It’s no secret that having a cat costs money. The initial investment of all of the supplies, adoption fee, and the ongoing, lifelong costs can quickly add up. Even though your kitty is worth every penny, looking for ways to save money can benefit your budget. One way to save some money is by using a cheap (but good) cat litter.
Since cheap is a relative term, this guide focuses on cat litters that cost under $0.75 per pound (at the time of this writing).
1. Best Overall Choice: Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Ultra Cat Litter
Uses natural ingredients for odor control.
Hard clumping medium grain clay helps prevent moisture from reaching the bottom and makes it easier to scoop.
Here’s a low-cost cat litter that seems to have it all. Dr. Elsey’s Ultra Cat Litter is a clay-based, clumping litter that is also low dust. It claims that it is 99.9% dust-free, making it an excellent choice for cats and people with dust allergies. Low dust also means less mess.
Speaking of less mess, this cheap cat litter is also tight clumping, making it easier to scoop to remove more waste. It is made to clump around liquids before they get the chance to reach the bottom of the litter box, creating that cement-like stickiness that can be so hard to remove. This cheap cat litter also locks in odors, not mask them, to keep your house smelling clean. This cat litter is less tracking. The medium-sized litter granules are formulated to not stick in between your cat’s toes and track around the house. On top of all that, Dr. Elsey’s Ultra Cat Litter is formulated for multi-cat households, meaning it can maintain freshness with many uses.
The label on Dr. Elsey’s Ultra Cat Litter says to layer 3-4″ in the bottom of the litter pan. Any less, and it won’t clump as promised, leaving a sticky mess to scrape out. The only drawback is this litter might not take care of odors as well as other products.
- Tightly clumping
- Low dust
- Less tracking
- Can become sticky if not enough litter is used
- Less odor control than other litters
2. Best Odor Control: Purina Tidy Cats Clumping Cat Litter 24/7 Performance
Tidy Max Moisture Activated Power Pieces provides outstanding moisture control to the litter box.
Tidy Cats 24/7 Performance Cat Litter is tough on litter box odors. It takes a three-step approach to lock odors away so that your house smells fresh and clean and your cat won’t turn up their nose at their litter box. The first step is the Tidy Max Ammonia Blocker which helps to neutralize the ammonia smell. The second step is Absorptive Power Pieces activated on contact with moisture to lock away wetness and odor in a tight clump. The third step is a continuous odor control system to lock away odors and neutralize them around the clock.
This cheap cat litter is also low dust and tight clumping to prevent allergies and stuck-on messes. If that doesn’t seem like your perfect cheap cat litter, look into other cat litter products from Tidy Cat: Instant Action, which works to control odor on the spot, Tidy Cat with Glade, which provides a pleasing scent, or 4-in-1 which is meant for those tough litter box smells or multi-cat households.
Tidy Cats 24/7 Performance and other Tidy Cats Cat Litter products are scented, which can be overpowering for some, especially when first opening the bag. If you or your cat has a sensitivity to strong scents, this may not work for you. Also, as with all clumping litter, not putting enough in the litter box can make clean-up more difficult by creating a sticky mess on the bottom of the pan.
- Triple-approach odor control
- Low dust
- Low tracking
- Possibly overwhelming fragrance
- Creates sticky mess if enough isn’t used
3. Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal Platinum Cat Litter- Best for Multiple Cats
Specially formulated to seal and destroy odors before they leave the cat litter box.
Plant-derived particles help create rock solid clumps for easy scooping.
If you have a lot of kitties or your litter box smells like you do, the Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal Platinum Cat Litter may be a good fit for you. This litter is clay-based with plant materials to form a tighter clump that locks in odors and helps keep the bottom of your litter box clean. Moisture-activated Micro-Granules clump tightly around waste to ensure no leakage, making it easier scooping and cleaning. This is definitely something that you want in a multi-cat litter.
Along with locking in odors, this cheap cat litter also uses Arm & Hammer baking soda to neutralize odor. They believe in their product so much that they guarantee an odor-free litter box for at least seven days or your money back (at the time of this writing). This litter is also considered 100% dust-free, so it shouldn’t irritate allergies or create a dusty mess in your home.
This is another fragranced cat litter that can be too much for some cat parents and cats alike. This cheap cat litter may not be for you if you can’t stand a strong, perfumy scent.
- 100% dust-free
- Odor control and clumping ability for multi-cat households
- 7-day odor control guarantee
- Possibly strong perfumy fragrance
- Different texture than previous formulas
4. Best Non-Clumping: Special Kitty Natural Clay Cat Litter
Made from 100-percent natural ground clay.
Special Kitty Natural Clay litter is a simple, no-frills cat litter. It is a non-clumping yet highly absorbent formula that will help lock away moisture and odors without creating a stuck-on mess in your cat’s litter box. It also has no added fragrances or colors and is nearly dust-free.
