Cat litter is a notoriously messy substance, but it doesn’t have to be. Using a great non-tracking cat litter can prevent dust and litter granules from covering every inch of your living space. A clean home and litter box can keep you and your cat happy, and ultimately improve your all-important cat-human bond. On this list, we will show you our expert picks for the five best non-tracking cat litters on the market today.
To compile this list, we drew on our own experience as cat experts and gathered further information from:
- Nicole Van Andel, cat behaviorist
- Megan Tieber, small animal veterinarian
- Kate Benjamin, founder of Hauspanther and New York Times bestselling author
- Adelle Dubblestyne, Tuft + Paw Senior Product Manager
- Dozens of cat parents
- Hundreds of first hand online reviews
What is Non-Tracking Litter?
First, we should clarify that no cat litter is 100% non-tracking. The litters on this list are very low-tracking compared to others on the market. A low-tracking litter is one that is not easily carried out of the litter box by your cat, and therefore does not track all over your home.
How much a litter tracks depends on:
- Particle size — Larger particles are less likely to cling to your cat’s paws or get tangled in their fur. Large pellets tend to track less than sand-like litters.
- Particle weight — Heavier litter is less likely to stick to your cat’s paws. It also scatters less if your cat kicks it up.
- Particle texture — Smooth particles tend to track less than rough particles because they don’t cling to fur or paws.
- Dust content — Less dust = less tracking. Dust can coat your cat’s paws when it uses the litter box and be tracked around the house. It can also be kicked up when your cat digs or when you add or remove litter from the box, resulting in a thin coating of dust on surrounding surfaces.
It’s Not Just The Litter!
Litter tracking also depends on your individual cat. If your cat is a vigorous digger, then litter might end up everywhere no matter which brand of litter you purchase. Long-haired cats tend to track more than short-haired cats, and even the size and shape of a cat’s paws can play a role.
Other factors to consider are litter box location, litter box depth, and litter mats. Placing your cat’s litter box in a separate room from the main living areas can reduce tracking in the places you’ll see it most. Rooms downstairs or with a lip at the doorway provide an extra barrier to stray litter. Similarly, a high-walled litter box will prevent scatter. If you do get scatter, a textured litter mat under your cat’s litter box can catch it and stop it from being tracked.
Given the health and environmental concerns of clay litters, we decided to not include them on this list. Silica dust, a common ingredient in clay litter, is a known carcinogen when inhaled. Sodium bentonite, a powerful absorption agent in clumping clay litter, can swell in a cat’s digestive tract if eaten, causing digestion problems and even deadly blockages. From an environmental standpoint, clay is extracted using harmful strip mining techniques. This form of mining causes severe habitat destruction and can pollute water sources. Clay litter is also non-biodegradable.
Of course, this is just our opinion. Clay litter is affordable, widely available, and many cats prefer its earthy texture over other biodegradable or pellet litters. Litter type is a personal choice for each cat and cat parent. As veterinarian Megan Tieber says, “the best litter is the one your cat will use.”
Tracking and dust — How much litter and dust ends up outside the litter box, and how far from the litter box it can get. Our most important category for this list.
Scent — No artificially scented litters were included on this list. Unscented is always preferable. Scents natural to the litter material (ex. pine) are better than artificial scents, but still not ideal. Cats rely heavily on their sense of smell to interact with their surroundings, so strongly scented litter can be overwhelming to their sensitive snouts.
Cat-friendly texture — The softer the better. Cats generally prefer litter that is soft and fine over litter that is made of large, firm pellets.
Ease of cleaning — Clumping litter is usually easier to clean than non-clumping. Flushable litter is especially convenient, but always check if flushing cat litter is legal in your city.
Odor control — Controlling urine smell is the key here, because no litter can truly neutralize the smell of solid waste.
Non-toxic — No litters with harmful ingredients were included on this list.
Eco-friendly material — Biodegradable and sustainably harvested materials were preferred.
