Types of Cat Litter – Pros and Cons {With Videos}

There are many different types of cat litter that you can choose for your cat, depending on how frequently you want to change the litter box, your budget, whether you have any allergies to contend with, and various other factors.

The decision isn’t just yours, though – you’ll need to find a litter that your cat is happy to use. Every cat is different, so don’t be shocked if you buy a leading brand and find out that it’s not to your cat’s liking or yours for that matter. The different types of cat litter have various pros and cons too.

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What are the different kinds of litter?

Litter is produced from different materials, including clay, recycled paper, wood, wheat, silica gel crystals, corn, pea protein, walnut shells, and more. Each other type has specific properties, covered in more detail below. However, there are a few main features to look out for with any kind of litter.

Scented vs. Unscented

Cat litter will either be unscented, naturally scented, or artificially scented. Unscented cat litter uses ingredients to neutralize odors from urine and feces, while scented varieties try to cover it up more with a smell that is designed to be more pleasant.

I don’t mind naturally scented litter but I hate artificially scented litter, and in my many years of experience in owning cats and running this site, I cannot support it. Cats hate it too, and there is no need for it.

Clumping vs. Non-clumping

The second question is whether you prefer clumping or non-clumping litter. As the name suggests, clumping litter forms clumps around urine and feces that can be scooped out, so you don’t need to replace the entire litter tray whenever you want to clean it out. However, clumping litter can cause poop to get attached to your cat’s fur. Thus, it would be wise to know how to safely remove the poop or diarrhea from your cat’s fur beforehand. Non-clumping instead will rely on other methods to neutralize odors, but because you cannot tell where your cat has used the tray, you’ll need just to clean it all in one go. Clumping cat litter should be avoided when choosing litterbox filler for a kitten due to the risk of ingesting it.

Biodegradable or Not?

Some forms of cat litter are biodegradable and so are better for the planet. This also tends to mean they’re more expensive. If being environmentally friendly is really important for you, there are some natural litters you can choose from, but they can be harder to find in pet stores too.

Different Types of Cat Litter – Pros and Cons Compared

Here’s a table to help you understand the differences between the various litters you can buy for your cat(s).

Type of litterScented/UnscentedClumping/Non-ClumpingProsPros
ClayCan be eitherClumping
  • Quickly clumps – easy to control and clean up
  • Manages odors effectively
  • Doesn’t need changing as often
  • Not biodegradable
  • Can cause dust in your home – not ideal for allergy sufferers
Silica Gel CrystalsCan be eitherNon-clumping
  • Absorbent
  • Doesn’t need changing as often
  • Dust-free
  • Not biodegradable
  • Many cats don’t like the feel
  • Expensive
  • Biodegradable
  • Dust-free
  • Affordable
  • Doesn’t control odor well
  • Needs changing more frequently
WheatNaturally or artificially scentedClumping
  • Dust-free
  • Biodegradable
  • Doesn’t clump as effectively as clay – harder to clean
  • Can attract pests
WoodNaturally scentedNon-clumping
  • Naturally captures odors
  • Dust-free
  • Biodegradable
  • Many cats don’t like the pine scent, which can cause issues with litter box use
Walnut ShellNaturally scentedCan be either
  • Absorbent
  • Low-dust
  • Biodegradable
  • Doesn’t clump as effectively as clay
CornNaturally or artificially scentedClumping
  • Dust-free
  • Biodegradable
  • Doesn’t clump as effectively as clay – harder to clean
  • Can attract pests
  • Expensive
Coconut HuskNaturally scentedClumping
  • Dust-free
  • Biodegradable
  • Doesn’t clump as effectively as clay
  • Not commonly found in stores

What is the best type of cat litter?

There is no single ‘best’ litter (other than the best one that works for you). That’s clear just from this Facebook post where I asked for your preferences – while there are a few brands that keep coming up, there’s a lot of variety in the responses too.

I, personally, have a few favorites, all of which are clay clumping.  I have included them below, but again – these are the favorites that work for me and my cats.  It will always vary.

