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Home > Cats > Lightweight Cat Litter vs Regular (Clay): The Differences

Lightweight Cat Litter vs Regular (Clay): The Differences

Lightweight vs Regular Clay Cat Litter

Cat litters are notoriously heavy. If you have more than one cat, you probably don’t look forward to hauling that bag or box into the house. To solve this problem, lightweight litters have started cropping up from various cat litter brands. But what benefits do these products have, and, more importantly, are they safe for cats? Let’s take a look at some of the differences.


Overview of Lightweight Cat Litter

pouring cat litter in the litter box
Image Credit: Seika Chujo, Shutterstock

Lightweight cat litter is clay-based but mixed with lightweight substances like perlite. This makes the litter weigh up to 50% less per volume. So, you’ll still get the same amount of litter but without the hassle of dragging a 30-pound box around.

How Does Lightweight Litter Work?

Lightweight litter absorbs, traps, and clumps, just like clay litter. Its base material is clay, and the bits are bulked up with minerals such as perlite (volcanic glass) and silica so that the volume is the same, but the weight is lower. It’s often mixed with deodorizers like baking soda as well to help cover up any smells.

The perlite used is expanded perlite and is a common lightweight ingredient in gardening compounds. The added perlite combined with silica is meant to increase each clay clump’s size and absorbing power without adding much to the weight.

Less weight means the litter is easier to move around, store, and use and shouldn’t have any noticeable differences compared with regular clay litter.

Is Lightweight Litter Safe?

Not all lightweight litter has a readily available ingredient list. The exact materials used are considered “proprietary,” so they don’t always disclose them, which can leave pet parents wary of trying them out.

It makes sense; no one wants to play chicken with their pets’ lives.

Major producers of lightweight litters all bear the mark of extensive testing, by their metrics, into the safety and no ingredients that can be found are toxic to animals as the silica gel they’re using is non-toxic and consumption safe, like silica cat litter.

However, perlite is listed as a nuisance dust, creating problems for those with preexisting lung conditions like asthma. If you or your cat suffers from breathing problems, you’ll want to steer clear of lightweight litter.

Does Lightweight Litter Work?

Reviews of Lightweight Cat Litter seem to indicate happy pet parents overall. Purina’s Tidy Cats Lightweight has almost 700 reviews and has maintained slightly higher than a four-star rating. Eighty-eight percent of Chewy’s users would recommend Tidy Cats Lightweight.

Critical reviews of the Lightweight litter tend to surround problems with the litter sticking to the cats and being tracked around the house.

  • Easier to carry and scoop
  • May have a higher incidence of litter tracking, especially for long-haired cats


Overview of Regular (Clay) Litter

Clumping Litter
Image Credit: Axel Bueckert, Shutterstock

Clay litter is an old family favorite. Clay litter is made up of absorbent clay. Absorbent clay is often mixed with odor neutralizing compounds like charcoal and baking soda that trap odors when the cat uses the litter box.

How Does Clay Litter Work?

Regular clay litter allows urine to run to the bottom of the litter box, where the absorbent clay soaks up the puddle. Regular scooping of the feces in the box helps keep the odors down and prolong the longevity of the remaining litter, but the saturated litter can’t be scooped out on its own. One cat can usually saturate an entire tray of clay litter within a week when the trash needs to be changed out completely.

Clumping clay litter uses a type of clay called sodium bentonite. Sodium bentonite is unique because when the litter absorbs urine, it expands the clay and binds it together into a large clump that can be scooped from the box daily.

The ability to scoop out the used litter immediately is a powerful asset in further controlling odors and ammonia from the litter box.

Related Read: What Is Cat Litter Made Of?

Is Clay Litter Safe?

Clay litter is pet safe, but it can be dusty, making it a non-option for people with small animals like gerbils or rabbits who can get respiratory illnesses from the dust.

Does Clay Litter Work?

Clay litter works as intended, though “as intended” isn’t always ideal for every family. For instance, if your cat happens to take big pees like this Reddit poster, clay litter might actively harm your cat in some situations.

However, that doesn’t mean that clay litter’s position as the most popular type of cat litter is unearned. Clay litter is easy to use, cost-efficient, and it works strictly as intended, all of which are great traits to have in a product.

  • Cost-efficient
  • Lower litter tracking rate
  • Reliable
  • Can’t use it if you have small pets


Our Favorite Lightweight Cat Litter

Tidy Cats Lightweight Free and Clear

Tidy Cats Lightweight Free and Clear

Tidy Cats Lightweight Free and Clear is a repackaging of the regular Tidy Cats Free and Clear litter. It’s unscented with no perfumes or dyes, so it’s safe for cats with sensitive skin. Some pet parents still found they had problems with tracking, but Free and Clear maintain a high rating with over 900 reviews and a competitive price point.

Our FavoriteRegular (Clay)

Frisco Multi-Cat Fresh Scented Clumping Clay Cat Litter

Frisco Multi-Cat Fresh Scented Clumping Clay Cat Litter

Frisco Multi-Cat is, perhaps, the most popular Clumping Clay Cat Litter on Chewy with over 2,000 positive reviews. Eighty-nine percent of pet parents recommend Frisco Multi-Cat, which sports excellent absorption, odor control, and a price point you just can’t beat.

You May Also Like: 10 Best Cat Litter Box Furniture Enclosures: Reviews & Top Picks



Litter is a touchy subject since cats can be notoriously picky about litter. So, that’s all the more reason to make sure that your cat is getting the best litter for their needs and yours. If you’re having trouble with lifting their litter, a lightweight litter might be just the thing for your household!

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