Can I Use Cat Litter for Ferrets or Rats?

When your family has more than one kind of pet it makes sense that you want to try and use the same product as much as you can to avoid purchasing a variety of pet products.


For those families who have ferrets or rats in addition to a cat it might seem like a feasible option to use your cat’s litter in the cage of your other animals.

Unfortunately, cat litter isn’t ideal or even safe for every pet so it’s important to make sure you read up on what is safe for ferrets and rats before putting it in their cage.

Ferrets are a very intelligent and quirky pet to have in your home. In fact, it has been shown that ferrets can be trained to do tricks and follow commands like a dog can.

When it comes to making sure the cage of your ferret stays clean you want to use the very best materials. Since ferrets may also use the bedding of their cage to go to the bathroom the bedding will also need to be absorbent so that the smell doesn’t hang in the house.

Cat litter is designed specifically to absorb the moisture when your cat goes to the bathroom, so why can’t you use cat litter in your ferret’s cage?

Well, the short answer is that you can but it depends on the kind of cat litter you are using.

Clay & silica litter

This the more traditional kind of cat litter and it is the most absorbent option. It also will typically clump together when moisture is introduced so it’s super easy to scoop up when you’re cleaning out the cage.

Clay cat litter, though, is incredibly toxic for ferrets so it should never be used in their cage. Additionally, you cannot use any kind of clumping litter for your ferrets.

Shredded Newspaper

If you use cat litter that is composed of shredded newspaper, or even other paper products, you can use this kind of litter in the cage for your ferrets.

Why can’t you use clumping cat litters for your ferret?

Ferrets are known to dig and chew on things in their environment. Since clumping cat litters will, well, clump and harden when there is moisture if your ferret was to ingest any of it then it could harden and obstruct their airways or digestive system.

Additionally, these kinds of cat litters can be very dusty when moved around so the dust can be toxic if your ferrets in hale it when they’re digging.

What are the best kinds of litters for ferrets?

Thankfully there is some crossover between cat litters and litters that are safe to use for your ferrets. There are also some litters are specifically designed for ferrets, though, if you want to keep the two completely separate.

Newspaper Pellets

A brand like Yesterday’s News is quite popular amongst cat and ferret owners who prefer to use litter made of recycled materials. This brand has paper pellets that are fairly large in size so they can absorb the moisture effectively. Additionally, since the pellets are fairly large in size your ferrets won’t be able to throw around the pellets like they would with other kinds of litter.

As an added bonus, with recycled paper products being used for litters, you don’t have to worry if your furry little friends nibble on the litter a bit as it’s not dangerous or toxic for them to ingest.

Pine or Oak Pellets

This is another material used for litter for both cats and ferrets. As anyone who has had ferrets in their life knows they can have a bit of a musky odor so the natural smell of these pellets can help remove that smell and give a much fresher scent to your ferret’s cage.

If you choose the tree-based kind of pine litter it’s very affordable and they can even be flushed down the toilet since they are all natural. Additionally, these pellets will curl up when they absorb moisture so they are easy to scoop up and get rid of when you’re cleaning the cage.

PRO TIP:since ferrets can be trained to use a litter box, similar to cats, putting a little bit of urine and feces in the area you want them to use as a litter box can help keep their living area cleaner and make it easier for your to clean up and change the litter.


While both rats and ferrets can be litter box trained, and they require bedding for their habitats they don’t usually use the same kind of litter as each other due to their own unique needs.

Are there certain kinds of cat litter I can use for my rats?

Cat litter comes in many varieties: clay, newspaper, wood, clumping, non-clumping and so on. There are some kinds of litter you can use for both cats and rats, but there aren’t many.

Pine Woodchips

There are certain cat litters that are aromatic to help keep the scent of a litter box at bay but these can be harmful to rats. Typically these kinds of litters will be made of pine or cedar particles and, unfortunately, are usually sold right next to or mixed in with other rodent pet supplies. There is some evidence that these kinds of litters have a negative affect on a rat’s liver so it’s best to avoid them.

Additionally, when the properties that give this kind of litter its scent are mixed with the ammonia from urine it can be very harmful on your rat’s respiratory system to keep breathing in – especially if you aren’t changing the bedding frequently.

Clay litters

Unlike ferrets, you can actually use some kinds of clay litters in the bottom of your rat’s cage. Since this material will be dusty when moved around it’s suggested you only use a little bit of it and pick a variety that has large granules, and is non-dusty and non-clumping.

Corn Bedding

Sometimes pet stores will sell rodent bedding that is made of corn or corncob. This kind of bedding isn’t necessarily dangerous in itself, but when it gets wet from urine and feces it tends to quickly rot and grow mold which will cause a really unpleasant smell in your home.

It will also cause an increase in unhealthy bacteria in the environment of your pet, so it could be dangerous for them to be around mold just like it is for humans.

If you do decide to corn bedding it is best to use it only in the litter box portion of the cage, and not as the entire bedding for your rat’s cage.

Shredded papers

Shredded paper

This material for litter boxes is safe and popular for many different kinds of animals, including rats. It does need to be changed out often – especially if you use it for the whole bedding of the cage – because it gets mushy when wet.

You can purchase bedding that is made of recycled paper products and that is non-toxic for animals just in case your furry friends decide to nibble on it a bit.

Different materials for litter boxes vs. bedding

Unlike cats, ferrets and rats typically live within a confined cage or habitat. Both ferrets and rats are easily litter box trained so you can teach your pets to only use a portion of their environment to urinate and defecate in.

With this in mind, you can choose to have a certain material for their bedding and another material for their litter box area that is much more absorbent and is more suitable to soaking up the moisture associated with it. In some cases, materials like wood shavings, the litter box area will clump up – like traditional litter does – so it’s easy to spot and scoop up when you need to.

There are some types of litter that are marketed as being for cats that you could use for your ferrets or rats to keep things easier in your home, but it’s important to keep in mind that some kinds of litter are dangerous for your smaller pets.

Litters that clump or are made of clay can be toxic for ferrets but they are ok in small amounts for rats so you may be able to use them in small amounts. If you can use products with pellets made of recycled paper products it is both helpful for the environment and is not going to be dangerous for your pets.

A few of the litters – like corn – are completely safe to use but need to be changed really frequently because they can quickly grow bacteria and mold which will has a very distinct smell.

Ultimately, you have a number of choices as to which kind of litter you use for your small pets based on your preferences and what’s easier for you. Just make sure that no matter what type of bedding you use for your rats or ferrets that you frequently change out the litter box area and keep it fresh for your pets.