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Sharing your home with a cat is an amazing experience, but it does come with a few challenges when you have limited space and I’m not talking about the 3 AM zoomies.
I’m talking about the litter box struggles that some of us that live in small apartments can run into.
There are a lot of things that can make a litter box a welcoming place that goes unnoticed or a place of nightmares. Litter is definitely at the top of this list and finding the right kind that works for your kitty, and you are definitely a journey.
After some thorough research, my cats and I are ready to share with you our top kitty litters that are especially suitable for small apartments, but not only.
We’ll also take a moment to talk in-depth about the different types of litter out there, and what you need to consider before making the final purchase. Plus, I’ll share with you some tips on litter box maintenance.
But before we dive deeper into what makes a kitty litter good, if you just want to see which litters made our list you can check them out here:
- Best Overall: Dr. Elsey’s Premium Clumping Cat Litter
- Best Odor Control Cat Litter: Ever Clean Extra Strenght Unscented Clumping Clay Cat Litter
- Best Scented Cat Litter: Purina Yesterday’s News Odor Control Paper Cat Litter
- Best Non-Tracking Cat Litter: Dr. Elsey’s Clean Tracks Cat Litter
- Best Dust-Free Cat Litter: Arm & Hammer Cloud Control Platinum Clumping Cat Litter
- Best Clumping Cat Litter: Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal Platinum Clumping Cat Litter
- Best Non-Clumping Cat Litter: Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Unscented Non-Clumping Crystal Cat Litter
- Best Organic Cat Litter: ÖKOCAT Natural Wood Clumping Litter
- Best For Multiple Cats: World’s Best Cat Litter Multiple Cat Unscented
What Do You Need To Consider Before Buying Cat Litter?
Of course, there are certain boxes you want your litter boxes to tick, odor control is usually the priority for most cat parents, especially when you can’t keep it isolated in a spare room.
Another thing you need to consider is your cat’s litter preferences since they will determine whether a litter works for them or not. But before you do all that you also need to know what’s available on the cat litter market.
1. Clumping or Non-Clumping Litter
The first category in which you can split various litter types is whether they are clumping or non-clumping.
Clumping litter absorbs moisture and turns your cat’s pee into hard clumps that are usually easy to scoop out without the clumps scattering. With high-quality clumping litter, you will easily remove dirty litter and you can simply replenish it with fresh litter.
Some non-clumping litters usually work best at removing the cat urine odor, but on the other hand, it absorbs the moisture slowly and makes the daily cleaning process difficult. This type of litter usually ends up too saturated with urine and you’ll have to change the whole litter and clean the litter box at least once a week.
Clumping litter on the other hand requires daily scooping, and according to veterinarians “boxes containing clumping litter still need to be emptied, cleaned, and refilled with fresh litter at least once a month (based on a one cat home, or one cat litter box)”
While clumping litter seems the most obvious choice some cat owners go for the non-clumping because it’s usually more affordable, or because it’s what their cats prefer.
2. Scented vs Unscented Litter
Cat urine has an intense smell and if you don’t have a litter that’s designed to control cat pee odor effectively then the smell is going to get worse with time. With small spaces, you can imagine that the intensity will be even more overpowering.
But this smell doesn’t simply affect our wellbeing, it can also cause litter box avoidance in our cats. I mean you wouldn’t want to enter a toilet cubicle that is dirty or retains the odor no matter how many times a day it’s cleaned.
So, it’s understandable if you think that scented litter is what you need, but the Cornell Feline Health Center states that most cats prefer unscented litter. Instead of choosing a scented litter look for litter that eliminates odors instead of masking them with an intense perfume.
Cats are very sensitive when it comes to smell, 14 times more sensitive than us to be precise. This kind of fragrant smell could lead to more frustration and on top of that, they’ll still be able to detect their own urine.
This will most likely cause your kitty to avoid the litter box, exhibit excessive behaviors, or eliminate outside of it.
Some cat parents prefer food that reduces the smell of their poop to battle litter box smells. But before you make that transition, I think settling on the right odor-eliminating litter is more important and effective.
3. Common Types of Cat Litter Out There
Whether we’re talking about clumping or non-clumping litter these are usually made of traditional clay and bentonite clay. Clay litter is also the oldest type of cat litter and it’s extremely popular because it’s known to be very absorbing, it offers odor control and it usually is the most economical choice for cat parents.
Another common choice among cat owners is silica gel litter. The crystals are highly absorbent and help keep litter box smells under control. Since the silica gel litter usually doesn’t produce dust, it can be a great clay alternative for cat owners that live in small apartments.
