Your Cat Litter Choices

October 29, 2009

in Cats

House training seems to be a major reason many people hesitate to get a family pet. Cats however rarely need much training. Just buy a litter box, add some cat litter, and oftentimes that’s all that is needed.

Many kittens are already litter trained by their mother so there’s really not much for you to do. Once you are sure he knows where the box is, you rarely need to worry about him going someplace else. But you will have to make a decision, and that is deciding what type of litter will work best.

If you haven’t been to the pet store recently, you may be surprised by, and even a bit overwhelmed with all the choices available to you. So let’s take a quick look at some of the more popular products.

One factor you’ll need to look at is the price. This is where clay litter has a big advantage. Clay was one of the first litters developed commercially and is less expensive than most of the others. The problem with clay is that it not only absorbs liquids, it also hangs on tightly to most odors. You’ll need to change it frequently or the smell will permeate your home. Clay is also problematic if your cat has allergies because when he scratches in the box the dust will start to fly.

The most popular litter right now is probably clumping cat litter. That’s because the litter combines with the moisture in the waste to form, as the name suggests, clumps. These clumps are easy to scoop away, meaning there is no need to change out the entire box. Once you scoop the waste, just replace the missing litter with some new litter. And the scents this litter is available in will do a decent job of hiding the smell, although it won’t get rid of the odor all together. The biggest problem with clumping litter is that some cats will actually eat the clumps. Watch your pet carefully.

Silica litters use water, sand, and crystals to control the odor and moisture. You’ve seen those little packets in new shoes or some medicines. Those packets are there to absorb moisture and contain silica. Because of it’s moisture absorbing capabilities, those same crystals are now used in cat litter. You scoop out the solid waste and the liquid is absorbed by the crystals. On the down side there is no clumping. On the plus side, this litter is usually biodegradable, returning to a sandy base when decomposed.

Another biodegradable litter is paper litter, which is becoming very popular with environmental pet owners. This litter is made from pellets or recycled paper. In addition to being biodegradable, it is absorbent and is easy to carry around because it does not weigh very much.

Another litter that is generally biodegradable is made from wood. Pine is the preferred choice because of it’s natural odor absorbency, but other woods are used as well. All softwood litters are absorbent with natural odor control capabilities. That means no chemicals need to be added, giving you a more natural product.

But once you decide on the type of litter you want, it’s always wise to consult with your cat. They will surely let you know if they disagree with your choice by simply not using the litter box. Some cats for example don’t like silica because the crystals hurt their paws. Others avoid pine because they just don’t like the smell. Even though your cat can’t speak, he will definitely let you know if he doesn’t like what you have selected.

The key is to become as informed as possible about all the different options. Then you can make an intelligent selection. Of course you’ll still have to run it by your cat to see if he approves.

For additional facts on these and other cat litter choices go to You’ll also read about various litter boxes including the automatic cat litter box that makes clean up easy.

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