Until the 1950s cat owners with indoor cats used sand, ashes, or dirt to fill the kitty’s litter box. The first clay litter was developed by Edward Lowe from a kind of clay called Fuller’s earth. For another thirty years, Fuller’s earth litter was the only kind of cat litter on the market.
The clay was great at capturing the wet urine and trapping feces but did little to control odor. Manufacturers began experimenting with a variety of additives to help neutralize the ammonia smell of cat pee. It was during this experimentation that clumping cat litter was developed.
Quick Look : Best Clumping Cat Litter in 2019
What is Clumping Cat Litter?
In the early 1980s, biochemist Thomas Nelson observed that bentonite clay clumped up when exposed to moisture. He realized that this clumping action could be utilized as a cat litter that would allow waste to be collected and disposed of in clumps, leaving the rest of the litter in the pan clean.
Today, more than half of the cat litters on the market are the clumping type, and most of them are made from bentonite clay. Clumping cat litter is also called “scoopable” litter.
What Are The Benefits Of Clumping Cat Litter?
While nearly half of cat owners use non-clumping cat litter, there are distinct reasons to select clumping litter for your cat. Some of the benefits of using clumping cat litter are
- easier daily clean up – simply scoop out the clumps of feces and urine
- litter lasts longer – removing the clumps of waste means that you don’t have to change the litter box as frequently
- clumps lock in odor – the clumps absorb the urine and lock in the odor
- deposits of waste are easily identified for disposal – both you and your pet will be able to identify the clumps of waste; you will see what needs to be scooped, your kitty will see what needs to be avoided
What Are The Drawbacks Of Clumping Cat Litter?
Like any product, with the good comes the bad. We wouldn’t be doing our job well if we neglected to tell you about these drawbacks:
- tracking – clumping litter sticks a little more to Kitty’s paws and can be tracked outside the litter box
- cost – clumping litter is pricier than non-clumping clay litter, sometimes significantly more expensive
- large clumps use lots of litter – some cats spread their waste around the box, creating larger clumps that use more of the litter
- more maintenance – clumping litter does require a daily clean-up of the litter box
- digestion issues – there are anecdotal stories of cats developing digestion issues after licking clumping litter from their paws; however, we were unable to locate any substantiation for those stories
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Aren’t All Clumping Litters the Same?
Cat litter, in any form, can be made from a variety of materials. Both clumping and non-clumping cat litter can be made from wood, wheat, corn, or other plants, or clay. Clumping litters can also be made from silica gel and silica crystals.
Clumping litters can contain natural or synthetic materials. They can be environmentally friendly or chemically engineered. They can contain natural or chemical odor neutralizers. Some clumping litters contain fragrances to mask odors as well.
In a word, no; clumping litters are not all the same. If you choose to use a clumping cat litter, you will want to research and sample a few different kinds. Just like choosing a cat food, you will want a product that satisfies you and, more importantly, one that your cat likes and will use.
Five of the Best Rated Clumping Cat Litters
To help you make the selection of clumping cat litter for your feline, we have compiled a list of five of the highest rated clumping litters. Here are five of our top recommended clumping cat litters.
Arm & Hammer Litter Multi-Cat Slide Easy Clean-Up Clumping Cat Litter Check Price
Arm & Hammer Slide receives a 4.6 of 5 stars rating on Chewy.com, with 612 reviews.
This litter is designed to slide right out of the pan when it’s time to change the litter. A non-stick formula keeps the clumping litter from sticking to the sides and bottoms of the litter box. Daily clump removal is made easier with the Clump and Seal technology.
Arm & Hammer claims that this litter is capable of neutralizing odors for seven continuous days. They also say that the litter is 100% dust free.
Reviewers agree that the daily clean-up with this litter is easier than with other clumping litters. If the sides of the litter box get wet, the clumps are still easy to remove. The clumps don’t break or crumble, but stay solid for neat and tidy disposal.
Many reviewers found that their cats seemed to enjoy the fine, sand-like granules of this litter. One reviewer was overjoyed that her husband is now happy to empty the litter box.
There were, however, some negative reviews. So, let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
- Easy to clean—the micro-litter clumps instantly and most reviewers found that it does slide right out of the pan
- Dust free – there is little to no dust, even when pouring the litter into the litter box
- Pleasant to touch – like sand in a sandbox, even the cats seem to like it.
- No odor control – most of the negative reviews claimed that this litter does nothing for odor control
- Weight – several reviewers, both positive and negative, stated that this clumping litter is dense and heavy
- Tracking – this litter tends to leave the box on the paws of the cat
- Price – this litter is a little more costly than similar clumping litters
Ever Clean Extra Strength Unscented Cat Litter Check Price
Ever Clean Extra Strength Unscented Cat Litter rates 4.6 of five stars, with 288 reviews, on chewy.com.
Ever Clean was the very first clumping litter brand. The most recent formula contains an ammonia shield to prevent the urine from reaching the bottom of the litter box. The manufacturer claims that the litter is made from natural minerals and clays that offer high absorbency and quick clumping action.
Reviewers are very pleased with the speed of the clumping action and the way the litter does reduce odors. Many people claim that this is the best cat litter they had ever purchased. They also state that the 99% dust free claim is true.
Many reviewers commented on odor protection, even from the unscented variety. A lot of the reviews mention the ease of scooping the clumps during their daily clean.
