Cat sand: What does it work? What is it made of? How frequently should you change it?

Cat sand: What does it work? What is it made of? How frequently should you change it?

Managing cat litter, or ‘cat sand’, is key to a clean and healthy space for cats and their humans. It’s all about moisture absorption, odour control, and easy waste management.

This guide dives into the roles of cat sand, the varieties available, how often you should switch it out, and disposal tips. Get to know these details, and you’ll create a comfy, clean home for your furry friends.

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What does cat sand do?

Cat sand, commonly referred to as cat litter, is a product used in litter boxes to manage cat waste. Here are the primary functions and features of cat sand:

  1. Absorption: Cat sand is designed to absorb moisture from cat urine, which helps keep the litter box dry and makes it easier to clean.
  2. Odour Control: Many types of cat sand include materials or additives that neutralize or mask odours, helping to keep the area around the litter box smelling fresh.
  3. Clumping: Some cat sands, particularly those made from clumping clay, form solid clumps when they come into contact with moisture. This makes it easy to scoop out urine and faeces, keeping the litter box cleaner for longer periods.
  4. Dust Control: High-quality cat sand minimizes dust, which can be beneficial for both the cat’s and the owner’s respiratory health.
  5. Comfort: Cat sand is typically designed to be soft on cats’ paws, making it comfortable for them to use the litter box.
Pet litter tray with wooden filler on gray background close up

What is cat sand made of?

Now you might wonder what cat sand is made of, let me tell ya, it can be made from various materials, each with its own properties and benefits. Here are the common types of cat litter and their primary ingredients:

  1. Clay-Based Litter:
    • Clumping Clay: Made from bentonite clay, which expands and forms solid clumps when it comes into contact with moisture. This makes it easy to scoop out urine and faeces.
    • Non-Clumping Clay: Typically made from other types of clay, such as sepiolite or attapulgite, which absorb moisture but do not form clumps.
  2. Silica Gel Litter:
    • Made from silica crystals, also known as silicon dioxide. These crystals are highly absorbent and control odours effectively by trapping moisture inside.
  3. Biodegradable Litter:
    • Wood: Made from recycled wood or sawdust, this type is biodegradable and often has a natural pine scent.
    • Corn: Made from ground corn kernels, it is clumping and biodegradable.
    • Wheat: Made from processed wheat, which clumps when wet and is biodegradable.
    • Paper: Made from recycled paper, usually in the form of pellets. It is highly absorbent and biodegradable.
    • Grass: Made from grass seed or grass fibres, it is clumping and biodegradable.
  4. Walnut Shell Litter:
    • Made from ground walnut shells, this type is biodegradable and clumping, with good odour control properties.
  5. Coconut-Based Litter:
    • Made from coconut husks, this type is biodegradable, absorbent, and often has a natural, pleasant scent.

Each type of cat sand offers different benefits, such as clumping ability, odour control, absorbency, and environmental impact, allowing cat owners to choose the best option for their needs and preferences.

Man cleaning cat litter tray at home, closeup. Cute blue Abyssinian cat watching the process. Cleanliness, pet care and hygiene concept

How often should you change cat sand?

The frequency with which you should change cat sand (cat litter) depends on several factors, including the type of litter you use, the number of cats you have, and your cat’s habits. Here are some general guidelines for different types of cat litter:

Clumping Clay Litter:

  • Scooping: Scoop out clumps of urine and faeces daily to keep the litter box clean and minimize odours.
  • Full Change: Completely change the litter and clean the litter box every 2-4 weeks. This helps remove any residual odours and bacteria that may have accumulated.

Non-Clumping Clay Litter:

  • Scooping: Remove faeces daily.
  • Full Change: Change the litter and clean the litter box every week. Since this type of litter doesn’t clump, it tends to get saturated and odorous more quickly.

Silica Gel Litter:

  • Scooping: Remove faeces daily.
  • Stirring: Stir the litter daily to distribute the silica crystals, which helps with odour control.
  • Full Change: Replace the litter completely once a month, or as needed based on odor and appearance.

Biodegradable Litter (e.g., wood, corn, paper):

  • Scooping: Scoop out solid waste daily.
  • Full Change: Change the litter and clean the box every 1-2 weeks, or as needed. Some biodegradable litter, like those made from wood or corn, may need more frequent changes depending on their absorbency.

Multi-Cat Households:

  • Scooping: Scoop waste at least once daily, preferably more often.
  • Full Change: Change the litter and clean the box more frequently than you would for a single cat. This might mean every 1-2 weeks for clumping litter and weekly for non-clumping litter.

General Tips:

  1. Monitor Odors: If you notice an odour before the scheduled change, it’s a sign that the litter needs to be changed sooner.
  2. Litter Depth: Maintain an adequate depth of litter (2-3 inches) to ensure effective clumping and odour control.
  3. Clean the Box: When changing the litter completely, wash the litter box with mild soap and water. Avoid strong chemicals that might deter your cat from using the box.

How do you get rid of cat sand?

So, now we know how frequently we should change your cat’s little toilet, the last question would be, how can you dispose of that?

Proper disposal of used cat sand (cat litter) is important for maintaining hygiene and minimizing environmental impact. Here are some methods to get rid of cat sand:

General Disposal Methods:

Small gray British cats peeing into gray triangular plastic litter box.
  1. Trash Disposal:
    • Scoop Waste Daily: Use a litter scoop to remove clumps of urine and faeces from the litter box daily. Place the waste in a small, sealable plastic bag or a dedicated litter disposal bag.
    • Seal and Dispose of: Seal the bag tightly to contain odours and dispose of it in your regular household trash.
    • Full Litter Replacement: When it’s time to change the entire litter box, empty the used litter into a large trash bag, seal it well, and dispose of it with your regular trash.
  2. Biodegradable Litter:
    • Composting: If you use biodegradable litter made from materials like wood, paper, or corn, you can compost the used litter, provided it only contains urine and not faeces. Cat faeces can contain harmful pathogens that aren’t always destroyed in the composting process, so it’s generally safer to dispose of it in the trash.
    • Gardening Use: Some biodegradable litters can be used in gardens as mulch or soil conditioner, but only in non-edible plant areas due to potential health risks from cat waste.
  3. Flushing:
    • Check Label: Some cat litters are marketed as flushable, typically those made from biodegradable materials. However, always check the packaging to ensure it’s safe to flush.
    • Small Amounts: If you choose to flush, do so in small amounts to prevent plumbing issues. Note that flushing cat litter can still pose environmental risks and may not be allowed in all areas due to potential contamination concerns.

Environmental Considerations:

  1. Avoid Flushing Non-Flushable Litter: Most traditional clay and silica-based litters should not be flushed as they can cause plumbing problems and environmental damage.
  2. Use Biodegradable Bags: When disposing of litter in the trash, consider using biodegradable or compostable bags to reduce plastic waste.

Cleaning the Litter Box:

  1. Wash Regularly: When you do a full litter change, wash the litter box with warm water and mild detergent. Rinse thoroughly to remove any soap residue.
  2. Avoid Strong Chemicals: Avoid using strong chemicals or bleach, as these can leave odours that deter cats from using the litter box.

By following these methods, you can ensure that you are disposing of used cat sand in a way that is both hygienic and mindful of the environment.


Managing cat litter is super important for keeping your home clean and cosy for both you and your cat. Knowing what cat litter is made of, how it works, when to change it, and how to dispose of it properly can help keep your pet happy while being kind to the environment.

Just make sure to scoop it daily, change the whole thing every so often, and dispose of it in an eco-friendly way to keep the litter box clean and odour-free. Following these tips will help you and your cat enjoy a healthier, happier home.

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