Catster logo

25 Useful Alternatives for Cat Litter

ginger cat litter close-up
Image Credit By: Yuliya Alekseeva, shutterstock
Last Updated on November 16, 2023 by Christian Adams

It may never have occurred to you to use cat litter for anything other than its intended purpose. For one thing, it’s already really good at its intended purpose. For another, it’s kind of hard to associate it with anything other than that purpose.

As it turns out, however, there are quite a few other things you can use kitty litter for. This list will reveal some outside-the-litterbox ideas for using any clumping stuff you might have handy so that you can get lots of mileage out of your next box or bag.

cat face divider 2

The 25 Unusual Things Cat Litter Can Do for You

1. Get Your Car Unstuck

car in snow
Image Credit: al-grishin, Pixabay

It’s a good idea to keep a box of cat litter in your trunk, and it’s not in case you meet a desperate-looking kitty at a rest stop. If you’ve driven into sand or snow and you can’t get out, sprinkling some litter underneath your tires may be all they need to get traction and allow you to drive yourself out.

2. Put Out Grease Fires

It can happen to even the most experienced chefs: the grease you were cooking with got a little overheated, and now there are flames threatening to devour your kitchen. Never throw water on a grease fire, as that will simply cause it to spatter and spread.

Instead, prevent the fire from starting in the first place by placing a bit of kitty litter (unused) on the bottom of the grill (this won’t affect the flavor). This also has the added bonus of making your dinner guests queasy when they see a big box of kitty litter sitting on your spice rack.

3. Soak Up Oil Spills

a broom and water cleans up an oil spill
Image Credit: Karen Hermann, Shutterstock

Any mechanic knows that all it takes is a single clumsy movement to permanently mar your garage floor. However, it doesn’t have to be that way; if you sprinkle some litter on that spill quickly enough, it can soak everything up, preventing stains. However, if the oil has set, you’ll need to use the litter to scrub it clean.

4. Keep Your Fridge Smelling Fresh

Everyone has a few things in their fridge that they forgot about until it was too late — a bag of salad, some fruit, that pizza you bought that had “We Survived Y2K” spelled out in pepperoni on it. Once that food starts to go bad, it can stink up your whole kitchen. Keeping an open box of kitty litter in your fridge can absorb the odors and keep them under control. Just don’t spill it into your leftovers.

5. Keep Your Closets Fresh, Too

Image Credit: teenacobb, Pixabay

There are few pets you can have in your house that can be as nasty as teenagers. If your kids have seemingly let something die in their closets, keeping an open box of litter inside it can absorb the odors, much like it does in your fridge.

6. De-Ice Your Sidewalk

There’s nothing worse than hitting a patch of ice on your sidewalk, as that often leads to hitting the sidewalk — hard. Cat litter can soak up the moisture and melt the ice, leaving the area safe to walk on again. Better still, most litters are all-natural, so you don’t have to worry about using chemicals that will harm the environment.

7. Eliminate Algae in Your Pond

Image Credit: makamuki0, Pixabay

Keeping algae under control is difficult for even the most experienced pond owner. However, kitty litter can help keep that green cloud from choking out life in the water. All it takes is a pound of litter per 2,000 gallons of water; the water will be murky for a few days, but it should soon be crystal clear again.

8. Save a Phone Dropped in Water

Everyone knows about dropping a wet phone in uncooked rice to soak up the moisture, but kitty litter may be an even better choice. After all, it’s designed to soak up spills. However, put it in a sock or something first, unless you want to be inhaling cat dust every time you answer calls for the next few months.

9. Dispose of Paint Safely

old paint cans in shelves
Image Credit: stux, Pixabay

Getting rid of old paint is difficult –– you can’t pour it down the drain, nor can you just throw it away. That’s why most people choose just to leave half-empty paint cans in their garage until they move, leaving it for the next tenants to deal with. Instead of that, you can pour litter in the cans; it will turn everything into solid clumps of waste that are easy to dispose of.

10. Moisten Your Soil

This one may seem paradoxical — after all, cat litter absorbs moisture, right? That’s true, but if you sprinkle a layer of the stuff over wet soil, it will trap the existing moisture in the soil below. Of course, it will also make your garden seem like a public restroom to the cats in the neighborhood, so make sure the area is secure before you attempt this.

11. Use in Ashtrays

cigarette butts
Image Credit: P. Schreiner, Pixabay

Cat litter does a great job of snuffing out cigarettes, preventing your house from burning down while you sleep. Just as importantly, though, it soaks up the smoke odor, leaving your house smelling fresh instead of like week-old cigarettes. Be careful about leaving your butts behind, though — you don’t want your cat picking up a two-pack-a-day habit.

12. Remove Spray Paint

It can be disconcerting to walk outside your home only to see someone has spray-painted your phone number with a suggestive message on the sidewalk. If you don’t want to get creepy calls for the foreseeable future, remove that paint with cat litter.

Make a paste by mixing litter with water in a one-to-one ratio, then apply it to the surface. Rub it in with a scrub brush, then leave it for 6 to 8 hours. After the time has passed, scrub the surface again, harder this time. Rinse it off, and repeat as needed until the paint is gone (or just change your number).

13. Clean Up Vomit

hand cleaning red wine
Image Credit: Andrey_Popov, Shutterstock

There’s no better way to ensure that you get invited to parties than by earning a reputation as the person who knows how to clean up vomit. Simply sprinkle litter on the mess, let it soak up the liquid, and sweep it up. It works on carpet as well as harder surfaces (just vacuum instead of sweep).

