Types of cat litter – Pros and Cons {With Videos}

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There are many different types of 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.

Litterbox.com Cat Litter close up Product Review
All litter has pros and cons.

Please note that this article may contain affiliate links. That means that if you buy something, I may earn a small commission. You can read my full disclosure at the bottom of the page.

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 different type has certain properties, covered in more detail below. However, there are a few main features to look out for with any type 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 litters 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.

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Clumping vs. Non-clumping

The second question to consider is whether you’d 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 every time you want to clean it out. 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 to just clean it all in one go.

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, but they can be harder to find in pet stores too.

metal litter box reviews floppycats

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 litter Scented/Unscented Clumping/Non-Clumping Pros Cons
Clay Can be either Clumping
  • 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 Crystals Can be either Non-clumping
  • Absorbent
  • Doesn’t need changing as often
  • Dust-free
  • Not biodegradable
  • Many cats don’t like the feel
  • Expensive
Paper Unscented Non-clumping
  • Biodegradable
  • Dust-free
  • Affordable
  • Doesn’t control odor well
  • Needs changing more frequently
Wheat Naturally or artificially scented Clumping
  • Dust-free
  • Biodegradable
  • Doesn’t clump as effectively as clay – harder to clean
  • Can attract pests
Wood Naturally scented Non-clumping
  • Naturally captures odors
  • Dust-free
  • Biodegradable
  • Many cats don’t like the pine scent, can cause issues with litter box use
Walnut Shell Naturally scented Can be either
  • Absorbent
  • Low-dust
  • Biodegradable
  • Doesn’t clump as effectively as clay
Corn Naturally or artificially scented Clumping
  • Dust-free
  • Biodegradable
  • Doesn’t clump as effectively as clay – harder to clean
  • Can attract pests
  • Expensive
Coconut Husk Naturally scented Clumping
  • 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 own 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 my 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 my 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 clumping or non-clumping cat litter better?

Whether clumping or non-clumping is better depends on you and your cat. Clumping is much easier to clean and generally does a much better job of controlling odors than non-clumping. I’ve always preferred clumping litter for my cats.

Litterbox.com Cat Litter clumped Product Review 2
You cat needs to like the litter also.

Is wood litter better than clay?

Again, there’s no definitive answer on whether wood is better than clay for cat litter. Wood’s natural scent is always better than an 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?
Some non-clumping cat litters are good at absorbing cat urine, meaning they 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 on a frequent basis, 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 non-clumping litter?
In non-clumping litter, the material is designed to absorb the cat 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 cleaned.

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.

What types of litter do you and your cat prefer? Are you a fan of clumping or non-clumping? Leave your comment below.

Comment (1)

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  1. 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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