Every domestic cat keeper is aware that the litter box and its contents are an inseparable element of their coexistence with these animals. Reluctance to use the litter box can come from many sources. One of them is improperly selected cat litter. Therefore, this seemingly banal decision should not be taken hastily. An ideal product should be both comfortable and safe for the cat and convenient to clean for the caregiver.
Cat litter – a relatively new invention
Burying feces is a behavior that our domestic purrs have inherited from their wild cousins. Although commonly equated with hygiene and even shame, it was originally intended to mask the smell of an individual.
The process of cat domestication meant that it began to be more and more often in human settlements. For hundreds of years, when it comes to the cat’s toilet, people could only act in two fields: release pets “when needed” or use makeshift boxes of ashes or sand.
The revolution didn’t come until the 1940’s. Then a young entrepreneur, Edward Lowe, developed a prototype of bentonite litterwhich was a combination of ordinary sand with absorbent clay. The product made Ed a real fortune and revolutionized the lives of all cat keepers forever.
What cat litters do we have to choose?
There are so many types of litter on the market today that a novice handler can feel really lost. First of all, you need to realize that the perfect litter should be a compromise between your cat’s preferences and your own sense of comfort and aesthetics.
There are many cats that can successfully take care of almost any litter. Some of them, however, will only use a specific type, fragrance or even brand. This is why the choice is often made by trial and error. Below you will find a short description of the most popular gravels available in stores.
Wooden cat litter is a version for people who appreciate ecological aspects. It is a natural substrate that can be successfully thrown (in small amounts) into the toilet without the need to call a plumber later. This type of litter is available in clumping or non-clumping versions.
Wooden gravel lovers value them primarily for their naturalness. They are environmentally friendly and biodegradable products. Many cats accept this litter easily, and the natural scent of wood is comfortable for them. Moreover, for some individuals, even attractive. Wooden litter absorbs odors well. The clumping version, however, is not recommended for small kitties that tend to eat the litter. In large quantities, it can clog the digestive system.
Silicone litter – actually silicate litter, is a very popular choice. It is valued primarily by aesthetes, because it looks very elegant in the litter box. Unfortunately, it is considered quite a controversial product among cat lovers. The advantages of such a solution are undoubtedly very good urine absorption and effective odor binding. Additionally, this type of litter is extremely efficient. Unfortunately, it does not clump together, which is why cats often carry it around the house.
The opponents of silicone litters point out that they are granules made of sodium silicate, i.e. an alkaline chemical compound used in the production of cleaning agents. When ingested, they can be deadly to cats. So you have to be very careful during the first attempts and carefully observe the behavior of the kitten.
The structure of bentonite litter most closely resembles cat sand. It clumps and is very fine, so it is easy to clean even with a fine-mesh spatula. In addition, it absorbs odors well and often has antibacterial and antifungal properties. It comes in various fragrance variants.
Unfortunately, bentonite gravel is prone to dusting. Light pellets can stick to and fall off the hair in different places in your home. It is rather reluctantly eaten by cats, but in the case of toddlers, you should be very careful, because if consumed it can clog the intestines.
An interesting alternative is corn litter, which is becoming more and more popular on the market. As in the case of wooden, it is biodegradable and environmentally friendly. It is lumpy, efficient, and masks the smell of urine very well. That is why it is often recommended to homes where several cats live. Its granules are fine, but relatively heavy, so they don’t stick to the hair.
Which cat litter to choose?
As you can see, the choice is really wide. So what criteria should be followed when making the selection? The pet’s needs should come first. Litter acceptance is an important part of adaptation to a new home. Many cats are not very picky about this, but it is enough to find a more sophisticated individual and we can have big problems.
Above all the litter should be gentle on the cat’s feet. This is especially important for kittens whose pillows are soft and prone to chafing. It is enough for the kitten to associate the litter box with the pain of the paws, and you get almost ready problem with defecation elsewhere (preferably soft and pleasant, such as your bedding). Choose a litter that is non-dusting, relatively fine and clumping. It will then be convenient to remove from the litter box, and at the same time pleasant for the cat.
Although the producers tempt with various fragrances, at the beginning, choose an unscented litter. You may find the smell of baby powder tempting, but the cat has every right to say otherwise. It is worth reaching for high-quality bentonite litter with a very fine structure or natural wooden litter with finer granules.
Cat litter – is there a universal solution?
Be prepared for the fact that choosing the right cat litter can be a tedious trial and error process. There is no perfect solution that will suit every cat and all owners.
Contemporary behaviorism assumes that every cat should have at least two litter boxes (according to the formula: number of cats in the house + 1). A good solution may therefore be to put two different types of litter in two litter boxes and observe which the cat is more likely to use.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that you are also a very important litter user. Daily cleaning shouldn’t be a pain, so keep an eye on which type of litter works best for you. Sometimes the caregiver only comes to meaningful conclusions after a few months. It is worth adjusting to the fact that the comfort of the pet and the comfort of its guardian are more important than the visual issues.
1) “Kocie Mojo (…)” Jackson Galaxy, Sine Qua Non, Krakow 2019