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Scented Vs. Unscented Cat Litter (2023 Comparison): Which One Is Better for My Cat?

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Scented Vs. Unscented Cat Litter_Featured Image

If you have a cat, you already know cat litter is necessary. However, the days when there was one type of cat litter are long gone. Today, many cat litter brands are available for purchase, and it can get frustrating trying to choose which is the best choice for your needs.

Now there’s scented and unscented cat litter to choose from, but how do you know which one is best? No one likes to deal with litter box odors, so the type of litter you choose plays a significant role in controlling those strong smells.

Some litters are lightly scented with a flowery aroma, and others have no scent at all. Which is best to use in your litter box? We’ll give you an overview and comparison of scented vs. unscented cat litter below to help you decide which is better for your feline pal.

Overview of Scented Cat Litter

Scented cat litter is precisely what it sounds like. It’s a cat litter that has certain fragrances added in. The goal is to make your cat’s litter box less smelly or give it a more pleasant smell. This could be the best choice for you if you’re a cat owner who is overly sensitive to bad smells. There are many scents to choose from, and the litter usually provides a few days of odor control. However, you still need to scoop your litter box daily, sometimes twice a day, depending on the number of cats you own.

However, scented cat litter has been known to irritate some people’s respiratory systems, and some cats can’t tolerate the fragrance and refuse to use the litter box. It’s also possible that your cat will also smell like the scented litter.

cat litter box on a wooden floor
Image Credit: Grzegorz Petrykowski, Shutterstock

Is Scented Litter Safe for Your Cat?

While scented litter is made to be used by cats, that doesn’t mean it’s safe for every feline. Some felines are sensitive to the fragrances used in the cat litter. Not only can the overpowering scent stress your cat out, but it can also irritate their respiratory systems as well, just as it can yours. The best thing to do is keep an eye on your cat the first time you use scented cat litter to ensure there are no problems.

What Does Scented Litter Smell Like?

There are quite a few scents to choose from when it comes to scented cat litter. One of the most common and favorite among cat owners is lavender. Lavender is said to help calm your cat down. If you’re not a lavender lover, other scents offered include lotus blossom, apple, orange, mountain spring, and even chamomile, to name a few popular choices.

While these litters smell great, one issue you might have to deal with when using scented litter is your cat smelling like the fragrance when they leave their litter box.

Maine coon cat large using litter box
Image Credit: Andriy Blokhin, Shutterstock

What Kinds of Scented Litter Are Available for Purchase?

Clumping litter, dust-free litter, crystal litter, and anti-tracking litter are available in the scented variety and hypoallergenic litter.

  • Covers smell of cat urine and feces
  • Provides multiple days of odor control
  • Many scents available
  • Makes scooping litter a bit easier for some cat owners
  • Can irritate the respiratory system
  • Many cats can’t stand the fragrance
  • Can cause your cat to smell like the litter

Overview of Unscented Cat Litter:

Unscented cat litter is just what it sounds like; it’s a cat litter that has a natural scent instead of added fragrances. Some unscented cat litters contain baking soda or other odor neutralizers to help mask the smell of cat urine and feces. In short, the unscented cat litter doesn’t include extra odor-reducing fragrances. It’s also suitable for cats that have allergies or sensitivity issues. As with scented cat litter, you can get this litter in several varieties.

cat litter box with biodegradable pine wood chips
Image Credit: Axel Bueckert, Shutterstock

Is Unscented Litter Dangerous to Cats?

If you change your litter box regularly and it’s kept fresh and clean, unscented litter is safe for your cats. It’s always best to avoid low-quality, dusty cat litters to prevent respiratory problems for you and your cat.

Does Unscented Litter Smell Bad?

If you keep the unscented litter clean and scooped, it shouldn’t smell bad. Scented litter has specific fragrances that help mask the urine and feces odors. Unscented litter doesn’t have the added fragrance.

Whether unscented litter smells bad after being used comes down to the brand and quality of the cat litter you purchase. Some cat litters are better at controlling odors than others, whether unscented or scented.

Unscented cat litter comes in several varieties, just like the scented options. The choice depends on what works best for you and your cat box needs.

cat on a walnut litter
Image Credit: MelodicinD, Shutterstock
  • Natural scent is appealing to most cats
  • Great odor control
  • Different varieties available
  • Good for cats with allergies and sensitivity issues
  • Contains other odor neutralizers
  • May produce a cat box smell
  • Could require scooping more often
  • May require more frequent changing
  • May be too weak for some (Scent)
  • Could be dusty, smelly, and low quality

Cat Litter FAQs

Now that you know the difference between scented and unscented cat litter and the pros and cons of both, you might still have a few questions before making your final decision. We’ll try to answer a few in our FAQ section below.

When Should You Use Unscented Cat Litter?

If your feline pal has sensitivities or allergies, then unscented cat litter is the best choice for you. Also, if your cat has a habit of rolling around in the fresh litter, it’s probably best to go with unscented unless you want your cat to smell like fragranced litter. Unscented also reduces the risk of your furry friend irritating its skin by rolling around in the litter.

Image credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

When Should You Use Litter That’s Scented?

If your cat isn’t sensitive to scented litter and you like the fragrances, you can use it whenever you want. Just make sure that you and your cat are okay with the scents.

Do You Have to Clean Less with Scented Litters?

Sadly, the litter box will need to be cleaned and scooped just as often with scented litter as with unscented litter. The reason for cleaning cat litter boxes is that they become full and produce nasty bacteria and foul odors. There’s no difference between scented and unscented cat litter when it comes to the need to scoop it and clean it regularly.

Which Litter Is Better for Your Cat?

Regarding fragrances in cat litter, our opinion tends to err on the unscented variety. We prefer more natural scents, so unscented is a no-brainer for us. It’s also important to be wary of any skin irritations or respiratory problems from scented cat litter.

tabby cat in a litter box
Image Credit: Davynia, Shutterstock

Can Cats Be Allergic to Cat Litter?

Yes, the dust from your cat litter can cause allergies, watery eyes, and even asthma in your furry pal, whether the litter is scented or unscented. If you think your cat is allergic to cat litter or you see symptoms of allergies or asthma, it’s best to take your cat to the vet to find the best cat litter.

These are answers to just a few of the common questions many cat owners have about cat litter. We hope our answers will help you make the right choice for your beloved pet.

Wondering whether an enzymatic spray or deodorizing powder is better at fighting pet odors? Compare our Pet Stain & Odor Eliminator Spray to our Deodorizer Powder to see which product is best for your deodorizing needs.

hepper spray new
Hepper Bio-Enzyme Pet Stain & Odor Eliminator Spray
hepper bioenzymatic litter additive
Hepper Advanced Bio-enzyme Deodorizer & Litter Additive
Eliminates smells
Eliminates smells:
Eliminates smells:
Removes stains
Removes stains:
Removes stains:
Powdered/dry form
Powdered/dry form:
Powdered/dry form:
Liquid/wet form
Liquid/wet form:
Liquid/wet form:
Works on a variety of surfaces
Works on a variety of surfaces:
Works on a variety of surfaces:
Works inside your cat's litter
Works inside your cat's litter:
Works inside your cat's litter:


No matter which cat litter you choose, the fact remains that if you have a cat, you must have a cat litter box with fresh cat litter in it at all times. Consider the things we said above when deciding whether to use scented or unscented litter.

If you or your cat have allergies or asthma, it’s best to go with the unscented litter, but that’s only if it is high-quality and dust-free. Ultimately, the choice is yours as to which is best for you and your feline companion.

See also:

Featured Image Credit: (L) Dragora, Shutterstock | (R) Pam Walker, Shutterstock

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