Cat litter comes in three basic scent categories.
Scented litter is one that has added perfumes, fragrances, or odor masking chemicals. These litters have a strong perfume smell, and transfer that smell to your cat. This type of litter is designed for humans, not for cats. Cats do not really want to be licking perfume off their feet every time they go to the bathroom.
Unscented litter is one that does not contain any natural scent. Sometimes this label is used for litter that is also fragrance free, but they are not the same thing. This type of litter is preferred by cats, and is especially good for cats (and humans) with asthma, allergies, or other respiratory issues.
Fragrance Free litter is one that does not have any added scents. Fragrance free is not the same as unscented. It is possible for a litter to have a very strong smell naturally without added fragrance. Many of the “natural” litters made with pine or corn are fragrance free, but still have an overpowering smell from their materials.
If you are looking for a litter that doesn’t have any added fragrance or any natural odors of its own pay attention to the way it’s described. Sometimes you’ll see litter listed as both unscented and/or fragrance free, and then the description will mention things like “deodorizing system” or “advanced odor control blend” which nearly always mean it actually is a scented litter.
When in doubt about a litter purchase, check the refund policy of the store you’re purchasing from to make sure you can get your money back if the litter does not meet your expectations.
Which to Choose
|Scented||Unscented||Fragrance Free||Unscented & |
(<6 months old)
(6 months to 6 years)
(7 years to 15 years)
|Asthma / Allergies||✓|
Fragrance free, unscented litter is best for cats overall. It’s especially good for cats with asthma or allergies, and good for cats who have any trouble grooming themselves.