10-6-13 – Tidy Cats Lightweight Litter Review

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Note: the Tidy Cats Lightweight Litter was given to me free of charge; all opinions in this post are completely honest and mine alone.

Back in August, I was given the chance to review Tidy Cats Lightweight Litter. I had just made the switch from the super-dusty Fresh Step to Cat Attract, so I was initially uninterested in adding another kind of litter to the mix (my cats are pretty flexible and patient, but even they have their limits after all). But after some consideration, I decided to give it a try. Why not, right?

I got an 8.5-pound container of Tidy Cats Lightweight Litter in the mail about a week after I said I’d like to give it a try, in a wonderfully sturdy box that the cats thought was awesome. (And then, story of my life, someone peed in the box a few weeks later, so I had to get rid of it. “Someone peed in it” could be my motto.)

It was just about time to empty, clean, and refill the litter boxes in the laundry room, so I decided I’d do a dust-comparison between the Tidy Cats Lightweight litter in one litter box, the Fresh Step (I still had a bag left over from the last time I’d bought it) ย in another, and the Cat Attract in a third. AND I videotaped it for y’all, because I’m always thinking about YOU. Please note that I shot these videos in mid-August, so those kittens you see snoopervising are the Dragons, who’ve all since gone to their forever homes.

YouTube link.

I think you can pretty easily see that the Fresh Step is horrifyingly dusty, the Tidy Cats is less dusty, and the Cat Attract is practically dust-free.

So the first good thing I noticed about the Tidy Cats litter is that the 8.5 pound container filled my litter box to the preferred depth. It takes a 20 pound bag of Cat Attract to do the same.

I made no special point of using a special litter box or putting the litter box in the most-used location, because in my house the cats have their own random schedule that they don’t share with me. Sometimes the litter boxes in the laundry room get all the use, sometimes all the litter boxes in the front room get all the use, and some days they’re standing in line to use the litter box in the upstairs bathroom. There’s no rhyme or reason to it, so I just went ahead and filled one of the litter boxes in the laundry room with the Tidy Cats litter.

The next morning when I scooped, the box with Tidy Cats in it had been used a couple of times. I liked that the litter was easier to scoop, since it was so lightweight. I didn’t like the dust, the fact that it was scented litter, or that the litter tracked out of the litter box so easily. The litter did clump really well and the clumps didn’t fall apart at all when I scooped.

I left the litter in that box for about a month. It got plenty of use, and continued to vex me with the dustiness and the way it tracked all over the laundry room. It did a great job of clumping hard right up until the day I decided it was time to scrub out and refill the litter box, and it did a good job of odor control, too.

So in the plus column the Tidy Cats Lightweight litter is light, clumps well, scoops easily, and does a good job of odor control. In the minus column it’s dusty (though not as dusty as that horrifying Fresh Step), it tracks a lot, and it’s scented.

I won’t be switching to Tidy Cats Lightweight due to the dustiness and the scent. If we only had a couple of litter boxes the dust might not bother me as much – but then again, I’m not sure I particularly want the cats breathing in the dust, either. The scent itself isn’t unpleasant, but with scented litter the cats tend to smell like they’re wearing perfume, and over time I start to associate that scent with unpleasant things (okay, poop. I start to associate the fragrance of scented litter with poop. I can’t help it!), and then my brain does this thing where I think I smell poop but it’s actually the perfume of the litter.

I happened to see the 8.5 pound container of Tidy Cats Lightweight in Petsmart earlier this week (reminder: the 8.5 pound container fills one of my litter boxes), so I can report to you that it cost $13.99. That’s a little more expensive than the 42-pound bag of hugely dusty Fresh Step at Sam’s Club (which is about $12, but will fill two of my litter boxes), but a couple of dollars cheaper than a 20-pound bag of Cat Attract ($16) (which fills one of my litter boxes).

Links: Tidy Cat Lightweight Litter, Dr. Elsey’s Cat Attract, and you can just Google Fresh Step litter on your own. That dust is ridiculous and I recommend you just stay away from Fresh Step. You might save a few dollars, but you’ll end up needing a lung transplant after dealing with that dust.


Just in case you missed it earlier this week, please gaze upon Meadow’s happy little face. Oh, these kittens. They’re killing me!