Price point — Along with the retail price, we also considered how quickly the litter is used up. Clumping litters usually last longer than non-clumping litters.
Weight/ease of handling — How easy the litter is to transport, pour, and handle. Lightweight litters and litters available in smaller containers are generally easier to handle.
Tuft + Paw Really Great Cat Litter
Price: $29 for 9.5 lbs (shipping included) = $3.05/lb
Disclaimer: Yes, we included our own cat litter here. This is only because we think it performs excellently as a non-tracking litter. We subjected it to the same scrutiny as every other litter on this list and asked for honest opinions from experts.
The Tuft + Paw Really Great Cat Litter is a pellet litter made from soybean fiber. We find this litter to be very low tracking and very low dust. The pellets are thinner, lighter, and softer than most other pellet litters. This gives it a cat-friendly texture without sacrificing the low-tracking benefit of pellets.
Really Great Cat Litter is unscented and its activated charcoal provides good odor control. It clumps quickly and dissolves in water, making it flushable and very easy to clean. The bag’s built-in handle helps with pouring and carrying the litter.
The main downside of Really Great Cat Litter is the price. At $29 for a 9.5lb bag, it is the most expensive litter on this list and may not be affordable for some cat parents. Households with multiple cats may want to opt for a cheaper alternative like pine pellet litter.
What Experts Say: According to our Senior Product Manager Adelle, cats unfamiliar with tofu litter may try to eat it upon first introduction. While Really Great Cat Litter is safe to ingest, it’s best to gradually incorporate it into your cat’s old litter to avoid this problem.
What Users Say: The minimal tracking and dust of Really Great Cat Litter was frequently praised by cat parents. Kate, founder of Hauspanther and user of Really Great Cat Litter, said the tracking was excellent, while the odor control and clumping were good but could be better. She liked that if the pellets did get outside the litter box, they were easier to sweep up than sand-like litters and didn’t leave dust residue.
World’s Best Original Clumping Cat Litter
Price: $29.95 for 28 lbs = 1.07/lb on Chewy
World’s Best Cat Litter is a granular litter made from compressed corn. Among non-pellet natural litters, we find that World’s Best is low tracking and fairly low dust. This litter could be a good option if your cat prefers the texture of small granules over pellets. However, those small granules are easily scattered if your cat loves digging. They could also track more if you have a long-haired cat.
World’s Best Cat Litter is unscented and has a neutral, earthy aroma. It has great clumping for a natural litter and does a good job of controlling urine odors. The fine granules coat solid waste very well, which makes scooping a less messy endeavor. Bonus points for being flushable! Overall, we think this is a solid option if you want to transition your cat from clay to natural litter.
What Experts Say: Veterinarian Megan Teiber frequently recommends World’s Best Cat Litter to her clients. Most cats really like the soft texture, and being clumping and flushable means it’s easier for owners to clean the litter box regularly—a win-win for every mammal involved.
What Users Say: Most online reviewers agree that World’s Best Cat Litter follows through on its low tracking promise, and that the flushability is a huge plus. Some reviewers don’t like the “barnyard” smell of the corn formula. Tony, one cat parent we talked to, has been using World’s Best for over two years and finds the tracking to be minimal. On the other hand, Kate has found that this litter breaks down too easily with her thirteen cats, leading to dust build up in the litter box.
Fresh News Cat Litter
Price: $14.99 for 25 lbs = $0.60/lb on Chewy
Fresh News is a pellet litter made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper. We think it performs very well in the tracking and dust department. The pellets are fairly large and have a smooth texture that prevents clinging to fur and paws. The dust content is so low that Fresh News is often used for cats with allergies or respiratory problems.
As a non-clumping litter, Fresh News is not as easy to clean as some others on this list. The baking-soda-infused pellets absorb liquid waste and have decent odor control, but will turn to mush if not scooped quickly. The pellets do not significantly dehydrate or coat solid waste. Picky cats may not like the texture of the larger pellets. A noteworthy benefit of this litter is that curious kittens and cats with eating disorders are unlikely to eat it.
