Clumping Litter vs. Non-Clumping Litter: Which One is Right for You

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When it comes to cat litter, there are two main types to choose from: clumping and non-clumping. Clumping litter are able to absorb and trap moisture, making clean up quick and easy, while non-clumping litters absorb moisture but do not trap it. Clumping litters are generally better at controlling odor due to their ability to trap moisture and form clumps, while non-clumping litters may not be as effective in controlling odor. Clumping litters are also more expensive than non-clumping litters. Types of clumping litter include clay-based, silica gel and plant-based. Non-clumping litters include natural materials such as corn, wheat or paper, recycled materials such as newspaper or wood chips, natural minerals such as diatomaceous earth or sepiolite. It’s important to consider factors such as cost, odor control, absorbency, longevity and any potential health risks when choosing the right litter for your cat and monitoring your cat’s behavior is also essential for their well-being.

Clumping vs. Non-Clumping Cat Litter

Comparison chart of Clumping and Non-Clumping Litter

Feature Clumping Litter Non-Clumping Litter
Ease of Use High Low
Clean Up Quick and Easy Time-consuming and Requires more effort
Odor Control High Low
Longevity Long-lasting Short-lasting
Variety Clay, Silica gel, Plant-based, Natural minerals Natural materials, Recycled materials, Natural minerals
Cost Expensive Less Expensive
Health Risks High if ingested by cats Low
Behavior monitoring Low High
Biodegradable Not usually Usually

Types of Clumping and Non-Clumping Litter

Clumping Litter:

  • Clay-based Litter: Made from clay minerals like sodium bentonite or calcium bentonite, these litters are known for their superior clumping ability and odor control. However, they are not biodegradable and may be harmful if ingested by cats.
  • Silica gel Litter: Made from silicon dioxide, these litters are known for their superior odor control and longevity. However, they are not biodegradable and may be harmful if ingested by cats.
  • Plant-based Litter: Made from natural materials like wheat, corn, or pine, these litters are biodegradable and less likely to cause health problems if ingested by cats. However, they may not be as effective in controlling odor or clumping as clay or silica gel litters.

Non-Clumping Litter:

  • Natural materials Litter: Made from natural materials like wood, paper, or corn, these litters are biodegradable and less likely to cause health problems if ingested by cats. They are also budget-friendly.
  • Recycled materials Litter: Made from recycled paper or newspaper, these litters are biodegradable and more environmentally friendly. They may not be as effective in controlling odor as some other types of litter.
  • Natural minerals Litter: Made from natural minerals like sepiolite or pumice, these litters are less likely to cause health problems if ingested by cats. They may not be as effective in controlling odor as some other types of litters.

Clumping Cat Litter

Clumping Cat Litter

How it works

Clumping cat litter work by using a combination of absorbent materials such as clay, silica gel, or plant-based materials that have the ability to absorb moisture and form clumps. When a cat urinates or defecates in the litter, the moisture is absorbed by the litter, and it forms clumps. These clumps can then be easily scooped out and disposed of, leaving the rest of the litter clean and fresh. The clumps help to control odor by trapping the urine and feces in a solid form, making it easier to remove and dispose of. Clumping litter also tend to last longer than non-clumping litters, as they only need to be changed when the clumps are removed, rather than needing to be completely replaced.

Advantages

Ease of use

Ease of use is one of the major advantages of clumping cat litter. Clumping litters are easy to use and maintain, as they require minimal effort to clean. Simply scooping out the clumps and disposing of them is all that is needed to maintain the litter. This is in contrast to non-clumping litters, which may require more frequent changes and more effort to clean. The clumps make it easy to identify the dirty areas and remove them, which helps to keep the litter fresh and clean. The ease of use of clumping litters can also save time and make it more convenient for the owner.

Quick and easy clean up:

Quick and easy clean up is another advantage of clumping cat litters. The clumps that are formed by the absorbent materials in the litters can be easily removed, making the clean up process quick and easy. This is in contrast to non-clumping litters, which can be more difficult to clean as it can be hard to tell which areas are dirty and need to be changed. With clumping litters, the clumps make it easy to identify the dirty areas and remove them, which helps to keep the remaining litter clean and fresh. This can save time and effort for the owner, making it more convenient to maintain the litter.

Clumping Cat Litter

Odor control:

Odor control is one of the main advantages of clumping cat litters over non-clumping litters. Clumping litters trap the urine and feces in a solid form when they absorb the moisture, making it easier to remove and dispose of, which helps to reduce the potential for odors to linger in the litter. This is in contrast to non-clumping litters, which can be less effective in controlling odor, as the urine and feces can become dispersed throughout the litters, making it harder to remove and dispose of.

In addition, some clumping litters are formulated with odor-control agents, such as baking soda or activated charcoal, which can help to neutralize and control odors. The clumping action also helps to keep the litter drier, which can further reduce the potential for odors to linger. The clumps also make it easy to identify the dirty areas and remove them, which helps to keep the remaining litter fresh and clean. Overall, the clumping action of the litter and the odor-control agents make it more effective in controlling the odor compared to non-clumping litters.

Longevity:

Longevity is another advantage of clumping cat litters over non-clumping litters. Clumping litters can last longer because they do not need to be changed as frequently. The clumps that are formed by the absorbent materials in the litters can be easily removed, leaving the remaining litter clean and fresh. This is in contrast to non-clumping litters, which may need to be changed more frequently as the urine and feces can become dispersed throughout the litters, making it harder to remove and dispose of.

This can be beneficial for the owner because it can save them time and money on litter. Clumping litters are more efficient in absorbing moisture and trapping urine and feces than non-clumping litters, this results in less frequent litter changes and less waste. The clumps also make it easy to identify the dirty areas and remove them, which helps to keep the remaining litters fresh and clean, and extends the life of the litter.

