Clumping Litter vs Non-Clumping: What’s The Difference?

In this article I am going to explain the differences between clumping litter vs non-clumping.

Like many products, both have their advantages and disadvantages.

I’ll take a much closer look at the key differences and hopefully it’ll help you decide which one is right for you.

Let’s get started.

What is Clumping Cat Litter?

Clumping cat litter is litter that forms it into clumps. This achieves three things:

  • Urine is absorbed and forms clumps which can be scooped out and removed easily
  • Clumping also helps dry out cat poop that makes it easier to remove
  • As clumps absorb urine and dry out cat poop, it helps control odors in the home

These reasons alone make clumping cat litter a popular choice when it comes to the different types of litter available.

Because it’s so good at soaking up any type of moisture, some garage owners use clumping litter for water and oil spills.

It can also save you money because you only need to remove the clumps and the remainder of the litter can still be used, providing little waste.

When you remove clumps, the litter box can be topped up after a few days. This is much easier to do than replacing the entire litter in the box or pan.

As long as you remove clumps everyday, the litter will last a long time and you won’t have to clean out the litter box that often. This can be around 3-4 weeks depending on how many cats are using the litter.

Because clumping litter forms hardened clumps, makes it easy to scoop and as a result, makes cleaning out the litter box a great deal faster.

What is Non-Clumping Cat Litter?

Non-clumping cat litter does not form any type of clumps. It is the original type of cat litter and has been around for many years.

It’s main benefits are:

  • Non-clumping litter is generally cheaper than a clumping cat litter
  • It’s maintenance free because you don’t have to remove clumps

Because no clumps are formed, cat poop will simply sit as it was left, on top of the litter or covered up by your cat.

It won’t dry out cat poop or compact urine into clumps. For this reason, it doesn’t control odors as well as clumping litter.

The main difference is that it doesn’t form clumps, which means that the only time you change this litter is when you it becomes saturated with urine.

At this point the litter box will need to be emptied, cleaned, dried and then re-filled with new litter.

Cat experts recommend that non-clumping cat litter should be changed once per week.

By changing it once a week, it will help to control odors in the home.

Types of Cat Litter

There are different types of cat litter that you should be aware of. Each have there own advantages and disadvantages. These types include:

  • Clumping clay based litters
  • Non-clumping clay litters
  • Silica crystal litter
  • Natural or biodegradable litter

The oldest type of litter is clay based litters which were mostly non-clumping, but this has changed in recent years. There are a lot of brands that create clumping clay litters now and are generally a cheaper option cat litter.

You can still buy non-clumping clay litter, but there aren’t as many as there used to be and they aren’t as popular.

Silica crystal litters have been around for many years and do an excellent job of clumping and absorbing urine and cat poop. These are usually more expensive that clay because of how well they absorb waste and control odors.

Natural or biodegradable litter have become more popular in recent years. They do a effective job of clumping but like crystal litter, are usually a bit more expensive than clay based litter.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Clumping Cat Litter

Now we know how clumping and non-clumping litter differs, here are the pros and cons:

Pros of clumping litter

  • Makes it very fast to clean a litter
  • Cheap when compared to all other forms of litter
  • Good at drying out cat poop
  • Good at drying out cat urine and absorbing smells

Cons of clumping litter

  • The clumping can cause blockages if accidentally ingested
  • Not suitable for kittens
  • Not environmentally friendly in any way

For cat litter to work, it uses something called Bentonite. The type of bentonite used is sodium bentonite.

Sodium bentonite expands when it gets wet, absorbing as much as several times its dry mass in water (up to 15 times its volume).

However, bentonite clay comes from strip mines, leading to environmental concerns. Like Fuller’s earth, it can also be dusty and heavy to carry.

There is also plenty of anecdotal evidence that if a cat accidentally ingests the clumping clay litter, then it can cause blockages in your cat.

Likewise clumping cat litters can never be flushed down the toilet as that litter would swell and block the pipes.

For this reason, it’s highly recommended that no type of litter should ever be flushed because it could clog pipes.

Litter should be bagged and disposed off in the garbage. Some natural litters can be used as compost material which I will explain later.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Non-Clumping Cat Litter

Pros of non-clumping litter

  • Used in most cat shelters as it doesn’t risk the potential health problems of clumping litters
  • Only needs to be fully replaced once a week
  • Is a cheaper litter to buy

Cons of non-clumping litter

  • Not environmentally friendly in any way
  • Smells if not regularly replaced
  • Needs to be bagged and put in the garbage which then goes to land fill sites

Conclusion of Clumping vs Non-Clumping Cat Litters

Hopefully you know the differences between clumping litter vs non-clumping litter.

Both of these work really well in most types of cat litter boxes.

For the manual self-cleaning boxes, the clumping style litter is a better choice. That is because you have to shake the box from side to side.

The only real debate going on is the potential health risks of using a clumping litter, against the non-clumping style which does not have any associated risks for your cat’s health and well being.

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