Best Cat Litter – Clumping, Clay, Crystals: Which litter for your cat?

Having a cat, or cats, means having a lifelong love affair with cat litter. Well, it can be love or it can be hell; depending on the choices you make! A great cat litter that your cat loves using makes keeping cats a breeze – they’re much more likely to have perfect kitty litter toileting habits, and you won’t have to be cleaning up messes and having to deal with unsavory odors.

It’s not unusual for new cat owners, or people who have a new cat addition to an existing family, to experiment with different litter types. This is for both your benefit, and for the cat. You may have your preference when it comes to liking or not liking clumping litter.

Some people think it’s great, while others can’t stand it. Likewise, the type of substrate of the litter is a choice we need to make: clay, paper-based, crystals, and even plant materials are all options with their own potential benefits and downsides.

The good thing is: once you find a litter that suits both you and your cat(s) perfectly, you simply stick with it. Thankfully, finding your perfect litter match isn’t too difficult and despite the number of choices out there, you’re very likely to find the right type of kitty litter within a short period of time.

While there are many brands to choose from, there are only a handful of different materials. If this is your first cat, trial and error will lead you to the right litter choice that you should then be able to stick with throughout your cat’s entire life.

To clump or not to clump?
That is the question for most cat owners. Once you’ve decided on either clumping or non-clumping litter, then you can look at the different options in either type.

The way clumping litter works can be either a benefit or a hindrance, depending on your personal preferences, how often you want to empty litter trays, how many cats might be using the tray(s), and how you plan to dispose of the litter.

Oh, and let’s not forget the all important preference of your cat him/herself. Of course. Cats will sometimes reject a certain type of litter, for reasons unknown. Luckily, there are plenty of options and won’t take long to find one that a cat is happy to use.

Some people, understandably, just don’t like the clumping stuff. If it’s left too long and takes in too much moisture, it can get difficult to clean out from a litter tray or box. But good quality clumping kitty litter should be relatively easy to clean out.

Not all clumping litter is created equal. Some clump like cement with only a small amount of urine, while others will have a longer life and be able to absorb more moisture before it truly clumps. Many cat people have had at least some experience with poor quality kitty litter, and it doesn’t take much until you realize that this is something that’s worth more than just a passing thought. After all, it’s something that will be used everyday for the entirety of your cat’s life!

A good cat litter should have no or low dust – dusty litters will result in cat footprints after he walks out of the tray, and can also pose a respiratory risk to both humans and cats. It should have good absorption of moisture and odors, and it must be made of non-toxic materials.

Guide: Types of Cat Litter

Crystal Litter

What is it?

Crystal kitty litter is made from silica gel, which has natural absorbing and odor control properties. If you’ve ever noticed a small pouch in a new box of shoes, full of something that sounds like salt when you shake it, that is silica and it’s there to absorb moisture – the same way that crystal litter absorbs cat urine.

Crystal litter is not clumping. Instead, it should be able to be highly absorbent if its to work well. Naturally, some brands work better than others and much of your opinion on crystal cat litter will depend on your experiences with a particular brand.

Pros & cons of crystal cat litter

There are a lot of positive reasons for using this type of litter. Crystal kitty litter is known for it’s:

  • Good odor control
  • Long lasting; longer between changes compared to some other litter types
  • Less dust (although some low quality crystal litter will have dust)
  • Easily vacuumed off the floor

There are potential downsides to all types of cat litters though, and crystals are no exception. Some people, and cats, just don’t like using this type of litter for various reasons. Some of these reasons include:

  • Not as comfortable on cat feet as most other litters; some cats will simply refuse to use it for this reason
  • Painful to human feet if it does come out of the tray and is stepped on
  • Some brands and low quality crystal litter can create dust and dust clouds when poured which is potentially dangerous – avoid these products
  • Dangerous for cats who eat litter (either purposely or accidentally)

Anyone who has stepped on a stay piece of crystal litter knows it doesn’t tickle!

So we have to consider: how does this feel on cat feet? If you want a comfortable surface for your cats in their litter boxes, crystal litter is at the bottom of the list.

While it has its benefits, for me personally, the downsides are too numerous which is why I’ve never chosen crystal kitty litter for my cats. Certainly, many people are indeed happy with crystals and the key is to stick with the high quality, reputable brands rather than trying to save a few dollars on the cheap stuff.

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