Variety:

Variety is another advantage of clumping cat litters. Clumping litters come in a variety of materials such as clay-based, silica gel, plant-based, natural materials, recycled materials, and natural minerals. This provides the owner with more options to choose from, allowing them to select the litter that best suits their needs and preferences.

  • Clay-based clumping litters are made from bentonite clay, which is a natural mineral that absorbs moisture and forms clumps when it comes into contact with urine and feces. This type of litter is known to be a good odor control, and is also affordable.
  • Silica gel clumping litters are made from silica gel beads that absorb moisture and form clumps. They are known to be highly absorbent and long-lasting, and are also good at controlling odors.
  • Plant-based clumping litters are made from natural materials such as wheat, corn, or pine. They are biodegradable, flushable, and dust-free, making them an eco-friendly option. They are also good at controlling odors and are lightweight.
  • Natural materials clumping litters are made from materials such as recycled paper, corn cob, or wood chips. They are biodegradable, eco-friendly, and dust-free.
  • Recycled materials clumping litters are made from recycled materials such as paper, newspaper, or cardboard. They are eco-friendly and biodegradable, but not always as absorbent as other clumping litters.
  • Natural minerals clumping litters are made from natural minerals such as clay, sepiolite, or vermiculite. They are highly absorbent and good at controlling odors, but can be more expensive than other clumping litters.

The owner can choose the litter that best suits their needs and preferences, such as cost, eco-friendliness, and odor control.

Disadvantages

While clumping cat litters have many advantages, they also have some disadvantages. One of the main disadvantages is that they are generally more expensive than non-clumping litters. This can be a significant factor for some pet owners who are trying to keep their expenses low.

Another disadvantage of clumping litters is that they may not be biodegradable. Many clumping litters are made from clay or other synthetic materials that are not easily broken down by natural processes. This can be a concern for pet owners who are looking for eco-friendly options.

Another potential disadvantage is that if ingested by cats, clumping litters can be harmful to their health. Cats may ingest small amounts of litter while grooming themselves, which can cause gastrointestinal problems. In some cases, ingesting large amounts of clumping litter can lead to blockages in the digestive tract.

Beside, owners of clumping litters may not be able to monitor the cat’s urine and feces as easily as non-clumping litters, which could make it harder to identify health concerns.

Non-Clumping Cat Litter

Non-Clumping Cat Litter

Non-clumping cat litter, also known as traditional litters, are made from materials such as clay, wood, or corn. They do not form clumps when wet, but instead absorb moisture and control odors through absorption and neutralization.

Advantages

Cost

Non-clumping litters are typically less expensive than clumping litters, which can make them a more cost-effective option for some cat owners. However, it is important to keep in mind that non-clumping litters may need to be changed more frequently, which can offset the initial cost savings over time.

Biodegradable

Some non-clumping litters are made from natural materials such as wood, corn, or recycled paper, which are biodegradable and can be a more environmentally friendly option than synthetic clumping litters. These types of natural materials-based litters are also made from natural minerals, which are safe for animals and humans.

Non Clumping Cat Litter

Healthier

Non-clumping litters made from natural materials like wood, corn, or recycled paper are less likely to cause health problems if ingested by cats, compared to synthetic clumping litters made from clay or silica gel. Some clumping litters contain sodium bentonite, which can be harmful if ingested in large quantities. Always supervise your cat when they are using the litter, and dispose of the litters properly.

Behavior monitoring

As non-clumping litters do not form clumps, it may be easier for owners to monitor their cat’s urine and feces, which can be beneficial in identifying potential health concerns. This is because the feces and urine will be more visible and easier to spot, allowing the owner to keep an eye on the cat’s health. Additionally, non-clumping litters can help the owner to monitor the cat’s behavior, such as if the cat is urinating more or less frequently, which can be an indication of a potential health issue.

Disadvantages

Clean up

One of the main disadvantages of non-clumping litters is that they require more frequent and complete litter change, which can be more time-consuming and require more effort to maintain. Unlike clumping litters, where only the clumps need to be removed, non-clumping litters will need to be completely changed and cleaned out more frequently. This can be a hassle for some cat owners, especially those with busy schedules or multiple cats.

Odor control

Non-clumping litters may not be as effective in controlling odor as clumping litters. As the urine and feces are not trapped in clumps, they can spread through the litter, making it more difficult to control the odor. In addition, with non-clumping litters, the owner may need to change the litter more frequently, which can be a hassle and can lead to an increase in odor if not done regularly. Non-clumping litters that made of natural materials like wood or corn might be able to absorb moisture and control odor better than other types of non-clumping litter like recycled paper or newspapers, but still not as effective as clumping litters.

Longevity

Non-clumping litters may not last as long as clumping litters because they need to be changed more frequently. As the urine and feces are not trapped in clumps, they can spread through the litter, making it necessary to change the litter more often to maintain freshness and control odor. This can result in more frequent purchases of litter and can be more costly in the long run.

Conclusion

Both clumping and non-clumping cat litters have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Clumping litters are easy to use, provide quick and easy clean-up, and are more effective in controlling odor. However, they may be more expensive and not biodegradable. On the other hand, non-clumping litters are budget-friendly, biodegradable, and can make it easier for owners to monitor their cat’s health. But they require more frequent and complete litter change and may not be as effective in controlling odor. Ultimately, the choice between clumping and non-clumping litters will depend on the individual needs and preferences of the cat owner.

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Alix Wilson

Alix Wilson is Veterinarian at Center for Avian & Exotic Medicine. She has always had a passion and love for animals. She attended Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine for her undergraduate degree. Alix graduated from Ross in 2005. Follow me on: Linkedin

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