Non-clumping cat litter needs to be used properly to have the best odor control. This cat litter needs to be emptied every day to provide the best results. Since it is non-clumping, scooping is hard to do. Even though all of the cat litters on this list are relatively cheap, this product is even less expensive.
This cheap cat litter is non-clumping and clay-based, so even though it claims to be dust-free, there is still plenty of dust to go around. This can be a problem for cats with respiratory issues or allergies. Also, it does have to be changed every day, which might not be on everyone’s want-to-do list.
- Highly absorbent
- Simple formula
- Needs to be changed daily
5. Most Eco-Friendly: Fresh News Recycled Paper Multi-Cat Litter
Recycled Paper Litter has super absorbent strength, almost three times more than clay.
Made with 100% post consumer paper from recycling centers, it is safe for all animals and is biodegradable.
Fresh News is a pelleted form of cat litter made from compressed recycled newspaper. It is highly absorbent, dust-free, and hypoallergenic. It is also easy to clean up and has minimal tracking. It also doesn’t clump, so there is no scooping necessary. All you have to do is remove the wet pellets or dump the entire litter box every couple of days to control odors.
Since this cat litter isn’t made from clay, there is no chance it will make a sticky mess on the bottom of the litter box. It also won’t produce dust or a clay smell. Unlike other pelleted brands, Fresh News pellets retain their shape.
For cat owners that are used to scooping, this cat litter may take some getting used to. With no clumps to identify waste, it may be hard to determine what needs to be scooped and what doesn’t. Your best bet is to use smaller amounts and dump the entire litter box frequently. Even though this cat litter doesn’t track much, it can be easily kicked out of the litter box if your cat is a vigorous scratcher.
- Easy to clean up
- No clay smell
- No clumping to determine what needs to be scooped
- Can be easily kicked out of the litter box
Best Cheap Cat Litter Buying Guide
You’re probably well aware that all cat litter is not created equal and that the pricing can vary greatly. Price is often an indication of the quality, but it is not always the case. With this in mind, here is what to look for in cheap cat litter so that you and your cat aren’t left wanting more from their litter box.
Commonalities of Cheap Cat Litter
Less expensive cat litters are more than likely going to be made of clay. Cat litters made from plant material, crystal beads, or newspapers are going to cost more simply because they are more expensive to produce.
The majority of cheap cat litters will also be non-clumping. Non-clumping cat litters can still work well as long as you use them properly. Using smaller amounts of litter and dumping and cleaning the entire box daily is the best way to reduce odors.
With a budget-friendly price, cheap cat litters do have a few downsides. First of all, they may create more dust and tracking. Tracking can be reduced by using a mat or rug under the litter box to catch any errant litter. To prevent dust, be sure to pour your litter in a well-ventilated area.
Clay litters may not trap smell as well as other litter, and they may smell like, you guessed it, clay. Frequent cleaning is the best way to eliminate any litter box odor or use additives like baking soda to cut down on the smell.
How to Choose the Best Cheap Cat Litter
With lower-priced cat litters, you can forget the bells and whistles. There are also going to be limited options of any eco-friendly materials. This basically leaves you with clay cat litters, but there’s still plenty to choose from there.
Let’s look at some of your options:
Scented or Unscented: This one is highly dependent on your personal preference. Some people don’t like an overpowering perfume smell, while others appreciate a little something besides the smell of clay, or worse, cat urine. Many cheap cat litters will provide you with either option. Also, remember your cat’s preference for this as well. Some cats may turn up their nose at a floral smell.
Clumping or Non-Clumping: Most cheap cat litters will be non-clumping. Clumping does allow you to scoop in between box cleanings, but it also may clump between your cat’s toes. Non-clumping requires a complete change of litter to get rid of wastes but may be friendly to your cat’s feet.
Odor Control: Some litters lock in odors better than others without masking them. As a general rule, cheaper cat litters will not be as good at this, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find one that works for you.
Texture: Cat litters come in different sizes and even shapes. Some can be quite large, while others are smaller. Both have advantages and disadvantages, including getting stuck between toes or being uncomfortable for your cat to step on. Do a little experimentation to see what your cat prefers—most of the time, kitties like something with a texture close to sand.
Cost: This one may seem a little weird since this guide is about cheap cat litters, but it’s important to figure out your cost per use. This is because some cheaper cat litters may require you to use more, and some of the more expensive cat litters can get by with less, making the actual cost per use about the same.
You love your kitty, but the lifelong costs of food and cat litter can quickly add up. Choosing one of the best cheap cat litters may be a way of reducing your overall cat care costs. I hope that this guide will help you choose the best cheap cat litter for you, your cat, and your budget.
Dr. Chyrle Bonk has been practicing veterinary medicine since 2010. She lives in Idaho with her husband and two sons, where they spend their free time exploring the great outdoors that is right in their backyard.