Can You Put Coffee Grounds in Cat Litter?

Cat litter can be made up of several materials, including absorbent clay known as Sodium Bentonite or natural ingredients like pine, corn, or wheat.

You will also come across synthetic crystallized silica as a material in cat litter.

Putting coffee grounds in cat litter, however, is not advisable. Coffee grounds contain caffeine which causes your cat to experience abnormal respiratory and circulatory processes when ingested. They may suffer heart palpitations, hypertension, and vomiting, among other life-threatening symptoms. 

This article explains why you shouldn’t put coffee grounds in your cat’s litter and the best litter to choose for your feline friend.


Reasons Not to Put Coffee Grounds in Cat Litter

Cats and dogs are more sensitive to caffeine than humans. Most pets are not affected by small quantities of caffeine, but large amounts of coffee grounds, tea, or its supplements can have devastating effects on felines and canines.

Coffee grounds in the litter box tend to stick to your cat’s paws. And when it grooms itself, it ingests the coffee grounds, which might eventually make it sick or even kill it.

Some of the symptoms you can expect to see when you put coffee grounds in cat litteryou’re your cat gets caffeine poisoning include:

  • Elevated body temperature
  • Tremors
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • High levels of blood pressure
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Restlessness
  • Vomiting
  • Inexplicable hyperactivity

In extreme cases, your cat can die after having uncontrollable seizures and collapsing.


Using Coffee Grounds as a Deterrent for Inappropriate Marking

Although you cannot use coffee grounds in cat litter, you can use them to discourage your cat from inappropriate marking.

Inappropriate marking is when your cat urinates or poops outside its litter box to mark its territory. This behavior typically occurs when your resident feline friend feels its status in the house is threatened.

The threat could be the introduction of another cat, pet, a new human in the house, or moving into a new environment.

Inappropriate marking can also occur when your cat’s litter box is not clean or if it is shared with another cat. Sometimes this behavior manifests when your cat notices a stray outside your window, your routine changes and becomes unpredictable, or even with new drapes in the house.

I’m saying that your cat is super sensitive to abrupt change. If you need to change something that will affect your kitty, consider doing it gradually and with a lot of patience.

Using coffee grounds in the spots your cat has a propensity to leave its “mark” will deter your furry friend because they are sensitive to the smell of coffee.

Once it smells the coffee grounds, it will give the area a wide berth.

However, it is best to take your cat to the vet to rule out any medical issues when you notice this behavior.

House soiling typically involves your cat squatting and pooping on a horizontal surface or urinating on a vertical surface.

All it takes is the strong scent of coffee in the identified marking areas to keep your cat away.

Take fresh and wet coffee grounds and distribute them in the area where your cat poops or urinates. Leave them there for the day and sweep them away in the evening.

The scent of coffee will linger for a few hours more, deterring your cat throughout the night.

You can leave the coffee grounds in place outside because they are biodegradable. The coffee grounds left outside will also deter stray cats from coming into your yard and causing your resident feline distress that results in inappropriate marking.

Remember, keep applying the coffee grounds outdoors weekly to keep the smell going. Indoors, once every two days will work.

So, if you cannot use coffee grounds in cat litter, what can you use?


Best Types of Cat Litter

Cat litter comes in a wide range of textures and scents. Some cat litters make your whole apartment stink. Others emit clouds of dust whenever you scoop, and some get trapped in your cat’s paws, leaving paw tracks all over your house floor.

To settle on the most suitable litter for your cat and home requires some trial and error.

The secret is to listen to your cat.

Cats can be extremely fussy about litter. Don’t shy away from experimenting with different types and textures until you settle for the best match for your cat.

Let’s explore your options so that you can make an informed decision on the best cat litter to use for your household.

Remember that one cat’s favorite litter could be repulsive to another. So, if you have a multiple cat household, you have to find the best litter for each cat.

The good news is that there is a wide range of options out there, each coming with unique benefits for you and your cat. You can expect everything from odor control and minimized dust to superior material and easy cleanup.


1. Clumping Cat Litter

Type of litter material: Clay

Clumping cat litter features liquid-absorbing materials that make the litter clump around the waste.

According to the American Society for the Preventions of Cruelty to Animals, most cats prefer clumping litter when given multiple options because it has a medium to a fine texture that is comfortable for them.

Clumping litter typically contains Sodium Bentonite, which lets the litter form solid lumps that you can easily scoop during cleaning.



  • If a cat ingests Sodium Bentonite, it could experience gastrointestinal blockage, and it may even die.



  • Removal of urine and feces is easy, and you don’t have to get rid of the whole box of litter. You just have to scoop the soiled part and refill as required.
  • There is less frequent need to clean the litter box.


2. Non-clumping Cat Litter

Types of litter material: Clay, pine, wood, beet pulp, wheat, and corn.

The first commercially available cat litter was the non-clumping variety. To date, it remains a favorite with many cats, especially those that like an odor-free litter box.