Silica gel litter also lasts longer, depending of course on the individual cat and the number of cats. Some brands also have color-changing indicators in this type of litter to help monitor your cat’s urinary system health. But it’s also significantly more pricy than regular clay litter.
4. Eco-friendly Litter Choices
Clay and silica gel litters might be the most popular choice among some cat owners but there’s definitely a rise in more eco-friendly litters, that work just as well.
If you’re looking for a natural litter, with zero chemicals, that is absorbent and easy to scoop wood pellet litter is a great alternative. Pellets that are specifically used as cat litter are usually made from pine, but there are wood pellets are used as fuel that can work as litter.
Another eco-option is wheat which as you might have guessed made of processed wheat. Most wheat litters are clumping and the wheat where your kitty has just urinated will turn into a sawdust-like material that can be easily scooped out. Wheat offers odor control, and it usually is unscented.
An appealing cat litter to small apartments is natural walnut litter. It’s made of ground-up walnut shells and it’s highly absorbent since it clumps, it’s low-tracking, and low-dust.
There are other less popular natural alternative litters like corn litter, which has raised some concerns over mold growth and the production of a dangerous toxin called aflatoxins. Then we also have paper litter which is softer on a cat’s paws, but it usually isn’t clumping and doesn’t control odors.
5. Choose Biodegradable Litter
Being environmentally conscious is the least we can do to help protect our planet, and it seems that many cat litter companies have realized that they also need to make changes.
Not all cat litter types are biodegradable and flushable, specifically clay and silica gel cat litters, which can be dangerous if exposed to the environment.
That’s why in your search for kitty litter you can look for brands that clearly state that they are biodegradable. They’re usually made of recycled paper, plant-derived materials like pine, wheat, beet pulp, corn, and soybean. So, when they are buried in landfills, they will be able to degrade.
Flushable litter is also a great option for small apartments because you don’t have to leave smelly bags of your cat’s scooped litter in your trash. That being said, flushing cat litter can be dangerous.
If you’re not confident about your pipes then no matter how flushable the litter is it could clog them, and possibly pollute the water supply of your house. Flushing outdoor cat waste can also spread diseases, such as toxoplasmosis.
Biodegradable litter might also be a good choice for cats that suffer from pica, the act of eating non-food items, since ingesting clay or silica litter in large quantities is much more toxic than natural litter.
Best Cat Litter For Small Apartments
Now that you know what you can expect from your cat litter, it’s time to look at our top picks.
We made sure to include cat litters made of various materials, that your kitty might appreciate and most importantly the type of litter that is suitable for small spaces.
Let’s dive in!
1. Best Overall: Dr. Elsey’s Premium Clumping Cat Litter
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The reason Dr. Elsey’s is our number one choice for your cat’s litter and for your small apartment, it’s because it ticks all the boxes.
Let’s start with odor control.
Not only does the litter formula keeps the box fresh and clean, but it also doesn’t have a scent of its own which many cats can’t stand. This litter is also designed for a multi-cat household which means that it has better odor control than the average litter.
Dust can trigger allergies and respiratory issues both in cats and their human. So, Dr. Elsey’s hypoallergenic and durst-free formula is perfectly suitable for smaller apartments.
It can be very annoying finding small litter particles across your house, and you end up not only scooping your cat’s litter but also sweeping the floors. In this case, you don’t have to worry about tracking since the litter consists of medium grain clay.
Finally, cleaning the litter box out is another thing that can be more tedious when you don’t have enough space. With this litter, you don’t have to be afraid that the hard clump on the shovel will end up falling apart, making a mess out of your floor and the rest of the litter.
You might think that these are the usual promises a litter company makes, but Dr. Elsey’s is truly a fantastic company that cares about its products and its feline customers.
Aside from the litter, at the back of the litter bag you’ll find helpful tips on how to use this particular product, and cat litter care tips that will help you make the best out of this litter!
You can read more reviews and check today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
What I Love About It: Thanks to the natural herbal attractant this litter is great for training kittens, but also cats that keep eliminating outside of the litter box, which can be a major problem especially when you live in a small apartment.
What I Wish It Had: The price might not be for everyone, and while their Dr. Elsey’s Classic formula is more affordable, they still might not suit every cat parent.
2. Best Odor Control Cat Litter: Ever Clean Extra Strenght Unscented Clumping Clay Cat LitterBuy On Chewy
- Product size options: 25 Lb (11.3 Kg) – 42 Lb (19 Kg) divided into 4 Packs of 10.5 Lb (4.7 Kg)
- The formula is made with a blend of pure, natural minerals and clays.