What Experts Say: Veterinarian Megan Teiber recommends Fresh News for cats with allergies, respiratory issues, or a wound of any kind. The large dust-free pellets keep irritation to a minimum.
What Users Say: Many reviewers with allergic cats swear by this litter. However, a frequent complaint is that wet pellets break down quickly and do not noticeably change color. This makes it harder to identify and scoop out used pellets. Owners may have to fully change out the litter more often than they’d like.
Feline Pine Original Non-Clumping Cat Litter
Price: $17.03 for 40 lbs = 0.43/lb on Chewy
Feline Pine is a non-clumping pellet litter made from compressed pine sawdust. The pellets themselves track very little and are not dusty. However, when they absorb liquid waste they dissolve back into sawdust. Over time, this can lead to sawdust buildup in the litter box, which is more easily tracked than the unused pellets. We recommend pairing Feline Pine litter with a sifting litter box so that sawdust falls to the bottom and cannot be tracked around the house.
Feline Pine has a natural pine scent that controls odors well, but sensitive cats may not like the woody smell. Some cats might not like the paw feel of the large pellets, especially if transitioning from a finer litter.
Feline Pine’s biggest strength is its price. At only $0.43 per pound, it is the most affordable litter on this list. Thrifty cat parents can save even more money by buying generic equine bedding or pellets for wood burning stoves. Just make sure the pellets are kiln-dried—this process removes pine oils that are toxic to cats.
What Experts Say: Veterinarian Megan Teiber said that many of her patients have had success with Feline Pine and generic pine litters. On the other hand, cat behaviorist Nicole Van Andel suggested staying away from litters with over-sized pellets because they can be uncomfortable for small paws.
What Users Say: Most reviewers love how cost-effective pine litters are, and report great success with the pine pellet and sifting litter box combination. Most people also enjoy the fresh scent. If your cat doesn’t reject this type of litter, you can save a lot of money.
Purina Tidy Cats Original Breeze Litter System
Price: $42.98 on Chewy
The Tidy Cats Breeze System is an alternative to conventional cat litter that offers minimal tracking and virtually no dust. The smooth zeolite pellets are the least clingy of the litters on this list. The high walls and lipped edge of the Breeze litter box prevents scatter from all but the most enthusiastic diggers. If tracking and dust is your main concern, this system is a good option.
The Tidy Cats Breeze Litter System comes with a multi-piece sifting litter box, a bag of zeolite pellets, and four disposable pads. Liquid waste travels through the pellets and is absorbed underneath by the cat pad. This system provides great urine odor control, though the large pellets may make scooping solid waste more difficult. The pellets and pads are not biodegradable.
What Experts Say: Cat behaviorist Nicole Van Andel says this system may be uncomfortable for cats, and large cats may not have enough space in the original size litter box. An XL box is available for an extra $34.
What Users Say: Many reviewers were impressed by the Breeze System’s odor control. The tracking was also well received, but some reviewers found the zeolite pellets painful to step on, often comparing them to Lego pieces. A popular method is to use the Breeze litter box with cheaper pine pellets instead of the zeolite ones.
Conclusion: Your Cat Knows Best
All of the non-tracking litters we’ve listed here are great options that should satisfy both feline needs and human requirements for a clean home. However, it’s important to remember that your cat’s needs should always outweigh human convenience. If your cat doesn’t seem comfortable using a particular litter, it’s best to try a different one.
Overall, we think the Tuft + Paw Really Great Cat Litter and World’s Best Cat Litter provide the best all-around experience, but may not be ideal for every household. If your cat has allergies, then Fresh News is probably the way to go. If you can’t afford more expensive litters, Feline Pine is suitable for most cats and most budgets. We prefer the aforementioned litters over the Tidy Cats Breeze System because we think the Breeze System caters more to human wants than feline needs. Then again, if your cat likes it, it can be a great litter system! We’ll echo veterinarian Megan Tieber one last time: “the best litter is the one your cat will use.”