14. Use It as a Toilet — for You

Sometimes you have to go, and there aren’t any suitable facilities around. If you’re camping, on a road trip, or just don’t want to come in from the backyard, you can use a bucket or other container with kitty litter inside of it to contain your mess. Not only will this make things easier to clean, but it will also keep odors under control. Just don’t use it as toilet paper.

15. Absorb Water from a Leaky Pipe

Close-up water burst leaking from broken pipeline
Image Credit: Siyanight, Shutterstock

The best thing to do with a leaking pipe is to get it fixed right away. That’s not always the case, however, so if there’s a pipe that’s dripping and you can’t fix it just yet, slide a tray of cat litter under it. This will contain the mess and prevent water damage to the area beneath the pipe. Better still, it will come in handy if you have to puke in the sink.

16. Purify Water

You’ll have to trust us on this one, but it could be extremely useful in a pinch (such as after a disaster that’s affected your water supply). If you have a litter with bentonite clay, the clay will bind to impurities in the water. Line a container with the litter, and then fill it with water (use 1/8 cup of clay per gallon of water).

Mix everything up, then wait for the clay to settle on the bottom. Pour the water through a sieve to remove all the remaining clay, and drink up. Of course, you could always skip the sieve if you like your water a little on the crunchy side.

17. Eliminate Trash Can Odors

household trash
Image Credit: Travis Wolfe, Shutterstock

This idea works much the same as deodorizing your closet or fridge does. Leave a layer of litter at the bottom of the can; this will soak up nasty garbage water while also keeping the whole thing smelling fresh. Be careful not to knock the can over, though, or else you’ll have a big mess on your hands (or your floor, more accurately).

18. Keep Seasonal Gear from Getting Musty

The last thing you want is to pull your ski gear out of storage only to remember that you sweat a lot while skiing. If you fill a couple old socks with litter and pack them away with your gear, they’ll soak up the odors so that everything will smell fresh the next time you pull it out.

19. Use It as a Weight

woman lifting a heavy sandbag
Image Credit: BAZA Production. Shutterstock

There are many things that need to be weighted down with sand, like punching bags. You can also get a great workout with sandbags or containers filled with litter. It’s a cheap but effective substitute for weights, and if you’ve ever carried a full box of litter through a store, you know how taxing it can be on your muscles.

20. Clean Minor Cuts

Sticking an open wound into a bag of kitty litter may seem like the last thing you want to do, but it can actually help treat cuts. This trick only works with bentonite clay, so don’t try it with just any litter. The clay has antimicrobial properties, so it will help clean and treat the wound, preventing infection. Just make sure your cat hasn’t used the clay first.

21. Treat Acne

young woman with facial mask
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

We promise we’re not trying to trick you into doing weird things with kitty litter with this list. A litter that uses bentonite clay can also double as an extremely inexpensive beauty mask. The clay has antimicrobial properties, so it will cleanse your pores, and it will also soak up oils and remove dead skin cells. Be aware, however, that it will be extremely hard to explain to people why you have cat litter all over your face.

22. Deter Rodents

There are few predators in this world as efficient as cats. By now, word of their hunting prowess has spread throughout the animal kingdom, and many of their prey have learned to avoid anything that remotely smells of them. Cat litter certainly qualifies, so sprinkling it around areas that you’ve seen rodents and other vermin may be enough to keep them at bay.

23. Preserve Flowers

preserving flowers
Image Credit: Chamille White, Shutterstock

If you have a particularly beautiful bouquet that you want to preserve for prosperity, then cat litter can help you do it. Lock the flowers in an airtight container with a little bit of litter and leave them for 7 to 10 days. Once the time is up, you’ll have dry, perfectly-preserved flowers on your hands.

24. Soothe Itchy Skin

This is yet another use for bentonite clay, that miraculous stuff. In addition to being antimicrobial, it can also act as a topical antihistamine, so if you wander into some poison ivy, simply mix pure bentonite clay with water in a one-to-one ratio and spread it over your skin. It also works on bug bites; presumably, bugs won’t want to bite something covered in cat litter, and we can’t blame them.

25. Patch Up Holes in Your Lawn

shovel and wheelbarrow
Image Credit: Dmitry Trubitsyn, Shutterstock

If you have holes in your yard but no dirt to fill them with, cat litter can work in a pinch. This is a cheap and effective solution, although it’s unlikely anything will grow in the hole after the litter has been used. On the plus side, though, if the holes are caused by something that’s afraid of cats, using litter may prevent future holes from cropping up.

cat + line divider

How Will You Use Your Litter?

While we hope that this list has provided you with some new ideas, it’s far from comprehensive. There are tons of ways to use the stuff around the house — the only limit is your imagination.

Just be sure to leave some for your cat. After all, the original use of kitty litter is still the best.

Featured Image Credit: Yuliya Alekseeva, Shutterstock

About the Author

Christian Adams
Christian Adams
Christian is the Editor-in-Chief of Excited Cats and one of its original and primary contributors. A lifelong cat lover, now based in South East Asia, Christian and his wife are the proud parents of an 11-year-old son and four rescue cats: Trixie, Chloe, Sparky, and Chopper.

Get Catster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.


Follow Us

Shopping Cart