- Can be used with automatic litter boxes.
I’ve tried a number of litter brands the past few years and the Ever Clean litter is definitely one that has worked best for me and my cats.
Living in various small apartments smell was always my biggest issue, even though I did clean my cats’ litter boxes twice a day. However, with Ever Clean odors are no longer something I have to think about.
The company says that it mixes activated carbon with the litter granules to eliminate odors, but I think they use magic!
Another thing I do need to praise them for is the clumping formula. Scooping is so easy with this litter, your cat’s urine literally turns into one solid rock keeping the rest of the litter clean. So, it comes as no surprise that Ever Clean is the first U.S. company to produce clumping litter.
You can read more reviews and see today’s price on Chewy by clicking here.
What I Love About It: A great perk is the fact that this Ever Clean litter comes in a pack of 4. This makes it easy to move each individual box around a small space, especially for older cat parents or people with mobility issues.
What I Wish It Had: Even from personal experience I can say that the fine granules track and can scatter around the litter box.
3. Best Scented Cat Litter: Purina Yesterday’s News Odor Control Paper Cat Litter
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It’s true that scented litter is not for every kitty out there, but there are cats that are not too picky. Instead of adding another clay litter into this list, especially one that is heavily scented, I thought that this eco-friendly alternative deserves a spot here.
While the company offers an unscented version of this product plenty of reviewers pointed out that the scented version is mild and helps with odor control better. That’s why if you keep your cat’s litter in your living room or a room that has limited space and insufficient ventilation then try the scented version first.
While some did mention that Yesterday’s News doesn’t offer enough odor control, many people pointed out, that any litter will smell if it doesn’t get cleaned regularly.
I truly think this is a great alternative to clay litter because you won’t have to worry about dust, which can make your whole house feel stuffy. You also have limited tracking with this product, so no more sweeping and scooping at the same time!
Most litter can also be harsh on your cat’s paws but Yesterday’s News is much softer. This can be especially helpful to kittens that are using the litter for the first time or older cats that have mobility issues.
You can read all the reviews and see today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
What I Love About It: Aside from the fact that this litter is non-toxic, the best feature is how absorbent it is compared to clay litter.
What I Wish It Had: It would be more convenient if the company made the litter a lighter color. This litter is quite dark which can make it difficult to find your cat’s poop.
4. Best Non-Tracking Cat Litter: Dr. Elsey’s Clean Tracks Cat Litter
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Litter that ends up scattered on the floor or stuck to your cat’s paws is not something a cat parent would want for many reasons. Firstly, you don’t want your cat to end up consuming any litter while they clean their paws, and secondly, you don’t want to constantly clean your floors.
With limited space, you also don’t want to move your furniture around to collect the pebbles that have rolled beneath them. That’s why Dr. Elsey’s litter is once again here to help you keep your house track-free.
This is especially great for pet parents that have long-haired cats like the Maine Coon or Norwegian Forest Cat. This formula will keep your cat’s fluffy paws spotless!
Aside from its main promise to eliminate tracking, the medium grain clay is hard enough to create solid clumps that you can remove without any accidents and it’s gentle on your cat’s feet.
All in all, Dr. Elsey’s is a well-rounded product that’s designed and produced in the USA, with your feline companion in mind, as well as your floors!
You can read more reviews and see today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
What I Love About It: Tracking is usually amplified when you have more than one cat, so it’s nice that this formula is also suitable for multi-cat households.
What I Wish It Had: The package is quite heavy and a few customers wished there were more options when it comes to size.
5. Best Dust-Free Cat Litter: Arm & Hammer Cloud Control Platinum Clumping Cat Litter
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Whether your cat is a heavy digger or not low-quality clay litter can fill your small apartment with dust.
If you’re tired of breathing in dust and airborne dander that ends up in the air after scooping then I really recommend you gave Arm & Hammer Cloud Control a go.
I almost placed this litter formula in the “best clumping cat litter” category because it will turn your cat’s pee into clumps of steel. But this litter is specifically designed to keep your air dust-free as well as fresh with the ultimate odor control technology.
The cloud control Arm & Hammer is great for pet owners that have respiratory issues, and it makes sharing your small apartment with a cat so much more pleasant, especially if you have to keep their litter box in areas like the living room or your bedroom.
You can read more reviews and see the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.
What I Love About It: With regular scooping and refilling, this litter can last up to a month.
