmentally friendly. On a personal level, this product is particularly dusty- the most dusty of all the products I've used. Pouring it out or sifting it releases a cloud of cat-litter dust into the air each and every time. Additionally, it does have a tendency to clump on the bottom of the pan and need to be scooped up forcibly.

Overall: 3 out of 5. If it weren't for the environmental damage of this litter, I'd rate it at least a 4, but it's created through strip mining. In addition, I'm not thrilled with the dust that it generates. Other than that, this is my favorite litter to use and until I find something better, is the litter I will have on standby due to its odor control and siftability.

PetCo Refillable Unscented Cat Litter

Once I tried the Fresh Step, I thought about cheaper alternatives. I am not generally a fan of PetCo due to their live animal policies policies as well as some horror stories I've heard about their store in DC, but there's a store across the street from my apartment and they offer a refill program where you can buy a box of cat litter, then refill it for less than the price of a new box. I decided to give the

Pros: This product is very inexpensive. It's the cheapest of all the products I've used, and the cats don't seem to mind it. It looks and feels very much like the Fresh Step, though less dusty.

Cons: It doesn't do as good a job at odor control as the Fresh Step. After about 3 days, despite daily cleanings, it smelled. It's not as bad as some of the other litters, but it's a significant difference from the Fresh Step. Additionally, it's another clay litter, with no indication that it's not made from the strip mining process.

Overall: I'll give this product a 2 out of 5. Like the Fresh Step, it loses a point for being environmentally unfriendly, and it looses an additional point for being bad at odor control, but it's also less dusty and cheaper than Fresh Step. I've had to knock another point down for finding out that this product is just regular bags of cat litter dumped into a bin.


I still have another half a container of the PetCo cat litter, which I will use up in the next week. I also want to try a silica based cat litter, one of the "Natural" labeled Fresh Step products, the "Advanced Formula" World's Best Cat Litter, and the Blue Buffalo Cat litter, so stay tuned for an update in a couple of months.

If none of these products works out, I will use the Fresh Step product since it's the best at odor control. In the meantime, if you're a cat litter company who wants me to try their product, don't hesitate to contact me!