Clumping Cat Litters on the market
  • Dr. Elsey’s Premium Clumping Cat Litter – buy it here
Dr. Elsey's Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter, 40 Lb / 18.14 Kg (Pack May Vary)

Watch this video:

Dr. Elsey's Cat Attract Problem Cat Training Litter, 40 Lb / 18.14 Kg (Pack May Vary)
Litter-Robot Clay Clumping Chemical and Scent Free Litter

Watch this video:

And here are some of the favorites of readers:

  • World’s Best Cat Litter Multi Cat Clumping – buy it here
World's Best Cat Litter, Clumping Litter Formula for Multiple Cats, 28-Pounds

Watch this video:

Naturally Fresh Cat Litter - Walnut-Based Quick-Clumping Kitty Litter, Unscented , 26 lb (23001)

Watch this video (the product has changed brands several times, but what’s included in the bag is still walnut shells):

  • ökocat Natural Wood Clumping Cat Litter – buy it here
ökocat Original Low-Dust Natural Wood Clumping Cat Litter with Odor Control, 13.2 lbs.

Watch this video:

  • sWheat Scoop Premium+ Natural Clumping Wheat Cat Litter – buy it here
sWheat Scoop Premium+ Natural Clumping Wheat Cat Litter

Is wood litter better than clay?

Again, there’s no definitive answer on whether the wood is better than clay for cat litter.

Wood’s natural scent is always better than artificially scented clay, but unscented clay is better at clumping, and the pine smell of wood litter can be too strong for your cat and deter them from using their litter box.

Many readers do report they love pine pellet litter and so do their cats – like check out this DIY Litterbox situation where pine pellet litter is used.

Why would you use non-clumping cat litter?

Non-clumping cat litters are good at absorbing cat urine, meaning it can be used in the same litter box for a while before they need changing.

If you don’t have the time or inclination to change your litter or remove clumps frequently, a good non-clumping litter might be the solution. But they aren’t always as effective as they claim. And pooling urine can be trickier to clean if left too long.

How often should clumping cat litter be changed?

Clumping litter is designed so that you can scoop out the clumps as they form, helping to keep the litter as clean as possible.

You still need to replace the entire litter box every two to three weeks though to prevent odors.

What happens to pee in a non-clumping litter?

In non-clumping litter, the material is designed to absorb the cat’s urine. Each pellet can only absorb so much though, and your cat will often mix used and fresh litter with their paws.

Some types of non-clumping litter claim they can go unchanged for up to a month, but often you’ll find pools of urine at the bottom of the litter box.

What happens when you don’t change cat litter?

Dirty litter boxes are dangerous. Bacteria can breed if you leave urine and feces for too long, which can cause health problems for your cat.

Not only that, but even you could fall ill from a disease that’s developed in the cat’s litter box. That’s why it’s important to keep it clean.

Where should I put my cat’s litter box?

When placing your cat’s litter box, you need to think more about your cat than you. Don’t hide it away just because you want it out of sight. It should be somewhere quiet, away from food and water, and it helps to make sure it’s well-lit.

Give your cat a good view of the room too – they’ll feel more comfortable if they can see their surroundings. And if you have multiple cats, don’t always put litter boxes close together – cats might not want to share and may view multiple boxes as one.

Should you try clay litter?

As mentioned above, clay litter is one of the most common types of cat litter that can easily be found in most pet stores. 

But should you use it? 

Is it good for cats? 

Is it economical? 

These are the most frequently asked questions about Clay types of cat litter and we are going to answer all of them below. 

First, you need to understand how clay types of cat litter are made. As clear from the name, it is made from clay, sourced from 30 to 40 feet below the surface. This clay is then heated at high temperatures to remove any moisture. The next step is to mix it with sodium bentonite.

Sodium bentonite makes clay litter clumping formulas clump when they’re exposed to moisture. Clumping is what makes the cleaning process pretty much effortless. 

