Should You Use Cat Litter for Succulents,Cactus & Bonsai?

If you have a cat in the house, you may have wondered whether you could use the cat litter for fertilizing your plants rather than just throwing them away. Cat litters have a variety of uses from being used to remove graffiti to hard stains on the wall. However the question is,

Can You use cat litter for succulents? Cat litter helps in retaining moisture & nutrients in the soil which promotes better root development. They are excellent for growing plants that love moisture in the soil. But succulents are sensitive to soil dampness so you need to be careful about using it & must use store-bought processed cat litter as it will be sterile & optimized for the growth of the plants.

Can you use Cat Litter for Plants?

Yes, you can use cat litter for preparing soil mixes for your plants. There are a variety of cat litters available in the market for this purpose. Cat litter is rich in clay content which further helps the soil pix to retain water in a better way.

  • Instead of using the litter of your cats, always try to opt for store-bought cat litters instead of using the litters of your pets as it is not worth the risk especially with succulents.
  • The ones available in the market are properly processed for being used as a soil mix component.

While this is great for many plants there are some plants for which this is not so good at all. Succulents, Bonsai & cactuses fall under this category.

  • These plants love low moisture in the soil and this is true for indoor plants as well as they have a high chance of acquiring root rot due to the availability of limited resources.
  • However, even succulents need some amounts of organic clay content in the soil for retaining water for just long enough for the roots to absorb.

This is critical as the kitty litter also helps in enhancing the nutrition quality of the soil. However, if you are using it for growing plants that love superb drainage and aeration in the soil, you need to be cautious regarding its use.

Whereas if your plants love to retain water in the soil and need to be watered frequently you can opt for this option.

Can you use cat litter in the potting mix?

You can perfectly use store-bought cat litter in preparing your potting mix. If you are preparing a soil mix for moisture-loving plants, you can opt to use equal quantities of the clay cat litter with sand, potting soil, and pebbles. Using the cat litter in the soil mix will not only help in moisture and fertility but will also provide suitable texture to the soil and hold it together.

  • However, if you are aiming to prepare potting mix for cactuses and succulents, using cat litter is not at all mandatory, if you wanna use it,  mix minimal amounts of cat litter in it.
  • Make sure that the total organic content along with the cat litter does not exceed more than 25% of the total soil mix. The rest should be filled with inorganic components including coarse sand, pebbles, gravels, and pumice or perlite.

Also use a completely scentless, chemical-free sterile cat litter that you can find online or in your nearest garden stores. However, its availability can vary from place to place. For such situations, I have mentioned quite a few alternatives down below.

Pros of Using Cat litter for succulents

  • Cat litter generally has high clay content which helps it to retain moisture for a long time. This is important as the roots will get just enough time to absorb water. However, their % in the soil needs to be monitored as plants growing in drought-prone areas will hate the soil dampness and can catch root rot.
  • Can contain or trap nutrients very well. Cat litter can hold nutrients and can provide the roots with suitable nutrition which further will lead to better root development. The root health is directly related to succulent health so by using cat litter in the soil mix you will improve the chances of growing a healthier and stronger succulent.
  • Keeps pest away. The strong smell of the cat litter helps in repelling common pests like snails, ants, and gnats. This is a huge advantage especially if you are growing plants outside.
  • As the cat litter is heat-treated and processed generally they dont break down as quickly as some other soil components.
  • It is not at all pricey. You can buy cat litter in bulks at a very reasonable price from the nearest store or online.

Cons of using Cat Litter for succulents

  • It is not suitable to be used in larger amounts especially for plants loving dry conditions. As it is clayey in nature it will hold moisture for a long time. Damp soil will facilitate root rot which will kill the plant ultimately. So for succulents, it is safer to not use cat litter and use other alternatives mentioned below. If you wanna use it, give a sharp eye over its quantity.
  • Cat litter is mainly used for growing plants that love moist soil. It will keep the soil muddy and this will prevent aeration in the soil. Lack of oxygen in the soil will lead to the growth of underdeveloped roots which is not good news for the succulent.
  • The desired types of cat litter that suits the need of succulents are in most cases not readily available everywhere. The cat litter you wanna use for growing succulents needs to be sterile, scent-free, and chemical-free. Finding this can be a challenge and its alternatives are more readily available that have the same pros as cat litters and at the same time facilitates better drainage.
  • It can lead to the generation of a strange smell from the soil. In some cases using cat litter in the soil mix can lead to a strong smell which is thought to keep pests away. However, it can be irritating for others as well. However, this is unlikely if you use smaller quantities in the soil mix.

Possible Alternatives for Cat Litter

All these alternatives to cat litter will work just fine and you should opt for the ones which are readily available in your area. In case you are looking to make your very own soil mix for succulents and cactus these guides will be handy:


Akadama is undoubtedly one of the best mediums you can grow succulents on! This soil mix component is particularly popular in Japan where it is a common practice to grow cactuses and other xerophytes even fully on Akadama alone.

  • Akadama is baked volcanic residues which are obtained from the continuous eruptions of Mt. Fuji over decades.
  • These days Akdama is becoming very popular in western countries as well because of its striking beneficial characteristics.

It is stunningly drainage friendly and does not retain moisture for long. Also, it is highly aeration friendly hence it helps the roots to breathe as well this further leads to better and stronger root development.

So using Akadama in your soil mix instead of cat litter will be a very practical option as it’s much commonly available and is tailor suited for the growth of the succulents.

If you wanna read more on Akdama refer to this post: Is Akadama Good for Succulents & Cactus? (Pros & Cons)

Chicken Grit

Chicken grit is nothing but crushed granite. But it can contain traces of other elements rich in calcium carbonate which is not needed for growing succulents. So you should make sure your chicken grit is free of that stuff. Always check for the ingredients and look to buy the ones free of these extra elements.

  • Even added probiotics or other supplements dont have much effect on the plant health so it’s not required for the grit to have those.

It is way cheaper than any other soil components. It does not facilitate moisture-holding so is great for preparing soil mixes with stunning drainage. In case you dont find perlite, you can consider using grit along with coarse sand and potting soil. It will work great.


Perlites are suitable for adding in the soil mix and is something which has been popularly used in most parts of the world for growing succulents. It improves the drainage of the soil, is highly lightweight, and is completely neutral so it won’t affect the soil pH.

However, it can contain traces of chemicals on it so you should always rinse them properly before using them.

For more on this topic, you should read: Is Perlite good for Succulents? (Substitutes included)


Pumice is a very common soil mix component used for growing succulents. Pumice is the rightful alternative to Akadama in case you cannot avail of Akadfama.

It is highly porous and lightweight. It retains little moisture for just long enough for the plant roots to absorb. Also as it’s highly porous, it traps nutrients quite well as well.

  • Along with this the porosity strikingly helps in improving the drainage system as well. Another added benefit of Pumice is unlike Perlite it does not float up when watered.


Can you put used cat litter in the garden?

Yes, you can use cat litter in the garden soil especially the gritty ones. This will promote the fertility of the soil and improve its texture. This practice is perfectly suited if you want to grow plants that love to be watered regularly and crave moisture in the soil. You can even pour them directly around the stem base of these plants, the strong scent of the litter will keep the pests away.


Using cat litter for potting mixes in order to grow succulents is not a bad option however as it has some downsides it is better to opt for its alternatives because it is much better to be safe than sorry. Cat litter help in improving the nutrition quality of the soil however it also decreases its drainage quality. It is a great option for growing moisture-loving plants but not for plants that are habituated to grow in drought-prone conditions.

So will you use cat litter for growing houseplants? Let me know in the comments.

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