The Best Odor Eliminating Cat Litter USA

I am writing about the best odor eliminating litter in the USA because at the moment (August 2012) there is an ongoing dispute between litter manufacturers on this very subject. I’ll briefly describe that dispute which is proceeding through the civil courts of San Francisco. It concerns Fresh Steps cat litter that uses carbon as an odor killer. The manufacturers, Clorox Co. claim it is better than other litters for odor control and better than a competitor’s litter that uses baking soda: Arm & Hammer Super Scoop manufactured by Church & Dwight Co Inc..

It’s Fresh Steps-vs-Super Scoop, Clorox-vs-Arm & Hammer. The businesses have settled their dispute but the customers are complaining! They say that their cats could not decide for themselves that Fresh Steps was better as claimed by Clorox. The litigation is proceeding and it has been parred down to being about whether carbon is better than baking soda for odor control. When it is put into those words it makes you think if we are losing sight of the real issues in life.

Covered cat litter box

Covered cat litter box.

Using Cat Litter

It is worth mentioning that when writing about the best odor control litter you have to discuss how the litter is used in practice. If the litter is cleaned soon after use there will be almost no odor from the litter box. On the other hand, if the litter tray is not cleaned for several days or more, no matter how good the litter is in suppressing odor, you’ll get odor emanating from it. That is common sense but it does affect reviews and assessments by individuals.

I used to use wood chip litter and scooped it daily. It was non-clumping but because I did it for 20 odd years I got very good at it. I could clean the tray, effectively, in about 60 seconds. This made daily cleaning easy and there was never any discernible odor. The best way to eliminate odor is to scoop the litter tray very frequently and to clean the whole device from time to time. Also I used a litter tray with a hood over it and a filter on top. It had a door at the front (a cat flap/door) but that fell off and I left it off. I think the cover helped suppress litter odor. The size of the litter tray should be correct too.

Cats using litter box

Cats using litter box – Photo by selena lynn (Flickr)

As I have personal experience of the efficacy of wood litter in respect of odor elimination, I would recommend it to Americans who have experienced cat litter odor problems provided they employ daily scooping schedules. After a bit of practice it is not difficult to remove the used portion of wood cat litter despite it not being clumping litter. I used to remove only the used bit. Although, as I understand it, most people put a small amount of litter in the tray and then remove all of it after use.

I believe that my method is preferable because you can place about an inch deep layer of wood pellet litter in the tray. This results in all the urine being being fully absorbed as it flows towards the base of the tray. If you place a thin layer in the tray with the intention of removing all of it after use, there is a risk that some urine will remain unabsorbed, or not fully absorbed, leading to odors.

On Yahoo Answers, a lady says that the odor from her cat litter is unbearable. She asks for advice about the best cat litter. She has three cats and one litter box. She scoops daily and cleans the whole box/tray once per week. My advice to her would be to use three litter boxes and wood chip litter and thoroughly scoop daily or after the cat has used the litter. I’d guarantee she would have no odor. Her major problem is one litter tray for three cats. I know people who do that (or even for four cats) but I disagree with it and studies have concluded that it can cause stress in individual cats living in a group of cats as there may be competition for use of the litter tray.

Wood compared to Clumping Clay

In respect of odor elimination I would choose wood. These are my reasons. Wood pellets are separated. They are non-clumping. This allows for better absorption. Clay clumping litter results in the clump becoming quite wet. This means that some urine is not absorbed. There appears to be a trade off: ease of removal versus poorer absorption. Trays that contain clay clumping litter become more stained due to unabsorbed urine. These are my experiences. Obviously there are a variety of clay litters with some being better than others so other users might not have had the same experiences. Also there are corn based clumping litters that may avoid this problem.

Personal Choice

Because there is no conclusive survey (see below) on cat litters, ultimately it will come down to personal choice. As a result people will tend to disagree with findings and surveys.


Find some additional ways to help eliminate odor. One person recommends clipping Fridge-It carbon absorbers to the side of a covered litter tray (see Amazon advert above right).


I cannot find a study that reaches a definitive and scientific conclusion as to the best odor control litter at August 2012. Wouldn’t that have been nice? We have to rely on fragmented customer reviews etc. My assessment is confirmed by the website, who say the last full-blown cat litter study was in 1990 and it was about cats’ preferences. recommend several cat litters in general (they don’t focus on odor control) but one seems to come out on top by a small margin, Feline Pine (see Amazon advert).

On the Petsmart website, Fresh Steps achieves a 4.5 out of 5 rating from (839 reviews). In practice that is about as good as you can get. However, customer reviews are suspect. Many are at least potentially planted there by agencies etc.

Feline Pine gets a 4.5 out of 5 from 81 reviews on Amazon, so very similar. The Tidy Cats Breeze Litter Box System gets a better review at 4.5 out of 5 from almost 1000 reviews. The system uses had clay pellets.

In respect of the Yahoo Answers story above, the answers recommended Arm & Hammer (and their super scoop product) plus Arm & Hammer litter deodorizer.

The website does not recommend a litter, which surprises me.


My personal choice, if I was living in America, would be Feline Pine or similar product as the best odor eliminating cat litter. Daily scooping is essential. There is no single product that stands head and shoulders above the rest. Our resident American chief cat litter tester, Ruth (Monty’s Mom) uses World’s Best Cat Litter. It is corn based and it clumps. I would seriously consider doing what Ruth does. Although it is worth mentioning that she uses it for what she considers to be its generally superior properties. I don’t know how good it is for odor elimination.

