Using Sand For Cat Litter

If you are looking for a cheap alternative to expensive branded cat litters then a bag of sand could be an option if you are prepared to accept it’s drawbacks.

Sand was used for cat litter for before the concept of cat litter came into existance in 1947.

Prior to 1947 it wasn’t very common for cats to be kept exclusively indoors so cats would usually just find some dirt outside to go to the toilet in.

Occassionally when the winter weather got very cold people would bring their cats inside and on those occassions sand would be the go to choice for cat litter.

a young tabby cat walks gingerly across a beach

The Benefits Of Using Sand For Cat Litter

Reasons why you should consider using sand for cat litter are:

  • Sand closely mimicks the conditions which they are using to going to the toilet in in the wild. It can therefore be useful if you are adopting a feral cat who is more used to using dirt as a toilet because sand will more closely mimick what they are familiar with using for cat litter.
  • Cat’s seem to like using sand – if you have ever had a sandpit in your backgarden you may have experienced the horror of finding a cat poo or two in it!
  • Sand is significantly cheaper than purpose made cat litter.

The Disadvantages Of Using Sand For Cat Litter

Unfortunately sand has a number of big drawbacks which mean it is far from the perfect cat litter:

  • Sand tracks absolutely everywhere! Sand is very fine and when it is wet it will easily stick all over your cats paws and get buried in their fur (you know what it’s like when you’ve been to the beach – you find it everywhere for weeks!), leaving a sandy trail throughout your home. So unless you have a Roomba or are happy sweeping up everyday it can be more hassle than it’s worth.
  • Sand doesn’t clump it just absorbs all urine so will quickly become a sodden mess and will require regular changing.
  • It doesn’t mask odour in any way.

There are things that can be done to improve sand and make it a bit more of a functional cat litter.

One thing worth doing is mixing a cup full of baking soda into the sand, this will help to minimise bad smells.


If on reflection you think that there are perhaps too many drawbacks to using sand then have a look at our list of the best cat litters available.