We tested 19 eco-friendly cat litter products from a variety of brands to evaluate odor masking, dust production, tracking, clumping, liquid absorption, ease of use, and—most importantly—whether or not our cats and kittens liked it.
All of the cat litters we tested had earth-friendly features, such as biodegradability and sustainable sourcing of ingredients—to help you, the cat parent, reduce the amount of waste generated from cleaning up after your cat.
After months of real-world testing, our overall favorite is Ökocat Original Premium Clumping Wood Cat Litter which is made from sustainably sourced wood fiber, completely free of artificial dyes, fragrances, synthetic chemicals, and GMOs. Plus it has a crumbly texture cats love because it's easy to dig around in it.
Ökocat Original Low Dust Natural Wood Clumping Cat Litter
Produces minimal dust
Made from sustainably sourced rescued wood fiber
Completely free of artificial dyes, fragrances, synthetic chemicals, and GMOs
Litter particles are large and may require a scoop with wider slots
Ökocat Original Natural Wood Clumping Cat Litter controls odor, clumps together for scooping, and has a crumbly texture that appeals to most cats. This plant-based cat litter is biodegradable and made from sustainably sourced wood fiber giving it a faint woodsy scent reminiscent of being outside in nature.
For use in a littler box, the wood fiber is cut into small pieces so a cat can kick through it to cover their waste. It is naturally odor-absorbing with the power of enzymes—microscopic organisms functioning as catalysts for chemical reactions—to break down matter, such as ammonia and odor-causing bacteria found in cat pee and poop.
When scooping, the clumps stay firmly together for disposal in the trash where the litter will eventually begin to disintegrate. The particles of this litter are bigger than traditional sand-like cat litter, so you may find that the pieces don’t fall through the slots of your scoop as easily.
The formula is low-dust with a very minimal amount emitted when pouring from the cardboard box, which is conveniently equipped with a handle and spout. It’s completely free of artificial dyes, fragrances, synthetic chemicals, and genetically modified organisms.
It’s a reliable litter that can withstand a longer duration in a litter box before it needs to be fully cleaned out, up to seven weeks for some with daily scooping. It’s also suitable for use in a home with more than one cat.
Price at time of publish: $20 for 13.2 pounds
Litter Type: Wood crumbles | Multi-Cat: Yes | Container: Box with handle | Sizes: 9.9, 13.2, 19.8 pounds
Tuft & Paw Really Great Cat Litter
Minimizes odors from cat waste
Resealable bag is easy to pour
Pellets disintegrate in water, expand with pee, and do not stick to poop
Only available with a monthly subscription
Cats set in their litter ways might not accept the smell and texture
Tiny, odor-absorbing pellets made from soybean byproducts are found in each resealable bag of Tuft and Paw Really Great Cat Litter. Unlike traditional clay litter with a sand-like consistency, this litter doesn't cover solid waste so most cats need a few days to get used to the change in texture in their litter box.
The eco-friendly litter is only available with a monthly subscription through the Tuft and Paw website, and depending on the number of cats in your home, a monthly supply will consist of one to three easy-to-pour bags. If after a month you and your kitty mutually decide the litter is not a fit for your home, the subscription is easy to cancel.
The litter produces no dust but did cause slight tracking around the litter box area in our real-world testing. The fragrance-free pellets clump together with urine, and they can also be fully dissolved in water, so flushing this litter is an option. You should always refer to your local ordinance when it comes to flushing pet waste, and pee clumps made with this litter need to be broken into smaller pieces before going down the toilet.
Price at time of publish: $29 for 9.5 pounds
Litter Type: Soybean byproduct pellets | Multi-Cat: Yes | Container: Resealable bag | Sizes: 9.5 pounds
Best Natural Clay
Purina Tidy Cats Naturally Strong Unscented Cat Litter
Activated charcoal successfully controls odors
Fragrance-free and no dust
Easy to pour from box
Slight tracking around the litter box area
Clumps located on the sides of a litter box tend to be more difficult to scoop
Purina Tidy Cats Naturally Strong Unscented Cat Litter is made with natural clay and non-toxic activated charcoal to absorb odor-causing bacteria. The fragrance-free litter produces no dust when poured or while cleaning, so it’s suitable for use in homes where respiratory issues are a concern.
