How to Clean Non-Clumping Cat Litter (is it better?)

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To clean non-clumping cat litter you must simply scoop the feces daily and allow the urine to be naturally absorbed by the litter. Because the litter doesn’t have clumping agents that turn urine into hard scoopable clumps, you must change the litter more frequently.


    1. Scoop cat poop daily and dispose of it
    2. Allow urine to be absorbed by the litter
    3. Dispose of non-clumping litter weekly and fill the pan with fresh litter


Clumping cat litter does make removing waste from the litter box quick and easy, however, it also comes with some downsides; mainly the use of sodium bentonite. Sodium bentonite is most commonly used in clumping cat litters and there’s not enough research to prove whether it’s safe for cats or not. The fact of the matter is, it doesn’t dissolve in a cat’s digestive system and expands to approximately 15x its size when wet. So it can easily cause intestinal blockages if ingested. And cats inevitably eat litter when they clean it off their paws.


There are many reasons to consider switching from clumping (clay) litter. Let’s explore the differences in this article to discover if a non-clumping litter is right for you and your cat.



How Does Non-Clumping Cat Litter Work?

Non-clumping cat litter works the same way clumping cat litter works, except the urine won’t clump into solid scoopable bulk. Urine will simply be absorbed by the kitty litter and you only have to scoop the poop. Depending on the litter material, it can create a more natural sandbox for your cat to eliminate in. To remove the urine from the pan, you must dump its entire contents weekly and replace with fresh litter.



Is Non-Clumping Cat Litter Cheaper?

Non-clumping clay litters do tend to be cheaper than clumping clay litters. However, you’ll be changing the litter box more frequently with non-clumping litter (typically once per week compared to once per month with clumping), so costs end up being pretty even. If you’re looking at a non-clumping litter made from renewable resources that are biodegradable, they do tend to be more expensive.



How Often to Change Non-Clumping Cat Litter

Most non-clumping cat litter will need to be changed once a week. Because the urine is being absorbed into the litter and isn’t being scooped, it will become saturated more quickly.


Cats require a clean litter box to use each day. Although they don’t mind a faint smell of their urine, they won’t appreciate the strong ammonia odor that can easily build up in a litter box filled with non-clumping litter. If your cat doesn’t like the smell of their litter box, they’ll find someplace else to go.


Even if you’re scooping the litter box once a day or more, you will still need to dump the entire contents of the box once a week, and fill it back up with 2 – 4 inches of non-clumping cat litter. This leads to a cleaner litter box compared to using a clumping litter. Although you scoop both urine and feces out with clumping litters, there will still be bits of waste, bacteria, and odors left behind. You’re cleaning those away weekly with a non-clumping litter, and only monthly (or longer) with a clumping litter.



Why Use Non-Clumping Cat Litter?

Many cat owners choose to use non-clumping cat litter because it can be a healthier option for their cat and themselves, and often, it’s more environmentally friendly. Some non-clumping litters are also made from materials that are gentler on a cat’s paws than traditional clumping clay litters.


The following are reasons one might prefer a non-clumping litter made from material that’s renewable and biodegradable over a traditional clumping clay litter.



The most common clumping cat litter is made from sodium bentonite; a natural swelling clay that expands to about 15 times its original volume when liquid is added.


>> Cats ingest litter when they clean their paws of the litter that naturally gets stuck between them.

>> Cats can also have a disorder called pica, which means they often eat non-food objects.


No amount of clay should be ingested by a cat, so it can easily cause digestion problems. But if a cat ingests enough clumping clay litter, it can cause an intestinal blockage, which can be life-threatening.


Switching to a non-clumping litter opens many options for a cat owner to use a less harmful material.




Clumping clay litter is non-biodegradable and billions of pounds of it end up in landfills each year. Not to mention, the mining of clay has a huge impact on the environment.


When you switch to a non-clumping kitty litter, it opens options to cat litters made from renewable resources such as paper, wood, grass, wheat, corn, etc.  These are not only healthier for a cat when they kick up dust and inevitably inhale it, but they’re also renewable and biodegradable, so they’re much better for the environment. Some of these litters are also clumping, which you’ll find below.




Although you may hear CEOs of cat litter companies claim sodium bentonite is completely safe for cats and there’s no evidence proving the contrary, there also isn’t evidence proving it is safe.


It’s important to note; sodium bentonite has not been studied enough to prove whether it’s safe or unsafe for your cat.


As points out, the litter companies claiming clumping litters are completely safe for your cat and won’t cause any internal blockages if ingested are also warning not to flush any of their litter down the toilet as it can easily cause a clog.


Granted, the amount of litter one might pour down a toilet would be much greater than the amount of litter our cats might ingest, but again, no amount of clay should be in a cat’s system.




Cats’ paws are sensitive and clay is a hard material. When you switch to a non-clumping litter, it opens up options to softer and finer materials. Something like a wheat litter will be much gentler on your cat’s paws.


