Why Clumping Cat Litter Won’t Clump (for some cats)

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Clumping cat litter is supposed to clump when it comes in contact with liquid, but many cat owners have found their once clumping litter is no longer effective.


Others have found that their clumping cat litter will clump for one cat’s urine, but not another’s.


This article outlines the most common reasons a clumping cat litter doesn’t clump and solutions.



Why Is My Cat’s Urine Not Clumping In The Litter?

Clumping litter should form clumps that don’t fall apart when you scoop them out of the litter box. When pieces of the clump are left behind or fall through the scoop, it not only leaves the litter box smellier than it needs to be, it also makes it less sanitary for you and your cat.


Here are 5 potential reasons your litter may not be fully clumping and ways to fix the issue.



1. Health Issue

Some cat owners have discovered their cat has a health issue after exploring why the litter isn’t clumping when they urinate in it.


Many people who have multiple cats have found the same litter will clump for one cat, but not the other. Although there doesn’t seem to be a clear answer as to why, some owners believe there may be a connection between a health issue with their cat and litter not clumping.


In this forum, a couple of cat owners hypothesize that the issue may be due to diabetes. A cat owner in this forum took one of their cats to the vet after noticing the litter wouldn’t clump for them. The vet discovered the cat had crystals in their urine. Although a clear connection hasn’t been made between a health issue impacting the clumping ability of a litter, it may play a factor.



If the potential reasons below don’t seem to apply to your situation, it’s worth ruling out a health issue by taking your cat to the vet. It doesn’t hurt to check and catching diabetes or a bladder issue quicker is better for everyone.



2. Spraying

If your cat is urinating in a spraying pattern, as opposed to a stream, the liquid may not saturate the litter enough to form a clump.


Both male and female cats can spray and may do so even if they’re neutered or spayed. When a neutered or spayed cat sprays it’s usually to mark their territory or is a sign they’re stressed.



If you have multiple cats, be sure to follow the rule of 1 litter box per cat, plus one extra. This will ensure each cat feels they have their own space and will have less of a desire to spray to mark their territory.


Dynamics can also change between cats, so even though two or more cats may have once shared one litter box without an issue, they may no longer be keen on it.


Even a cat outside the house can make your cat feel territorial within your house. However, if you don’t believe your cat is dealing with territorial issues, consider if there may be any new stressors in their environment.


Many cat owners often underestimate how much stress can factor in when it comes to our cats’ behaviors. Something as simple as changing your routine and how much you’re home or moving furniture around can stress your cat. Consider if your cat has been exposed to any changes lately to determine if stress may play a factor in their spraying.


Also don’t underestimate how powerful extra love and attention can be for your cat. Increasing how much playtime or affection you give them can have a big impact on reducing their stress levels and improving their overall health. Even the tone in which you talk to your cat can put them at ease or stress them out.



3. Excess Urine

Too much urine may prevent the litter from drying, which will prevent it from forming solid clumps. An excess of urine may be due to:

  • Health issue – when a cat is diabetic, they tend to drink more water and produce more urine. This may be causing larger than normal clumps, which won’t dry as fast and therefore, won’t form a hard clump.
  • Diet – if your cat eats wet food and drinks a lot of water (and your vet has cleared them of a health issue) it may be that they’re well hydrated and produce larger amounts of urine.
  • Full litter box – cats are creatures of habits and it may be that yours likes peeing in the same spot every time. If they’re urinating on top of an existing clump of urine, it will add more moisture to the litter so it won’t dry and will simply crumble apart. This may also be the case if multiple cats are using the same litter box. One may be peeing on top of an already saturated spot of litter.



If you believe your cat may be urinating more than normal, take them to the veterinarian clinic for a checkup. Your vet can rule out a health issue or properly treat one.


If your cat seems to be peeing the same amount they always have, consider scooping the litter box more frequently to be sure they’re not urinating on top of an existing clump. Also be sure you’re adding enough litter to the litter box (here’s a guideline). Too little litter may mean the urine is hitting the litter box rather than the litter.


And if you have multiple cats, be sure they each have their own litter box, plus an extra one for the household. This will help ensure each cat always has a dry spot to go.



4. Humidity

Humid weather can have an impact on your litter’s ability to clump because litter will actually absorb moisture from the air. When the litter gets damp, it’s less likely to form hard clumps when urine hits it.


Humidity may also be impacting your clumping litter if you keep the litter box in the bathroom. The litter will be absorbing moisture from the air each time you shower.


