Clumping cat litter is a litter material that forms hard clumps when it comes in contact with liquid, such as your cat’s urine. When your cat urinates into clumping cat litter, it creates a chunk that can easily be scooped out. This allows you to remove the strong odors of urine from the litter box and go longer between having to change the litter.
Cat feces are naturally solid in form so they can easily be scooped out. A clumping litter will stick to the feces but won’t turn the litter into clumps, unless your cat’s feces have more liquid in them than normal.
Clumping clay litter is the most common form of litter, the most popular among cat owners, and the most economical. However, that doesn’t mean it’s the best litter for you and your cat.
Is Clumping Cat Litter Better?
A clumping cat litter is better than a non-clumping cat litter because it allows you to remove more cat waste and bacteria from the litter box. This keeps the litter box cleaner for longer and helps reduce odors.
You also reduce costs and environmental waste since you don’t have to dump the entire contents of the litter box out each week and replace it with fresh litter.
However, the type of clumping cat litter also factors into whether or not it’s better.
Traditional clumping clay litters are easier to clean and don’t require changing as often, but they are bad for the environment, your cat’s health, and your health.
The clay used for clay litters is strip-mined, which is hard on the environment. It also isn’t biodegradable. When you think about changing the litter box each month and how much litter your household alone tosses, you can imagine how much of this material is sitting in landfills.
There are many clumping litters on the market made with renewable, sustainable, and biodegradable materials that also naturally form clumps when they come in contact with liquid. These litters are better than non-clumping litters as they are the best of both worlds. They keep the litter box cleaner and are less harmful to the environment.
Is Scoopable Litter The Same As Clumping?
Scoopable litter is the same as clumping and means you can scoop all cat waste out of the litter box. Non-scoopable litter means you’re able to scoop poop but you must dump the entire contents of the litter to dispose of urine since it doesn’t form clumps that can be scooped.
Is Clumping Cat Litter Bad For Cats?
Clumping clay litter is bad for cats because it contains sodium bentonite and silica dust, both of which can be harmful to your cat’s health, and yours. When the litter is made from natural, sustainable, renewable, and biodegradable materials, it’s safe for your cat.
Sodium bentonite is the agent that makes clay litter clump. The material forms hard clumps and expands up to 15 times its size when absorbing liquid. This is an issue for our cats when they ingest the litter by cleaning it off their paws. It’s not a material that belongs in our cats’ bodies and it can cause intestinal blockages.
Many will argue that there isn’t scientific evidence backing up that claim, but that’s simply because studies haven’t been conducted on the negative effects of clay litter.
When we use common sense and think about how often our cats use the litter box, that the litter gets stuck between their toes each time, and that they clean it out with their mouths, we know our cats are ingesting small amounts of litter.
We can also use common sense to determine that clay should not be ingested, by humans or by cats. And when a clumping clay litter brand warns that their litter can clog the drains in our homes, it’s also likely it could cause a blockage in our cats.
Most cats don’t ingest enough litter to cause a major intestinal blockage or to create major health issues. But that doesn’t mean clumping clay litter is a safe material for them to have in their bodies.
Silica dust is also present. It’s a known carcinogen when inhaled and has been linked to upper respiratory issues in both cats and humans (source). Each time you pour litter into the litter box, out of the litter box, or scoop the litter, you’re stirring up dust and inhaling it. Your cat does the same each time they dig in their litter box and stir up the dust.
Clumping Litters That Aren’t Bad For Your Cat
There are several naturally clumping litters made from materials that are sustainable, renewable, and biodegradable. These litters give you the best of both worlds; they help you keep the litter box clean and odor-free, and they’re safe for both you and your cat.
Naturally occurring starches and fibers help the following litter clump:
- Sustainably Yours (corn & cassava)
- World’s Best Cat Litter (corn)
- SmartCat litter (grass seed)
- CocoKitty (coconut pith)
- sWheat Scoop (wheat)
- I Am Tofu (tofu)
Do Cats Prefer Clumping Litter?
Cats prefer a clean, dry litter box and clumping litter allows cat owners to keep the litter box cleaner than non-clumping litter. Clumping litters absorb liquids quickly, which keeps the litter box drier and odors down.
However, whether you use a clumping or non-clumping litter, it’s important to scoop and change regularly. If clumps of litter and feces aren’t scooped from the litter box daily, odors will quickly build up and your cat won’t be able to find a clean spot in the box to go. Using a product such as Litter Genie can make scooping easier and ensure your home doesn’t smell like a litter box.
Cats don’t notice if a litter clumps or not. However, they will notice if their litter is uncomfortable to walk on, irritating to their respiratory system and nose, or is dirty and has a strong urine odor.
How Long Does Clumping Litter Last?
Clumping litter will last up to one month when one cat is using the litter box. Each brand will have different guidelines that vary slightly based on the material of the litter. Clumping clay litter will last the longest since it does the best job of absorbing urine and forming hard clumps that can be scooped out.
You must keep in mind, although you’re scooping urine and feces out of the litter box when using a scoopable litter, there are still particles of the waste left behind. The litter box may look clean to you but it’s full of harmful parasites and bacteria. This is why it’s important to scoop daily, change monthly, and properly clean the litter box with each litter change.
How Do You Dispose Of Clumping Cat Litter?
The best way to dispose of clumping cat litter is to put it in the trash. If you’re using a clumping clay litter, that’s the only option. When using a natural clumping litter, you have more environmentally-friendly options such as putting it in a biodegradable trash bag or composting it.
Biodegradable litters only:
- Throw clumping litter and cat waste in the trash – use a biodegradable bag when tossing biodegradable litter to reduce waste.
- Throw litter clumps and feces in the trash & compost litter – it’s important to compost biodegradable litter properly. It should not be used in gardens growing edible items or near a water source.
- Use composted litter as fertilizer – it’s important not to use it in edible gardens. Instead, use the decomposed litter in flower gardens or flower pots.
Although many cat litters claim to be flushable, it’s best not to flush any type of cat litter or waste. In some US states, it’s even illegal to flush cat litter.
Most water treatment systems aren’t able to properly treat the bacteria, parasites, and pathogens found in cat feces. Even when feces are removed from the litter before flushing it, traces of bacteria are left in the litter.
Is Clumping Cat Litter Biodegradable?
Clumping clay cat litter is not biodegradable, while clumping litter made from natural materials are biodegradable. Corn, cassava, wheat, grass seed, coconut pith, and tofu litters are biodegradable and compostable.