There are so many advantages to having a pet cat. They keep themselves clean, cuddle when the feel like it, and you don’t need to rush home to walk them to prevent surprises left for you on the rug. Of course, that last benefit comes with a trade-off: The dreaded kitty litter.
But don’t worry. Kitty litter isn’t the smelly mound of sand it once was. Sure, it seems like a pile of dirt, but there have been many advances in the efficiency, odor control and environmental impact of litter, and now there are many options on the market that are sure to please both you and your cat.
A Litter of Options
With all the choices for litter, which one do you choose? Ultimately, your cat will make that decision for you. If you end up with one she doesn’t like, she just won’t use it and there’s virtually nothing you can do to change her mind. Some cats aren’t picky at all, others will only use one type.
Most cats can be convinced that the litter you like is best for them, but you’ll have to make the transition slowly. Start with the old litter mixed with a tiny bit of the new litter. Over a couple of weeks, gradually increase the amount of the new litter until you’re using only the new litter.
Let’s go through the different types of litter.
Clay: This is the original kitty litter and it’s what most cats are comfortable using. Clay is absorbent and cats like the texture because it’s good for digging and burying droppings. Cleanup is easy with clumping clay litters, and even the non-clumping varieties will do a good job of controlling odor. The disadvantage of this litter is that it produces a lot of waste and doesn’t decompose. Some types can create dust too.
Pine/Corn/Wheat: Newer varieties of clumping litter, these alternative litters are considered more natural than clay. They are often made from by-products of other industries, meaning your litter is preventing waste of wheat that’s not fit for human consumption, or pine that is leftover from pulp and paper mills. These types of litter are very absorbent and control odors just as well as clay. They also decompose naturally and are often even flushable, depending on your sewage system. This keeps literally tons of litter out of landfills. These litters are more expensive than clay, but because they’re more absorbent, they can last longer. Many cats will easily transition to a pine, corn or wheat litter from clay, especially if the transition is made gradually. Some cats stay true to their stubborn selves and never warm up to the texture of alternative litters.
Newsprint Litter: Another eco-friendly litter option is recycled newsprint. This type of litter is made up of pellets of recycled newspaper. The pellets are larger, so it won’t stick to your cat’s feet and end up all over the place. Newsprint litter works like sponges to absorb urine odors, and a scoop with larger holes will let you remove waste easily. Unfortunately, the size of the litter makes it a more difficult transition from clay, but if you take your time, your cat will likely adjust.
Silica: Litter made up of silica crystals is another low maintenance solution. The silica pellets absorb urine, and you scoop out the poop to keep the box smelling fresh (or as fresh as it can be). The pellets change color when they’ve absorbed all they can, so it’s easy to see when the box needs changing. Usually, a package of silica litter will last one month for one cat. When it’s turned yellow, simply bag it up and throw it in the trash! Like clay, the heavy silica crystals are better at staying in the box, but some cats won’t like the texture because the pieces are larger and harder to dig in.
Living with Litter
A cat’s nose is about 14 times more sensitive than a human’s, so if you think the litter box stinks, imagine how bad it must smell to your cat! It’s important to scoop and clean litter regularly. You don’t want to give your cat any reason not to use his litter, because he will find somewhere else to go. A clean box in a quiet location will help him feel comfortable and secure when he does his business.
You should try to have one more litter box than you have cats (3 boxes for 2 cats) and make sure they’re on all levels of your home, and not grouped together (cats will look at two boxes side by side as one giant box).
The Cat Kit
Litter boxes aren’t just big plastic tubs anymore. New designs have come out to make cleaning easier. Hooded boxes keep litter from ending up all over the place, which is great if your cat’s an aggressive digger. Not all cats like being enclosed, but some seem to like the privacy a covered box gives them.
Sifting and rolling boxes make cleanup a breeze. Rolling pans are covered boxes that can be cleaned just with a single roll that runs the litter through a basket, which is then removed with all the clumps and waste. Sifting boxes can be covered or uncovered. They’re made up of three pans: two solid ones and one that sifts the litter. Store the sifter between the two solid pans while the box is in use. To clean, pour the litter from the top pan into the sifter, lift the sifter out with the clumps and waste, leaving the litter in the bottom pan. Empty the sifter and stack the pans back up, and voila, your litter is scooped!
Perfect Litter Mat
This new product will help keep litter from tracking all over your house. These large mats are comfortable for cats to walk on and are a bit sticky to pull any litter off your cat’s feet. The mat holds on to litter and can be swept or vacuumed clean.