There are many different cat litter types and cat litter brands. Clumping litters, absorbing litters, masking litters, bio-degradable cat litters and more. Which cat litter is best for your cats and your health as well as for your wallet? Find out in this guide.
Different Types Of Cat Litter
Cat litter boxes are used by cats indoors to eliminate into. Cats prefer their litter box to be very clean all the time. It is therefore important that the litter box can be cleaned fast and easily and that the smells will be minimal after each use by your cat.
You can get nowadays cat litter in most shops, including supermarkets and plant & flower stores. There are many different cat litters for your cat litter box. In the old days people used earth from outside or ash from their wood fire.
Nowadays there are many different types for sale:
- Clumping Clay
- Non-clumping Clay
- Recycled Paper
- Wallnut Shells
- Silica Gel Crystals
Sodium rich bentonite clay produces clumps of fluids and feces. They cover the entire of the eliminations and mask them from smell. The clumps are easy to scoop out of the toilet.
Recently I reviewed what I consider one of the best clumping cat litters: Purina Tidy Cats Instant Action Clumping Cat Litter
Non Clumping Clay
Here normal or different types of clay without bentonite is used. This means the clay gets drenched with fluid and falls apart. The smell is not properly contained and refreshing entire cat litter is more often necessary.
Paper sucks fluids up very well. Paper is bio-degradable and so it can be thrown away in nature or via garden, fruit and vegetable garbage collection. The recycled paper litter is made into granules or pellets. The granule version clumps while the pellet version doesn’t. Recycled paper doesn’t dust either. Unfortunately it isn’t very good at keeping smells at bay.
This is a granule or pellet formed material made from heated lumber scraps or pine cones. The pellets do not clump very well and it will soon get smelly in the box, while the granules keep smell, dust and fluid away. Pine litter is bio-degradable.
This type of litter is made of crushed wallnut shells and sucks up fluid very well. It masks odour and is dust-free. It also isn’t dusty and is bio-degradable.
Read our review of Review: Blue Naturally Fresh Cat Litter here!
Corn litter is bio-degradable, controls odour and clumps, but is bad for cats. Cats shouldn’t ingest too much corn (no flour and no grains, no fillers). Since cats do groom themselves, they would get too much corn flower in them.
Same story as with the corn, the litter is bio-degradable, controls odour and forms clumps while being absorbent, but it is bad for your cat.
Silica Gel Crystals
Silica Gel Crystals are the same type of crystals that are sometimes put into packing to keep humidity at bay. They are very good for cat litter, but your cats might not like it. Also, ingesting these crystals isn’t very healthy for your cat.
This is a relative new type of cat litter. It is bio-degradable, controls odour and is as a highly absorbent litter also good at clumping. I have not seen it yet here to be honest. But it definitely sounds interesting.
Cost Effective Cat Litter
The cheaper brand cat litters are more difficult to clean, because the eliminates are not contained properly and a complete renewal of cat litter is required. This can then become more expensive in the long run, because you need to completely replace the litter more often (maybe after every litter box visit?).
The better cat litter absorbs the liquid and forms easy scoopable clumps of litter waste. This is done through the use of clay and a chemically diverse set of absorbent clay minerals capable of absorbing their weight in water (sodium rich bentonite).
The clay type of cat litter is however not bio-degradable and in present time some people want to use bio-degradable products only. There is a diversity of cat litter and what is best for you and your cat is based upon preference and availability.
To give you an example, bio-degradable cat litter is not available here where we live (yet) and so we are ‘stuck’ with less environment friendly alternatives, such as the clay type.
Things to Keep in Mind
There are a six things that you have to keep in mind when choosing the best cat litter for you and your cat.
The main issues with cat litter boxes are:
- How easy you can clean the box
- The odour after a cat eliminated
- The harmful dustiness of cat litter
- The added scents to mark cat elimination odour
- What your cat likes / not likes in cat litter
- Bio-degradable or not – disposing of it
How easy you can clean the box depends on whether you need to replace the entire box contents after a use or whether you can simply scoop out the clumps of urine or feces and still have cat litter remaining in the box for the next use.
Odour of Elimination
When urine reacts with oxygen, ammonia forms over time which gives that very strong smelly odour. Some cat litter is able to break down the urine or ammonia, but most litters are just simply masking the odour with a scent. Added scent comes in all forms, such as baby powder and a powdered version of plant based oils, such as lavender.
Dust from Litter
The clumping and non-clumping cat litters produce often also dust, especially when it gets moved around. So whether you are filling the litter box, cleaning the litter box by scooping and filtering or whether your cat digs a hole, dust appears. This is very fine grained dust, which is harmful to both people and animals from baby powder to plant-oil based powder such as lavender and other flower smells. They can often remind you of washing machine powder, as they also use these added scents to them. People and cats can have allergic reactions to these scents and as the scents are added powder, they are therefore also dusty.
What your cat likes / not likes
Unfortunately, not all cats like the same type of litter. Some litter sticks to their paws which annoys them. Other litters are more difficult to dig into, causing them to not wanting to cover up or avoid the litter box completely. You will have to play trial and error with different cat litters until you have found the right one for both you and your cat.
Directly, the tracking issue is not so much a problem for your cat as it is for you. Tracking is the fact that some cat litter sticks in their paws and as such they take it with on their journey out of the litter box. The result is cat litter everywhere in your house. There are however some solutions to this, but most people will look for a litter that doesn’t track as much. Before cat litter came to exist, people used ash or earth, which also had a lot of tracking issues linked.
Indirectly the tracking can also be an issue for your cat as they groom their fur and might get a lot of the cat litter in their tummy. Some cat litters can be harmful where the chemicals or the clumping cause blockage in your cats stomach.
What Do Cats Prefer?
Nobody has managed to ask and understand the reply of what cats actually want or prefer in cat litter. Nonetheless we can look at cats and their behaviour in nature. In nature cats use normal earth or sand as their cat litter. This sand or earth does absorb the urine and feces will get covered and possibly clump. The earth is not smelly at first and doesn’t mask smells. It does however absorb the fluids and hence you will not smell the urine so much.
So from that point of view, cats will prefer cat litters that are non-scented, non-masking, absorbing cat litter. While your cats prefer this type of litter, most people go for a slight scented litter that can control odours and has clumping abilities to make it easier to scoop.
So in other words, there are many choices of cat litter types and what you should watch out for when you want to buy cat litter.
Have you got any experience with either of the cat litter types? What is your experience? Please share below!