Facebook Discussion


The Best Odor Eliminating Cat Litter USA — 5 Comments

  1. When we learned to do cranial nerve testing in Neurology for Physical Therapist Assistants, they taught us the test for the Olfactory Nerve. You blind fold the patient and hold different scents under his nose and he identifies them. Right away I thought, “Wait, I can’t do this, because I need to know the context to know what I’m smelling.” I never realized that before. And sure enough, I couldn’t tell peanut butter, from citrus, from vanilla, from coffee. I could tell if the sample was under my nose, but I couldn’t tell what it was. I have a sense of smell, so technically it’s not anosmia, which would be no sense of smell at all. But it’s so faint that usually I don’t notice smells, but if someone else does and mentions it then I can smell it too. It’s like my brain must fill in the gaps for me. Once my husband and I drove by a dead animal and at that moment I smelled something, so my brain said, “Skunk” and wow, did it ever smell like skunk. Actually, we had just driven by a pizza restaurant and the smell was garlic. But I didn’t know that, I just knew there was a smell, and as soon as I thought I knew what it was, it became that.
    I live in fear of a gas leak since I either won’t smell it at all, or I’ll think it’s something different. We did have a gas leak from the meter outside and my husband could smell it on our side of the basement. Who knows how long it was like that. Luckily he went down there, or it could have been serious. The gas company sent somebody out immediately. And when we had a partial back up in the main sewer line down there, I was not aware of it until I actually saw a puddle forming over the drain. My sister said that she thought our basement was smelling like an outhouse for awhile. I thought it was musty clothes smell from a laundry pile, so I was just constantly trying to catch up on laundry, thinking that would solve the problem. I never perceived it as a sewage odor.
    I treat my allergies and I take a decongestant every day, so it’s not like I’m stuffed up. People say food tastes different when you have a head cold, but it tastes exactly the same to me.
    Recently I’ve started taking tryptophan to increase serotonin, since it’s a natural building block of serotonin. One day about a month ago I suddenly had a sense of smell. I smelled the gas (petrol) when I was filling up the car. It was really odd, almost intrusive. I also smelled that my yogurt at breakfast was bad. I normally would not have noticed that by the smell alone, since I expected it to be ok, but sure enough, it was past the expiration date on the container.
    So now I’m wondering if chemically there is a connection to low levels of serotonin and a poor sense of smell. I know smells can cause an emotional connection that might raise serotonin levels, but do we require it to be able to have a sense of smell? Do depressed people have a lower sense of smell? But then why wouldn’t it be consistently better since I’ve been taking the tryptophan? I only had the weird “I suddenly can smell” experience that one day. But I don’t take it every day either, since you can’t take it with food or proteins in food end up crossing the blood brain barrier instead of the tryptophan. It’s like they’re fighting for seats in the same bus. My husband’s like, “How do you ever get to take that? You’re always eating.” Very funny, but kind of true. So maybe I should try to be really consistent with it and just see if I have another “I suddenly can smell” experience.
    I do think it’s a neurological issue primarily over a plugged sinuses issue. I’d love to know more about why I don’t have a normal sense of smell, and why my brain is able to compensate for that so well that until we did cranial nerve testing I didn’t realize how bad it was. I know my great grandmother had no sense of smell either, so maybe it’s genetic.
    A little off the subject, I know. But I will say this: The person with anosmia (or close to it) is the right person to have the job of scooping the litter box.

  2. Since I practically have anosmia I don’t know how good World’s Best is at controlling odors either. I used to use feline pine. It was ok, but it got tracked around a little more than World’s Best. I tried the wheat based litter and found it created more dust than wood or corn based litters.

    Yesterday I was standing in the door of Monty’s room, watching him in his litter box. He was busy trying to dig to China and I thought it was kind of cute. My husband called out, “The cat pooped!” He could smell it from the next room, but I couldn’t smell it from six feet away. Monty’s box gets scooped right away and washed out about once a week. The moment I dump out his box to wash it he suddenly starts doing the feline version of the pee-pee dance. It doesn’t matter when I do it or when he last was in there, the minute I dump his box out he has to go NOW.

    • LOL. You are the expert. What you say goes and as it happens I have similar experiences. Never heard the word “anosmia” before but presume it means loss of sense of smell. I think mine is intact – just.

      As it happens Charlie goes never learned to use a litter tray and as I live in a apartment with access to the garden he uses that so I have lost my super cat litter scooping skills.

  3. The golden rule is one litter box for each cat and one spare and to scoop any used litter out as soon as possible,thoroughly emptying the whole box at the very least once a week, washing and drying it thoroughly and putting in new litter.
    If anyone doesn’t do this there will be a smell no matter what sort of litter is used.
    Some people complain if their cats mess on the floor and call the cats dirty, well if they don’t have enough litter boxes or don’t clean them it’s not the cats fault.
    If answering any alerts on this subject I usually say how would they like to use a dirty toilet, especially one left unflushed by someone else.

    • I think you hit the nail on the head, Ruth. There are no problems with cat litter, whatever the type. The problem is ours! We don’t scoop and clean regularly enough.

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