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How To Get Litter Out Of Cat’s Paws

One thing about being a cat owner is that dealing with issues arising from cat litter is an inevitability and often a daily ordeal. Depending on the cat litter you use, chances are your cat has more than once been bothered by cat litter stuck between her paw pads and on her paws.

This article will discuss why this happens, and offer several solutions and preventative measures for litter sticking to their feet.

Key Takeaways

  • To clean your cat’s paws, be prepared with a towel and damp washcloth, wrap your cat comfortably, and gently wipe the litter from their paws using a warm damp cloth followed by a dry one.
  • Prevent cat litter sticking to paws by switching to non-clumping, larger particle litters, using larger litter boxes, employing litter mats, keeping the litter box clean, and wiping your cat’s paws regularly.
  • In general, non-clumping litter is better for your cat’s paws as it is less likely to stick when wet, creates less dust, and can be less harmful if ingested.

How Do I Clean My Cat’s Paws?

cat pawsClumping litters are especially notorious for getting stuck in a cat’s paws. These cat litters are made of small, absorbent particles that can get stuck to your cat’s paws easily, especially if wet. If the cat litter hardens, your cat may try to lick or chew it off, and this can cause some issues for the kitty’s digestive system if ingested. Below are some steps that can help you clean cat litter from your feline friend’s paws:

1. First, get everything you need.

Most cats are not very patient when you are handling their paws, so it’s important to be prepared. Materials that are good to have are a towel, a damp washcloth, and a dry cloth.

2. Next, wrap your cat in a towel.

Gently pick up your kitty, moving slowly and confidently. Then carefully wrap her in a big, thick towel leaving the paw or paws that have sticky kitty litter exposed. Cats do much better when held like a football in a big towel. You can also pet your cat, and try to keep her calm. All of this is to get your cat in a relaxed state where they feel comfortable with you doing what you have to do.

3. Wipe the cat litter from your cat’s feet gently with a damp towel.

Using a warm, damp washcloth, gently extend your cat’s paw, and wipe away the kitty litter from in between the pads and around the paws. You can also use your fingers to break up cat litter particles and loosen them from the paw pads. If you are doing more than one paw, start cleaning the front paws and then move to the back paws. If you have a cat that likes water like a Maine Coon or Bengal, you can try bathing them in a bathtub if the litter has really hardened on. This works great if your cat is okay with it, as it allows the litter to soften and be easily wiped away.

4. Use a dry towel to remove the rest of the litter

By using a wet cloth, the litter should now be loosened up to a point where the paws are close to clean. Finish removing the litter by carefully swabbing at your cat’s paw with a dry towel. When you are done, you can let go of each paw, and release your cat.

Tips on Preventing Litter From Sticking to Paws

There are a few things you can try to prevent cat litter debris from sticking to your cat’s paws, and these include the following:

Use a different litter

cat holding their paws upClumping cat litter is perhaps the worst offender for getting stuck between your cat’s paws, and you may consider changing your cat litter. Clumping cat litter was created with the purpose of sticking to everything around it to pick up all the possible waste around it, but this came with the negative side affect of also being more sticky in general and sticking to your cat more routinely. Try choosing low-dust, non-clumping clay litter, or consider recycled paper pellet litter or pine pellet litter. You can also select a litter made from larger particles in contrast to a fine-grained, dusty litter. It is more difficult for larger pieces to get stuck in between the pads of your cats paws and they tend to be less adhesive. This can also help reduce the tracking of litter grains throughout the house as well. This is one of the many benefits of a litter like pine litter. Definitely don’t go with a litter that clumps to reduce sticking. For more info on litters that don’t stick, look at our post about this.

Get a bigger litter box

Sometimes, upgrading to a bigger litter box can give your cat more space to take care of business which in turn leads to them stepping on damp litter less often. It also gives them more space to scratch and cover her “deposits,” and dislodge litter between her paws. It’s best to select a litter box that is one to two times the length of your cat, and larger cats may need even more room. Also, if you have multiple cats, you will want to own the largest litter box possible, and ideally multiple to accommodate all of them.  Selecting a larger size box also helps your cat to turn around, and less likely to stand in her waste, decreasing the likelihood of litter sticking to her paws. If you want to go DIY, you can use a storage tub as a large litter box.

