Novel composite materials with wide pores were synthesized by an in situ technique using kaolin, palygorskite and pseudoboehmite as raw materials. The characterization results indicated that the synthesis components and conditions influenced the micro-, meso- and macro-porosity of the composite materials. The composites contained 53.5% zeolite Y and had much larger specific surface areas and pore volumes as well as significant hydrothermal stability. Fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) catalysts were prepared based on the composite materials. The results indicated that the as-prepared catalysts possessed a unique pore structure which assisted in diffusion-controlled reactions. In addition, the attrition resistance, activity and hydrothermal stability of the catalyst studied were superior to those of a reference catalyst. The catalyst studied also exhibited excellent nickel and vanadium passivation performance, strong ‘bottoms upgrading’ selectivity and better gasoline and coke selectivity.