Are you confused about the different types of cat litter?
Cat litter is an essential supply for all indoor cats. It is used instinctively by a cat to bury its urine and feces. Historically, clay cat litter was the only option for absorbing urine and allowing a cat to practice the natural behaviour of burying its waste matter, but, now, many different options are available. Price, odour 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 prefers.
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.
We recommend using a brand that specifies its low dust with your cat, especially if it’s a covered litter box where the dust can get trapped. Some cats can develop respiratory issues if they inhale too much of the concentrated clay dust. We also prefer clumping because it’s much easier to clean and traps odours better than non-clumping litter.
Silica Gel Litter
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 odour 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.
wheat litter is an environmentally friendly alternative to clay litter, but it is made from processed wheat. Its clumps help control odors, and are 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.
Tofu is one of the newer alternatives to clay litter that you can purchase. It’s a clumping litter, so it’s easy to scoop clean, and the clumping helps to reduce odors. It’s a bit more expensive than many of the other options, and it can be hard to find, but it uses renewable materials, and it’s a good alternative to clay if you need dust-free clumping litter.
Factors To Consider When Choosing Cat Litter
Safety + Health
Safety should be the number one concern when deciding on cat litter. If the cat litter is not safe for your cat—regardless of its other benefits—it should automatically be discounted.
Some of the common safety concerns you’ll find with cat litter include respiratory issues for both humans and cats (avoid litters with silica), chemical fragrances (often toxic), strong perfumes (cause sinus issues), sodium bentonite (used in clay litter can swell up 12 times its original volume, which can cause serious gastrointestinal distress if consumed).
Keep in mind, that with sodium bentonite, your cat doesn’t even have to intentionally consume the litter. They can get this harmful product into their body simply by licking their paws after litter box use, which is a natural and common occurrence for cats.
In addition, it is a similar story to silica litter. As mentioned, silica absorbs its weight 40 times its original volume, meaning this litter can be even more life-threatening if your cat happened to consume it.
While some will argue these litters are totally safe, it is our recommendation that you avoid this type of litter and use one of the safer options, especially with kittens who are much more prone to consuming these dangerous litters.
Cleanliness (dust + tracking)
In the past, owning a cat often meant accepting that you would find small traces of cat litter throughout your house (i.e. tracking). Cat litter also usually resulted in unwanted dust found throughout the home, which, for most, can be quite a downside to cat ownership.
If you want to keep your home clean and dust-free, look for non-tracking litter. In particular, you’ll find that clumping litters are the best option when prioritizing the cleanliness of your home.
Litters that are often praised for tracking and lack of dust production include walnut, pine, and tofu.
According to our cat behaviourist, Nicole Van Andel, “cats have an instinctual desire from their wild ancient ancestors to eliminate in a fresh, odourless, and untouched area.” This means that finding a cat litter that can stay relatively clean is not only a benefit to you, but it’s also something that your cat will appreciate.
To keep litter boxes clean, picking a cat litter that is easy for you to clean is probably your best. In most cases, clumping litter is the easiest to clean.
You’ll also want to consider how much time and maintenance you’re willing to dedicate to litter box cleaning. For example, silica can be a hygienic option for your cat, but if you’re not committed to stirring the litter daily, as well as cleaning out excrement daily, this is not a great option.
Clumping vs. non-clumping
Clumping cat litters have a lot of benefits. Most notably, cat owners generally prefer clumping litter because it makes litter box cleaning easy and mess-free. Cats also often appreciate this since it means their litter box is cleaner.
But clumping litters aren’t without their flaws. For example, as discussed above, the most popular clumping litter, clay litter, can be very dangerous if cats happen to consume their litter.
If you want the benefits of clumping litter, but you want to avoid the dangers of your cat consuming their litter, we recommend walnut litter or tofu litter. Walnut litter won’t clump as easily as clay litter, but you will get some clumping action without the dangerous trade-off. Tofu litter is also known for its clumping abilities, but it is not harmful if consumed.
Natural vs. synthetic
This is often a personal preference, but remember, when you’re deciding on your cat’s litter, you’re not only making a decision for yourself, you’re making a decision for your cat.
