Get the scoop with our look at today’s cat litter options.
Shopping for kitty litter can be a challenge, given the variety of different litter types on the market. You want a litter that’s going to be healthy and safe, as well as convenient, clean and odor-free. In this article, we’ll look at the range of cat litter materials you can choose from, along with their characteristics.
Clay is the “original” litter material. On the plus side, it’s absorbent, has a comfortable texture, and is good at clumping and controlling odor – all positive qualities in a cat litter.
One disadvantage of traditional clay litters is their tendency to produce high levels of dust, which isn’t healthy for cats to inhale or ingest. With this concern in mind, many companies have taken steps to make their clay-based litters as dust-free as possible. For example, Litter-Robot uses sodium bentonite, a special type of naturally-occurring clay that’s lower in dust and has superior odor-inhibiting qualities.
Corn litters are a popular choice these days. Arm & Hammer Naturals Double Duty Clumping Litter is composed of biodegradable corn fibers; it absorbs urine, minimizes odors and is soft on feline feet. It also contains baking soda for odor control. “Baking soda is a well-trusted and terrific ingredient that is both natural and great at eliminating odors,” says Bryan Harpine, Director of Global New Products at Arm & Hammer.
The benefits of corn-based kitty litters don’t end there. “Corn is ideal for cats and people who have respiratory issues,” says Jean Broders of World’s Best Cat Litter, which offers corn cat litters. “Being 99% dust-free, there is no silica dust to breathe in. Also, if cats lick their paws, it won’t harm them – the litter is totally digestible.”
The texture of wheat litters is somewhat similar to clay, making it a great eco-friendly alternative for picky cats. Other perks include excellent odor control and clumping action. As well, wheat-based litters aren’t as likely to track through the house on your kitty’s paws, so it’s one of the cleaner options.
On the downside, moisture and warmth can lead to mold in grain-based litters. They can also attract bugs, so if you’re opting for a wheat litter, be sure to keep your cat’s box in a cool, dry environment and clean it frequently.
Wood litters offer a fresh, natural scent to cover odor, and provide excellent absorbency. Arm & Hammer Natural’s Feline Pine Cat Litter is made from southern yellow pine, which has superior moisture-absorbing qualities and also neutralizes odors.
Next Gen Pet offers an environmentally-conscious litter composed of cypress wood. “Our litters are made from collected wood scrap,” says Janice Yamamoto. “And once discarded, they decompose into compost.”
Because sawdust-style wood litters tend to cling to the cat’s fur, many companies including Next Gen Pet are switching to pellets. “We have also found that a piece of shag carpet or litter mat in front of the tray is enough to keep any tracked litter centralized,” adds Janice.
Composed of silica, a drying agent with excellent deodorizing properties, crystal litters have powerful absorbing and odor-eliminating properties. These litters offer maximum convenience, as they last up to a month without being changed, although you still need to scoop your cat’s feces on a daily basis.
Many cats dislike the larger crystals used in some of these litters, but companies such as Just the Crystals have designed their litter to be comfortable for a cat’s feet, while still maintaining its moisture- and odor-absorbing qualities. This product is also fragrance-free, so you don’t have to worry about your feline friend breathing in any unnecessary chemicals. Another example is Almost Invisible Cat Litter from G That’s Awesome; this unscented litter features silica particles with a size, shape and texture that’s similar to sand, so it feels totally natural to your cat.
Straw and grass
Litters composed of straw and grass are sometimes underrated. These compressed high-fiber pellets are extremely absorbent and dust-free.
“In the past, many consumers did not want to use natural litters because they did not perform and clump as well as clay litters,” says Shannon Supanich of SmartCat Litter. This company’s litter, made entirely from USA-farmed grasses with no chemicals or artificial fragrances, is designed to clump well and has good odor control.
With so many cat litter options out there, how do you make the right choice? Chances are, your cat will end up making the final decision for you, so start by choosing your favorite options and try them out with him. You may have to experiment to find a litter that best suits you and your cat, so buy small bags to start with and ask the store about their return policy; some places will let you return a litter that doesn’t receive your cat’s stamp of approval!
When litter shopping, think outside the box!
Arm & Hammer Naturals, armandhammerpets.ca
Feline Pine, felinepine.com
G That’s Awesome, antiickypoo.com
Just the Crystals, justthecrystals.com
Next Gen Pet Products, nextgenpet.com
SmartCat Litter, smartcatlitter.com
Swheat Scoop, swheatscoop.com
World’s Best Cat Litter, worldsbestcatlitter.com
Nutshells (BLUE Naturally Fresh, bluebuffalo.com/for-cats/product-lines/naturally-fresh-litter)
Recycled paper (Yesterday’s News, yesterdaysnews.com)