How to choose the best cat litter

Scottish Fold Cat

Clumping? Non clumping? Silica? Whether you’re an experienced cat owner or a novice one, the sheer volume of cat litter choices available can be overwhelming. There is a very wide selection of cat litter available on the market, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. New varieties appear from time to time, all claiming to be a new revolutionary method, but many do not survive long in the very competitive cat litter market! So how do you know which one is best for your cat?

Cats have their own personal preferences when it comes to litter. These can be the result of a number of things like having sensitive paws or simply just certain habits they may have created as a kitten. Why your cat prefers one kind of litter and not another is likely to remain a mystery forever. What matters is that you provide your cat with the kind of litter he or she feels comfortable with. Otherwise, they may reject the litter box altogether – and that’s when toilet problems start. Ultimately, you’ll have to figure out which type your cat prefers but here is a run down of the advantages and disadvantages of what is available:

Clumping cat litter

Clumping litter usually contains a substance called bentonite which absorbs the urine and creates a good solid lump, leaving the rest of the litter around it dry and clean.


  • It’s easy to scoop out solids and soiled litter. If this is done regularly, the untouched litter in the tray will last a bit longer.
  • Controls odour. Scooping out the litter regularly means the litter box will remain fresh-smelling, to satisfy your cat’s nose as well as your own, which means you’ll be less likely to inhale unpleasant litter box odours when you walk in the door.
  • Pieces that stray over the side of the litter tray are easy to see and sweep up, and don’t tend to tread into the carpet.
  • Clumping litter has very small granules, which are softer and gentler for your cat’s paws.  Therefore you may find that your cat prefers it to other types of litter.


  • It’s dusty stuff! Smaller particles of litter creates large dust that is uncomfortable and unhealthy not only for cats, but for humans as well.
  • It can stick to a cat’s feet and this becomes dangerous if they lick their claws. It also means they tend to tread it around the house.
  • It contains sodium bentonite which expands a lot when moisturised. This could lead to some health related problems by swallowing or inhaling some of the particles.

Non clumping cat litter

Non clumping litter simply lets urine sift through, absorbing some of the odour through additives such as baking soda or charcoal. You can only scoop out faeces, while the urine dries up in the rest of the litter. The only way to clean the urine from the box is by changing all of the litter, usually once a week. Some non-clumping litter is based on silica crystals. The silica crystals are very similar to those used in desiccants. They absorb the urine more quickly than grains of clay would, allowing the water to slowly evaporate while keeping the smell inside them.


  • Solid waste is easy to remove from the litter tray.
  • It is much cheaper to buy than clumping litter, even though more is needed in comparison to clumping litters.
  • Some owners feel that a non clumping litter is safer for their cat.


  • It tends to disintegrate quickly and is easily trodden into carpets, which ove time could require a carpet cleaner.
  • Some manufacturers claim that the soiled litter and waste matter can be flushed down the toilet, but this will inevitably lead to blocked drains – so don’t believe everything you read!

Silica gel cat litter

Made from porous sodium silicate, silica gel is the newest variety of cat litter available and has the highest absorbency of any other litter. The crystal beads are like little sponges that really soak up urine and moisture.


  • It has a very high fluid absorbency (though solids still need to be removed).
  • The crystals turn yellow when they are saturated, indicating the need for a completely fresh supply of litter in the tray
  • It doesn’t tend to tread into the furnishings like some other litter.
  • It’s does a good job of getting rid of odours.


  • It can be very expensive.
  • Some cats don’t like it as it can feel sharp on their feet.

How do I swap my cat’s litter? 

There might come a day when you have to change litter brands. This can be a risky business considering that cats are among the finickiest creatures on the planet! Not only could they dislike the new material you’ve chosen for their box, they might show their displeasure in very messy ways! To avoid this, follow these simple steps:

  • Introduce only a small amount (around 10%) of the new litter by mixing it in with the old variety.
  • Gradually increase the ratio of new litter to old over a period of a few weeks.
  • Watch your cat closely for signs of litter box reluctance or anxiety.