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  • Writer's pictureSleepy Dog Veterinary


Updated: Jun 30, 2022

Beth Innis, DVM

Photo: Courtesy PrettyLitter

There are many options of cat litter on the market today; but which ones are the best for the environment? Between clay, paper, silica gel, corn etc. it is hard to know which ones are the healthiest options. Here at Sleepy Dog Vet we have been doing some research into which cat litter products are the safest for you, your "fur"mily, and the environment. Here is some information that we found:


Clay is not very eco-friendly (this includes both clumping and non clumping). The creation process for clay litters is extremely energy intensive and is created through strip mining techniques. Transport to and from locations is also very costly due to the weight of the product. Clay litter is NOT biodegradable. When it is put

back into the environment the product can swell and take up more space. This product is also nonrenewable. It also releases a lot of dust into your home environ



Silica Gel Crystals are another option for cat litter on the market. It is O.K. for the environment (much better than clay). Silica gel is non toxic (chemically inert) but could pose a choking or blockage hazard if ingested. Some silica gel litters are flushable and biodegradable. It is good for moisture control and is very absorbent. The silica gel litter controls odors well and is dust free.


Things to also consider would be the use of activated charcoal or baking soda. Activated charcoal reduces odor significantly and some studies have shown that cats prefer activated charcoal to baking soda. If you choose an activated charcoal litter make sure that you know the source of the charcoal (you do not want charcoal from petroleum coke, or coal.

It has also been shown that cats do not care for litters that have a fragrance. Sometimes these fragrances can even make it difficult for some cats to know where their litter pan is. We are also unsure of the longterm effects of these fragrances; in humans these fragrances have an effect on the endocrine, immune, and respiratory health.

There have also been studies conducted that discuss the amount of bacteria with different types of litter. One study was conducted in order to figure out if the type of litter changes the amount of bacteria found on cats' paws between clay, recycled newspaper, and clay scoop-able litter. The type of litter did not drastically change the amount of bacterial contamination present. It was concluded that the recycled newspaper had the highest total number of bacterial colonies formed with 1619 colonies, next was clay scoop-able with 1342, and last was clay with 1005 colonies. This information is important for families that have immune compromised family members or cats/pets.


Corn, grass, pine, recycled paper, recycled wood, walnut shells, and wheat

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1 Comment

Aug 14, 2019

Hi Dr Beth! What do you think of the new diagnostic litters (Pretty Litter, etc) and soy-based ones (e.g., TofuKitty)??

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