Create Account
Skip to content
Your cart

Your cart is empty. Let's fix that!

Search

A cat near various containers in different poses.
Pet Blog

How to Find the Best Type of Cat Litter for Your Cat

Having a cat fills your life with lots of love—and litter box scooping. There are a lot of types of cat litter out there, and this guide will help you find the right kind for you and your cat.


What to Look For in a Litter

While many cat litters boast about being the best litter around, the truth is that there’s no one-size fits all cat litter. Every household and unique cat is different, so you have to look for a litter that will suit your lifestyle and your cat’s preferences! Cats are notoriously picky about what type of litter they’ll use, and they might snub a litter that looks perfect on paper.

It may take some trial and error to find your perfect match, but knowing what you’re looking for in a litter will help you narrow down the list. Here’s what we consider when picking cat litter:


Clumping

Traditional cat litters clump when they come into contact with moisture, allowing you to scoop urine out of the litter in firm clumps. This can be a convenient way to make sure you’re removing as much urine as possible from your cat’s litter box, but it’s not the best choice for all cats!

Clumping cat litter can stick to and irritate any surgical incisions or wounds your cat might have. Clumping makes it difficult to see how much urine your cat is producing, which can be important for cats with medical conditions like diabetes. Clumping litters also tend to have ingredients that will irritate sensitive stomachs if eaten, which makes them a bad choice for kittens and adult cats who like to taste-test things they probably shouldn’t.


Texture

The texture of a cat litter can range from a sandy texture to larger pellets. The consistency of a litter will impact your scooping experience and how much litter is likely to stick to your cat’s feet and get tracked around your home—larger pieces will generally be more likely to stay put in your litter box.

It’s also important to consider litter texture for any cats with paw sensitivity, which is more common among senior cats. They will likely prefer a litter with a soft, smooth texture that’s gentle on the paws.


Odor Control

The simple truth about litter boxes is that they can get stinky—anyone in a multiple-cat household knows what we’re talking about. Many litters try to cover up the smell of poop and ammonia with added perfumes, but they can be irritating to both cats and humans with allergies and scent sensitivity. In addition, they don’t actually stop odor at the source—they just add more smells on top of that stink!

The smart move is to get a type of litter that will help to actually neutralize and remove odors instead of just covering them up. While no litter will be able to eliminate 100% of unpleasant scents, many formulas can make a dent in the smell! And of course, the best solution for keeping odor at bay is frequent scooping (we salute you, dedicated poop scoopers).


Dust Levels

Some cat litters can get dusty when you scoop or when your cat starts digging in the litter box! It’s not great for anyone to inhale cat litter dust, but it can be a big problem for anyone with asthma or dust sensitivity—including your cat. If your cat regularly starts sniffling or sneezing after a trip to the litter box, it’s a good sign to try a dust-free litter.


Sustainability

Did you know that traditional clay cat litter is made from bentonite—a non-renewable resource that requires harmful mining and ends up in a landfill? Eco-conscious cat people saw a problem and created solutions, leading to a wave of new types of more sustainable cat litter which are made from renewable and recycled materials and will decompose quickly and naturally.

If your cat will only use the clay litter they grew up using, don’t feel bad! The most important thing is finding a litter your cat is happy to use. But if your cat will make the switch to a more eco-friendly cat litter, you’ll be helping to reduce your ecological impact and leave the world a better place for future generations of pets (and people too).


Types of Cat Litter

There are many brands of litter for you to consider, but most cat litters can be grouped into some common categories. These are the most popular types of cat litter and their pros and cons:


Bentonite Litter

Clumping: Yes

Texture: Small, sandy grains

Odor control: Good, especially with the many odor-control formulas available in this popular litter

Dust levels: Usually high unless you get a specific low-dust formula

Sustainability: Poor—requires harmful mining, is non-renewable, and does not decompose


Bentonite has been the go-to cat litter choice since Ed Lowe discovered its powerful clumping capabilities and started marketing the stuff back in the 1940s! It’s the litter most cats have grown up using, making it a feline favorite. Bentonite cat litter’s widespread availability and low price point make it the most popular type of cat litter.


Silica Litter (or Crystal Litter)

Clumping: No

Texture: Small, sandy grains

Odor control: Very good

Dust levels: Low

Sustainability: Low—requires harmful mining, is non-renewable, and does not decompose, but is long lasting


Silica or crystal cat litter is made from small, transparent pieces of silica which make an effective cat litter thanks to their incredible absorbency! Unlike clumping clay litters, silica litter absorbs urine into its crystals and even pulls moisture out of feces, helping to trap odors. This litter is also very long-lasting, allowing for up to a month of use before you have to discard the litter, making it less wasteful than bentonite cat litter.


