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9 Different Types of Cat Litter: How to Choose the Best for Your Cat

Ed Malaker

If you are new to owning a cat, you are probably amazed at all of the different types of litter and might be struggling to find the best one for your cat. Many people also want to learn about the different options available to stop using dusty clay litter. If this sounds like your situation and you need help understanding the different types of litter, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve made a list of all the best types you can find, and we are going to tell you more about them to help you make an informed decision.

Different Types of Litter

1. Clay

Clay is by far the most popular type of litter, and you can find it anywhere you can buy cat supplies. There are hundreds of brands to fit any budget, and you can get it scented or unscented, clumping or non-clumping. Clay is naturally occurring and readily available, so it makes a great litter. The downside is that it is extremely dusty, and some brands will leave a film on everything in the room.

We recommend using a brand that specifies its low dust with your cat, especially if it’s a covered litter box where the dust can get trapped. Some cats can develop respiratory issues if they inhale too much of the concentrated clay dust. We also prefer clumping because it’s much easier to clean and traps odors better than non-clumping litter.

Clay litter
Image Credit: Imageman, Shutterstock

2. Walnut

Walnut litter is a great alternative to clay that has very little dust. As you may have guessed, walnut litter is the crushed shells of walnuts. It’s highly absorbent and renewable, so it’s good for the environment. Walnut litter is soft on your cat’s paws and doesn’t track around your home. The downside to walnut is that it’s non-clumping, which means you need to stir it frequently to make sure the walnut shells can completely absorb the urine, and if the urine sits at the bottom too long, it can start to smell bad. Walnut litter also tends to be dark in color, making it hard to find the little gifts our cat leaves to scoop them out.

3. Tofu

Tofu is one of the newer alternatives to clay litter that you can purchase.  It’s a clumping litter, so it’s easy to scoop clean, and the clumping helps to reduce odors. It’s a bit more expensive than many of the other options, and it can be hard to find, but it uses renewable materials, and it’s a good alternative to clay if you need dust-free clumping litter.

Tofu beans
Image Credit: allybally4b, Pixabay

4. Silica Gel

Silica gel is another modern litter and is likely the strangest on this list. Silica gel is a highly absorbent material that can quickly absorb and hold any moisture it contacts, so it does a good job of absorbing moisture and reducing odor despite being a non-clumping litter. The downside to silica gel is that you need to mix it frequently to distribute the urine so it absorb better, and it’s quite expensive.

5. Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth litters are another extremely absorbent non-clumping litter. It works quickly to absorb the urine, and with occasional stirring, it will also absorb the moisture out of feces which can help reduce odor. The downside to this type of litter is that it’s expensive, and the larger pebble size can be hard on some cat’s feet.

Related Read: 5 Ways to Keep Litter from Tracking All Over the Floor

6. Grass

You make grass litter from grass seed, and like clay litter, you can purchase it as a clumping or non-clumping litter.  It’s biodegradable and renewable, so it won’t harm the environment. You can even flush some brands down the toilet. Besides being hard to find in some areas, there is no downside to using grass in your litterbox.

Abyssinian cat sitting on grass
Image Credit: Dmitry Tsapenko, Pixabay

7. Paper

Paper litter is highly absorbent and non-clumping. Liked silica gel, you need to stir the litter to spread the urine evenly frequently. We like paper litter for traveling but found it didn’t do enough to combat odors in our home to use it regularly. If you have more than one cat using the same box, the recycled paper can become a soggy mess.

8. Corn

Corn is inexpensive and renewable, so it makes a great choice for an alternative to clay. It’s relatively lightweight and forms tight clumps that are easy to scoop out.  We found that the tight clumping helped us use less litter, so it pays for itself over time.

Cooked Corn
Image Credit: kalhh, Pixabay

9. Pine

Pine litter is unique in that it has a fresh pined scent that can help mask odors and keep your home smelling fresh. Pine litter is similar to grass, and you can find it in clumping and non-clumping varieties to suit your needs. The only downside is that some people might not enjoy the smell of Christmas all year long.


Out of the several types of food on our list, we like to use corn and grass the most frequently. They form tight clumps that are easy to remove, and they are removable and biodegradable, so it doesn’t hurt the environment to use them. Silica gel is one of the most effective non-clumping types we’ve tried, and we like to use it when we have the budget, but it is expensive compared to the others.

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Featured Image Credit: Lilia Solonari, Shutterstock

Ed Malaker

Ed Malaker is a veteran writer who has contributed to a wide range of blogs that cover tools, pets, guitars, fitness, and computer programming. When he’s not writing, Ed is usually performing DIY projects around the house or working in the garden. He’s also a musician and spends a lot of time helping people fix their guitars and composing music for independent films.