Clumping Litter vs Crystals: Which One Is Better? Our 2023 Comparison

Clumping Litter vs Crystals: Which One Is Better? Our 2023 Comparison


Litterboxes and their accouterments may not be the most interesting things to think about, but making the right choices regarding your cat’s toilet is essential to your feline buddy’s health and happiness. While everyone knows the importance of keeping your cat’s litter clean and providing an individual litterbox for every cat in multi-cat households, there are other important factors to consider that can impact your cat’s comfort, such as the type of kitty litter you select.

There are several types of litter on the market today, but clumping and crystal litter are two of the most popular options. Below we’ll review the ins and outs of clumping litter and crystal-based options. Read on to learn how the two products stack up against each other.

Overview of Clumping Litter

Clumping cat litter is essentially dried-out clay that clings together when wet. It usually features two specific types of clay: bentonite and smectite. Clay is remarkably efficient in locking away liquids as it can absorb almost 100% of its dry weight.

As an inorganic substance, clay is a fantastic litter choice. There’s nothing for bacteria to feed on, which helps keep odors to a minimum, provided you clean the litter daily and remove the clumped urine regularly.

The clay used in clumping litter also has other smell-reducing benefits related to the way it interacts with ammonia. As any cat companion can tell you, cat urine has an extremely pungent odor. It’s sharp, acrid, and difficult to get out of walls, couches, and floors.

The highly concentrated nature of cat urine causes that intense, immediately recognizable odor. Domestic cats evolved in dry, hot environments, leading them to develop the ability to stay hydrated by decreasing the amount of water lost through urination. The result is strong, concentrated, ammonia-filled urine.

Clay features hydrogen atoms that attract the ammonia in cat urine to form ammonium. Ammonium doesn’t evaporate as quickly and easily as ammonia, preventing the ammonia smell from wafting all over your house.

Clumping litter comes in several different formulations, including scented and unscented varieties and options designed for multi-cat households.

What Is Clumping Litter Good for?

Clumping litter has two specific benefits; it’s easier to clean and reduces smells. These products concentrate urine into easy-to-scoop-out clumps making it convenient for you to remove urine and feces from your cat’s litterbox. It can also reduce the number of times you need to empty your cat’s litter as you won’t have urine simply collecting in the bottom of the box.

Not only does the clay help keep the ammonia urine scent from becoming overwhelming, but it’s also easy to scoop out the urine-saturated clumps, further reducing the amount of cat urine that can stink up your house.

What Are Some of the Drawbacks of Using Clumping Litter?

Since clumping litter is made of clay and absorbs liquid, it can become quite heavy, which can make it more difficult when it’s time to change your cat’s litter completely.

It also has a tendency to be dusty. If you opt for clumping litter, you’ll most likely see litterbox-related paw prints around your house and find individual bits of litter just about everywhere your cat goes, including in bed and on the couch. You’ll need a sturdy vacuum and a good old-fashioned broom to keep the dust and debris from clumping litter under control.