Is Clumping Litter Bad For Cats?

Is Clumping Litter Bad For Cats

Clumping litter is a popular choice among cat owners because it is easier to dispose of and most cats seem to prefer it as it is easy to push aside. But, is it completely safe for your furry babies?

Is clumping litter bad for cats?

Yes, clumping litter can be bad for cats because it can cause respiratory problems when inhaled and gastrointestinal blockage when ingested in large amounts. The main culprit is granulated bentonite clay of which clumping litter is usually made. It swells up to 15 times its original volume and allows the litter to form into solid clumps as it absorbs urine, making it easier to remove litter from the box without changing the entire content.  Unfortunately, this type of clay may be detrimental to your cat’s health and it is also derived from strip mining which is destructive to the environment. 

Naturally clumping litter which is made from corn can cause mold growth and those made from wood materials emit wood dust that may cause cancer. Sadly, they are marketed as all-natural but they may still cause harm to cats.   

While clumping litter is effective in conveniently removing soiled litter it does not mean that the litter box does not have to be cleaned or emptied.  While the task may be performed less frequently, you still have to clean and empty the litter box and refill it with fresh litter at least once a month.

You may also check out our earlier articles on can you flush cat litter and cat litter that doesn’t stick to paws for additional information about cat litter-related topics. 

What are the other types of cat litter?

These are the other types of cat litter available in the market today:

1. Clay non-clumping litter 

This type of litter is made from other kinds of clay. However, it is not as easy to clean and may require diligent cleaning as it does not form into scoopable clumps. 

2. Sand

It is an easily available cat litter and the preferred litter of your cat’s wild ancestors. It clumps when wet which makes it easy to scoop out, controls odors and acts as a drying agent for cat poop. However, it may cause a lot of dust in your home especially if there is a strong wind and can become messy 

3. Crystal 

Crystal is quite pricey but it has a high absorption rate which allows you to save on this type of litter.  The crystals are easier to clean, absorbs wetness and odor and gives your cat something to paw around. However, it is harmful when inhaled and ingested. If you notice that it is no longer absorbing the cat’s pee it is an indication that it needs to be changed. 

4. Corn and wheat 

This type of litter usually does not clump, has low or no dust and completely biodegradable. However, this may not be suited for cats with a food allergy to corn or wheat. Nevertheless, there is one type of clumping cat litter that is made from cornmeal, the World’s Best Cat Litter. It clumps well, easier to scoop, is biodegradable and does not create dust. 

5. Pine 

This type of cat litter is made from sawdust, a waste material from sawmills.  This modern version of cat litter is preferred by cat owners who are looking for natural and eco-friendly litter choices. The wood sawdust is compressed into pellets and does not cause any dust. However, it may have health risks as it may cause cancer.  

6. Paper 

Like pine, paper litter is another eco-friendly means to cut down on waste. Recycled paper is formed into large pellets of cat litter. It has great absorbing power and effective at eliminating odor but cleanup may be quite annoying as paper turns goopy when it becomes wet. 

How to test your cat’s litter preference?

To ascertain what your cat’s personal preference is when it comes to litter or if you want to change the one she is presently using, place multiple boxes for a short period. Fill one litter box with the one she is using and fill the others with different types. You will know which type your cat prefers if she keeps using that litter box. This process may also help solve the problem of cats eliminating outside their litter box. 

Also, regardless of the litter type, your cat will always favor a clean litter box so make sure that it is regularly cleaned. See to it that you scoop out soiled litter at least twice a day if you have one cat and more if you have multiple cats at home. Using a litter mat is ideal and the litter box should be thoroughly washed and cleaned at least once a week. Check out our earlier article on litter box hacks and how to clean a litter box with bleach for more litter box related tips.


Cats are clean creatures and this extends to how they go about with their private business. They are particular with scents and will not use a litter box once they detect odd odors. Most cats seem to prefer clumping litter because they can set it aside and cat owners find it convenient as it is easy to scoop the soiled litter from the box. However, clumping litter is bad for cats because it is comprised of bentonite clay that causes gastrointestinal blockage and respiratory problems.  

Image: / carlosrojas20