The particles of this litter bond together with moisture to form clumps. We found it necessary to scoop each clump more than once because they tend to fall apart, but there was no detectable stench. This natural litter absorbs odors, so it can be used in a litter box that services more than one cat, and has a kickable consistency most cats are familiar with. We experienced minimal tracking and it was within the bounds of the litter box area.
Price at time of publish: $23 for 35 pounds
Litter Type: Natural clay | Multi-Cat: Yes | Container: Box with handle | Sizes:20, 35 pounds
Best Clay Alternative
Frisco Natural Unscented Clumping Grass Cat Litter
Made from grass with no added chemicals, dyes, or fragrances
Clumps together for easy scooping
Dust-free and odor absorbing
Limited retailer availability
Frisco Natural Unscented Clumping Grass Cat Litter is completely free of added chemicals, dyes, and fragrances. The dust-free formula has a crumble consistency, which cats accustomed to clay seem to prefer over pellets.
It’s made from grass and manufactured in the United States. The litter is lightweight and easy for eats to kick around, so tracking around the litter box is likely. However, the soft-to-the-touch litter does not easily adhere to paws so the mess stays within the bounds of where your cat freshes up. Upon contact with cat urine, the litter clumps together making it easy to scoop and extending the duration of time between full litter box cleanouts. The litter is only available at Chewy and should be disposed of properly in the trash, never flushed.
Price at time of publish: $28 for 20 pounds
Litter Type: Grass | Multi-Cat: Yes | Container: Resealable bag | Sizes: 20 pounds
ExquisiCat Naturals Multi Cat Paper Pellet Cat Litter
Made from post-consumer recycled paper
Fully masks odors including the scent of cat urine
Dust-free and minimal tracking
Limited retailer availability
Contains zeolite, a natural mineral composed of silicon and aluminum, that is not biodegradable
ExquisiCat Naturals Multi-Cat Paper Pellet Cat Litter is made from post-consumer recycled paper. The non-clumping litter is dust free and packaged in a convenient resealable bag.
The non-clumping formula is highly absorbent when it comes in contact with moisture, helping to keep the space dry and odor free, so it’s suitable for use in a home with multiple cats. The litter also contains baking soda to combat bacteria growth, and zeolite, a natural mineral used for odor control composed of silicon and aluminum. Zeolite is approved for use by the FDA, but it is not biodegradable, and depending on your needs might consist of ingredients you prefer to avoid.
Price at time of publish: $20 for 25 pounds
Litter Type: Paper pellets | Multi-Cat: Yes | Container: Resealable bag | Sizes: 12, 25 pounds
sWheat Scoop Multi-Cat Natural Cat Litter
Biodegradable and flushable (it is illegal for California residents to flush pet waste)
Free of dyes, perfumes, and chemicals
Very low dust
Neutralizes odors with enzymes
Tracking likely, but minimal
Some cats will need time to adjust to this litter
The primary ingredient in sWheat Scoop Multi-Cat Natural Litter is reliably sourced wheat from farms in the United States. It’s completely free of dyes, perfumes, and manmade chemicals, but the litter produces some dust and minimal tracking is likely for most cats.
Made from natural starches, this pellet-shaped litter clumps together with liquid and contains enzymes that control odor-causing bacteria. It is biodegradable, so the used litter will eventually begin to break down after disposal. If you live in a community that allows pet waste to be flushed in a toilet, the clumps made from cat pee with this wheat-based litter can be broken into smaller pieces to be sent down the drain.
