What’s the Best Cat Litter for Long-Haired Cats?
You might think what you feed your cat is far more important than what’s in their litter box. But did you know most cats use the litter box 2–3 times a day? When you think about how much time that adds up to, you can start to understand why your choice of cat litter is so important.
It goes without saying that managing your cat’s diet is essential. The thing is, the wrong kind of litter can affect their health, too. This is especially true for long-haired cats because their fur traps odors and dust particles. Does your fluffy feline friend seem a little stinky? Or even worse, are they dusty after using the litter box?
If so, it might be time to try cat litter that’s custom-formulated for long-haired cats. But don’t stress—thanks to modern science, there are now safe and affordable options for even the fussiest fur babies.
The Unique Needs of Long-Haired Cats
Long-haired cats are prone to different challenges than short-haired felines. And taking these differences into account can make life quite a bit easier for both you and your kitty.
The first thing to think about is, unsurprisingly, the length of your cat’s fur. It’s incredibly easy for litter to become matted in their fur, which can become painful if you don’t notice right away. If you’ve ever brushed out a huge knot or cut out a large mat, you know exactly what we mean. It’s no fun for you or your cat.
Secondly, you’re likely familiar with the Sisyphean task of trying to clean up cat litter around your home. As long-haired cat owners ourselves, we can attest to the frustration of finding loose grains of litter the moment you finish vacuuming. Certain types of litter—like clumping and large-grain—can cut down on litter tracking.
If your cat is experiencing ongoing pain or discomfort from litter matted in their fur, stress is soon to follow. And stressed kitties tend to find places outside the litter box when they need to use the bathroom. Choosing cat litter designed for long-haired cats can help you avoid behavioral issues like this.
Lastly, consider the overall health and appearance of your cat’s skin and fur. The occasional tangle is unavoidable, but fur matted with litter can eventually cause skin conditions and even bacterial infections. Opting for an appropriate litter will keep your cat’s skin and fur in tip-top shape.
Five Can’t-Miss Considerations for Litter for Long-Haired Cats
Now that you understand the benefits of choosing cat litter specifically geared toward long-haired cats, let’s cover the key factors you should consider while shopping.
1. Automatic litter boxes. Automatic litter boxes typically perform best with specific types of cat litter. Don’t worry if you have a long-haired cat and a mechanical litter box—we’ve got recommendations below for this exact situation.
2. Pellet/granule texture. Most cats prefer smooth, soft granules of litter. This is especially true of long-haired cats. The last thing they want is a sharp grain of litter matter in the tufts of fur between their toes!
3. Clumping litter material. Clumping litter can be great for long-haired cats, but you have to think about the material. Our long-haired cats—a ragdoll mix and a Maine Coon mix—do great with clumping clay litter. But some breeds have fur that gets tightly matted with clay litter.
4. Low dust is a must. Long-haired cats are especially prone to tracking litter dust throughout the house. Low-dust litter keeps your house clean and is better for your cat’s respiratory health.
5. Pellet/granule size. Usually, bigger is better for long-haired cats. Larger means heavier, so larger pellets/granules won’t get tangled in your cat’s fur nearly as much.
Lastly, we recommend not agonizing over trying to balance these considerations. Our cats are some of the pickiest we’ve ever met, and they never care how much research we’ve done into any given cat litter.
There’s always a chance your long-haired cat just won’t adapt to a specific type of cat litter. Based on our personal experiences, shopping will be much easier if you make a list of the top three you want to try instead of picking one single option.
Then, if your feline friend turns their nose up at one choice, you’ve already got a couple of great backups in mind.
How Do I Choose the Best Litter for a Long-Haired Cat?
As a pet parent, you know how fickle cats can be. They don’t care what veterinarians or online reviews say about various types of cat litter. Luckily, you can now find litter at almost any price point. Many brands even offer smaller trial sizes so that switching litter doesn’t break the bank.
Before you try our recommendations, think about your cat. Consider the type of litter they’re used to. Has your furry friend ever refused to use a certain brand or type of cat litter? Then you can slowly transition to using one of our favorites:
- Silica gel crystal cat litter
- Clumping clay cat litter
- Non-clumping clay cat litter
- Recycled paper cat litter
Silica Gel Crystal Cat Litter
Cat litter made of silica gel crystals is a somewhat recent innovation. Crystal litter is super-absorbent, almost 100% dust-free and great at locking in smelly odors. Even better, it sticks to your cat less and tracks through your home less than traditional litter. If a cat litter that stays in the litter box sounds like a dream come true, we suggest Fresh Step Fresh Scented Non-Clumping Crystal Cat Litter.
Crystal cat litter tends to be a bit more expensive. Some cats don’t like the feeling of walking on the crystals, so be aware your cat may not like it before you buy in bulk. If you or your fur baby dislike scented litter, Dr. Elsey’s Unscented Low Dust Crystal Gel Cat Litter is another great choice. Because it’s unscented, it’s completely safe for sensitive respiratory systems.
Clumping Clay Cat Litter
For most cats, clumping litter is non-negotiable. Most pet parents prefer clumping litter, too—it’s just easier to scoop and clean. Clumping clay litter is made from bentonite, a mega-absorbent natural clay.
