Cat Litter by Ingredient(s)
Updated by Brandon F. on February 4, 2020
One of the largest variables that exist with different types of cat litter is what ingredients a given example is made out of. There are literally dozens of different ingredients that can be used and exponentially more combinations of multiple ingredients being used.
While conventional clay is by far the most popular ingredient found in cat litter, even that can be complicated with the plethora of clay hybrid litters that you can find on the market today.
Each type of material has its unique pros and cons that range from cost, odor masking capabilities, clumping potential, weight, dust levels, tracking levels, smell, hypoallergenic specifications, environmental friendliness, and many more. With all of the different choices to choose from it can be easy to find yourself overwhelmed when trying to narrow down your choices.
Have no fear! That is where we come in. To simplify things, we have broken down all of the different types of cat litters into 4 general categories: Clay, clay hybrid, crystals, and natural. Each is broken down into greater detail below, along with a handy link directly to that page. Just click on any of the options below and it will open up a summary of that material type as well as a helpful link to specific reviews.
Clay is by far the most common material found in cat litter. There are several different types of clay, but for simplicity purposes we group them into one. Clays are popular for many reasons: they are typically the cheapest, they clump well, they can hold quite a bit of moisture, the material is easily obtainable, and many others. They also have their difficulties: they are heavy, can be dusty, can track easily, can smell bad, and the list goes on. If you are looking for a reliable litter and your top priority is your pocket book then going the conventional clay route may be your best bet.
You can read up on our many clay litter reviews here.
Clay hybrid cat litters stick with the popular and proven clay foundation and then add some extra ingredients to the mix. Oftentimes these ingredients are added to help improve or modify an aspect that clay generally struggles with. Common additives are crystals, plant extracts, and baking soda. Similar to completely clay litters, there is a nice mix of clumping and non-clumping choices. The prices for these typically are a bit higher than complete clay since clay is generally the cheapest part of a cat litter. If you are someone who enjoys the proven ability of clay but are wanting something a bit more potent or unique then a clay hybrid might be something you should look into.
You can check out our listing for reviews off all of the clay hybrids.
Crystals are a very unique offering in that they completely get away from clays or natural products like wood or paper and instead deal with more exotic ingredients like silicon. These litters have very specialized attributes which include being extremely lightweight, being excellent at odor absorption, being able to retain significant amounts of moisture, and being near scentless. This comes at a cost, however (literally): they are typically extremely expensive. Also most do not clump which might be a dealbreaker for some. However, their box life tends to be on the longer side so in the end it might not be as big of a blow on your wallet as you think since you don’t need to replace it as often.
Check out here for a full list of the crystal-based cat litters on the market.
Natural cat litters encompass products that contain primary materials that are biodegradable, eco-friendly, all-natural, recyclable, etc. Common examples of this include wood, plants, corn kernels, wheat, newspaper, and many others. Some of these perform surprisingly well when it comes to odor fighting, fluid absorption, and clumping ability while others can struggle. Part of the selling point of these products is that they are better for the environment and people that have that is one of their top priorities when shopping for a cat litter will likely be willing to take a slight blow on the actual performance in order to meet that objective.
There are tons of really interesting options out there so head over here to read up on what is available.