Also, consider how and where the clumping litter is stored. If moisture is making its way into the bag/box/container of unused litter, it may be spoiling before your cat has a chance to use it.



If you live in a humid environment, consider adding a dehumidifier next to the litter box. This will help draw more of the moisture out of the air and make your clumping litter more effective.


You can also try moving the litter box to a dryer location. Basements can be humid spaces, so if you currently keep the litter box on a level that’s below ground, try moving it upstairs. And if the litter box is currently in a bathroom, try moving it someplace else.


Here are several unique ideas for where to place a litter box so it keeps you and your cat happy.


Be sure to store unused litter in an airtight container, like this one, and keep that container in a dry, cool spot.



5. Timing

When you scoop the litter can have an impact on whether or not it forms clumps. If you attempt to scoop the litter too soon after your cat has urinated in it, it won’t have enough time to dry and form a hard, scoopable clump.


Alternatively, if you wait too long to scoop, that may give your cat an opportunity to urinate on top of an existing clump, which can break that clump apart and make the clump too large and wet to scoop.



Try to wait at least 15 minutes before scooping urine from the litter box. This will give it time to dry and form a more solid clump.


But don’t go longer than 12 hours or you risk your cat urinating on top of an existing clump.


If you have multiple cats, be sure to have multiple litter boxes (here’s why). This will also ensure there’s always a dry spot for your cats to go.



6. Old Litter

Clumping cat litter needs to be changed routinely. How often will depend on the type of litter you use, how many cats you have, and how frequently the litter box gets used. If there are multiple litter boxes in your home, you may be able to go longer between changing the litter.


If you don’t frequently change the litter, by dumping all the contents of the litter box and pouring new litter back into a clean, dry box, it may be why cat pee isn’t clumping. It may have too much moisture in the litter.


Unused litter may also be old. If it’s been stored improperly for too long, it may not clump as well. A container of litter may be new to you, but it could have been sitting in a damp warehouse or storage room for years before you purchased it.



Follow the suggestion on the cat litter container for changing the litter. Most clumping litters need to be changed once a month. But you may need to change yours more frequently if you have multiple cats, live in a humid environment, or have a diabetic cat that urinates more frequently.


It’s also important to clean the litter box with each change. After you do so, make sure the pan is completely dry before pouring clean litter in.


If you’ve suddenly noticed your cat’s pee isn’t clumping, determine if the timing lines up with a new container of litter. If it’s a new issue that started when you started pouring a new batch of cat litter into the box, try a new container of cat litter purchased from a different store (if possible).




How Do You Make Cat Litter Clump Better?

You can take a few steps to make your clumping cat litter more effective.


  • Keep it dry – try adding a dehumidifier close to the litter box to remove moisture from the air. For clumping cat litter to properly clump, it needs a dry environment. Also try keeping the litter box in a dry space, which means basements and bathrooms typically aren’t ideal. You may even add baking soda to the litter box. It not only absorbs odors, but it also absorbs moisture. Try sprinkling a thin layer of baking soda to the bottom of the pan. Avoid using large amounts or sprinkling it anywhere it can come in contact with your cat’s paws. If it gets transferred to their paws, then into their eyes or digestive system, it can cause irritation.
  • Keep it scooped – too much moisture in the litter from your cat’s use can prevent the litter from properly clumping. If your cat is forced to use a dirty litter box, they’re more likely to urinate on top of existing clumps or feces. This will make it harder for the litter to dry and therefore, it may not clump. Scoop the litter box at least once per day, more if you have multiple cats or one cat that urinates a lot.
  • Keep it clean – changing the litter frequently is the only way to remove all moisture and “used” litter particles from the litter box. Each type of litter will vary but most clumping litters need to be changed once or twice per month. Be sure to properly wash the litter box with each change and thoroughly dry it before adding new litter to it.




What Ingredients Make Cat Litter Clump?

Most clumping litters use the ingredient sodium bentonite, which is a clay that expands and clumps when the particles come in contact with liquid. There are several clumping cat litters that use ingredients such as corn, cassava, grass seed, or wheat, and naturally clump when wet.


Although clumping cat litters made from renewable and environmentally friendly materials don’t tend to form as solid of clumps as clay litters, they are much healthier for you and your cat. They’re also much better for the environment.


Learn more about healthier and more environmentally friendly cat litters here.



I hope this article has helped you determine why your clumping cat litter won’t clump 🙂



Why Won't My Clumping Cat Litter Clump?