Diatomaceous Earth Litter

Clumping: No

Texture: Chunky pebbles

Odor control: Very good

Dust levels: Low

Sustainability: Good—it’s long lasting and renewable but does require mining


Diatomaceous earth is made of fossilized algae which forms naturally at the bottom of bodies of water. Much like silica, it’s incredibly absorbent and has excellent odor control as a cat litter thanks to its ability to contain the moisture from urine and feces. The larger chunks of diatomaceous earth are less likely to hitch a ride out of the litter box on your cat’s paws, but they may be rough on the toe beans.


Wood Litter

Clumping: Available in clumping and non-clumping options

Texture: Pellets

Odor control: Good

Dust levels: Low

Sustainability: Excellent—renewable, biodegradable, and made from industrial byproducts


Wood cat litters are made from scraps and wood dust left over from lumber processing that are condensed into small wood pellets. As the pellets absorb moisture, they break down into sawdust. Scooping a non-clumping wood litter is different from scooping conventional clumping litters, as you scoop up dirty litter and shake the loose dust into the trash (or even the toilet with some brands) while returning the whole pellets to the litter box.

Pine is the most common wood used, and the scent of this natural cat litter may be a pro or a con depending on how much you like the scent of Christmas trees! Unfortunately, many cats are unused to the texture of pellets and may be reluctant to use this litter.


Paper Litter

Clumping: No

Texture: Pellets

Odor control: Low

Dust levels: Low

Sustainability: Excellent—renewable, recycled, and biodegradable


Much like wood litter, paper litter is made from recycled paper condensed into pellets. Just as with wood litter, cats may be picky about the pellet texture, but it is very sustainable.

Paper absorbs moisture from urine, but unfortunately does little to contain odor. Paper litter doesn’t clump, so you will have to eyeball poop and urine-stained paper pellets to scoop. It requires frequent scooping to avoid soggy litter, particularly in multi-cat homes.


Grain Litter

Clumping: Yes

Texture: Small grains or pellets

Odor control: Good

Dust levels: Low

Sustainability: Good—renewable and biodegradable


Grain litters are made from corn, wheat, and other grains compressed into small, absorbent pellets that often have a texture more like a conventional litter than the larger pellets of a wood or paper litter, making them more appealing to most cats. They clump naturally thanks to the starches in the grains and most grain litters include natural odor control thanks to naturally-occuring enzymes and added ingredients like wood or even green tea. Most varieties are safe to flush.

Grain litters aren’t harmful if consumed, making them ideal for any cats who have an unfortunate tendency to eat their litter! However, they should not be used by any cats with grain sensitivities.


Soybean Litter (or Tofu Litter)

Clumping: Yes

Texture: Soft, small grains or pellets

Odor control: Good

Dust levels: Low

Sustainability: Excellent—renewable, biodegradable, and made from food byproducts


These litters are made from the pulp of soybeans, just like tofu! When those bean solids are dried out and condensed into pellets, they create a flushable, biodegradable, and very absorbent cat litter. The soft, soy-based litter is low in dust, ideal for cats with sensitive paws, and not harmful if eaten.


Grass Seed Litter

Clumping: Yes

Texture: Small grains

Odor control: Good

Dust levels: low

Sustainability: Good—renewable and biodegradable


Made from grass seeds, this litter is notable for its ability to out-compete even bentonite cat litter at clumping! It clumps extremely quickly and firmly, trapping urine odors and making wet spots easy to scoop. It’s biodegradable and even compostable, and the soft grains are a familiar texture for cats that are accustomed to clay litter, making the transition easy.


Walnut Litter

Clumping: Available in clumping and non-clumping options

Texture: Small grains

Odor control: Good

Dust levels: Low

Sustainability: Excellent—renewable, biodegradable, and made from food byproducts


This litter is made from discarded walnut shells ground into a soft, grainy litter that makes an easy dupe for clay litter for picky cats. Clumping varieties perform much like conventional cat litter, but the dark color of the walnut shell can make it harder to see clumps and feces when scooping. As you might expect, this litter has an earthy, walnut aroma. Make sure to skip walnut litter if you have nut allergies!

 

 

It might take a few tries to find a cat litter that will meet the high standards of both you and your cat, but your patience will pay off! More pleasant poop scooping is in your future, cat owners.

P.S. Need help training your cat to use a litter box? Or maybe you’re looking for cat food that can aid digestion and help make your BFF’s litter box look (and smell) like less of a crime scene? We’ve got you.