Cat litter is something every cat owner has to deal with, whether we like it or not. Your cat makes use of its litter box several times a day, so you want to make sure that you are buying the right type of litter.
Ultimately, we would like a litter that is highly absorbent, odour-free and hardly tracks at all, but it is also important to find the right litter for your cat. Since every cat is different, they will naturally have different needs and preferences. So how do you know if your feline companion likes its current litter?
If your cat is unhappy with their litter or litter box, they may avoid using it altogether. Of course, marking outside of the litter box can also be an indication of a health issue in your cat. It is important to determine if litter box avoidance is caused by an underlying medical issue or simply a matter of finding a new type of litter that suits your cat.
There are many types of litter to choose from today. That is why it is so important to familiarise yourselves with the pros and cons of each type of cat litter. In this article, we will discuss the most popular types of cat litter and the benefits of each one.
It is important to point out that there is no “perfect” cat litter; it is simply instead a matter of which litter works best for your cat. You may have go through a few “trial and error”s before you can determine which type of litter suits you and your cat.
Why It’s Important to Choose the Best Litter for Your Cat
Years ago, there was only one type of cat litter available; it was basically dirt and gradually evolved in the 80’s to clay litter. Today there are many kinds of cat litter available, ranging from paper litter to soy litter. With so many types of cat litter, how will you know which litter suits your finicky feline best?
Keep in mind that a quality cat litter should not only suit your cat and your needs; it should also be safe for your cat and you. Ideally, a good quality cat litter worth investing in should have high absorbency, neutralise urine odours effectively, be easy to scoop and basically be as hassle-free as possible. Most importantly, the litter that you choose to use also has to be ‘accepted’ by your cat.
Just like when it comes to cat food, different cats have different preferences of materials used in litter boxes. There is no point buying the most expensive cat litter made with cutting-edge technology if your cat refuses to go anywhere near it, so find out early which type of kitty litter your cats prefer using before stocking up on it!
For cat owners who are not too familiar with the various types of cat litter available in the market, lets take a quick look at some types of cat litter in the next section.
Types of Cat Litter
Lets take a quick look at some of the more popular cat litters available and find out a little of their pros and cons.
Paper Cat Litter
Paper Cat Litter is made from recycled paper and is highly absorbent. Due to its soft nature, it is an ideal choice for cats that dislike the feel of harder litters. Cats can sometimes accidentally ingest litter when grooming themselves, so it’s good to note that paper litters can be pass through your cat’s digestive system easily without harming your cat. Paper litter is also usually dust-free, making it a popular choice amongst a lot of feline owners.
Soya/Tofu Cat Litter
Soya and tofu cat litter are made from a natural, non-toxic by-product of the tofu manufacturing process, so they are biodegradable and eco-friendly. Upon contact with moisture, they clump very quickly and can be flushed down the toilet in small quantities (the general rule is one scoop per flush). They are almost 100% dust free with little to no signs of tracking, and are soft to the touch, making them perfect for felines with sensitive paws. Below are some popular brands that produce Soya based cat litter.
Silica Gel Litter
Silica Gel Litter (also known as crystal litter) and is made of silicon dioxide. It is extremely absorbent, a great choice for odor control and absolutely dust-free. Usually costs more than other types of litter because it tracks less and lasts longer. Very popular amongst those cat owners who live in small spaces such as HDB flats or apartments.
Do take note that some cats dislike the small crystals getting stuck between their paws, which can be quite uncomfortable for your cat due to its hard and sometimes sharp texture. Ingesting a large amount of crystals when cleaning their paws might also prove harmful to your cat.
Clay Cat Litter
Clay litter is still perhaps the most popular choice for cat litter due to its low cost and the lack of information about other cat litters available (thus this article is written!) in the market.
There are two types of clay cat litters – clumping and non-clumping.
Clumping Clay Cat litter is usually made out of bentonite. It absorbs a high amount of urine and forms into a clump within seconds, thus making it easy to remove waste from the litter box.
Non-Clumping Clay Cat Litter is cheaper, made from non-Bentonite clays and does not clump up when wet. Often leaving moisture from urine when scooped out of the litter box, using this type of cat litter usually results in strong odours building up over time.
Although generally cheaper, clay based litter tends to produce a lot of dust and does not prevent unpleasant odours. Besides the concern of your cat tracking the litter around the house, the dust does affect owners who suffer from allergies. Clay based litter is also non-biodegradable and heavy to carry around.
Wood/pine litter is a good choice for those who are concerned about the environment. Made from all natural materials with toxins, oils and allergens removed during heat treatment, pine cat litter tends to be very absorbent.
Its natural pine scent helps masks unpleasant odours and make the house smell fresh. Do note that not all pine litter are naturally clumping; some pine litter turns into a fine sawdust powder upon contact with liquid. They are best used with litter boxes with a sieve bottom, such as PeeWee, as they allow the used litter to fall through the sieve to the bottom tray. This keeps the unsoiled litter in the top tray dry and clean.
Corn Kernel Based Cat Litter
The World’s Best Cat Litter is the leading brand in corn kernel based cat litter. A highly popular product as it ticks almost all the boxes: great odour control due its high absorbency, flushable, biodegradable, fast clumping and low in dust. Best of all, the litter forms compact clumps that are easy to remove! The only downside is that is one of the priciest cat litters; but as they say, you pay for what you get!
Tips to Encourage Your Cat to Use A Litter Box
As a general rule, you should have one litter box per cat plus one additional litter box. Besides providing you a peace of mind that your cat will have sufficient litter places to go potty, it also gives you ample time to clear built up waste in litter boxes. You should also place them in an area that your cat can easily access and have some privacy (imagine having to do your business in a tiny box placed in the middle of a busy room!). Most cats prefer a larger, open litter box as opposed to a smaller, enclosed box.
Although a covered box gives them privacy, the odours trapped in there can get pretty strong. Some litter boxes from brands like Catit and Stefanplast have a carbon filter to help absorb the odours and keep the box smelling fresh! Another option is to get a covered and spacious litter box (if your house permits it) with more ventilation.
You should scoop out soiled litter every day from the box, and empty the litter weekly to prevent bacteria from growing. It is not necessary to do so however with antimicrobial litter; these cat litters usually have silver ions, such as this Imperial Care cat litter. It also helps to place a litter mat underneath the litter box to trap any excess litter and keep tracking to a minimum.
How to Transition Your Cat to a New Kind of Litter
If you are switching from one type or brand of litter to another, you should do so gradually. Just keep adding a little of the new litter to your cat’s litter box, while slowly reducing the amount of the old brand litter.
This will make the transition much easier for your cat as they are creatures of habit. Sudden changes can make them overwhelmed, and even stress them out. If you follow this practice, your cat will be less likely to resist this change and avoid using the litter box.