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How to Change to a Different Type Or Brand of Cat Litter

by Ben Doyle | Reading Time: 5 minutes

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Changing your cat’s litter to a different type or brand can be a big deal.

To us, it’s as simple as buying a new bag of litter, cleaning the litter box and filling it with the new litter. But for your cat, this could be disastrous.

Many cats are creatures of habit and many don’t like change. If you rush the change, it could create issues. In the worst cases, it could cause your cat to stop using their litter box altogether.

Trust us, we have real-life experience of getting this wrong!

The good news is that there are two ways of switching to a new type of litter. Both are pretty simple, it just takes a bit of time.

Key Takeaways

  • Ideally, you should only change your cat’s litter if necessary. If they use their existing litter happily, changing could cause problems. Not all cats will be bothered by the change but some won’t take it well at all.
  • When changing the type of litter in your cat’s box, do it gradually. Every time you scoop, replace what you removed with the new litter. Depending on the type of litter you use, this process could take 5 days, it might take two weeks. The longer it takes, the more chance of your cat accepting it.
  • You can also try putting a new litter box full of the new litter near their existing litter box. Your cat will tell you which they prefer by using it.
  • While oftentimes changing cat litter is a simple process, some cats might struggle to accept it. If this is the case, try speaking to a vet or cat behaviourist.

Consider Your Reasons For Swapping Your Cat’s Litter

Most cats like an easy life, they prefer to stick with what they know and would rather not try new things. This can be especially true for their toilet.

That said, some cats don’t care.

A Quick Story…

Vicki and I used to have two cats, Freckles and Milo. Sadly, they’re no longer with us.

But Milo would use any brand or type of litter. As long as he could do his business and cover it up, he was happy. Clumping, non-clumping, scented, or going outside, he’d go anywhere.

Freckles was different. She liked Dr. Elsey’s Ultra clumping litter and nothing else would do.

There was a time when we couldn’t get Dr Elsey’s, so we swapped it for something similar. But Freckles noticed the change immediately and stopped using her litter box. Then we noticed a smell behind the curtain where she’d started toileting.

It took us ages to fix the problem. In fact, we had to litter-train her all over again. But if we had just scooped her litter box and gradually replaced what we’d scooped with the new litter, we’re convinced we wouldn’t have had the problems we did.

Like us humans, change can often bring stress. Especially for sensitive or anxious cats. 

Remember, your cat’s senses are much more sensitive than ours. What might seem like a small change to us could be huge to your cat. 

Making an undesired change to their toilet can cause behavioural issues that are hard to fix. In this case, litter box aversion.

So before you make the change consider the reasons why.

If your cat uses their litter box happily with the current litter, is it really a good idea to change it?

Probably not.

That said, sometimes we have to make the change.

When and Why to Change Your Cat’s Litter

Sometimes, you have to change your cat’s litter to something different. Sometimes the reason is preferential.

  • Existing litter box problems – if your cat doesn’t like their current litter, you might have to change. 
  • Cost efficiency – let’s face it, cat litter isn’t cheap. So swapping from non-clumping to clumping litter will save money as there is less waste.
  • Ease of cleaning – clumping litter is quicker and easier to scoop than non-clumping litter.
  • Health problems – if your cat has the tendency to eat their litter, you might need to swap from clumping to non-clumping. Or if they have respiratory issues, you might need to swap your dusty or scented litter for something else.
  • Availability issues – if you can’t get hold of your cat’s preferred litter, or if the manufacturer stops producing it, you’ll have no choice but to change.

If possible, don’t change your cat’s litter just because it suits you. Especially if they’re happy with their current litter.

How to Change to a Different Type of Cat Litter, Step-by-Step

There are two ways of changing from one type of cat litter to another. You can use one or the other, or use them together.

Option 1: Make the Change Gradually

A gradual change will give your time the time they need to adjust to their new litter. In a lot of cases, your cat might not even realise the change is happening.

Every time you scoop the litter tray, replace what you take out with the new type of litter. Depending on;

  • The type of litter you currently use 
  • The type you’re changing to, and
  • Your cat’s tolerance to change

This transition might take 5 days, it could take as long as two weeks. The key is not to rush.

Note: If you change from non-clumping litter to a clumping litter, it won’t clump very well until it’s mostly clumping litter in the litter box. 

Option 2: Fill a New Litter Box With the New Type of Litter 

If;

  1. You know your cat doesn’t like their current litter, or
  2. You want to try and speed up the process

You might try adding a new litter box full of the new type of litter. You’ll need to keep their current litter box with their current litter.

This will give your cat a choice and they will then let you know which one they prefer.

If you’re not sure which type of litter to use, you can have a few boxes with a few different types of litter. 

When your cat uses their new litter all the time, remove the other litter boxes.

Don’t Change Your Cat’s Litter All at Once

Binning your cat’s current litter and completely swapping it out for another in one go isn’t a good idea.

As we already said, cats are creatures of habit. Every time they visit their litter box, they expect to feel the same texture on their feet and smell the same smell.

A complete and sudden change in their litter could come as a shock. If you do this, your cat might refuse to use their litter box altogether.

What to Do if Things Don’t Go According to Plan

Sometimes, no matter how careful you are when making the change, things don’t go according to plan.

If your cat doesn’t like the change;

  • If possible, and if they like their old litter, revert back to it. For a couple of weeks.
  • Try transitioning to a different litter, making the process as slow and as gradual as possible. Or, place a litter box with a different type near their current litter box. They will use the one they prefer. It might take a few attempts to find a litter they like.
  • Make sure you’re keeping the litter box clean. Scoop at least twice a day.
  • Use the right amount of litter, 3-5 inches.
  • If you still have problems, consult your vet or a cat behaviourist.

Are you Changing, Or Have You Changed Your Cat’s Litter?

Did it go to plan? Are you having problems?

We’d love to know your experiences and thoughts, or if you have any helpful tips, leave a comment below.

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Ben Doyle

Ben Doyle co-owns Pet Checkers with his wife, Vicki. He spends his days looking after all kinds of animals, from dogs to eagles. When he's not taking care of animals, he's writing about them.

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