What I Wish It Had: The box is quite heavy, and the company doesn’t offer various box size alternatives.
6. Best Clumping Cat Litter: Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal Platinum Clumping Cat Litter
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Arm & Hammer are extremely efficient at creating litter that is highly absorbent and most importantly it turns into a solid mass that simply won’t fall apart.
That’s why I had to add this clumping litter on steroids on my list because it will keep your cat’s litter box clean for longer. If cleaned regularly the urine won’t end up sticking to the sides or the bottom of the box.
Whether a cat litter will actually clump the pee or not is a deal-breaker for me, and if you feel the same way I think you could give Arm & Hammer a try.
This formula is also suitable for a multi-cat house, and it’s forgiving if you end up missing a day of scooping.
You can read more about this litter and check out today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
What I Love About It: Definitely offers complete odor control even if your kitty is too old to cover their business.
What I Wish It Had: Unlike the Cloud Control version this litter can produce some dust and tracking.
7. Best Non-Clumping Cat Litter: Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Unscented Non-Clumping Crystal Cat Litter
Buy On Chewy
- Product size: 8 Lb (3.6 Kg)
- Hypoallergenic and non-toxic.
- Once it gets in contact with your cat’s urine it traps it and the odor inside the crystals.
I do love clumping litter, because of how easy it is to clean, but not every kitty will like what we like. Some cats don’t even like the most common type of litter which is made of clay.
That’s why I thought to add Dr. Elsey’s crystal non-clumping litter, which is specifically designed for senior cats but can be used for any kitty really.
How does this crystal litter work?
Unlike clumping litter that turns urine into a solid mass, you only need to remove your cat’s poop. Once you’ve done that you can rake the crystals around to keep them fresh, or use an automatic litter box to rake them for you.
Depending on your cat’s litter use and how many cats you have you’ll probably need to completely throw away the crystal litter every two weeks.
This might seem strange to some, but this can be a great choice for cats that can’t cover their urine. After each use, Dr. Elsey’s crystal litter becomes lightly wet, non-sticky, and soft to the cat’s paws, to avoid tracking.
You can read more reviews and see the best price on Chewy by clicking here.
What I Love About It: According to Dr. Elsey’s crystal litter, it helps prevent urinary infections and kidney failure:
“The litter grows no bacteria and it does not stick to the coat of the cat. By using this litter, the cat is able to keep their genitals cleaner which in turn will decrease urinary tract infections and lower their risk of kidney failure.”
What I Wish It Had: Some of the reviews complain about the fine dust this litter creates.
8. Best Organic Cat Litter: ÖKOCAT Natural Wood Clumping Litter
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I truly believe that this is the holy grail of natural and eco-friendly litters out there. Not only is this litter produced out of upcycled wood fiber, making it a sustainable choice, but it’s also toxic-free with no chemicals or dyes and GMOs.
The Okocat wood litter helps fight unpleasant smells, and it can last longer with regular scooping. According to a review by Nikko’s person, they’ve gone 4-5 days without scooping while traveling and the odor wasn’t overpowering.
What’s great about wood litter is the fact that the product is lightweight which makes the whole cleaning process and emptying the box in a small apartment super fast and easy, especially for owners with mobility issues.
If you’ve been using clay litter with your kitty and want to transition make sure to do it slowly. Place a temporary litter box with the Okocat wood litter next to their old litter, or mix the two for a few days until they get familiar with the new litter.
Finally, another great thing about this wood litter is that it’s mostly dust-free. This is great for those of you who live in small apartments that don’t have enough ventilation.
You can read more reviews and see today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
What I Love About It: That unlike some natural litter brands out there this one is a clumping litter that is easy to scoop and clean.
What I Wish It Had: While the tracking might not be intense, the large particles left behind by your cat or during digging can be painful to bare feet.
9. Best For Multiple Cats: World’s Best Cat Litter Multiple Cat Unscented
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Last but not least is the World’s Best Multiple Cat litter and the name truly does them justice!
I think that in this list you’ll find many litter brands that are also suitable for a multi-cat household so this is a great opportunity to include a natural litter here, that can work for many cats living in a small apartment.
While there is a scented version of the same litter, the unscented option is still great at keeping your cat’s litter box from smelling. It might smell like wet cardboard or corn up close, but once it’s dry there shouldn’t be any lingering odors.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that an unscooped litter box won’t smell if it’s left like that for too long.
Tracking with this litter can be an issue, but by placing a washable rug or a specialized cat litter mat you can keep it under control. As for your cat’s paws, corn is a natural substance so even during grooming it should be less dangerous than clay litter.
