Clay Cat Litter
Clumping and Non-Clumping

Clay cat litter is the most commonly used cat box filler and was one of the first commercially available kitty box litters.

Over half of all cat litter sold is made from clay, which means it still is a popular alternative amongst cat owners.

There are two variants:  Non-Clumping and Clumping cat litter

non-clumping litter

Non-clumping is the older of the two clay-based litters and is made from either diatomite or zeolite which are alumino-silicate minerals that are micro-porous and highly absorbent.

It was developed around 1948, by Edward Lowe, whose company produced industrial absorbents.


  • Highly absorbent
  • Prevents cat urine odor


  • Quite dusty, resulting in tracking (i.e. a trail of dust is left by the cat when exiting the the litter box)
  • Clay cat litter needs to be changed frequently
  • Clay is not biodegradable nor is it a renewable resource, therefore not environmentally friendly
  • Silica contained in the the litter can cause respiratory problems in cats and humans
  • Most clay-based litters contain silica which is a known carcinogen (cancer causing)
non-clumping cat litter
bentonite clay cat litter

clumping cat litter

Clumping litter (scoop away cat litter) was developed in the United Kingdom in the 1950's and then further advanced in the United States in the 1980's.

It is made from bentonite clay or sand to which a finely ground bentonite clay has been added.

Bentonite is used as it has unique water absorption capabilities as well as odor controlling characteristics. When wet, the granulated clay clumps together and forms a solid, insoluble mass.


  • Clumps can be easily scooped from the litter tray, leaving the balance of the litter dry and clean
  • Highly absorbent
  • Inexpensive and long lasting
  • Prevents cat urine odor
  • Supreme odor control
  • Ideal for multi-cat households
  • Long-lasting -Less frequent changing of the litter is required, monthly is recommended


  • Quite dusty, resulting in tracking
  • Clay cat litter is not biodegradable nor is it a renewable resource
  • The clumps cannot be used as compost, nor can it be flushed
  • The silica that is present in the litter can cause respiratory problems in animals and humans and is carcinogenic
  • Clumping litter should not be used for kittens
  • If ingested (during grooming) it can cause intestinal blockage
clumping cat litter

Clay-Based Brand Examples: Fresh Step (USA) ; Jonny Cat (USA) ; Petco Clay (USA) ; Tidy Cats (USA) ; Scoop Away (USA) ; Ever Clean (USA) ; Dr Elsey's (USA) ; Bob Martins (UK & SA) ; Sophisticat (UK)

Related Pages:

Cat Litter Crystal

Natural Cat Litter

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