Although declawing a cat is never advised and should no longer be practiced, there are some de-clawed cats out there. Their paws are even more sensitive, and they require a softer, finer texture of litter to walk on, such as wheat or grass litter.




Some cats simply prefer non-clumping cat litter to clumping. Making your cat use a litter box filled with a litter they’re not fond of will cause them stress. And that stress can lead to undesirable behavior and even health issues.


Imagine if you had to use a smelly porta-potty every day; you’d dread going to the bathroom. When cats are in nature, they find loose dirt or sand to eliminate in, and they don’t go to the same 2 foot by 2 foot space each time.


It’s important that cat litter makes the cat happy, not the human.


When in doubt, fill a second litter box with a different type of litter and see which one your cat prefers. One cat should have two litter boxes (here’s why) so it will be easy to test.




Although it’s often not advised to flush cat litter (even if the formula is flushable), due to the parasites that can be found in cat feces, clumping clay litter cannot be flushed. Switching from a clay litter to a biodegradable option may mean the litter will dissolve in water and can be flushed. It’s important to check the litter label to ensure it specifically says it’s flushable. And to be even safer, check with your city’s water plant to ensure their system can filter cat waste.




Because urine cannot be scooped out, it forces you to change the litter each week. This ensures all remnants of waste, all bacteria, and all odors are removed weekly. This leads to a cleaner, healthier litter box, for you and your cat, as well as a cleaner smelling home.




Is Non-Clumping Cat Litter Better?

Non-clumping cat litter is not necessarily better if you’re comparing clumping clay litter to a non-clumping clay litter. However, a non-clumping litter made from a renewable resource that is biodegradable is a better option. It’s better for the environment, safer for your cat to ingest and inhale its dust particles, and is likely more comfortable for your cat to walk on.



Clumping Litters that are Sodium Bentonite-Free

Sodium bentonite is the most common material used for clumping cat litters, but there are some renewable/biodegradable clumping litters on the market.


Non-clay clumping litters won’t form clumps that are as hard or solid as the ones formed with sodium bentonite, however, they’re a good in-between option.



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SM Check Price on Amazon




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SM Check Price on Amazon





Why Cats Dislike Non-Clumping Cat Litter

Some cats may not like a box full of non-clumping litter, but it’s more likely due to them not liking the odors or the moisture in their box, rather than its non-clumping nature.


>> If the non-clumping litter is made of hard material or has larger particles, your cat may not like stepping on it.

>> If the non-clumping litter isn’t changed each week, the smell of their waste may be too strong and deter them from stepping into the litter box.

>> If your cat only has one litter box, and it’s full of non-clumping litter, there may be spots that are still wet when they go to use it. They won’t like stepping on wet litter and may avoid the box.


These scenarios don’t mean a cat doesn’t like the non-clumping aspect of the litter. They just don’t like how it feels or smells, which can be remedied by trying a different formula, cleaning more frequently, or adding an additional litter pan.



Why Non-Clumping Cat Litter for Kittens?

It’s advised to use non-clumping cat litter for kittens because they have smaller intestines and are more likely to ingest litter as they learn about their new world and what is and isn’t food. This combination is dangerous because if they eat a non-clumping litter made with sodium bentonite, it can cause gastrointestinal upset or even create an intestinal blockage, which can be life-threatening.



How Long Do Kittens Need Non-Clumping Litter?

A kitten should use non-clumping litter until they no longer eat items they shouldn’t. That’s typically around 4 months when they start eating soft food. However, it may take longer if the kitten is especially curious and still exploring things in their environment. If you notice your kitten sticking their nose in the litter, playing in the litter, or eating things they shouldn’t, stick with a non-clumping litter longer.



Non-Clumping Cat Litter Tips

  1. Change frequently – a non-clumping litter should be dumped out of the litter pan each week to rid it of urine smells. Be sure to properly clean and disinfect the litter box at this time.
  2. Have more than one litter box – cats always want a clean litter box and having multiple litter boxes will help achieve that. But they also don’t want to walk on wet litter, and wet litter is one of the downsides of non-clumping cat litter. Having additional litter boxes gives one time to dry before they need to step in it again.
  3. Test different litters – use two litter boxes, each filled with a different non-clumping litter, to find the material your cat prefers.
  4. Switch slowly – cats aren’t fond of change, so if you’re planning to switch litters, do so slowly. Here’s a guide to ensure your cat doesn’t reject the new litter, simply because it’s new.


What’s most important, when it comes to the litter box, is that you keep your cat happy. A cat who’s happy with their litter box will continue using it.


Litter box problems are much easier to prevent than they are to fix.



I hope this article has helped you understand the difference between litters and if you should switch 🙂




Cleaning Non-Clumping Litter & Why It Can Be Better