Choosing a cat litter that will appeal to kitties

Cat litter: While it’s not a particularly “sexy” item in the world of cat keeping- choosing the cat litter that our cats will use consistently is one of the most important aspects of excellent kitty care.

Hush Puppy atop litter box
Hush Puppy atop litter box. Photo: Jo Singer
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There’s a wide variety of cat litter available in pet stores, supermarkets and on the Internet. There are cat litters made from clay, silica gel crystals, corn, wheat, pine, cedar chips and recycled paper with many different textures that it’s no wonder that cat guardians might find themselves scratching their heads wondering what type is the best.

With such an overwhelming assortment from which to choose, it can certainly be hard to pick the most appropriate types of litter that truly will appeal to kitties. We know how fussy our cats get when it comes to the “toilet” accessories that are alluring to them; so finding one that they will actually use can sometimes be quite challenging.

What can add to the confusion is the plethora of cat litter advertisements. While they promise cat guardians that their kitties will be magnetically attracted to their particular brand; this is not necessarily the case.

Noted veterinarian, Karen Becker, DVM offers some sage advice for kitty guardians. Doctor Becker’s rule of thumb is, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

In her recent article about cat litter and boxes she says that if your cats are happily using the cat litter you provide them, and have no issues, you must be doing something right by picking the kind of cat litter, the type of box and its location which your cats find to their liking!

However, for people bringing a new cat into the household or have a cat that is flexible about litter changes, Dr. Becker recommends using a recycled, eco-friendly, sustainable product. Additionally she suggests that the most favorable type of cat litter to use is one that is both chemical-free and as dust-free as possible.

One of the most popular types is clumping clay litter (see also best clumping litter USA 2011). It is generally made from bentonite, highly absorbent clay which when in contact with moisture, forms into solid clumps. It makes scooping and cleaning the box easy. The downside to this litter is it’s heavy, non-biodegradable and dusty (see also allegedly Tidy Cats Lightweight super dusty litter).

There is a non-clumping clay litter made from different varieties of clay. While it does absorb urine, it doesn’t clump, so when the box is scooped it can leave some moist litter behind. Since the box can become stinky more quickly it will require more frequent scooping and changing than a clumping litter. However, some cats prefer it to clumping litter.

Recycled paper: Made from recycled paper, it is available in granules or pellets. It is biodegradable, highly absorbent and dust-free. The granule variety clumps urine, but the pellet form does not.

Pine litter: This product is recycled. It’s usually made from scraps of lumber in which the oils, allergens and toxins are removed through heat-treatment. It comes in granules, pellets and roughly crushed pine and are somewhat clumping. Its pine scent helps to control odor.

Silica gel crystals are made of tiny silica gel beads. Although it is highly absorbent, is virtually dust free, lasts longer and controls odors nicely, some cats don’t like getting it on their paws and since cats clean their paws, it can be dangerous if ingested in large amounts over a long period of time. It also can be quite more costly.

Corn based litter is absorbent, biodegradable and controls odors. But since corn is a problem ingredient for cats and most cats ingest some of the litter while grooming, Dr. Becker doesn’t recommend it. From what I have been reading there is also a bit of controversy concerning corn litter since the corn used in the manufacture of World’s Best Cat Litter is genetically modified. Roundup-ready is used as a pesticide, although World’s Best Cat Litter assures consumers that their product is completely safe.

Let’s not forget about wheat-based cat litter. It is manufactured from ground wheat, is biodegradable, low in dust with little tracking and provides good odor control. Since wheat is another problematic ingredient for cats Dr. Becker also suggests avoiding this type of litter.

While guardians may prefer using scented litters for odor control, most kitties abhor them. Most cats definitely prefer unscented, clumping litters in their clean, comfortable litter boxes placed in strategic (to the cat) locations.What type of litter do your cats prefer? Share your opinions in a comment.

13 thoughts on “Choosing a cat litter that will appeal to kitties”

  1. Michael, no- I am using World’s Best Cat Litter (corn). The cats love it-and it is virtually dust free- doesnt track hardly at all. It is also controls odors very well and lasts a long time.

  2. Unscented, clumping litter is my choice too. I buy Sainsbury’s ultra clumping litter. It’s much cheaper than the Catsan version.

    I’ve noticed my cats definitely prefer litter with small granules. Don’t know if that’s about the texture or because it’s has better absorbption than the larger granuled types.


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