Of course, there were some negative comments, too. Here is our pros and cons list for Ever Clean Extra Strength
- Solid clumping action – clumps well without leaving little crumbs and bits of waste
- Odor reducing – all reviewers agree that this litter does reduce or eliminate odors
- Dust free – there is very little dust and very little tracking of the litter outside of the box
- Fragrance – there were no complaints about an overpowering scent, and even the unscented has a pleasant smell
- Packaging – the box is very difficult to open
- Weight – the litter is dense and heavy
- Goopy – at least some of the reviewers found that the clumps were more of a soupy goopy mess than true clumps
- Cost – this litter is fairly expensive
Fresh Step Multiple Cat Scoopable Clumping Cat Litter Check Price
Fresh Step Scoopable Clumping Cat Litter receives a 4.6 out of five stars rating on chewy.com, with 425 reviews.
With many cat owners having more than one cat, it isn’t surprising to us that a multiple cat formula made our list. Fresh Step’s Clumping Cat Litter offers Febreeze to eliminate odors with each scratch made by your kitty.
The manufacturers claim that the litter contains activated carbon and natural plant-based extracts that reduce odors. The litter is designed to clump upon contact with urine or feces. Clumps are easy to scoop from the litter box. Fresh Step claims to have little to no dust and tracking.
Reviewers agree that the litter controls odors, but don’t agree on the clumping ability of this litter. The litter does clump better if there is a good amount of it in the litter box, not as well if there is a low level. One reviewer noted that Fresh Step was her litter of choice as she fostered over a thousand cats.
Several reviewers stated that the odor protection is so good that their friends can’t tell they have a cat in the house.
As always, there are some negatives to this litter: to our pros and cons list.
- Clumping action – the litter forms solid balls of litter and waste that doesn’t crumble when scooped
- Long lasting – the litter doesn’t require changing as frequently as other brands, so it lasts longer, as long as it is cleaned daily
- Fragrance – the Febreeze provides a nice scent
- Odor reduction – any odors are neutralized by the formula
- Dust – in spite of the low dust claim, the litter does produce dust
- Fragrance – the Febreeze scent is too strong for some users; some cats refused to use the box because of the strong fragrance
- Stickiness – some reviewers complain that the clumping action creates a sticky mess on the bottom of the litter box, this is especially noticeable if the litter level is low
Cat’s Pride Premium Fresh & Light Fragrance Free Multi-Cat Scoopable Cat Litter Check Price
Cat’s Pride Premium Fresh & Light Fragrance Free receives 4.5 out of five stars, with 337 reviews, at chewy.com.
This is a lightweight premium clumping cat litter. It has no fragrance or dyes, so it is good for cats and owners with allergies or sensitivities.
The manufacturer claims that this litter is about 25% lighter than comparable brands. This lightness is not to be taken for weakness, as they claim it has 100% clumping power and odor fighting strength. The product is a clay-based clumping litter and is not flushable.
Reviewers state that they appreciate the lack of fragrances and dyes in this litter. They also appreciate the light weight of the litter. Many said that they were worried that their cats would track more litter since it is lightweight, but found that they actually track less of this outside the litter box.
Several reviewers noticed that the litter clumps well and absorbs odors without disguising them with a fragrance.
A few reviewers complained that this product did not neutralize odors.
Of course, no product is perfect. Our pros and cons list looks like this.
- Fragrance and dye free – perfect for sensitive, allergic, or nit-picky cats and owners
- Good clumping action – liquid and solid wastes are easy to eliminate from the litter pan
- Light weight – the lighter weight of the granules makes cleaning and refilling the litter box a bit easier
- Odor control – the unscented fragrance-free litter does not mask odors
- Slow drying – some users found that the clumps took a long time to dry and harden
- Creates dust – a few reviewers stated that this litter is very dusty
Scoop Away Extra Strength Scented Cat Litter Check Price
Scoop Away Extra Strength Scented Cat Litter rates 4.7 out of five stars on chewy.com, with 156 reviews
This scoopable clumping cat litter is created with plant based materials, so there are no harsh chemicals to harm you or your cats. It is one of the lowest priced clumping cat litters we have reviewed.
The manufacturers claim that you will never have to empty and refill your litter pan again. They recommend daily, or twice daily for multiple cats, scooping, then refilling the litter box to the full level. They state that this litter has little dust and is also odor eliminating.
Reviewers overwhelmingly agree that Scoop Away is the best value for the lowest price. Many of them claim that the clumps are solid and do not break into pieces as you scoop them from the box. One review goes so far as to say that with four cats, this litter allows no odors and clumps perfectly.
Some of the reviews complain that this litter is heavy. However, they also say that since it requires such infrequent litter box changes, they don’t find the heaviness will keep them from continuing to use this brand.
Here is our list of pros and cons for this clumping litter.
- Strong solid clumps – make clean up easy
- Great value – the price is low in comparison to other clumping litters
- Odor control – users agree that this litter reduces cat litter box odors
- Long time between cleanings – one user claimed that he hadn’t completely dumped the litter box in two years
- Dust – several reviewers found this litter to be very dusty
- Sticky – the clumps will stick to the sides of the litter box, requiring scraping in order to remove them
- Heavy – this litter is heavy and the clumps are heavy too
- Packaging – a few reviewers reported difficulty in opening the box
As with most products, the users who follow manufacturer suggestions tend to get the most out of the item. Clean the litter box daily, scooping out the clumps of waste and replacing the used litter.
If you decide to change from your current litter to one of these clumping litters, remember to do it gradually. Your cat might need a few days to adjust to the new scent and texture of the new litter.
If your cat begins to eliminate his waste outside the litter box, make sure that you are cleaning and changing the litter frequently enough. If cleanliness is not the problem, consider changing the brand of litter. Going outside the box is an indicator of anxiety, which may be caused by the type of litter or the cleanliness of the box.