Confused about cat litter? Let’s clear the air!

Choosing the Best Cat Litter for Your Needs

You can choose to be adventurous in nearly all areas of your life but switching it up in the litter box can lead to some messy outcomes. That’s why it is important to get the litter choice right the first time, which, in a world which offers more types of litter than coffee brands, can be difficult. Here is a run-down of different main brand litter types, alternatives that are up and coming, and the pros and cons of each:

Lightweight: Name brand cat litter companies have started a new trend, called lightweight cat litter. While the exact ingredients that cause it to be lightweight are not explicitly available, activated charcoal is listed as the primary ingredient. Charcoal, when included with traditional clumping clay litter, creates a litter that absorbs odors and liquids quicker, but also might create a bit more of a mess with both dust and tracking.

Pros: This type of litter may be more scoop-friendly, which makes carrying around the results easier for those physically limited. It is also advertised as highly clumping and is easy for cats to dig through and bury their presents.

Cons: While advertised as dust free, most consumer reviews claim it is extremely dusty and highly scented. Many users also report that this litter is constantly tracked throughout the house, as its light weight encourages your cat to fling it everywhere.

Silica Gel Crystals: If you’ve ever bought a new purse or opened a bottle of aspirin or ibuprofen, you are familiar with the small packs of crystals you’ll find in the bottom. This is what the crystal cat litter is made from, which reports it absorbs all liquids and contains no dust. Many brands have started producing this product, which owners can leave in the box for up to a month and only scoop out solids. Pet owners are supposed to change the crystals out after the crystals are fully saturated or a noticeable smell is coming from the box.

Pros: This litter is completely dust free and upkeep is minimal, so multiple cat owners may enjoy this litter. As you are not constantly losing litter since you only scoop out solids, this type of litter need only be changed after fully saturation is reached (maybe in two to three weeks with a single cat). Users of this litter also report no tracking of the crystals throughout the house, a pro for neat freaks among us.

Cons: Many reviews report that their cats dislike these crystals, possible because of the texture and because most brands highly scent their crystals. Silica crystals are also one of the most expensive types of cat litter to use.

Clumping:This is exactly what most of us think of when considering cat litter. Made from bentonite, a form of naturally occurring clay which clings together when wet, this litter is easy to scoop and maintain. This type of litter is also excellent for keeping track of urination frequency as single urinations are clumped together, excellent for those whose cats suffer from kidney or bladder infections.

Pros: Cats can pee in this litter, and the urine forms a neat little ball that is easily scooped. It doesn’t get any easier than that. Because urine is removed at every cleaning, along with fecal matter, this type of clay stays the least stinky the longest. Cats also are reported to prefer this type over any other.

Cons: As it is a clay product, this litter does carry quite a bit of dust. Also, because you are removing the clumped clay frequently, you will typically go through a large amount if you have multiple cats. This type of litter carries with it the high probability of finding it flung throughout your house, so have the broom handy.

Non-Clumping: This type of litter is also a clay product but is made from a source other than bentonite. Clay naturally absorbs liquids, so while it will not clump when wet, it does keep the dampness off your cat’s paws.

Pros: This product is the most basic model and the price of non-clumping litter reflects it. It is also useful when you need to get samples of your cat’s urine frequently, such as those who have kidney or bladder infections, as it will not absorb all of the urine when used in small amounts.

Cons: This type of litter takes a lot more effort to scoop than the clumping variety, as pet parents will need to scoop out sections of damp litter to prevent the smell from setting in. Because you are discarding larger amounts of litter, you may find yourself going through more than the clumping kind. This type of litter will also be extremely dusty, and is very likely to develop a strong smell after a single use.

Eco-Alternatives:With recycling and fair-trade now household terms, pet parents are also searching for ways to bring sustainable products into their pets’ lives as well. Several alternatives are available for those wishing to be greener with their pet care products, and few require sacrifices in practicality:

Pine Litter:This litter comes in two varieties; the sawdust type or pine pellet varieties. Either are touted as a more natural alternative for your cat. Some companies add in a clumping additive, but most are non-clumping. As a naturally highly scented litter, this pine product may repel your cat on scent alone, but it is reported as easy to clean as most users just wait until the pellets are saturated and throwing out the whole thing. Excellent for homes with multiple cats, especially as it is less likely to track when using the pellet variety.

Corn Litter:This litter is typically made from ground corn cobbs and frequently includes additives that make it clumping and scented. This type of litter is extremely lightweight, so tracking is a common issue, but most users enjoy the easy scooping of the clumping varieties. While corn litter may be dusty, most users enjoy the various scents and report their cats enjoy the texture of the litter. Good for a house with a single cat, otherwise you would be constantly sweeping the mess off the floor. As corn is one of the most common allergens in pets, however, pet parents should be aware of potential reactions.

Newspaper: Paper pellet cat litter has been on the scene for a while, advertised as a good recycling byproduct which keeps cats happy and is dust free. Users of this paper pellet variety report that the litter definitely stays in the litter box, but also that the smell of urine is very powerful as there is no odor absorbing with paper. Most users do not scoop but use a very small amount and throw it away regularly.

Grass: One of the newest fads to come to the litter box, grass cat litter is quite similar to its competitor wheat litter. Both are simply the seeds of the plants in question, which offer natural clumping and liquid absorbing abilities. Users of each of these varieties report decent ease of use and clumping abilities, but minimal odor control and extreme tracking throughout their house. This option might be a good idea if your cat has allergies to other products and needs a low-dust option.


Other Things to Keep in Mind:

Cat-Attractants: These additives, either as a powder you add to existing litter or included in some brands of cat litter. While they can help odor neutralization and making the litter box more interesting to your cat, it can also cause more dust and may repel your cat if it smells too strong. Some are classic smells such as catnip, others use more synthetic smells to entice your cat to varying results.

Scented:Many cat litter companies add scents that are meant to benefit humans rather than cats. While cat owners may enjoy having a lemon scented litter box, humans should know that cats do not enjoy strong smells and may stage a strike in protest. When choosing litters, it may be better to go unscented and scoop more often, rather than making the cat choosing where to aim when angry.

There are several more varieties of litter available on the market, but we focused on those you are most likely to encounter in the cat aisle of your major retailers. While your options are no longer limited to just clay, carefully consider how each type of litter will affect your cat. Some brands, such as traditional clay, are more useful to keeping track of your cat’s intestinal health, a constant source of worry for most feline parents. If you are looking to switching it up, try a short trial period before going fully switcharoo by mixing in a small amount of the new litter with the old. If your cat chooses to use alternative arrangements in protest (i.e. your carpet), at least you will know how to fix the situation.

Does your cat enjoy an alternative litter arrangement? Let us know which cat litter works best for your feline friend below!

By Lauren Pescarus