Can You Mix Different Types of Cat Litter?

While mixing two types of cat litter is perfectly safe, there’s usually no good reason to do so. Inconsistency in litter routine can be stressful for cats, and may lead to unwanted behaviors. Mixing clumping and non-clumping litter will make each work less effectively. It’s best to find a litter that you and your cat are comfortable with and stick to it.

It’s usually not a good idea to mix cat litter.

You might think that mixing litters would create a combination that has the benefits of each, but that’s usually not the case. Most of the time you’re just making both work less effectively — creating additional waste and a dirtier litter box.

Your cat may not appreciate it.

Cats are creatures of habit — they thrive on consistency. Most want the things they’re familiar with, the way they’re familiar with, every single time. Even if you find a combination of litter that works, it’s difficult to mix it in the same proportion every time. Your cat will need to adjust to the small differences after each change.

Unless you have a very good reason to mix two specific litters, you’re better off avoiding it. Your cat will thank you.

Mixing clumping and non-clumping litter.

Clumping cat litters, usually made of small granules of bentonite clay, work by absorbing moisture, expanding and sticking together. These solid clumps can be scooped out and trashed, keeping the litter box urine-free.

When wet, non-clumping pellet litters break apart into a sawdust-like material that traps moisture. The pellets are sifted and the sawdust is dumped. Non-clumping, non-pellet litters (including traditional clay litters, and some non-clumping plant-based litters), absorb some urine, but tend to allow some to pool at the bottom of the litter box. Changing non-clumping, non-pellet litter frequently is important, to keep the litter box fresh and hygienic.

When you mix clumping and non-clumping litter, you might think that you’re creating a super-litter with the benefits of each type. But it doesn’t quite work that way. In reality, the non-clumping litter prevents the clumping litter from clumping. And the clumping litter makes cleaning or sifting the non-clumping litter difficult.

Can you mix clumping and non-clumping cat litter?

While it’s perfectly safe to mix clumping and non-clumping litter, it’s usually not a very good idea. When mixed, clumping litters don’t clump as intended, creating additional waste and making cleanup difficult. Mixing while transitioning a cat to a new litter or to avoid wasting excess litter is okay.

Mixing crystal and clumping litter.

Crystal silica litters work by absorbing and trapping liquid. When absorbed by silica crystals urine gives off very little odor, allowing up to one month between changes. 

When mixed with a clumping litter, any moisture that directly touches the silica crystals will still be absorbed — but urine that instead contacts the clay litter won’t be. And because the crystals hamper clumping, you won’t be able to scoop it either.

When mixed, you’ll need to replace your litter much more often — again, creating additional waste.

Clay, crystal and pellet litters

Mixing Pretty Litter with a regular clumping litter. 

Pretty Litter is silica crystal litter with a twist. It can help monitor for potential medical issues. Pretty Litter crystals change color when they detect issues in your cat’s urine — like urinary tract infections, kidney problems, inflammation, and more.

And that’s a big part of the reason you wouldn’t want to mix Pretty Litter with any other litter. When mixed, those color changes can become difficult to see — lessening or eliminating the benefit. Plus, you’ll still have the same downsides you would when mixing any other crystal litter.

It’s sometimes okay to mix cat litter.

While it’s usually not such a great idea, there are a few situations where it’s okay, and sometimes even helpful, to mix two different litters — when mixing different brands of the same type, when transitioning a cat to a new litter, when you want to avoid wasting excess litter, and in specific cases where you can gain the benefits of both.

Mixing different brands of cat litter.

It’s okay to mix different brands of cat litter, as long as they’re the same type — they’ll usually still work just as effectively. Mixing different brands of different types of litter will still lead to additional waste and a dirtier litter box.

When introducing your cat to a new litter.

Cats can be resistant to change. Especially with well-established routines like using the litter box. When you switch to a new litter, some cats may take time to adjust. Rushing the process will only cause stress and may lead to unwanted behaviors, like going outside the box.

The most common method of slowly transitioning a cat to a new litter involves mixing some of their old litter with a bit of the new. This allows the cat to discover the new litter, while still having the familiarity of the old.

To prevent waste.

Cat litters can be mixed together to prevent waste.

Let’s say you end up with some litter ‘leftovers’ that aren’t enough to fill the pan on their own. It’s perfectly safe to mix those leftovers with another litter so it doesn’t go to waste — just make sure your cat is cool with it. If your cat is particular about their litter setup, it’s probably best to avoid.

Be mindful, depending on the situation, you may actually end up wasting more litter with this approach. For example, mixing leftover clay litter with silica litter will significantly decrease the lifespan of the silica litter.

To gain the benefits of each type.

In rare cases, litters can be combined to take advantage of the benefits of each type. Just don’t assume that it’ll always work as intended. Like we said, mixing clumping and non-clumping litter is counterproductive — as you actually lose the benefits of each type.

But that’s not always the case.

For example, mixing paper and pine pellets can give the added absorbency of paper and the increased odor control of pine. Because they’re both non-clumping litters, it shouldn’t affect the performance of the mixture. 

Summary.

It sometimes makes sense to mix litters — when introducing your cat to a new litter, to avoid wasting litter ‘leftovers’, and in rare cases where litters can be combined to work more effectively. In most other cases, you’re just creating additional waste and a dirtier litter box.

About Matthew Alexander

Matthew lives in Maryland with his two cats, Puff and Pancho. He’s been caring for and fostering cats with various special needs for more than fifteen years. He hopes to pass some of the insight and knowledge that he’s gained on to the readers of Pawmore.