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How To Choose a Cat Litter

Pet litter, animal litter, cat Litter, kitty litter….no matter what you call it it’s not a very thrilling topic…. so why would anyone get excited by it, let alone write about it? Well, believe it or not, there is science behind it and it has to please a fickle end-user, the cat (who after-all rules the house). With so many types of litter available choosing the right litter can be a challenge.

A short history lesson

Ed Lowe

Till the late 1940’s there was no cat litter. It was sand, dirt, ashes, or you kicked your moggie outside.  Then Ed Lowe, a US clay miner, had an ah-hah moment and bagged some dried clay chips, offering it free to the local grocer to sell to cat owners. It worked, the market went mad, he started selling it, built a plant to meet demand and became exceedingly wealthy.

In 1980 the mineral zeolite became available. Because it helped deal with smell zeolite rock litters became popular. In the 1990’s synthetic silica litters emerged with high absorbencies and matching prices. Clumping litters dominated in early 2000’s. These are special clays that coagulate into lumps when hit by urine and are easily removed prolonging the life of the litter. Now ten years on there is a move to eco-friendly paper or fibre based products.

Pet litters are not created equal

Clumping Litter

The biggest difference is whether they clump or not (in the presence of liquid). Clumping Litter creates a solid lump when urinated on, leaving the rest of the litter dry so you simply scoop out the lumps and faeces. Urine in non-clumping litter seeps through and dries and additives in the litter absorb some of the odour. You can scoop out faeces but you will need to change out the entire litter box at least once a week in order to remove the urine.

Silica crystal based litters are non-clumping but absorb the urine more quickly than clay. Clumping litter is usually more expensive, yet you use less in the long run. Clumping litter can sometimes stick to cat fur, not ideal for long-haired cats or kittens as they could ingest it as they groom themselves. Needless to say choose a cat litter that is non-toxic in case your cat does ingest some.

Pet litters that are dust-free or low in dust are important if your cat or other household members suffer from dust allergies or asthma. Some cats can develop allergies to specific ingredients in the litter so as natural a litter as possible should help prevent or alleviate these issues.

Some litters can be uncomfortable on your cat’s paws, especially if they have been declawed. Soft litter is preferable.

Powerful odour absorbing ability is one of the most important factors in choosing a cat litter. Scented litters simply mask odour which means some owners will leave the litterbox dirty for longer than is hygienic for their cat. Dirty litterboxes are the number one cause for cats going outside their litterbox. Scented litter may also be unappealing to your cat’s sensitive nose.

The ideal litter should be environmentally friendly and pose no disposal problems. Large clumping litters are not suitable for flushing down the toilet and non-biodegradable litters should not be added to compost – they should be put out with the rubbish.

When it comes to determining value for money the purchaser has to weigh up the cost, the product life, ease of use and ease of disposal, environmental considerations and safety.

The Verdict!

In conclusion to succeed as a litter it must be very urine absorbent, active in dealing with the bad smells (generally from bacterial action) be safe for cats, with low or no dust, be easy to handle without the need for weight training, readily and responsibly disposable, have a reasonable tray life, and most of all appeal to the end-user, the cat.

PAWS Pet Litter ticks all the boxes! Its light weight, highly absorbent, absorbs odour and is environmentally friendly. Paws incorporates the natural odour absorbing mineral zeolite in a highly absorbent fibre pellet manufactured from recycled paper waste. Wet pellets and solid waste can be simply scooped out and the tray replenished when required with fresh litter while the waste can be safely disposed of down the toilet. No need to replace the entire box of litter – just add more as you remove used litter.

A Comparison of Common Pet Litters

NB If you are considering a change to a new litter we recommend a slow transition to the new brand by gradually introducing the new variety until your cat becomes used to it. Happy shopping and we hope this helps you and your cat select a litter that suits.


2 thoughts on “How To Choose a Cat Litter

  1. I just recently bought a cat, the thing is I haven’t found a cat litter yet. I never knew that pet litters are not created equally, such as the clumping litter created a lump when being urinated by pets. I just wish I would be able to find the perfect cat litter for my pet.

    1. Hi Rachel, thanks for your feedback. Yes there is are many types of cat litter available and most cats are particularly fussy about which they like so you have to try different ones out until you find the right one. Why not try our PAWS Pet Litter – we haven’t met a cat yet that didn’t like it!

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