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What Is the Worst Cat Litter? 5 Types to Stay Away From

Written by: Jessica Kim

Last Updated on May 30, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat on a disposable litter box

What Is the Worst Cat Litter? 5 Types to Stay Away From

You can find so many different kinds of cat litter these days. They can come in pretty packaging or have appealing buzzwords. However, looks can be deceiving. Cat litter impacts a cat’s health and quality of life, and some varieties may affect your cat negatively.

Not all cat litter is equal, and it’s important for cat owners to make well-informed decisions when purchasing it. Here are some key things to watch out for and be mindful of when shopping for new cat litter.

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The 5 Worst Cat Litter Types

1. Sodium Bentonite

Close up texture sodium bentonite cat litter
Image Credit: Zahra Malikha, Shutterstock

Some cat litter can contain sodium bentonite, which is a type of highly absorbent mineral clay. There’s no denying that cat litter containing sodium bentonite does a good job of keeping the litter box dry. However, it can be especially harmful to cats that have a habit of eating or licking up cat litter. Whether it’s inhaled or ingested, consuming significant amounts can cause health complications, such as bentonite toxicosis.

2. Pine

pine cat litter
Image Credit: photorawjpg, Shutterstock

You can find several different varieties of wood-based cat litter, and they can be made with all kinds of wood and grasses. Some cat litter can use pine wood, which provides a fresh scent and helps reduce odors. However, many cats find the pine scent too strong, which can deter them from using these types of cat litter. So, if your cat doesn’t seem to like pine cat litter, try switching to cat litter with milder scents and cleaning out the litter box more frequently.

3. High Levels of Dust

two cat litter trays outdoors
Image Credit: Noor Wahid, Shutterstock

Different kinds of litter have varying levels of dust in them. You can even find some that are 99% dust-free. Dusty cat litter can make cleanup more challenging, as finer particles of litter will track further from the litter box. It can also get stuck on your cat’s paws, and your cat can get sick from self-grooming and licking it off their paws. Cat litter that has a high concentration of dust can also be harmful to both humans and cats that have asthma as it can make breathing difficult for them.

4. Artificial Fragrances

green litter box with crystal litter
Image Credit: Dmitrii Pridannikov, Shutterstock

Similar to pine scent, artificial fragrances can be irritating to cats. The perfume may be too strong for them and discourage them from using their litter box. Artificial fragrances may be able to mask and hide some odors, but they don’t really deodorize the litter box. So, it’s much more effective to use cat litter that has deodorizing ingredients, like baking soda, or mix cat litter deodorizing crystals into the cat litter.

5. Clay Litter

Clay cat litter
Image Credit: BW Folsom, Shutterstock

While clay cat litter is fairly common, it may not be the best option because it’s considered to be bad for the environment. Clay cat litter often isn’t ethically sourced, and it’s not biodegradable. It doesn’t decompose naturally and can end up taking up space in landfills for years.

Clay cat litter also tends to contain dust and stick to your cat’s paws. It tracks easily, so you’re likely to spend a lot more time cleaning up bits of litter throughout your home.

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Finding the Right Cat Litter for Your Cat

Finding the right kind of cat litter can feel overwhelming because there are so many options. However, your search can be easier and more simplified if you focus on just a few factors. The following key features will help you find cat litter that both you and your cat will appreciate:

  • Low dust and tracking
  • Odor control
  • Absorbency

It’s often helpful to consider customer reviews while shopping for new cat litter to see if they mention anything about these features.

It’s also important to consider how much you’ll be budgeting for cat litter. Cat litter prices will vary depending on the material. Non-clumping clay cat litter tends to be the more affordable option. On the other end, you can find premium cat litter with special formulas designed to reduce dust and be safer for cats with asthma or breathing issues. Eco-friendly cat litter is usually priced on the higher end, but you can still find some budget-friendly options made with recycled or natural materials.

woman cleaning her pet cat's litter box
Image Credit: sandyman, Shutterstock

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Overall, avoid cat litter that contains significant amounts of dust and doesn’t have strong scents. It’ll also be helpful to look for cat litter with low-tracking formulas. When given the opportunity, choose eco-friendly options and cat litter made with biodegradable or recycled materials.

Taking the time to look for the right cat litter won’t just benefit your cat. You’ll also reap the benefits of having a cleaner home, reducing litter box odors, and helping your cat maintain healthy litter box habits.

Featured Image Credit: Mr.Piya Meena, Shutterstock

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