Cat urine has a strong odor, and non-clumping litter can absorb the smell due to additives like charcoal or baking soda that control the smell. This type of litter can also hold larger volumes of urine than clumping litter.



  • The urine pools at the bottom of the litter box, making it difficult to remove the soiled litter without changing the box.
  • You also have to clean the litter box at least once a week and constantly replace the litter.



  • Non-clumping litter works very well if your cat recently underwent surgery because clumping litter can stick to the incisions.


3. Bio-Degradable Litter

Type of materials: wood, paper, grain

This type of litter is made from biodegradable materials like waste components from manufactured products using wood. 

Biodegradable litter is good for the environment because it is absorbed into the soil once the litter is thrown out. In many cases, you can flush biodegradable litter without any adverse consequences to the environment. 

Options of biodegradable litter include:

  • Paper-based litter
  • Grain-based litter
  • Wood-based litter 

Paper-based litter features papers in pellet or granule form made from recycled paper. They are very absorbent, but they do not hold urine or form clumps around the waste. When the urine sinks to the bottom layers in the box, you can just remove those layers and top up the litter. 

Wood-based litter is wood waste from the wood manufacturing process, and such litter has all the contaminants removed. The waste is granulated or formed into pellets, but you can also get it in raw pieces. Wood is naturally absorbent, so it soaks in the urine and clumps naturally.

Pinewood is the most common choice for wood-based litter.

Grain-based litter is made from natural starches extracted from grains and used to make the litter. Once the litter is soiled, it clumps. The grain of choice is typically corn or wheat. 



  • Biodegradable litter needs to be changed frequently.
  • Grain-based litter is not suitable for cats with allergic reactions to grains.



  • All biodegradable litter is good for the environment.
  • Paper-based litter is dust-free.
  • Biodegradable litter is not treated with any commercial additives, unlike non-clumping litter.
  • Grain-based litter is flushable and has natural odor control.


4. Crystalized Silica Litter

This litter is made of Silica gel, which is sodium silicate sand processed with water and oxygen. The litter is beady with tiny pores that make it absorbent.

Silica litter is similar to the desiccant packets that you may find in some clothes. Cat litter is formulated to be safe because they do not contain crystalline silicate.



  • Crystalized silica litter is expensive compared to all the other options.
  • If ingested in large quantities when the cat is grooming itself or cleaning its paws, it can be harmful to your cat.



  • Silica litter absorbs odor better and lasts longer than clay litter.
  • It is excellent for odor control.


Unscented Cat Litter Is Best for Cats

The majority of people prefer using scented litter because it helps suppress the odors from cat waste.

And that is where the myth about using coffee grounds comes from.

Cat parents think that the strong scent of coffee grounds, which is appealing to human beings, will also beautifully scent the litter box.

However, cats being sensitive to smell, don’t like the scents which can overwhelm them. The problem is that the smell persists as the cat uses the litter box and stays longer on its fur.

Imagine walking around with a scent that drives you crazy and makes you ill.

It is best to keep your cat’s litter box completely unscented for its comfort.


Provide Multiple Litter Types for Your Cat

If you want to find out your cat’s litter preferences, provide multiple litter boxes temporarily.

Fill one with the previous litter type and fill others with different kinds of litter. You will then be able to determine which type of litter your cat prefers, as it will gravitate towards what it is most comfortable with.

If you have already had your cat examined for medical issues and it is still inappropriately eliminating, it is best to provide several litter boxes. Providing multiple litter boxes with several litter types can help you determine whether the cat has a problem with its litter.

Remember when we said the secret is to let your cat lead you?

Don’t choose for your cat. After all, you are not a feline, nor do you know what it wants.


Cleaning the Litter Box Daily Is Important

Litter box cleanliness is key, regardless of which litter box you choose for your cat.

As mentioned earlier, many people considering using coffee grounds believe the smell of coffee will mask the odors coming from the litter box. But there is no shortcut to cleaning the litter box.

At a minimum, scoop the box twice a day or more if you have several cats. Completely empty it and wash with water and soap at least weekly.

Alternatively, invest in a self-cleaning model but retain a regular litter box close to the new model until your cat gets accustomed to the automatic one.

But do not use coffee grounds under any circumstances.


No to a Litter Box With Coffee Grounds

While cats are different from each other, it is proven that they tend to have particular universal preferences with regard to litter. Two things that stand out about cats and their preferences are:

  • Smaller Litter Particles

Cats prefer fine particles of litter to pallet and crystal-type ones. Finer particles are paw-friendly, and coffee grounds can be coarse and harsh on the cat’s skin.

  • Odor-Free

Play it safe by resisting the urge to get your cat-scented litter. Their sense of smell is up there, and they naturally dislike strong scents.

That also means your cat will not appreciate finding coffee grounds strewn in its litter box. Not only are you making your cat uncomfortable by placing the coffee grounds, but you are also exposing it to health issues that affect its heart, respiration, and digestion.

Writer: Mercy Nandika Amatieku

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