Eight Different Types of Cat Litter

Brown and white cat sitting on brown cat litter

The Spruce / Almar Creative

Cat litter is an essential supply for all indoor cats. It is used instinctively by a cat to bury its urine and feces, but some owners have preferences for what type of litter they'd like their cats to use.

Historically, clay cat litter was the only option for absorbing urine and allowing a cat to practice the natural behavior of burying its waste matter, but, now, many different options are available.

Price, odor control, the amount of dust, absorbency, how well it clumps, availability to purchase, scent or lack thereof, and other factors may play a role in the type of litter you or your cat prefer.

In addition to the following types of cat litter, some people will also temporarily use cat litter substitutes that they find lying around their homes. Dirt, sawdust, wood shavings, various small animal beddings, pet chicken feed, sand, and moss have all been used. However, concerns with smell, dust, parasites, and other problems do not make these items good long-term solutions for cats.

A final, and important, consideration to make when choosing a litter is whether or not your cat likes it and will use it. Many cats will refuse to use some kinds of litter and will instead go outside the litter box. This, of course, is not ideal for anyone, so the ultimate factor in deciding what kind of cat litter to purchase may lie with your cat and its preferences.

  • 01 of 08

    Clay Litter

    Clay cat litter with scoop

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    Clay cat litter is the most popular litter choice for cat owners, probably in part because it is also one of the most well-established and easy to come by.

    Low dust and dust-free options are available along with scented or unscented varieties. Some of these litters are made up of large pieces of clay and others are finer clay particles, but they all absorb urine and turn into a softer, wet cement-like texture when they do. There are even clay litters that contain attractants to entice a difficult cat to use the litter box more.

    There are two main types of clay cat litter: clumping and non-clumping. Clumping cat litter is often preferred by many cat owners who like to scoop the urine waste out of the litter box regularly, but others like the lower cost of non-clumping litter and will dump the entire litter box contents when necessary.

    Some disadvantages of clay litter include the fact that it is not environmentally friendly, the amount of dust that is present, the heavy weight of the litter, and how much the litter tracks through the house. However, the price point and availability of most clay litters still make it a popular choice for cat owners.

  • 02 of 08

    Silica Gel Litter

    Overhead shot of silica cat litter in a box with a cat looking at it.

    Axel Bueckert / EyeEm / Getty Images

    Growing in popularity, silica gel cat litter is made by several different companies. Most companies advertise that silica gel litter is not as dusty as clay, traps urine without having to scoop it out of the litter, lasts longer than the same amount of clay litter, offers excellent odor control, and is sometimes even preferred by cats over clay litter.

    Silica get litter is usually more expensive than a clay litter bag of the same weight, but since it lasts longer, some pet owners do not see a significant price difference. Some types of silica gel litters, like Pretty Litter, even have color-changing indicators in them to help monitor a cat's urinary system health.

  • 03 of 08

    Pine Litter

    Pine litter in a cat box with a scoop

    hutchyb / Getty Images

    Pine litter is popular because of its natural ability to fight off odors. Being made from pine trees, it is also lightweight, has low dust, is absorbent, and is softer than clay litter.

    Some cat owners like the fact that it is more environmentally friendly than clay litter and that it could provide better odor control. There are both clumping and non-clumping options available. Non-clumping pine litter typically comes in a cylindrical pelleted form while the clumping form is a ground-up pine litter that looks more like sawdust.

  • 04 of 08

    Wheat Litter

    Swheat Scoop


    Similar to pine litter, wheat litter is also an environmentally friendly alternative to clay litter, but it is made from processed wheat. It clumps, helps control odors, and is even flushable. There are not usually any added dyes or perfumes to this ground-up, granular product. When a cat urinates on wheat litter, it turns to a sawdust-like material and can be scooped out of the box.

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  • 05 of 08

    Grass Litter

    So Phresh grass seed cat litter


    Less commonly available than most of the other types of cat litter, grass litter is another natural alternative to traditional clay cat litter. It looks similar to pine or corn litter and is a dried, biodegradable, grass seed litter. It clumps so that waste can be scooped out and typically does not contain dyes or added chemicals that some cat owners try to avoid. It is also naturally low-dust and softer and lighter than clay litter.

  • 06 of 08

    Corn Litter

    Nature's Miracle Corn Cob Litter


    Another natural cat litter option is corn litter. It may come in a scented variety but it is still a biodegradable option. It clumps and absorbs urine, is lightweight when compared to clay litter, and is composed of dried corn kernels. There are even some corn litter options that contain cat attractants.

    Some concerns with corn litter include mold growth, specifically aflatoxins, since corn can easily produce this type of toxin, and decreased clumping capabilities. Aflatoxins can be deadly to pets, so while some companies guarantee their litters are safe and most owners have never had an issue with corn litter, some pet owners choose other options. The lower level of clumping of corn litter has also been discussed among cat owners, but most still consider it functional.

  • 07 of 08

    Walnut Shell Litter

    Nature's Miracle walnut cat litter


    Natural cat litter options have expanded to include walnut shell litters. These ground-up walnut shells have high absorbency when compared to clay litter, work well for odor control, and clump too. Low dust makes this type of natural cat litter extra appealing but some brands seem to give off red or brown dust depending on how much a cat likes to kick it around.

    Granular in appearance, walnut shell cat litters are low-tracking and biodegradable. Some cat owners even feel this type of litter lasts longer than the others they've tried in multiple cat households.

  • 08 of 08

    Paper Litter

    Paper-based cat litter close-up

    NJBPhotos / Getty Images

    Popular for cats with injuries to their paws, paper litter can be processed, recycled paper material, or simply shredded newspaper. These litters have little dust or concern for irritating wounds, no fragrances, are softer than clay litters, and are absorbent. Unfortunately, these litters do not clump or control odors very well though so they are often only used short-term.