2012: No entry.
2011: Now he’s the whiniest little complainer I’ve ever seen.
2010: Melodie, doing some heavy-duty flirting, is apparently annoying Martin.
2009: Maybe we’ve got some little Houdinis on our hands.
2008: Zoe got adopted over the weekend!
2007: No entry.
2006: I wouldnโ€™t say he LIKES her, but heโ€™s not scared of her (much) anymore.
2005: “His real name is Sad Eyes?”



10-6-13 – Tidy Cats Lightweight Litter Review — 40 Comments

  1. Thanks for the review! Just saw the commercial today. We currently use the cheap Fresh Step. I wear a mask! I figure I’ve already been hit with the cancer stick ONCE (R.I.P. boobs, 1997), I don’t need to lose my lungs too lol. I. Hate. That. Dust. Really need to switch. We have 6 boxes.

  2. I get what you’re saying, but when you’re furloughed (yes, that’s me), the few $$ makes a difference. Cat Attract may be dust-free but it really is hideously expensive.

    • Yeah, the Cat Attract is really way too expensive – I’ve told Fred there must be flakes of gold in there! I should have mentioned that I’m in the process of switching over to Precious Cat, which is much less expensive than Cat Attract.

      • I like Precious Cat, but add in a tiny…TINY…bit of Fresh Step (gasp) for odor control. Let me know what you think….

  3. I just got some of the lightweight Tidy Cat this week and holy tracking, I have litter everywhere — even 3 floors up. I’m hating it.

    • I was grateful I decided to use the litter in the laundry room litter box – if I’d done it in the front room, I’m pretty sure it would have been tracked all over the couches and would have driven me nuts.

      You know, ALL I want is a dust-free litter that has great odor control, no perfume, doesn’t track, and clumps quickly and well; is that so much to ask? ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I don’t use Fresh Step but from what you’ve shown I never will. That looks horribly dusty. I use Cat’s Pride. It’s cheap in Walmart (the website suggests $6 for 14lbs). I am not sure how many fills I get of my one box (maybe two or three complete fills). I am usually just scooping and adding more litter. It clumps really well. Not dusty that I have noticed.It’s unscented. The cat doesn’t have any problems with it. It’s great because my son has asthma and he can’t handle the dust especially. The only problem I DO have with it is that it tracks a lot of litter around because it has a very sandy/fine texture.

    I have also tried the Cat Attract brand when we were having issues. It is about $18 around here for a large bag. It scoops well and is unscented also. The dust is minimal. Overall it is a great litter as well. However, at double to triple the price (and I’ve only been able to find it in the pet store) I will stick to the cheap stuff thank you.

  5. I use Precious Cat and really like it though it is expensive compared to others. I keep 3 boxes going for 4 cats. How deep do the you fill your boxes Robyn and how often do you do complete litter change outs?

    • Ooh, that’s a good question! When I’m doing a complete litter-change out, I fill the boxes about 4 inches deep. I’ve come to the realization lately that the cats seem to prefer it lower (maybe 2 – 3 inches), so I think I may start out at 3 inches and just add litter as I need to and see how that goes.

      I do a complete litter change-out about every 6 weeks (staggering it so as not to overload the garbage men), but clean down the litter boxes themselves about once a week with a spray of half vinegar and half water.

        • I’ll do a more in-depth answer to this in Friday’s post (along with better pictures), but the short answer is: Target. I replaced all my old litter boxes with them, and the cats LOVE them. It took me a few months to get switched over, because Target was having a hard time keeping them in stock and it wasn’t until I was buying the last one that the cashier mentioned that I could have talked to the store manager about ordering several of them so I wouldn’t have to wait ’til they were on the shelves. Duh! They’re $22 each, and I think they’re worth it.

  6. Seriously, a 42 pound bag of Fresh Step for $12. Who could carry this bag home from the store? Is this a typo? I don’t find Fresh Step all that dusty. Maybe there are different formulas. Currently using Extreme for one cat.

    • Nope, no typo. It’s 42 pounds for $12 – and it was a bit of a struggle, but I always managed to get 6 bags from the shelf to the cart, the cart to the back of the car, and the back of the car to the garage every month or so.

      I do think there are different formulations and the dust is worse with some than with others.

      • the newer formulations of FS are incredibly dusty. There is an eXtreme formula which I swear they called it that due to the extreme dust..