While this is a flushable litter it’s important to remember that it can be dangerous to flush your cat’s business down the drain, especially their poop and especially if they’re allowed outdoors.
What I Love About It: Depending on the number of kitties you have this cat litter can last up to two months for two cats, which is pretty incredible!
What I Wish It Had: While this is not the product’s fault, make sure you store this litter in a dry safe place, if possible away from the shed, or the garage since various critters can be attracted to it.
Why Buying A Good Cat Litter Isn’t Enough
The enjoyment that you’ll feel when you finally discover the litter that works for your kitty, and that’s suitable for your small apartment won’t last if the litter box is not properly maintained. A high-quality litter can do so much before it stops doing what it’s supposed to be doing under the right conditions.
So, let’s take a look at the ways you can make the most out of your perfect litter!
Consider The Litter Box
To ensure the proper use of your cat’s litter make sure that your cat also feels comfortable with their litter box. Keeping it in a private area is a great way to give them a sense of privacy, but if your apartment is too small then consider getting an enclosed litter box or a litter box enclosure. You can learn more about our favorite litter boxes for small apartments and studios here.
The size of the litter box will also determine how well your kitty can fit inside, but also whether you have the appropriate amount of litter inside. This of course can depend on your cat’s preference, but too much litter can end up scattered around and too little will cause the clumping litter to stick to the sides.
If you have two cats sharing a litter box then not only will this lead to territorial aggression, but the litter itself will get dirty faster, and will require your regular attention.
The RSPCA recommends that there should be one litter box, plus one extra per cat. If you have two cats, then definitely consider having at least two available litter boxes in different areas. But if your apartment doesn’t have any space for two litter boxes then choose litter specifically designed for multiple cats and make sure the litter box is cleaned regularly.
Finally, choose a litter box that is made of 100% stainless steel, or hard smooth plastic that will keep the litter from sticking to its surface. No matter how good your litter is, a poor-quality plastic litter box will absorb the bad smells and you might end up blaming the litter.
Keeping The Litter Box Clean
Good litter and a good litter box are still not enough to keep your small apartment from smelling if you don’t keep up with your cat’s toilet hygiene.
Daily scooping is important and even research suggests that regular litter box cleaning promotes proper litter box use.
As the cat lord himself will tell you, paying attention to your cat’s litter box behavior can save you from unwanted elimination!
The RSPCA also states that cleaning out the whole litterbox and replacing the old litter with a new one should be something that happens at least once a week or a month, depending on your day-to-day scooping and the litter brand instructions.
Clumping litters are usually best for preventing litter from sticking to the side and other mess-making problems. But you might want to look into a different type of litter if you’re using an automatic litter box.
While we’re on the subject of automatic litter boxes, this is definitely a great way to keep your litter fresh and your small apartment smell-free for longer, especially when your day-to-day life is too demanding!
since small spaces are more prone to getting clammy and suffocating proper ventilation is one more thing that can reduce smells, the dust created by the litter, and help maintain the feeling of freshness.
This can be achieved through the carbon filters in your litter box, and the location of the litter box in your apartment. Good air circulation can be achieved if you place your litter box in a room with a window, preferably next to it, so you can open it occasionally.
I’ve lived in a tiny apartment where the only place I could fit the two litter boxes was in a windowless bathroom. Luckily the bathroom had an exhaust fan that I could switch on and off whenever I wanted. This helped keep the room from smelling, especially after my kitty had just used his litter box.
If you don’t have this type of installation, you could install a fan next to the litter box and live the door of the room open to promote air circulation. Of course, you should also scoop the fresh cat business before turning on the fan because you don’t want the smelly air to be circulating across the whole house.
I would also like to add that while cat urine and poop do smell if you find the odor unbearable then perhaps this could be a symptom of some health issue. If that’s the case, a trip to the vet can easily dispel such worries, or it could help your kitty get an early diagnosis.
Having two cat roommates is a blessing but sharing this companionship in a small apartment can present a set of challenges.
You have to make sure they have their special hiding places, their toys and cat trees, as well as their food and water corner, and of all those things a litter box, let alone two litter boxes, are the most difficult thing to fit seamlessly.
I definitely don’t mind the look of a litter box, after all, I’m not trying to hide the fact that I have cats, but it’s the odor that I constantly found myself battling with. That’s until I found the litter that worked for me. So, getting a high-quality litter that your cat loves and works for your small apartment is a game-changer and a worthy investment!
Have you ever had issues with a smelly litter box and what litter made that problem go away?