To scent or not to scent? That’s a question cat-lovers often have. As a dedicated cat parent, you want the best for your fur babies, and that’s why it’s important to make the right litter decision for your household.
What are the advantages?
Unscented cat litter offers several advantages:
- Veterinarians cite the sensitivity of cats to smells. Scented litter may sometimes be too much for your cat.
- Instead of relying on scented cat litter to mask offensive odors, you can use your own odor control measures, including natural fragrances.
- You won’t have to worry about spending money on an expensive scented litter – only for your cat to take one whiff and walk away.
- Your cat will recognize his or her own scents in the litter and may be more likely to feel comfortable using it.
Of course, we recognize that not every cat parent wants to enjoy the less-than-pleasant odors that emanate from a litter box shortly after use. However, your feline friend will enjoy the distinct lack of artificial odors in his or her bathroom.
Quick Look : Best Unscented Cat Litter in 2019
What Do Veterinarians Think About Scented vs. Unscented Cat Litter?
Veterinary scientists conducted several studies to answer this very question. Here are a few of the most interesting conclusions:
- Dr. Jacqueline Neilson, DVM, DACVB, analyzed many studies. She found that cats with house soiling problems may respond more positively to unscented cat litter as opposed to scented varieties, although other factors including the exact aroma and the fragrance.
- Another study Dr. Neilson examined discerned usage patterns among 35 cats over a 4-day research period. The researchers calculated litter preference based on whether cats used the scented or unscented litter when offered both. Cats used the scented litter 134 times and the unscented litter 143 times, showing that they lacked a strong preference for either type. Remember, though, that this study represents just one data point.
- Dr. Debra Horwitz published a study in 1997 in the journal of Applied Animal Behavior Science. She found that there existed a statistically-significant correlation between scented litter and issues with house soiling.
In other words, the scientific jury is still out on the question of scented vs. unscented cat litter, but these studies do show some level of preference for unscented litter among house soiling cats.
If your furry friend has issues with house soiling and other unwanted bathroom behaviors, an unscented cat litter may serve you, your kitty, and your home well.
What to Look for in a High-Quality Cat Litter
There are four factors you should keep in mind as you consider which litter to purchase:
- Clumping vs. non-clumping
- Sewer/septic tank safety
- Odor control
Let’s look at the first item: clumping vs non-clumping.
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Clumping vs. Non-Clumping Unscented Cat Litter
As you shop around for an unscented cat litter, you’ll come across many different types of products, including clumping and non-clumping litters. Clumping cat litter offers many advantages, including:
- Easy cleanup: Non-clumping litter turns into a kind of mush that requires you to clean the entire litter box every time your cat uses it. Clumping litter, on the other hand, bonds easier, making it simpler to scoop out. This could save you several hours over the course of a month.
- Less waste: Instead of changing the whole box due to every granule becoming contaminated because of your furry friend’s business, you can just scoop out the affected area and save money.
Unscented cat litters come in both clumping and non-clumping varieties. Unless you have a strong preference either way, clumping litter will probably be a better choice in most households.
Unscented Litter and Sewer / Septic Tank Safety Concerns
The traditional way cat owners have disposed of their animal’s litter has typically involved the use of small plastic bags and the trash bin. There are a couple of concerns associated with disposing of cat litter in the regular garbage:
- Household Air Quality Issues: By disposing of the litter in a garbage bin in the home, you’ll run into odor issues and bacteria buildup quickly.
- Environmental Concerns: Plastic bags and cat litter aren’t a great mix for the landfill. Plastic tends not to degrade very well and plastic pollution continues to be a major environmental challenge.
- Building / Municipal Restrictions: Some apartment buildings may have restrictions on what can be thrown down garbage chutes. Be sure to read up on these regulations to determine which type of litter disposal offers the best fit for your living arrangements.
As an alternative, many cat litter companies advertise their products as biodegradable and safe for disposal through the regular sewer system or in a standard, consumer-strength septic tank. You may want to go with one of these options if you would prefer to flush the used litter down the drain.
While unscented cat litters do a decent job in capturing offensive odors, by flushing the litter down the drain you can avoid some of the household air quality issues that come from litter sitting the trash and collecting bacteria. Additionally, this will cause less of an impact on the local landfill and garbage service. Why not consider doing your part to help the environment?
Choosing the Right Material for Your Cat’s Litter
A variety of litter material types can be found on the market today, including clay, wood, crystal, corn, pine, walnut, paper, grass, wheat, cedar, porous gravel, and more. Each of these materials offers distinct advantages, although you’re most likely to run into clay.
The lesser-known materials such as walnut and corn do offer some distinct advantages, including a more natural approach that may be favored by the felines in your household. Ultimately, most of the products reviewed are clay, although one is designed from corn-based materials. Unscented litters come in a variety of materials and forms, so be sure to keep this in mind as you shop around.
Odor Control: Do Unscented Litters Capture Foul Odors?
Since unscented litters do not make use of artificial fragrances, you may be wondering if they provide any benefits when it comes to preventing nasty odors from wafting into your living room. The answer is YES.
