Types of natural cat litter
When it comes to natural kitty litter, all of our experts agreed that the best variety is whatever one your cat is willing to use consistently day in and day out. Sometimes this comes down to what variety of litter a cat was exposed to early on. “Just like people, they have different levels of tolerance based on preference and learning history,” said Micah McKechnie, behavior and training associate at the East Bay SPCA, in Oakland, California.
This type of litter is made of compressed corn kernels, sometimes combined with particles from other grains such as wheat. A good corn/grain litter produces minimal dust, clumps solidly, fights odors with a natural cereal scent, and is safe if accidentally (or intentionally) ingested by the cat.
Pros: Made from corn, wheat, and other grains; safe for ingestion; clumps well; minimizes odors with natural cereal scent; produces very little dust
Cons: Can have a rocky texture that deters some cats
The plant fibers in wood litters are highly absorbent and their natural pine scent offers the best odor control of all of the natural varieties. They are also made from either sustainably sourced forests or reclaimed lumber. In our testing, we found that wood litters as a whole were least successful at forming tight easy-to-remove clumps compared to their natural competitors.
Pros: Natural scent masks odors, highly absorbent, sustainably sourced, produces minimal dust
Cons: Least successful of the natural litter options at clumping
Grass cat litters are produced from the seeds of grasses like sorghum. They have a coarse sandy texture and generate very minimal dust, making them a good option for cats with respiratory issues, according to Satchu. They are highly absorbent and their natural wheat-cereal scent masks odors, but their lightweight grains track easily outside the litter box.
Pros: Made from grass seeds, highly absorbent, controls odors with wheat-cereal scent, produces very little dust
Cons: Tracks easily outside the litter box
Walnut litters are made from the fibrous, absorbent shells of walnuts. Processed into a sandy grain, this litter has a satisfyingly scratchable texture, but its light weight results in frequent tracking outside the litter box. Walnut litters clump well but have less of a natural scent to control odors, meaning that ammonia may be slightly more noticeable than with wood, grain, and grass formulas.
Pros: Made from upcycled walnut shells, absorbent and tightly clumping, produces minimal dust, soft texture
Cons: Tracks easily outside litter box, may be slightly less effective at controlling odors than other natural litters, should not be used by people with tree nut allergies