There are some benefits of using clay litter, as it’s quite economical. You can get a year’s worth of supply without breaking the bank. The clay types of cat litter are very easy to manage and easy to clean. This is a huge benefit, and it further adds to clay litter’s appeal. 

It is also great at order control, as most manufacturers add different fragrances to their products. The added aroma, along with the natural odor control quality of clay, makes this litter excellent at odor control.

However, clay litter can actually cause some issues, due to the nature of its ingredients. In some severe cases, it may cause cats to develop feline asthma

The reason behind that is the clay litter dust. Some of the dust particles from the clay cat litter are bound to enter your cat’s system. This can cause several asthma-like symptoms in your cat, such as:

  • Coughs
  • Sneezing
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing.

Another con of clay types of cat litter is their tendency to be ideal breeding grounds for bacteria and other pathogens. 

It is made to hold moisture in it. Although this helps with cleaning cat pee, it has the side effect of creating ideal living conditions for a wide variety of microorganisms we won’t want around our cats, or us.

Choosing between different types of cat litter: Is silica gel litter a good option for my cat?

Silica gel litter, also called Crystal litter, is a recent addition to the list of the most popular types of cat litter used these days. If you don’t know much about Silica gel litter and have a long list of questions about using it, then you have come to the right place. 

What is silica gel litter?

Silica gel litter is a cat litter made from natural products. It’s mined from quartz sand. It is actually quite an amazing product as it’s excellent at absorbing huge amounts of liquid. 

Among all of the other types of cat litter, crystal litter is also known to do a great job when it comes to odor control.

The list of qualities could easily explain why Silica gel litter is all the rage these days.

Is Crystal litter good for your cat?

Made up of silica crystal beads, Crystal litter is very popular these days, and for good reasons. Unlike clumping cat litter, silica litter is: 

  • Completely free from dust.
  • Great at odor control.
  • Absorbs and holds approximately 40x times its weight in fluid.

This is why Crystal litter is good for the: 

  • Comfort 
  • Convenience 
  • The health of your cat.

What kind of litter is healthiest for cats?

Your cat’s safety comes first when it comes to deciding on a new cat litter, and the same goes for Silica gel litter. Generally speaking, the said cat litter is completely safe for cats, as we haven’t observed any significant harmful effects associated directly with it. 

Silica gel litter also doesn’t pose any threat even if it’s ingested, and therefore it’s considered safe for mature cats. With that being said, cat owners need to know that this litter can be rough for some cats and could result in hurting their paws.

So, if your cat started avoiding the litter box after you changed their litter to Silica gel, try switching back to other types of cat litter your cat liked in the past. Or test some other option available on the market.

As far as kittens are concerned, it is better if you avoid using Silica Gel litter since it can really hurt a kitten’s paws. Moreover, since a kitten’s immune system is still developing Silica Gel litter can pose a serious threat to kittens if licked or ingested. 

 Is silica litter environmentally friendly? 

If you’re wondering “is Crystal cat litter better than clay?”, there’s no need to look for the answer no more. 

If we’re comparing clay and silica types of cat litter, silica litters are non-toxic and biodegradable. This means their environmental impact is low, and they are the better choice among the different types of cat litter you can make for your feline friend.

Not so common types of cat litter: Grass litter is it worth it?

Interested in getting an eco-friendly, chemical-free litter option with exceptional absorbing ability? Well, then no need to search any further as grass litter is the perfect choice for you. 

There are many pros of grass litter, as it’s lightweight and good at odor control.

But there are some cons to the grass litter, too. It can be quite expensive, compared to other types of cat litter. Grass litter can also cause allergic reactions in cats as it’s full of allergens.

In case of diarrhea, here’s how you can give your sick Ragdoll a nice warm bath.

Should you try the Charcoal-based cat litter?

Charcoal-based cat litter is also an option you can find on the market. But should you try it? Well, this cat litter also has its pros and cons. 

Charcoal-based cat litter is:

  • Highly-absorbant 
  • Good at odor control
  • Deters any bacterial growth. 

