The litter lowdown.

Cat Care, Cat Mews September 18, 2014

Cats originated in the desert, so they instinctually prefer litters with a similar texture to sand. But what litters will work best for you and your cat? Clumping? Clay? Light? Here’s a quick lowdown on the types of cat litter out there, what’s in them and how they work – so you can make an informed decision.

Clay litter

As the name suggests, this is simply cat litter made from dried clay that easily absorbs urine. Its granulated texture allows cats to bury their business. Clay cat litter comes in most of the varieties below.


Designed to make it easier to remove urine and solid waste from the box, clumping cat litters are usually made with a clay base that clumps together when wet. This allows you to remove the odor-causing clumps of waste, using a slotted scoop. For many owners, this means they don’t need to completely change the entire box as frequently.


Non-clumping cat litters typically have larger size granules that absorb urine but do not clump when wet, so there’s no need to scoop out urine clumps. This can mean odor is better absorbed, but the litter may become saturated faster and require more frequent litter box changes.


Both clumping and non-clumping cat litters are available with some form of odor control. Some of these litters contain a fragrance to cover nasty smells with a fresher alternative. However, because of their highly developed sense of smell, some cats can be put off by heavily perfumed environments.


Unscented cat litters are a good alternative for cats and owners who are allergic or sensitive to fragrance. These litters often have additional odor-fighting ingredients to help neutralize odor and keep your home smelling fresh without heavy fragrances.

The rest

Although clay is by far the most popular variety of cat litter, there are other varieties on the market. These include crystal litters and more natural options such as pine, wheat and corn. Another biodegradable option is litter made from recycled paper, which can have the same texture as clay litter and provide long-lasting odor control.