  7. If you don’t want your entire small apartment to stink of litter, do NOT use Arm & Hammer Ultra Last. I usually use the Multicat or Super Scoop, which offers me a reasonable compromise between dustiness, odor control, and price, so when Target had a good deal on the the Ultra Last, I thought, “Huh, extra baking soda: That should be good.”

    That was not good. Really really dusty and really really smelly.

    The one up side is that the litter itself smells so strong that I don’t notice any cat poo odors.

    (Oh, and in response to the issue of how to carry many pounds of litter: I use a collapsible hand cart to tote it on to and off the subway, and then the walk home. I even fit thru the regular turnstiles!)

  8. aw, Meadow!!
    Knew exactly what you meant, smelling fresh litter scent and associating it with poop! got to where I knew the cat was coming towards me before visible! also, noted that it is so scented you can almost taste it when pouring, and that’s TOO much. Still trying to find that perfect blend: low-cost, low dust, faint scent and best of all, solid clumps. AArgh! Still like the corn cob one scent-wise, but it is not clumping well at all.

  9. Great review. I’ve seen the Tidy Cat lightweight litter commercial lately…the one where people are throwing the container to one another. And I thought, wow this stuff must really be light. Then I was in the store and actually saw it…must have been the 8.5 pound one…and I picked it up and thought, no way could you throw this around like they did in the commercials. I stopped using Tidy Cat awhile back (won’t even touch Fresh Step) because of the dust. I switched over to Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat and have been very happy with that…and the cats like it. I just wish they would come up with a litter that didn’t track…though the Dr. Elsey isn’t too bad. I think I’ll stick with the Dr. Elsey. It’s a little pricey, but it works for me…and my cats.

    Island Cats’ mom

    • I think what it all comes down to is that one litter just won’t work for everyone. But I do love the Dr. Elsey’s products, and I don’t imagine I’ll find a litter that works better for me.

  10. I had to switch from Fresh Step too. It was so dusty that it set the smoke detector off and the fire department arrived at midnight. Not sure why we were changing the cat litter at midnight…

    Robyn – I think we’re all in search of the same thing. We’re currently using Swheat Scoop. Not dusty, clumps ok, but doesn’t do well with odor control and it is tracked all over the house.

    • The smoke detector! Wow – that IS some dust, isn’t it?

      We are actually using Swheat Scoop in a litter box upstairs currently (more on that later this week), and the tracking is just out of this world. I could vacuum the upstairs hallway and the stairs twice a day and still not be able to keep up with the tracked litter. I’ll be glad when we can stop using it!

      • I filled the kitten boxes and my husband was in the room and not paying attention, he looked up and thought something was on fire.

  11. i love reading reviews by others….makes me feel less nuts sometimes. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I use the petco brand…refill the containers. There is some dust and tracking, but I put a tarp under the boxes and bought door mats from walmart…..and MOST of the litter stays in the room.

  12. This doesn’t relate to the cat litter, but I had a cat-related question.

    Today my cat Leela spent basically all of last night throwing up her food (and then I assume eating more food). She threw up around 5 or 6 times from 12:30 at night to 10:30 in the morning. I took her food away at around 5:30 and then gave it back to her at around 9:30, but about an hour later she threw up everything she had eaten. I kept the food away from her the rest of the day and she seemed fine, although hungry and pissed off.

    We got her in April and she has thrown up a few times before, but never repeatedly. She also has this occasional hacking/coughing as if she’s going to throw up but she doesn’t. I was wondering if anyone had problems like this, and what could be causing it? Today we got Leela a grain-free food that is supposedly easier on the stomach, and I fed her a little bit of that about an hour ago and so far she’s been ok (it’s now about 5:30 PM).

    I’m not sure if we’ll end up taking her to the vet if she keeps being ok now (we definitely will take her if she throws up again). The vomit wasn’t bloody or anything, it was just mostly undigested food. She’s such a nervous wreck at the vet (last time she spent the entire car ride panting hysterically and I thought she was going to pass out), so we don’t want to take her unless we have to.

    I just thought I’d ask since I always see people getting answers to their cat problems on this blog.

    • I recommend that you take her to the vet. Cats freak out during the car ride and at the vet, but it’s a temporary thing to get a solution to the problem. It could be anything from a virus all the way up to something more serious such as kidney failure. If it’s only occasionally, it could be furballs. Since she did it 5-6 times within 10 hours or so, that doesn’t sound like the problem.