On the other hand, charcoal-based cat litter can be dustier than clay cat litter. It can affect a cat’s health in a bad way. All this charcoal ash or dust can easily cause any cat to develop feline asthma

That’s why you might want to think twice if you’re going with charcoal-based cat litter. There are better alternatives to it.

Is corn cat litter safe?

Corn litter is 100% natural, made from corn and natural plant fibers, mixed with a binding agent and fragrance. Corn kitty litter tends to be extremely absorbent and great at odor control. 

Moreover, it comes in the shape of small granules meaning that your cat’s sensitive paw skin won’t be irritated by them. 

Corn litter is also completely safe if a cat was to ingest it as it is not toxic at all. Remember that you can also DIY a litter box for your cat. Don’t forget to check out these amazing DIY cat litter!

Can I use Paper litter for my cat?

Paper litter is another option you can go with. Most paper litter is made from recycled paper; therefore, they tend to be good for the environment. 

Paper litter is:

  • Usually scent-free
  • Good at absorbing liquids
  • Can be found in various textures. 

All these make paper litter a good option for cats. 

But as with any other product, there are some negative sides to using paper cat litter. 

  • It lacks odor-controlling abilities
  • Could be very expensive. 
  • Your cats might not like using the paper litter

Is it safe to use sawdust as cat litter?

Another common question that cat owners may wonder is whether they can use sawdust for cat litter or not. 

At first glance, it might look like sawdust could be a good material to be used as cat litter, but it’s actually not the case at all. 

Sawdust is extremely dangerous for a cat’s respiratory system and can expose cats to different diseases. 

Moreover, it can also cause severe skin irritation in cats. That’s why it is always wise to have the best de-shedding brushes at your bay.

Sawdust is really not a good option for kitty litter and should be avoided. There are other types of cat litter available on the market you can choose from.

Can sand be used as cat litter? 

Wondering whether sand can act as a good litter material or not? Well, there is some merit to using sand as litter. It can absorb moisture to some extent and can also retain odors.

But it should be clear to you that sand is not the best material to be used as cat litter. It can easily get stuck to your cat’s body and paws. It’s really not the best option.

Keep an eye out for sensitivities, when you’re choosing between the different types of cat litter

Just like humans, cats can develop sensitivities and allergies to different things. Cat owners in doubt should consult a vet to find out more about all the things that can cause their cats to have an allergic attack. 

All this applies to cat litter, as well. There are tons of different types of cat litter made from various materials, some of which can cause sensitivities to your feline friend. 

Therefore, you should keep an eye out for any signs of irritation and allergic reactions in your cats after changing the types of litter they use. If left unchecked, these reactions can affect your cat’s health in a bad way. 

Sensitivities in cats can even make them pee outside the litter. Here’s how you can root out the cause of the cat’s peeing outside the litter box.

I hope that you found this article helpful and informative. What types of cat litter do you and your cat prefer? Are you a fan of clumping or non-clumping? Let us know in the comments.

If you found this post helpful, you might enjoy these: 

Website | + posts

Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,

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  1. Jennifer Ryan says:

    Jenny, I have a question. We are looking to switch litters and just recently bought a Litter Robot. Between Dr. Elsey’s litter and the Litterbox.com litter, which one do you prefer for a Litter Robot?

    Thank you in advance for the help!

      1. Jennifer Ryan says:

        Yes, I watched the reviews and that does help. Thank you so much!!

  2. WOW! Great post, Jenny honey! SUPER FABULOUS & PAWESOME topic, as usual! Very well done! 🙂 <3

    We use the NVR Miss Litter Boxes and Dr. Elsey's Precious Clumping Cat Litter for Miss PSB to do her "business." ! I am HUGE FAN FOR LIFE of BOTH products which I discovered thanks to the wonderful info you provide to all of us Floppycatters! Soooo, I THANK YOU VERY MUCH for THAT!!! 🙂 <3

    Big hugs & lots of love & purrs!

    Pattii & Miss Pink Sugarbelle 🙂 <3 <3 <3

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