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Cat Litter - How to Select the Best Cat Litter

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Having the right cat litter for your kitty is important. Litter box aversion or inappropriate urination is a frequent problem in cats and therefore you want to do everything you can to choose the right cat litter product. There are several brands and varieties available from which to choose in cat litter. Here are some tips to help you choose the right one.

Features to Consider in Cat Litter

  • Materials
  • Attractiveness to Cat
  • Dust
  • Easy to use
  • Cost
  • Safety
  • Scent
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Frequency of Scooping vs. throw away
  • Flushable

    Ideal Choice for Cat Litter

  • There are several very good cat litter alternatives. The ideal cat litter is one that he or she likes! If you don't know your cat's preference, then for kittens, regular clay cat litter might be a good choice to start. For most adult cats, the clumping scoopable cat litter is an excellent choice and a favorite of most cats. The choice of scented vs. unscented is a personal one. Scented cat litter often masks smells and can be pleasant to you however they are not always attractive to cats and may cause some cats to avoid the litter box. Dust vs. dust free cat litter is another personal choice. Most clay and scoopable cat litters can be dusty so the dust free may be a better choice although even the “dust free” varieties can still be rather dusty. Dust free cat litter is recommended in cats with a history of allergies or asthma. The clay and scoopable varieties are both easy to use but work differently (see shopping tips below).

    If you have an adult cat and don't know his or her preference, you might try clumping scoopable unscented litter. The ideal option is to try two pans and two different types of litter and watch your cat to see which he or she prefers.

    Shopping Tips for Buying Cat Litter

  • Selecting the right cat litter is a balance between what is easy and convenient for you to use and attractive to the cat. Different textures of cat litters are appealing to different cats. Some cats prefer clay, some will prefer clumping, and other will tolerate just about any type of litter. Some cats have aversions and will not use certain types, textures or scents of cat litter. It is important to watch your cat for proper use of the litter box whenever you are litter training or you select a new litter.

  • The two most common types of litter are Clay and Clumping Cat litters.

    Regular clay Cat Litter – this is the regular traditional clay cat litter. It is generally the least expensive of the litters. It is not scoopable and when soiled it is tossed out in the trash. It is heavy, absorbs urine well and does a fairly good job at controlling odors. Some brands of clay litter is scented which can mask some odors but the litter must be changed regularly and the odor control feature should not be used to mask poor litterbox hygiene. Depending on the number of cats using the box, regular clay boxes should be changed at least 2 times a week if being used by one cat. They can be dusty, and if allergies are a problem, consider the low dust varieties.

    Clumping Cat Litter - clumping cat litters are quickly becoming the most common litters used. They are scoopable as they “clump” when liquids are added. The entire box does not need to be dumped when soiled but the used or clumps are scooped out on a regular basis. Each box should be scooped twice daily. They can be dusty, and if allergies are a problem, consider the low dust varieties. Some authorities are concerned that cats may groom clumping cat litter off their paws which can clump in their intestines, however this is extremely uncommon. This type of litter is required to work with electric litterbox e.g. “Littermaid®”.

  • Other types of cat litter includes biodegradable materials such as those made of plant materials, wood, and paper. These can be useful if you want an earth-friendly or you want a potentially flushable product. They are generally more expensive and less available (available at specialty pet stores). Some cats deal with these products fine. If you choose this type of cat litter for the first time, use it in a second box and watch to determine if it is appealing to your cat.

  • The newest litter is silica pellet cat litter. The litter consists of silica beads or pellets that absorb urine without the need to scoop. You do need to stir the litter daily and feces does need to be scooped. When the litter turns color, the entire pan is dumped and new litter is used. Silica pellets tend to control odors well. Not all cats like the texture of this litter. It does come in some different shapes, round and flat, so you may need to experiment on what your cat likes best. Silica cat litters are among the most expensive litters.

    More Tips for Using Cat Litter

  • If you change types of cat litter, do it gradually and watch to ensure your cat is still using the box normally. Ideally, you should try the new cat litter in one box and keep one box with the old cat litter in case there is an aversion to the new litter. If your cat is using the new litter well, it is safe to make the switch. You can also begin to gradually mix in the new litter with the old and monitor litter box use. First you may want to keep 90% previous litter, 10% new litter mix. If this is met with satisfaction after a few days, gradually increase the new litter mix over several days until you are using 100% new litter.

  • Once you have a cat litter that your cat seems to like, stick with it. Don't change around if possible.

  • Consider what “depth” of cat litter your cat likes. After you scoop or fill the litter box, tilt the box so the litter is deeper on one end and less deep on the other. Notice when end your cat likes. This will help guide you on how full to fill the box in the future.

  • Even if your cat is indoor/outdoor, a litterbox inside is a nice feature in case he gets trapped in the house or you are not available to let him out when he needs to “go”.

  • Paper cat litters may be recommended if you have your pet declawed or has other surgery or wounds the may be exposed to litter. The paper cat litter is generally pelleted, expands when wet, and does not have any small particles that can stick to a wound. When expanded or used, the used part of the litter is dumped. This is often recommended during healing after which times cats can generally be switched back to their regular cat litter.

    Users' comments about this Buyer Guide
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    Cat Litter Woes
    by Miller, Tuesday, August 12, 2008

    Comment: We have 4 cats at my house. Buddy, Wendy, Champ and Callie. Buddy is 23. Champ is 4 months old and we bottle fed him from birth after he was abandoned by his mother. Our vet told us that clay based litters were bad for kittens so we started trying non-...

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    Reply about pooping problem
    by Jellybean, Saturday, April 26, 2008

    Comment: Our cat started doing the exact same thing, and at first we thought that he was being picky about the cleanliness of the box. We made sure that it was extra clean everyday, but he continued to poop outside of it. I did a bunch of research to find what othe...

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    Reply to Ocean's question
    by freida95, Tuesday, October 02, 2007

    Comment: Have you changed litters, or has anything in the home changed, such as animals, people, furniture, food, etc.? How many litter boxes do you have? Are the litter boxes covered? If so, try uncovering a litter box. You may need to add an additional litter box...

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    Feline Pine Clumping Litter
    by freida95, Saturday, September 29, 2007

    Comment: I've been using Feline Pine Clumping litter for about a year. It's hard to find. Target is the only store that carries it in my area. I like it because it is a safe, environmentally friendly litter, and is lightweight! It is like sawdust. It also clumps ve...

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    I have a cat, Smokey, that only will go on a piece of paper such as newspaper, however, it doesn't absorb the urine and I have to change it often. Have any suggestions?
    by kmeals, Saturday, September 29, 2007

    Comment: Please tell me of some product/products I can use for litter.

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