Clumping clay litter is great because it’s completely natural and nearly dust-free. Boxiecat’s Extra Strength Scent-free Clumping Clay Cat Litter is our top choice in this category for so many reasons. It lasts longer than other types, it clumps on top so you don’t have to dig around in your litter box, it’s 99.9% dust-free, it doesn’t track through your home and it’s loved by vets nationwide.
If you’re thinking this sounds too good to be true, we had the same thought. A cat litter that truly does it all? We were a bit skeptical. But the 100% money-back guarantee means there’s no risk to try it out and our long-haired cats love this stuff.
Non-Clumping Clay Cat Litter
It’s no secret that every cat has their own preferences. Your cat may dislike clumping litter because of the way it feels under their paws or a number of other reasons. Either way, if your long-haired cat refuses to use clumping litter, you still have safe and low-mess options.
Because clay litter is so effective across the board, stick with clay if your cat doesn’t mind it. Non-clumping clay litter is still super absorbent so yucky odors get locked in, plus it’s cheaper than clumping versions.
Our top pick is Tidy Cats Non-Clumping Clay Cat Litter. Like our favorite clumping litter, this stuff does it all. It’s 99.6% dust-free, offers superb odor control, it’s low-tracking and it’s very absorbent. Finally, as the most affordable choice on our list, this is a great way to see if your cat likes clay litter.
Recycled Paper Cat Litter
Recycled paper cat litter is exactly what it sounds like. Paper is recycled into granules or pellets of litter. The great thing is that it’s truly 100% dust-free, since paper doesn’t create dust. It’s also biodegradable and extremely absorbent. All of these benefits mean it’s easier, greener and cleaner for your long-haired fur baby to do their business.
There is a minor difference between granule litter and pellet litter, though. Granule litter like Yesterday’s News Clumping Paper Cat Litter clumps like traditional litter, making for quick and easy scooping. Pellet litter, on the other hand, doesn’t.
That said, recycled paper pellet litter is a fantastic eco-friendly choice for long-haired kitties. Does your cat turn their nose up at clay litter? Or refuse anything that clumps? They may prefer the softer texture of Yesterday’s News Non-Clumping Paper Cat Litter instead.
Health-Monitoring Cat Litter
Health-monitoring cat litter is a litter that changes colors in response to your cat’s urine, with the goal of helping you detect potential health issues early on. Cats are fairly prone to developing urine issues, but at the same time, our feline friends are great at hiding their discomfort.
That’s why health-monitoring cat litter has become so popular in such a short amount of time. Each brand has its own guide to tell you what the different colors indicate. Then, you can talk to your vet about making an appointment.
In our experience, Tidy Cats Tidy Care Alert Crystal Cat Litter is both an affordable and practical choice. As an added bonus, it’s extremely effective for controlling odors and absorbing waste. We also found this health-monitoring cat litter to be surprisingly easy to scoop and low on dust.
We can also recommend Fresh Step Health Monitoring Cat Litter. Our cats had no issues transitioning to this litter from their previous clumping litter. It’s unscented, yet excellent at containing odors for the full 30 days promised on the label. The color guide chart is very straightforward and easy to read, making this litter a stress-free swap for both us and our kitties.
One last thing to know about any type of health alert cat litter is that it can absolutely be used in households with multiple cats. You’ll want to keep an extra litter box on hand—one for each additional cat. Then, If you notice the color change in a shared litter box, use the spare boxes to isolate their bathrooms and determine who may be having health issues.
Do Automatic Litter Boxes Need Special Litter?
No, in most cases, automatic litter boxes don’t need special litter.
If you’re thinking about swapping to an automatic litter box, you might feel a little stressed as you dive deeper into the research. After all, choosing the best automatic cat litter box, finding the right cat litter for it and making sure that litter is also compatible with your long-haired cats sounds like a tall order.
But don’t worry—you’ll be happy to know clumping litter isn’t just a great choice for your long-haired kitties. Clumping litter works extremely well with just about every automatic litter box, too.
And if you happen to purchase one of the few options that does require special litter, the included instructions will tell you exactly what to get.
Do Long-Haired Cats Prefer Clumping or Lightweight Litter?
Across the board, most long-haired cats prefer clumping litter over lightweight litter. You see, while every cat has their own opinions, clumping litter is just better for their health. The more lightweight your cat litter, the more dust particles stick to your cat’s fur. Who likes the feeling of being dusty and smelly?
These dust particles aren’t just stinky, though. They can also stick to your cat’s skin and cause irritation. Plus, whenever you scoop the litter box, you’ll get a face full of lightweight dust particles, too. That’s why our recommendations are mostly clumping litters that are guaranteed dust-free. If your cat just won’t use clumping litter, try one of our non-clumping favorites instead of a lightweight litter.
All in all, every cat has a unique personality and preferences. Your cat will make it very clear if they don’t like the cat litter you’re currently using. Not sure where to start? Try our least expensive recommendations first. Don’t forget some brands offer a money-back guarantee, too. Finally, consider trying a few different options over the course of a couple months to find your fur baby’s favorite.