Price at time of publish: $44 for 36 pounds
Litter Type: Wheat pellets | Multi-Cat: Yes | Container: Resealable bag | Sizes: 12, 25, 36 pounds
How We Tested
We researched and purchased 19 eco-friendly cat litter products for real-world testing in homes with cats and kittens. Each product was sent to a volunteer's home, along with a written methodology that guided them through long-term testing.
Testers documented their cats' and their own initial impressions of the litter assigned to their home. For several months, testers evaluated their designated cat litter taking note of the manufacturer's claims on features such as odor absorption, clumping, no dust, and low tracking. Finally, our testers observed how effective the litter was at helping keep their cat's bathroom tidy and ready for the next visit.
After reviewing feedback paired with numerical scores across different categories, we categorized and ranked our selections.
What To Look for in Eco-Friendly Cat Litter
Many eco-friendly cat litter products are plant-based and made with one of these starches: corn, wheat, paper, wood, or soybean. The natural formulation, free of dyes, fragrances, and manmade chemicals, means that some of these products are biodegradable. In many cases, odor masking, which is essential for keeping your cat’s litter box ready for use, is a function of naturally occurring enzymes, baking soda, or activated charcoal.
All the selections on our list produce little to no dust. Traditional cat litter produces a cloud of dust when pouring which can aggravate respiratory issues and allergies.
Granules of litter can get stuck in a cat’s paw pads (kind of like having toilet paper stuck to your shoe–how embarrassing!) Most of it comes off around the litter box area, which is easy to sweep up. There are a few litters that don't track at all, but none of the selections on our list should lead to tracking throughout your home.
Odor-Masking and Fragrance
All of the eco-friendly cat litter on our list is fragrance-free. A fragrance is often added to cat litter to help it appeal to humans, not cats. The fragrance, which typically makes litter smell like laundry detergent, is produced via manmade chemicals. On the other hand, odor masking and absorption are beneficial for both felines and people. It keeps the litter box ready for use and it keeps the stench of poop and pee away from everyone’s nose.
Transitioning to Eco-Friendly Cat Litter
If your cat is accustomed to a certain type of litter, they may find a new texture or scent off-putting. As you would do with new food, we recommend a gradual transition to your new, eco-friendly litter. For example, start with 2/3 of the familiar cat litter and 1/3 of your new litter. Over time as you scoop and clean out the litter box, continue to add more of the new litter until your cat box has fully transitioned. This recommendation might impact aspects such as clumping, so defer to your new litter for guidance.
Disposal of Cat Litter
The majority of used cat litter should be placed in a trash bag and thrown away. There are some cat litter products that can be flushed, such as Tuft and Paw Really Great Cat Litter and sWheat Scoop Multi-Cat Natural Clumping Litter. If you live in a community that allows pet waste to be flushed down a toilet, the clumps must first be broken into smaller pieces. Always check with your local ordinances before flushing cat litter.
What makes cat litter environmentally friendly?
Terms related to being environmentally friendly, such as “green” and “eco-friendly” are not regulated so it’s always important to check the ingredients of the cat litter you choose.
Many co-friendly cat litter products are made with sustainably sourced ingredients, like recycled paper, renewable grains, and soybean byproducts. They often last longer which helps cut down on the amount of waste generated monthly with each litter box cleanout. Many are also biodegradable so they will eventually begin to decompose.
What is the most environmentally friendly way to dispose of cat waste?
Selecting a cat litter that is biodegradable is an effective way to reduce your impact on the environment because the litter will eventually decompose. Most waste management facilities in the United States, including compost locations, have ordinances in place for the proper disposal of pet waste, so that should also factor into how you dispose of your soiled cat litter.
What makes cat litter biodegradable?
Cat litter made out of organic material, such as wood or wheat, with minimal processing will eventually return to nature.
Why Trust The Spruce Pets
This story was written by Anna Mejorada, a writer for The Spruce Pets, who shares her home with a happy pomeranian named Gidget. Before researching and writing about pet products for a living, Anna embarked on a self-mandated, ongoing quest to find the optimal items for her dog. She is now delightfully devoted to helping humans discover and select the most favorable products for their pets.