    • I think I’d be a little more worried if she’d vomited that much and it wasn’t food – that is, if she was vomiting up foam or bile, I’d be more worried. It sounds like there’s something about the food that wasn’t agreeing with her. I’d say keep an eye on her and if the vomiting starts up again, take her to the vet.

      Also, when did the hacking/coughing start? Does it happen every day? I wonder if it could be an asthma or allergy thing – that seems like something you probably ought to take her to the vet for if it’s an ongoing problem.

      • I ended up feeding her small amounts at a time last night and today, and she hasn’t thrown up again. She doesn’t seem lethargic or sick today.

        The hacking/coughing started since we got her, but it isn’t necessarily every day. Sometimes she does it once or a couple times a day, and sometimes not at all. To my knowledge she had not had anything like that while she was at the shelter (I volunteer there and knew her pretty well, and I never saw or heard anyone say that she had that problem.) I wonder if she never had the problem there because she was in a metal cage that was constantly cleaned and now lives in a house with old, old carpets and gross dusty closets and stuff that she gets into (she’s a total scaredy cat and spends a lot of time under the bed or hiding other places).

        We took her to the vet right after we got her and the vet said the coughing might be asthma related but to keep an eye on it to see if it got any worse/better/changed/whatever. It’s gotten less frequent since we’ve had her, but it hasn’t gone away. It’s definitely gotten better since we’ve gone and vacuumed under all the beds and shut her out of the closets. I’ve wanted to take her to the vet for it, but my mom doesn’t want to deal with taking her to the vet (I’m 20 and don’t really have money to take her, plus I can’t handle her by myself since she’s so difficult, plus I’m not “legally” her owner since you can’t adopt at the shelter unless you’re 21).

        It seems pretty likely that she has some kind of allergy or something to whatever in our environment (since she was totally fine at the shelter for 4+ months), but my mom just doesn’t want to take her to the vet because she thinks the coughing is too mild to bother. I don’t know how feasible it is for me to just try to take her by myself. I’m not even sure I’d be able to get her in the carrier myself.

    • I am a firm believer in if you don’t know you should go to the vet. Not everyone can afford that, but that’s my philosophy.

      Removing the food for a couple of hours, letting the stomach settle and heal a little from the violence of the “hurlage” and try again at the next meal would be my standard course of treatment in my house. If I were coming upon a weekend, if I was worried because the next meal is at the end of the day after the vets closed and the kitty was lethargic or showing signs of distress at vomiting, I might go in sooner..

      It could be just something didn’t agree with her, it could be she has a blockage and nothing will go down..

  13. I’ve just switched over to Petco’s store brand, too. Far less dusty than the Sam’s Club stuff. Odor control and clumping are OK. Question for you, Robyn: Did you guys cut the holes yourselves in your litterboxes, or did you find some cut open like that already? Thanks!

    • I’m going to save this question for Friday, Dorothy (along with better pictures of the litter boxes), but the short answer is: Target. And BOY does Target seem to have a hard time keeping them in stock!

  14. Best deal on clumping litter here in the South is a 20# bag (yes, BAG) of “Kitty White” sold by Fred’s discount stores for about $6.00. Though it says it is scented, I can’t smell it. It’s lighter weight than most and not very dusty – though I never pour it, but rather use a plastic dish to fill and add. I don’t know how widespread the Fred’s chain is – and you have to look on the bottom shelf as they don’t promote this with priority display space. But for me with my 13 kittehs, and a very tight budget, it works great. As it is in a bag rather than an expensive bucket or container, it masquerades as regular clay litter, but I like it better than the pricey brands.

    Love and pets and kisses to all the kitties.

  15. Loving the update on the litters. Here in the UK we have some cats best which I use for our older boys. Because its made of corn, its completely flushable and lasts for a very long time. I only fully clean out the box every 2 to 3 months.
    I think you’ve said before that something like corn would be unsuitable for kittens, and it means you have to be on a propper sewerage network for flushing it too… I doubt its any use to Robyn but may be nice for someone with one or two cats in an apartment, struggling to get rid of the litter as garbage.

  16. The LightWeight litter is just that lightweight and all over the house, I have three cats and this
    litter tracks all over the house, floors, furniture. I will NOT BUY AGAIN.