Although the trend over the last few years has been toward biodegradable cat litter, the fact remains that the vast majority of cats (and cat owners) are content with clumping clay litters. As mentioned above, the clumping agent in most of these kitty litters is a chemical called sodium bentonite, whose suspected health effects on cats is (according to experts) largely imaginary. However, there are some genuine downsides to clumping clay litters. First, fine-grained clay litters are dusty, and cats can track them across the floor (because the particles adhere to the undersides of their paws). Second, clumping clay litters should not be flushed down the toilet because clumping properties can cause serious clogs (these non-biodegradable litters can also persist in landfills for decades). Third, fine-grained clay cat litters are inappropriate for kittens younger than three months because kittens can accidentally ingest the particles and become ill.
In the eyes of many cat owners and experts, though, these drawbacks are outweighed by two significant advantages. First, clumping clay cat litters tend to be vastly less expensive than organic kitty litters, which can add up to big savings over the course of a year. In addition, as mentioned above, studies show that cats naturally prefer the feel and texture of fine-grained clay litters and may not take to the larger pellet size of organic cat litters like Feline Pine, Yesterday's News or World's Best.
Because all fine-grained clumping clay litters are more or less identical, there's not as much difference of opinion about competing brands as, say, about organic litters made of corn kernels versus recycled newspapers. Still, we find that experts and owners recommend Scoop Away more often than any other brand. In an article on Slate.com, writer Kelly Alexander finds that Scoop Away offers "the overall best combination of price and convenience." Scoop Away is manufactured by Clorox, and it comes in several different versions, including Scoop Away Multiple Cat Formula (*Est. $18 for 28 lbs.), which offers the tightest clumping and strongest odor control. Several owners reporting on Amazon.com say that the floral scent is overwhelming. Scoop Away Free (*Est. $18 for 28 lbs.) is perfume- and dye-free.
Although Scoop Away is included in the ConsumerSearch Best Reviewed section, other clay litters are also worthy of consideration. Tidy Cats, from Purina, is the least expensive of the name brand clumping litter. It comes in a number of varieties, and Darlene Cheek, a cat breeder posting on Suite101.com, selects the clumping Tidy Cats Scoop for Multiple Cats as "the best all-around at performance and value." She also recommends Tidy Cats Clay, a non-clumping litter, as best for cats under 6 months old. Both of these varieties are further subdivided into a wide array of strengths and blends. Tidy Cats Scoop for Multiple Cats Instant Action Immediate Odor Control (*Est. $12 for 27 lbs.) neutralizes odors quickly.Tidy Cats Clay Cat Litter Immediate Odor Control Formula (*Est. $12 for 40 lbs.) is similar, but with a non-clumping formula.
Another clumping clay litter that earns praise is Fresh Step Scoopable (*Est. $16 for 28 lbs.), which contains carbon to control odors and is a special favorite of owners posting to Petco.com. Although Scoop Away receives slightly better reviews, any of these three brands should do a good job.
One company that has been making a big push in the clumping cat litter category is Arm & Hammer. Arm & Hammer cat litter (*Est. $12 for 20 lbs.) isn't made out of clay, but (as you might have guessed from the brand name) instead uses baking soda crystals with a clumping component. Available in various formulations, Arm & Hammer litter appears to be aimed at cat owners who are weary of dusty, smelly clay litters. There are not as many user reviews of Arm & Hammer litter as other brands, but the reviews that do exist are mixed and not as favorable as reviews of competitors.
As stated previously, fine-grained clumping clay cat litter isn't appropriate for small kittens, because they can be sickened by ingested particles. If you are litter-training a new kitten, experts are particularly fond of Dr. Elsey's Precious Cat Attract Cat Litter (*Est. $15 for 20 lbs.). Small kittens won't ingest this medium-grained clay litter, and its herb scent is good at attracting kittens to the litter box and keeping them there while they train. Some veterinarians and cat breeders also recommend Dr. Elsey's Precious Cat Attract litter for grown-up cats that tend to urinate outside the litter box. In addition to Cat Attract, Dr. Elsey's has a variety of litters, each tailored to suit specific needs.Dr. Elsey's Precious Cat Ultra (*Est. $10 for 18 lbs.) also receives high praise from reviewers. While it is still a medium-grained litter, it is geared toward owners of multiple cats.