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The Scoop on Cat Litter

So you’re just about to bring home your very first kitten, and you’re standing in the pet store looking at a daunting wall of cat litter. Which do you choose and why are there so many? Or maybe you’re standing in the pet store wondering if you change the type of cat litter you use maybe David Meowie will stop peeing on the floor in front of his litter box so that you can finally invite people over to your apartment again. Let’s face it; cats can be fickle and very picky. This means you must be able to read their fluffy little minds and roll with the punches. And by that, I mean adapt. Please don’t let your cat punch you.

There, of course, isn’t one perfect cat litter that is best for every cat because every cat and every household is different. You have to find the one that works best for you and your cat. The first thing to consider is how many litter boxes you should have in your house. The rule is one for each cat plus one extra. So for one cat, you should have two boxes. For two cats three boxes and for five cats six boxes and on it goes. Hopefully, that makes sense, and I haven’t scared anyone away with math and don’t worry there will not be any more math so please keep reading. This is of course just a guideline. If you live in a small apartment with two cats and don’t have space to put three litter boxes, then that’s okay as long as you clean the boxes more frequently.

Let’s start with the two main differences in cat litters, clumping and non-clumping. Clumping litter, as implied by the name, clumps together when urinated on making it much easier to scoop out of the box. Non-clumping absorbs urine which makes it slightly less easy to scoop out. The clumping cat litters are non-biodegradable and tend to be heavy. The upside to clumping cat litter is both the cost as they tend to be the cheaper cat litters and how much easier they are to scoop. If it’s easy to scoop you’re more likely to clean it! The downsides are of course how heavy they are to lug home and the dust. Whether it’s your cat digging around in it or you while you are cleaning it, dust particles are being kicked up into the air which in turn you and your cat are breathing in. They also tend to stick on cat paws and are easily tracked about your house. If you, your family or your cat is asthmatic, then you might find a clumping cat litter is not appropriate for your household. Dusty cat litters are also not ideal for tiny kitten lungs but don’t worry there are many more options.

If dust free and biodegradable is more appealing to you, then you should try an absorbable pellet litter for your cats. They are made from a variety of materials such as corn, recycled newspaper, wheat, pine or even grass. The larger pellets are not as easily tracked around the house and being dust free will not be an issue for asthmatics. They can be a little more challenging to scoop as they do not clump but with all litters, there is an upside and a downside. If you live in a small apartment and keep the litter box in your bathroom, then a corn-based pellet is a great option as they are flushable! This makes cleaning the litter box much easier. If you have an older cat or one with sensitive paws, then a soft newspaper based pellet is ideal. If the cat litter is hard on their paws, you might find your cat avoiding the litter box. Another absorbent type of litter but not biodegradable is a crystal litter. Crystal litter tends to be very absorbent but not very soft on the paws. They also may have a slight dust to them.

There are some additional products that you might find useful for the litterbox. The first is Nature’s Miracle stain and odour remover. This is useful for those once a week full cleaning of the litterbox. After you empty the litter box and clean it out, you can spray it with the odour remover to help get rid of any lingering smells that may have become trapped within the plastic of the litter box. It may smell clean to you but your cat has an extremely amazing sense of smell, and it may still smell of urine to them. There are also baking soda based products that can be sprinkled on top of the litter to help control odour. These of course are very useful if you live in a small space. Cat litters may come scented, and this might seem like a good idea to control the litter box smells, but for some cats, this might be a deterrent. A light Lavender scent may smell nice to you, but you have to consider how overpowering that may be for your cat digging around in the box. The best way to prevent a smelly litter box is frequent cleanings.

Over the years my cats have tried many of these litters. I have a cat that will use anything no matter what, and I have a princess who needs the box as clean and smells free as possible. If it does not meet his high level of standards, he will sit in front of the litterbox and scream at it until you come and clean it or he’d go pee on my umbrella. What his insanity has taught me is that no matter which type of cat litter we were using the most important factor was how often I cleaned the boxes. So find a cat litter that is within your budget, that you are willing to scoop daily and that your cat will happily use and not scream at.

Written by Nicki Payne, RAVT

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