Pros and Cons of Non-Clumping Cat Litter

non clumping cat litter

In this article I will be discussing the pros and cons of non-clumping cat litter.

In particular I will examine the benefits of going for this type of non-clumping litter, when compared to the other choices on the marketplace.

Non-clumping litters are the first choice of cat shelters, and also for cat owners who are fully aware of the risks of using the other main alternative, which is a clumping litter.

They prefer not to risk using that clumping style litter for health risk reasons, which I will explore below.

Understanding the Types of Cat Litter

As you may be aware there are four main types of cat litter on the US market. These are:

  1. Clumping
  2. Non-Clumping
  3. Silica Gel (Crystal)
  4. Natural or Biodegradable Litters

I am going to discuss each of these in general terms as it is important to understand the key differences in each of them. Once you know about each of these, I will then try and explain why you should opt for a non-clumping cat litter.

Various Types of Cat Litter in More Detail

Natural or Biodegradable Litter

natural biodegradable cat litterThere are some cat owners who use biodegradable litters such as wood pellets, recycled paper, corn husks etc, but most cat owners will go for either a standard clay clumping or non-clumping clay litter.

Their main reasons for picking a natural litter is that those cat owners care a lot for the environment. They also prefer the idea of using natural products, and genuinely believe these are safer to use and safer for their cats. Some of these can also be used as a compost when properly handled and treated.

Silica Gel Litters

using crystal cat litterMany people are also making the switch to the “Silica Gel” litters. These are small crystals made from silica. They change colour when they have absorbed moisture, and the moisture for cat litter refers to cat urine.

Some people prefer these as they are not clay based, and they last longer than a clay litter. They are also easier to change out as the signs are obvious, in that the crystals have changed color.

Clay Based Litters

best clumping cat litterThat leaves the clay litters, and there are the two types that I have mentioned which are clumping and non-clumping.

The clumping litter has an added ingredient that makes the clay form into lumps when it contacts urine or any type of moisture.

In this article however, I want to focus on and explain the main benefits and drawbacks of using a non-clumping style of cat litter.

Key Benefits of Using a Non-Clumping Cat Litter

non clumping cat litterAs I mentioned in my introductory paragraph, most cat shelters almost always use a non-clumping litter.

When I was doing my in-depth research it became quickly obvious that they do this due to the potential health risks associated with clumping litter. (There are some cat shelters that use natural litters rather than a clay litter)

You may be aware that both clumping and non-clumping litters are made from a special type of clay. This clay has been used since cat litter first became available on the market.

The difference between non-clumping and clumping clay litters is that clumping litters also have an ingredient known as “bentonite” added to them. This ingredient makes water (urine) absorb quickly and turn into clumps, hence the name of “clumping.”.

The advantage of these clumps is that they can be quickly scooped out of the litter box and that helps keep it fresh and clean. That is the main reason why clumping litter is so popular with many cat owners.

However it is this same clumping effect that can also cause potential health problems for cats, and indeed for cat owners.

I have discussed the health issues associated with clumping litter in detail. However if you haven’t the time to do that, I have quickly summarised those just below.

Health Risks with Clumping Litters

The main risk with clumping litters is that when moisture of any kind touches the clumping litter, it dries the moisture up and also makes the clay swell up.

That can cause blockages and other problems of this nature. For example if you cat is digesting small parts of this cat litter it can cause blockages in their digestive system.

There are not any actual detailed scientific studies on this, and thousands of cat owners are not lining up at their vets to complain about this type of illness. However there have been a lot of reported incidents.

As such the evidence is anecdotal rather than a proven fact. This anecdotal evidence is still strong enough to make many cat owners very wary of using any type of clumping litter.

Key Benefits of Non-Clumping Litters

Non-clumping cat litter is often made of zeolite, diatomite and sepiolite. These are fancy names, but it simply means that they are types of earth and absorbent materials that are safe to use. The urine does not form into clumps but it does get absorbed by the clay.

That means that there is zero risk of any type of swelling or blockages. That reason alone explains why most cat shelters will always go on the side of safety, and use a non-clumping litter.

Non-clumping litter is also slightly cheaper than other litters as it contains less ingredients, and is therefore cheaper to make.

Disadvantages of Using Non-Clumping Cat Litter

Above I have covered off the key benefits of using non-clumping cat litter. However like many products there are also a few downsides, and to make this article complete, and give you all of the information, it is important to include the negative issues as well.

Regular Cleaning of Non-Clumping Litters

You will like any other litter need to remove cat poop on a regular basis. Twice daily is recommended but it should be removed at least once a day.

That applies to all cat litters and not just the non-clumping type. However with this type of non-clumping litter it will get saturated faster, as there is nothing in the litter that will make it clump.

The cat urine simply soaks through the clay and will eventually become saturated. When that happens all of the litter will need to be replaced.

Once that is done, then the box will need to be cleaned, and new fresh litter put back in. With a clumping litter for example, most people simply remove the clumps, and then  top it up with fresh litter.

Conclusion of Non-Clumping Litter Advantages and Disadvantages

Every cat owner will use some form of cat litter. Each cat owner will have their own preference as to which type that will actually be. Let’s face it, there are plenty of brands and types of cat litter on the market to pick from.

The non-clumping clay style litter is a popular choice as it is the cheapest to buy, one of the easiest to use, and the cleaning and removal of it are pretty straightforward.

The disadvantages are that it has to be replaced more often than other litter types, and it is not environmentally friendly.

Resources Used

Zeolite, Diatomite and Sepiolite at Wikipedia


Steve is a content creator with an unhealthy cat obsession. He enjoys reading non-fiction books, entreprenuership and cuddles with his cat Fij.

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