Just because a cat litter lacks a scent, doesn’t mean that it’s incapable of doing effective odor control. Many formulas include components that act to capture odors from the air and prevent them from becoming too out of control. However, your mileage will vary, so be sure to make sure that the litter in question offers odor control but lacks a specific scent.
Is Unscented Cat Litter Right for You and Your Four-Legged Companion?
Ultimately, the question of unscented cat litter vs. scented cat litter comes down to a few simple questions:
- Would you prefer that your chosen litter brand handles odor control for you? Or do you want to use your own fragrances and odor control methods independent of your litter?
- Does your cat have problems with soiling the house? Do they exhibit behaviors that indicate a preference for unscented litters when it comes to using the bathroom?
- Do you want to avoid synthetic chemicals used in the creation of artificial fragrance?
If you think unscented litter is the right choice for you and your kitty, read on to learn more about 4 great options!
World’s Best Cat Litter Clumping Formula Check Price
With a name like “World’s Best,” you can’t go wrong. World’s Best Clumping Formula makes use of corn as its base instead of other ingredients, making this litter silica-dust-free. Cats like it, humans like it, and the environment likes it.
- Corn-based litter avoids the issues associated with other materials when it comes to silica dust.
- Contains smells associated with ammonia and bacteria build-up without making use of offensive fragrances that cats tend not to like.
- It’s flushable and safe for both septic and sewer systems, unlike other types of litter on the market today.
- As a biodegradable formula, World’s Best helps cat owners rest easy when it comes to its effect on the biosphere.
- Some cats may not be as excited about the corn-based formula.
- Owners have reported the product causing tracking.
- May have issues with clumping and odor capture, especially for multi-cat households. The manufacturer recommends this litter for use in homes with only 1 or 2 cats. It may not be as suited for larger cat households.
Ever Clean Extra Strength Unscented Premium Clumping Clay Cat Litter Check Price
For a great combination of clumping and odor control without the fragrance issues associated with scented litters, Ever Clean is a great choice. Like the Tidy Cats formula, Ever Clean blocks the smells associated with ammonia compounds with its unique combination of natural minerals, clay, and an extra-strength formula designed specifically for the job. Overall, it’s a great choice if you need odor control and clumping power while minimizing dust and ammonia smells.
- Carbon PLUS – a technology that can capture ammonia and stool odors in the air – prevents these smells from propagating around your home.
- Antimicrobial compounds act within the litter box to prevent the growth of bacteria that contribute to the nasty smells.
- Doesn’t leave a scent of its own – as an unscented litter, you’ll still get odor control, but you won’t have an additional fragrance on top of it.
- Some customers have reported issues with clumping, making it difficult sometimes to properly clean the box due to crumbling.
- Other customers have reported that the litter does leave a light scent, though your mileage may vary.
Tidy Cats Lightweight Instant Action Clumping Cat Litter Check Price
Purina and its Tidy Cats brand have been around for generations. Tidy Cats Lightweight Instant Action Clumping Litter offers a combination of benefits at a reasonable price, including a lightweight formula that delivers good clumping performance without a scent.
- As a lighter weight clumping litter, Tidy Cats offers the best of both worlds.
- Unscented doesn’t mean a complete lack of odor control – Tidy Lock ammonia blocker can help to prevent ammonia odors for up to two weeks.
- As a low-dust formula, Tidy Cats can help to minimize allergy issues in both felines and their bipedal companions.
- Avoids tracking issues by keeping dust as low as possible via an anti-dust coating that traps particles and creates a “microscopic web-like structure” that avoids all the common issues with tracking and dust.
- Can be used gradually in a litter transition to help your kitty acclimate to the new product while saving money in the long run.
- Excellent clumping capabilities through its patented bi-component system. The 2-component granules are designed for absorbing both waste matter and odors while also forming cohesive clumps for ease of cleaning.
- Some cat parents have reported that Tidy Cats may sometimes have a strong perfume scent, especially after the cat uses the bathroom.
CatGenie Washable Granules Check Price
CatGenie’s Washable Granules litter offers numerous benefits, including satisfying the natural inclinations a cat often has for digging and covering. Unlike many common litter brands, CatGenie Washable Granules are biodegradable, flushable, non-clumping, and – most importantly – unscented. Note that this litter should be used with the CatGenie system.
Unlike other litters on the market, this product degrades in septic systems within a 9-month timeframe, making it a great choice for cat owners who live in rural areas or who are otherwise not connected to a municipal sewer system. Other benefits include dust-free ingredients, biodegradability, and environmental friendliness. How many other litters can say the same?
- Biodegrades in less than a year in consumer-strength septic tanks – perfect for rural cat owners who want an unscented, non-clumping litter.
- Designed to help cats enjoy their digging and scratching instincts.
- Dust-free and safe for both the home and environment.
- Typically used with the CatGenie Self-Washing Self-Flushing Cat Box system – you may be able to find a better deal on a similar product that’s not branded for a specific litter box system.
- Some consumers have reported that the granules may become stuck to cats’ paws, leading to propagation of the litter around the home.