Clay Litter Pros And Cons

Cats are furry bundles of joy that provide a source of entertaining companionship for the whole family. Suppose you are a responsible cat parent and you are researching the pros and cons of using clay litters? Or wondered if you could mix crystal and clay litters in the same box? We've studied these questions and have found informative answers to share with you!

Clay cat litter offers a couple of pros- the box will stay dry, and the clumping properties will make cleaning the box easy.

There are also cons, including several environmental factors like unsustainability and potential health issues for your pet.

Are you interested in learning more about clay litters? Perhaps you wonder if clay litters are biodegradable or present any environmental detractors? Or if all clay cat litters have clumping properties? Please continue reading this article; we have great information to share with you!

Up close photo of clay cat litter, Clay Litter Pros And Cons


Clay cat litter pros and cons

Using clay cat litter for your pets' litter box does offer benefits that simplify cleaning the litter box. Also, there are a few health and environmental factors to consider before selecting this type of litter for your cats.

Remember choosing the best cat litter for your cat and home may take a bit of troubleshooting. If you are a new cat parent, you may try a few brands before you, and your cat finds what works. 

A cute obedient domestic cat sitting next to his cat litter

Clay litter pros 

Clay cat litter immediately clumps the fecal and urine waste and naturally reduces the odors. The clumping properties make cleaning the litter box much more manageable, and the clay will keep the box consistently dry. 

Another attractive pro is that clay cat litter is usually the most readily available budget-friendly option for cat litters. 

Clay litter cons

Environmental factors

Generally, the clay used for cat litter is strip-mined from the earth, which is environmentally destructive to the planet and toxic to nearby humans and wildlife. Also, clay is a nonrenewable resource, which eventually will completely deplete. 

Clay cat litter is not biodegradable or recyclable and must be disposed of in a plastic bag that will be buried in a landfill, contributing to the landfill crisis. 

Health factors 

When cats, especially those with long hair, exit the litter box, bits of litter are caught in their fur, and they lick their paws to remove the pebbles. Some cats will swallow the bits of clay litter, and if enough pebbles are consumed, gastrointestinal distress will occur and lead to death in severe cases.

Also, kittens will sometimes eat litter because pebbles look similar to cat food kibbles. Suppose the kitten consumed small amounts of clay litter for a few days. Those litter pebbles will accumulate into a dangerous blockage in the large intestines, which would require immediate veterinarian care.

Cat asthma or the attacks can be triggered by dust particles present in clay litters because when the cat is in the litter box, they will inhale tiny particles of dust that could irritate their lungs. Select a dust-free clay litter to avoid this potential issue.


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Please note that your cats will have unique litter preferences and let you know what they prefer over time. Not all cats will like clay litter. It is essential to be mindful of your cat's litter preferences.

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What is clay cat litter made of?

Clay cat litter is manufactured from bentonite sodium clay, which absorbs liquid, reduces the smell, and causes the litter to clump. Generally, bentonite clays absorb 60% of their weight in liquids and naturally control the urine odors. 

Being prepared for the unexpected is part of a responsible pet parent's job. Be ready for when your cat gets litter caught in their paws. Click here to read our post, "How To Remove Clumping Litter From Cat's Paw."

Is clay litter bad for the environment?

An obedient Devon Rex sitting in his litter box

According to Scientific American, clay cat litter is not beneficial to the earth due to the environmentally taxing mining practices used to retrieve the clays from deep within the earth. Moreover, the clay cat litters are not compostable or recyclable, and clay cat litter waste does contribute to landfills. 

Because clay cat litter is not biodegradable, the only way to dispose of clay cat litter is to place the litter waste into a strong garbage bag or use a litter liner and dump the bag in the outdoor trash receptacle. After that, it will be buried in a landfill where it will not decompose for decades.

These environmental factors are why many cat parents are choosing biodegradable litters to reduce their carbon footprint and reduce strain on the world's landfills. 

Safety considerations

Moreover, never discard used cat litter into a compost bin/tumbler because of the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma Gondii in cat feces. Toxoplasma will add bacteria to the compost pile, which is harmful to animals and humans in the surrounding environment. 

Suggestions for disposing of clay cat litters

Most cat parents love their cats but dislike caring for their litter boxes. Consider using litter box liners to make changing your cat's litter box easier. Place the litter box liner into the empty litter box and add the clean litter on top of the liner.

When it is time to empty the litter box. Pull the drawstrings to lift the soiled litter out and place it into the garbage receptacle. 


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Is clay cat litter biodegradable?

Clay cat litters with clumping properties are not biodegradable and will not decompose naturally. The clays used for manufacturing cat litter are made from a silica gel derived from sodium silicate, a type of sand. Because these products are strip-mined from the earth and chemically processed-- clay litters are not biodegradable. 

Perhaps you are researching different types of litter for your cats and wonder if the litter box will attract pests? Click here to read our post, "Does The Litter Box Attract Bugs?"

A woman scooping cat litter from the litter box

Can you mix crystal and clay litter?

Do not mix crystal and clay litters in the same box. The reason is that the combination of the crystals with the clays will cause each type of litter to work less effectively.

For example, when crystal and clay litters are combined, neither litter will work at its full efficacy. Because the overlapping of litter crystals and pebbles will only allow the crystals to absorb the urine, and the clay pebbles will go unused.

Using both types of litter in the same box will result in cleaning the litter box and changing the litter more often, which will create additional unnecessary waste.

Please note that cats are creatures of habit. It is advisable to avoid changing their litter brands or mixing litters often because your cat will find it disruptive. If your cat doesn't like the mixed litters' texture, they could avoid using the litter box altogether. 

Does clay litter clump?

Yes, clay cat litter does clump, and the clumping properties are one of the hallmark benefits of using this type of litter for your cat. Please note that each time you scoop the litter box, you will need to add more litter to maintain the proper litter depth. 

Pro tip:  Please note that most cats won't use a litter box with less than two inches of litter covering the bottom of the litter box. Fill the litter box with at least two to three inches of clay litter for the best results. Maintaining a consistent depth of litter is crucial to keep your cat using the box correctly.

Are you curious about how non-clumping cat litters work and the pros and cons of using this type of litter? Click here to read "How Does Non-Clumping Clay Litter Work?"

General health and safety recommendations

For the best results, always wear gloves when you clean or scoop your cat's litter box and put the waste into a pet waste bag and then into a garbage receptacle.

Word of caution if you or someone in your home is pregnant or may be pregnant. Do not change or clean the litter boxes to avoid contact with Toxoplasma present in cat feces.

In closing

Up close photo of clay cat litter

Cats are excellent pets that will bring companionship to your home and life. This article examined how to use clay cat litter correctly and the environmental and health factors associated with choosing clay litters for your cats. We hope this article was helpful to you. Please visit soon for more engaging and informative content!

We know taking care of your pet is a priority. Before you go, please be sure to check out some of our other posts for further information about cat litters

How Long Does Cat Litter Typically Last? [By Number Of Cats and Type of Litter]

Some Types of Cat Litter are Flammable [Here's how to avoid the risk]

How Often Should You Change Clumping Cat Litter?