A Guide to the Different Types of Cat Litter

by VetDepot on August 7, 2014

kitten litter box blogIf it seems like there are more options than ever out there when it comes to cat litter, you’re right. Litter comes in all scents, textures, and materials. Below are some quick facts about five of the major kitty litter varieties available on the market today:

1.) Clumping Clay: This is one of the most popular types of kitty litter. Most clumping clay litters are made from bentonite, which is a highly absorbent clay that forms little clumps when exposed to moisture. The upsides to clumping clay are that cleaning the litter box is a breeze and both scented and unscented varieties are available. Opponents of clumping clay argue that the product isn’t biodegradable and can be dusty.

2.) Non-Clumping Clay: This variety of clay litter still absorbs moisture, but doesn’t form into clumps. This might mean you have to clean your kitty’s box more often. However, non-clumping clay litter tends to be cheaper than its clumping counterpart.

3.) Crystal: Crystal litter is typically made of small bits of dried silica. It tends to be more expensive than other types of kitty litter, however, fans of crystal litter say it’s worth the price tag because it lasts for an extended period of time, is dust-free, and is biodegradable. One warning with this type of litter is that tiny jagged pieces can sometimes be a little rough on sensitive kitty paws.

4.) Paper: This type of cat litter is made from post-consumer recycled paper and is available in pellet or granule form. Paper litter contains no dust and is absorbent. Regular litter box cleaning will be necessary with the pellet form because clumping will not occur. However, you can expect clumps with the granule variety.

5.) Pine: This is another natural, recycled option. Pine litter needs to be replaced more often than some of the more traditional options, but the fresh scent has made believers out of many cat owners.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Cheryl W August 12, 2014 at 8:01 am

My vet had me use newsprint litter after my cat had surgery. I had a allergy reaction to it, as I do when I read a newspaper. Just something to consider. I was allowed to switch the litter to pine, which also does not stick to the surgical area, as clay litter does.

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Heidi Kristine August 12, 2014 at 11:33 am

I have had many beloved cats (multi-cat home) and found success using clumping cat litter. The less expensive brands like the ‘Walmart’ brands are ok when I cleaned the litter box twice a day. But if your having guests and you wish to impress spending alittle extra and purchasing the brand “Fresh-Step” will last longer (more absorbent) and it provides you, in the long run, with much less odor.

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Pam Rose August 12, 2014 at 12:48 pm

As a cat rescuer and behaviorist who tries to solve litterbox issues, I often recommend unscented litter, as the odor is made for people, not cats. Some cats who avoid the litterbox don’t like the strong scent. While so many prefer clay clumping, the box still needs to be emptied and washed – little bits of dirty litter will always remain – and clay tends to make that urine smell stronger. I much prefer my own system, which mixes 4 types of “litter”: 2 of which are from the small pet bedding aisle. Three of these litters are MUCH lighter than clay too!

I mix together: Softsorbent by Kaytee, Fresh World Bedding or the National Geographic similar product, Blue Buffalo’s walnut based clumping litter (much better than clay), and Cedarific – a ground wood litter with a small amount of cedar which gives a very mild, natural scent. This gives me a litter with superior odor control, a nice mix of pellet/granule sizes with benefits of both, and easy to identify wet areas, which can be scooped out even if it isn’t clumped.

I encourage anyone to experiment with mixing different litters, and try out products that may be marketed differently. I’m always on the lookout for another product that may work better.

Give it a try! You may find a better system.

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