Cats are treasured companions for many households. As cat owners, it is our responsibility to care for our feline friends by providing for their basic needs, one of which is an appropriate place to relieve themselves indoors. Choosing the right cat litter is an important factor in keeping our cats clean and healthy while avoiding messes around the home. Here are the key things to consider when selecting cat litter.
Types of Cat Litter
Clumping Clay Litter
Clumping clay litter is the most popular type. It is made of absorbent clay that hardens when wet, trapping urine and feces. This helps reduce odors and makes scooping easier. Clay litter is economical and among the most effective at odor control. However, some cats do not like the feel of clay on their paws. It also tracks more easily than other litters.
Clumping Clay Crystals
Clumping clay crystal litters are similar to clay but with the addition of silica gel crystals. The crystals absorb moisture faster than clay alone to trap waste and lock in odors. This provides enhanced odor control compared to regular clay. However, the silica crystals may irritate some cats’ paws or cause breathing issues in pets with lung conditions.
Clumping Paper Litter
Paper litter is made from renewable resources like shredded paper, wood shavings, or plant byproducts. It clumps wet waste like clay and controls odors fairly well. Many cats prefer its softer texture on their paws. However, paper litter often does not last as long as clay before needing to be replaced. It also tends to track more than heavier litters.
Grain, Wood, and Sustainable Plant-Based Litters
Litters made from grains, wood, and plants like wheat, corn, walnut shells, or peat moss are renewable resources many cats enjoy. As with paper litter, grains and plants have a gentle texture. These litters control odors adequately in most homes. Their smaller granules mean they require scooping more frequently however.
Silica Gel Litter
Silica gel litter contains lightweight silica crystals that absorb moisture to control odors. It is lighter weight than clay and clumps wet waste well. However, silica gel can be dusty and may not absorb as effectively as clumping litters when more than one cat shares the litter box.
Scented litters, usually clay, paper, or plant-based, emit a masking fragrance like lavender. While this may provide olfactory appeals, scents can attract cats to inappropriate areas or even upset their sensitive systems. Scented litter is best avoided for cats’ health and good litter habits.
Litter Material Types
Litter Box Maintenance and Odor Control
Beyond material, maintenance is key to keeping litter boxes odor-free and hygienic. Daily cleaning is ideal — scoop out clumps of waste at least once per day. Wipe down the box weekly using an odor-destroying disinfectant cleaner.
For multiple cats or heavy users, washable mats under litter boxes help contain tracked litter granules. Replace mats regularly. Thoroughly scrub plastic boxes weekly with diluted bleach solution or specialized litter box cleaners.
Completely change out litter every 1-2 weeks or more frequently as needed. Replace litter promptly if odors persist despite cleaning and scooping. Layering aromatic baking soda, activated charcoal, or deodorizer granules beneath fresh litter can help control lingering smells inboxes prone to odors. Adjusting litter amount and providing extra waste receptacles may also help. Consult your veterinarian if problems continue.
Litter Amount and Box Size
Proper litter amount and box size support your cat’s litter habits while minimizing messes. In general, 1-2 inches of litter covering the entire bottom of the litter box works for most cats and household sizes. Provide 1 litter box per cat, plus 1 extra box. Place boxes in quiet areas away from foot traffic and noise.
Boxes should allow cats adequate space to move about and turn around comfortably inside. For one adult cat, opt for a extra-large covered litter box measuring 18″x24″ or larger; multi-cat households may prefer even bigger boxes. Boxes on the smaller side risk litter piling up around or outside the receptacle due to insufficient capacity inside.
The Right Litter for Each Cat
Of course, the best litter ultimately is whatever fits the needs and preferences of your individual cat. Here are some factors to assess for each feline companion:
– Age and health conditions: Kittens and senior pets may require softer litters; those prone to respiratory issues need dust-free varieties.
– Paw and skin sensitivity: Cats bothered by rough textures favor paper, grain, or plant-based litters over clay.
– Litter box habits: Heavy users and messy diggers need highly absorbent clumping litters; daintier cats may prefer lighter weight options.
– Odor control needs: Multi-cat homes may require heavier duty clumping litters or additional maintenance measures.
– Personal preferences: Give cats a choice of 2-3 litter types to see which they take to quickest. Pick based on what they use consistently.
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it