Types of Cat Litter – Pros and Cons (with Videos)

There are many types of cat litter that you can choose from for your cat. It depends 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.

Different types of cat litter have various pros and cons, too.

types of cat litter a hand full of grey cat litter sand Litterbox.com Cat Litter close up Product Review
All litter has pros and cons.

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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
  • Cassava
  • and more

Each different type has individual properties, covered in more detail below.

However, there are a few main features to look out for with types of cat litter.

Scented vs. Unscented

Cat litter will either be:

  • Unscented
  • Naturally scented
  • Artificially scented

Unscented cat litter uses ingredients to neutralize odors from urine and feces. Scented varieties try to cover it up more with a smell, designed to be pleasant.

I don’t mind naturally scented litter, but I hate artificially scented litter. 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.

Overall, unscented litter is best for you and your cat.

Clumping vs. Non-clumping

The second question to consider is whether you’d prefer clumping or non-clumping litter.

Types of Cat Litter: Clumping Litter

As the name suggests, clumping litter forms clumps around urine and feces. This way, they can be scooped out, and you don’t need to replace the entire litter tray every time you clean it.

Dr Elseys Ultra cat litter

Clumping litter can sometimes cause the poop to get attached to your cat’s fur. Thus, it would be wise if you know how to safely remove the poop or diarrhea from your cat’s fur beforehand.

Clumping clay litter can be more expensive than non-clumping clay litter, but it’s a popular option among pet parents since it’s simple to use.

The litter absorbs the pee into clumps that you can quickly scoop up, dump, and you’re done. When you’re using clumping litter, urine doesn’t spill all over the litter box .

Cleaning it out and refilling it with brand new types of cat litter is more of a once-a-month task, than a weekly one.

Clumping cat litter should be avoided when choosing litterbox filler for a kitten, due to the risk of ingesting it.

Small and curious kittens are known to:

  • Consume their own excrement
  • Play in the litter box
  • Lick litter off their paws

So choosing other types of cat litter is a better idea for baby kittens.

Types of Cat Litter: Non-Clumping Litter

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.

Non-clumping litter is popular since it’s:

  • Inexpensive (a large bag can be obtained for a few dollars) and effective at soaking urine and smells.
  • Because the bigger grains of non-clumping litter don’t adhere to your cat’s feet like other varieties of cat litter, your feline is less likely to spill litter throughout your home.
  • Non- clumping litter requires a total litter replacement at least once a week. Otherwise, the litter gets soaked, stinky, and messy.

Is it better to clump or not to clump? Which one do you and your cat prefer?

Biodegradable or Not?

Some types 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 several natural types of cat litter you can choose from. However, keep in mind they can be harder to find in pet stores too.

metal litter box reviews floppycats a Ragdoll peeing in its litterbox

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-ClumpingProsCons
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
PaperUnscentedNon-clumping
  • 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 types of cat litter that work for you). That’s clear just from this Facebook post where I asked for reader 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 product showcase of different brands in bags and boxes
  • Dr. Elsey’s Premium Clumping Cat Litter – buy it here

  Watch this video to help you compare it with different types of cat litter:

Dr. Elsey's Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter, 40 Lb / 18.14 Kg (Pack May Vary) bag with blue and white tags yellow logo and a cat in the middle laying on its side
Dr. Elsey's Cat Attract Problem Cat Training Litter, 40 Lb / 18.14 Kg (Pack May Vary) bag with red and white tags yellow logo and a cat in the middle laying on its side

If you want to compare it with different types of cat litter watch this video:

Litter-Robot Clay Clumping Chemical and Scent Free Litter all-natural clumping cat litter in white and peach-colored 20 pounds bag close photo

  And here are some of my readers’ favorite types of cat litter:

  • World’s Best Cat Litter Multiple Cat Clumping – buy it here
World's Best Cat Litter, Clumping Litter Formula for Multiple Cats, 28-Pounds red and black colored bag with white titles and a cat face

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

Naturally Fresh Cat Litter - Walnut-Based Quick-Clumping Kitty Litter, Unscented, 26 lb (23001) quick clumping odor control bag close with a ginger cat image
  • ökocat Natural Wood Clumping Cat Litter – buy it here

Choosing between different types of cat litter could be a challenge if you’re not familiar with the different options on the market. Check this video about this product and make a better decision:

ökocat Original Low-Dust Natural Wood Clumping Cat Litter with Odor Control, 13.2 lbs. healthy pet next generation plant-based cat litter 13.2oz 6kg box with handle
  • sWheat Scoop Premium+ Natural Clumping Wheat Cat Litter – buy it here
sWheat Scoop Premium+ Natural Clumping Wheat Cat Litter  flushable biodegradable

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.

types of cat litter urine in a clump cleaned by a mint-green scoop in front of metal cat litter boxes
Your cat also needs to like the litter.

Is wood litter better than clay?

Again, when you’re choosing between different types of cat litter, there’s no definitive answer on whether the wood is better than clay.

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. It may deter them from using their litter box .

Many readers report they love pine pellet types of 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 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 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 types of cat litter are designed so that you can scoop out the clumps as they form, helping to keep the litter as clean as possible. At the very least, I think a litter box should be scooped two times a day.

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

What happens to pee in the non-clumping litter?

In non-clumping types of cat 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 non-clumping types of cat 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 and may cause health problems for your cat.

Not only that, but even you could become ill from a disease developed in the cat’s litter box. I can’t stress enough the importance of keeping 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. It’s the same as choosing from the different types of cat litter. Your cat has the final word.

Don’t hide the litterbox 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 cats 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.

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 odor 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.

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 its 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-absorbent
  • 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 tens 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 litters!

Can I use paper litter for my cat?

Paper litter is another option you can go with. Most paper litters are 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 about 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 the 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 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 for any signs of irritation and allergic reactions in your cats after changing the type 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.

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.

Did you like learning about all the types of litter? Then, you’re going to love these other posts we have for you: 

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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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5 Comments

  1. Can I ask what is the litter container that holds the things you clean out?

  2. We are going to be getting a Ragdoll kitten in late May who has been using tofu litter. We’ll be setting up a separate litter box (tofu) for him in his introductory room, and potentially more elsewhere in the house as he gets comfortable in his new home. How long do we need to keep him away from Dr Elsey’s litter? Or, do we try to switch the other cats before he arrives? Hopefully we can leave the other boxes and just add more tofu-filled boxes for him until he grows old enough to switch. I’d love to hear from other users of tofu litter.

    1. Why would you need to keep him away from Dr. Elsey’s? You can also transition him to Dr. Elsey’s from Tofu – just see if he will use the Dr. Elsey’s -he’ll smell the other cats using it, so shouldn’t be a problem.

  3. Patti Johnson says:

    TYSVM for re-visiting this always important topic, Jenny honey! 🙂 <3

    Big hugs & lots of love & purrs!

    Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle 🙂 <3

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