When you choose to go with synthetic cat litter, you might experience some benefits like easier maintenance, cheaper price, and fragrances that will help cover up odours, but you’re also putting your cat at risk when exposed to toxins or fragrances that can irritate them.
To cover up odors, try a natural alternative like pine litter. For relatively easy maintenance, opt for walnut litter. And, if you really want to go with a natural route to avoid synthetic additives, try paper or tofu cat litter.
Cats have double the olfactory cells that you do at about 200 million, making their sense of smell extremely sensitive. Whether we’re talking about a stinky litter box or a litter box that is full of synthetic fragrances, your cat is not going to be pleased with any odours coming from their litter box.
Instead, opting for natural scents is best. In fact, better yet, a completely odourless litter box will make both you and your cat happy.
On the other end of the spectrum, avoiding a stinky litter box might be more difficult, depending on what type of cat litter you buy. Our best piece of advice is to buy a litter that is compatible with your ability to maintain your cat’s litter box. For example, if you can’t commit to daily cleaning, don’t purchase a high-maintenance litter. If you don’t want to commit to daily cleaning but you also don’t want to subject yourself and your cat to a smelly litter box, consider tofu cat litter.
Allergies (both for yourself and your cat)
Similar to the odour section above, the more natural you go, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to avoid any issues with allergies. Having said that, there are two exceptions: walnut cat litter and corn cat litter. While walnut cat litter is a natural option, it is also a common allergen, especially in humans. Cats can also have a food sensitivity to corn, making it not a great option for their litter box.
Picking a litter that is known for low dust production can also be helpful when considering things like allergens. Your best option for a low dust-producing litter is tofu.
One of the biggest reasons why eco-friendly cat litters have become more common is because of the issues surrounding traditional cat litters. Most notably, clumping cat litters made from sodium bentonite often end up in landfills, and because these litters can swell to 12 times their size when exposed to water, these litters take up a considerate amount of space in landfills, which we all know is dangerous for the environment.
If you want to make the most eco-friendly choice possible, picking a cat litter that can safely be flushed down the toilet like tofu or corn is a great option.
The Best Cat Litter Overall
Michu Natural Clumping Flushable Tofu Cat Litter
Fast Clumping and Easily Scoop-able
Michu instantly traps liquid on contact with the litter pellets, forming discreet clumps that do not break apart, even during removal from the tray with a litter sieve or scoop
This superior clumping action means the soiled litter can be easily removed without wasting any of the remaining fresh, dry litter - leaving the tray always ready for your cat to use
Unscented and Odour Neutralising
Superior and instant absorption action allows Michu to eliminate odour from the litter tray quickly, and the unscented formula will not overpower your felines delicate sense of smell
Low Tracking Means Low Mess
Say goodbye to crumbling and dusty litter!
Each individual Michu pellet is durable and tightly compacted to prevent breakdown of the litter, and the production of dust, while it is in use in the tray
Michu packaging has been specifically designed to protect the individual litter pellets until the pack is opened and the litter is added to the tray
With Michu in the tray, your cat will not be gathering dust and litter particles, in their paws or fur, to track across your floors!
Petite Paw–Friendly Pellets
Michu is kind on paws but tough on waste – the smooth texture and small size of the pellets feels inviting and comfortable under cat’s paws when they dig and walk in the litter tray
Easy Use and Tidy Storage
Storing open bags of litter in the home can be inconvenient and messy – they get in the way and there are litter spills every time the tray is cleaned and filled
With Michu, you open a 88oz box, empty the entire pack of litter straight into the tray, then place the empty bag straight into the recycling bin – there are no messy packs of litter left open anywhere in your home
The tidy, compact and attractive design of the Michu packaging means your fresh litter can be easily and conveniently stored on a small shelf in any household cupboard or kitchen pantry
100% Natural & Biodegradable
Michu Tofu Litter is derived from natural pea making it a safer litter for your pets and family
Because it is biodegradable, it quickly breaks down after use and is friendly to the environment.
Find more on our website!