Use a litter mat

Try a litter mat. These mats are typically made of plastic or silicone and are designed to help trap loose litter particles. Simply place the mat outside the entrance to the litter box, so that your cat has to walk over it to get into and out of the box. These mats have a texture that is designed to wipe your cat’s paws clean and catch litter, so it is easy to then dispose the litter the mat catches. Every week, you might have to empty the mat, and every couple of weeks, it will need a clean. These mats come in a variety of styles and colors and are a cheap purchase that can make a big positive impact on tracking and litter on your cat’s paws.

Keep your cat’s paws clean

If your cat allows, you can also wipe your cat’s paws and pads regularly with a warm, damp washcloth. By using the towel wrap technique described above, you can clean your kitty’s paws regularly, making sure to gently wipe kitty litter away from the top of your cat’s paw and paw pad, and clean in between the toes. Doing this often can help prevent major discomfort in your cat and possibly having to visit the vet if a problem becomes serious enough.

Trim the hair around your cat’s paws

Trimming the hair around your cat’s paw pads can also prevent cat litter from getting trapped in the hairs (this can be especially true in long-haired cats). If your cat permits, you can try very carefully to trim the hair around the paws using a pair of small pet grooming scissors. If you are worried about trimming the hair this way, you can always contact a groomer or your veterinarian for assistance. Do you have a struggle with your cat whenever you go to the veterinarian? Look at this post to make the trip a breeze.

Keep the litter box clean

Another solution is to regularly clean the litter box, which limits the chances of your cat’s paws being encrusted with litter. It will also help stop the litter from sticking to the box. It’s recommended to clean and scoop litter boxes daily, and completely change the cat litter in the litter box once to twice per week, or as needed. You’ll probably have to clean more often if you have a multiple-cat household. You should also clean the box each week with warm, soapy water. Cleaning the box frequently means that there is a smaller chance of there being damp litter in the litter box. This results in your cat stepping in damp litter less often which means less litter sticking to their paws. If you are good at keeping the litter box clean, this will largely prevent the issue of litter being stuck to your cat.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Does Litter Get Stuck In My Cat’s Paws?

It can be plain frustrating having constantly seeing your cat tracking litter around the house and having your cat constantly in pain because they have litter hardened on their little paws. Grasping the reason why a problem is taking place is one of the key steps to figuring out how to prevent and fix it. Cat litter tends to stick to paws when it is wet. Cat litter becomes wet after your cat goes to the bathroom. Cats might end up with litter on their paws for varying reasons. A few common reasons include only having one litter box for a multiple cat household, not cleaning the litter box often enough, the litter box being too small, the cat getting to an elderly age where they goof up sometimes, and other similar reasons.

Can Litter Hurt Cats’ Paws?

Cat litter can indeed hurt the paws of your cat. Stuck on litter can feel irritating for your cat, and cause small injuries to the surrounding area. Cleaning litter off of the paws of your cat whenever you see it stuck on is recommended to help prevent pain, injury, and possibly infection.

Is Cat Litter Toxic If Swallowed?

It depends on the situation, but it is generally harmful for your cat to consume litter no matter the amount or type of litter. Certain kinds of litter pose a larger greater threat to the health of your cats. These litters include clumping, and clay litter. In many cases, clumping litter contains Sodium Bentonite which is a chemical that is very good at absorbing liquid. When it soaks up the surrounding liquid, it can expand over 10x its original size. Considering this information of course the consumption of this product can be very dangerous for your cat to consume. Clay litter can have carcinogenic substances that should be avoided for the well being of your cat.

Why Is Non-Clumping Cat Litter Better?

From the perspective of a cat litter that is less likely to stick to your cats paws, non-clumping litter is better. Non-clumping litter is less dusty than clumping litter. Less dusty litter doesn’t stick as much when wet compared to dusty litter. A less dusty litter is also better for cats and humans that get a reaction from inhaling dust. Non-clumping litter also has other benefits not related to the reasons mentioned previously. Non-clumping litter tends to be cheaper. This kind of litter also tends to be more natural and less harmful if it is accidentally eaten. This litter is also very good at soaking up the odor of urine until it has soaked up all of the urine it can and at this point the urine begins to fill the bottom of the litter box.


Getting cat litter granules out of a cat’s paws can be challenging, however, using the techniques described above, the ordeal need not be a stressful one for either you or your cat. Trying different types of litters such as pellet litters, or non-clumping litters can help, as can using a larger litter box and litter mats.  You can also experiment with different cat litter brands.

Keeping your cat’s paws clean with regular cleaning with a washcloth can also help. However, if you have any questions about keeping litter out of your cat’s paws, and how to keep them clean, consult a groomer or your veterinarian. They are sure to offer some tips, and may even offer to do the cleaning for you.