When you’re a pet parent, you get to experience a whole lot of joy and fun times together with your furry friend. But, you also get to make a lot of decisions, from what your pet will eat to how often they’ll exercise and what products you’ll get for them. Of course, this latter task comes with almost endless choices to make since there are so many different options for every pet product you can think of, including cat litter.
So Much Litter, So Little Time
There’s no question that life is hectic, so when it comes to choosing your cat’s litter, you want it to be a quick process. You’d think that picking cat litter wouldn’t be a big deal, but there are actually a lot of factors to consider, like odor-absorbing properties, how easy it is to scoop or clean, and the biggest one of all -- will your cat use it?
Instead of spending a bunch of time reading all of the packaging and labels on every litter container in the pet aisle, just check out this rundown on the different types of popular cat litters out there. Then, you can decide which one is the best match for your finicky or feisty feline.
This litter is by far the most well-known and popular since it’s been around for so long. Clay litter is easy to find, budget-friendly, absorbs odors well, and it’s trusted since cat lovers have used it pretty much forever. Many clay litters also include attractants that help entice your cat to use the litter box. However, the dust that clay litter creates undoubtedly makes one pause, and the litter companies have noticed. Over time, manufacturers decided there had to be a better way, and now you can find clay litters in low or no-dust varieties.
Clay litter features either large or fine dry clay particles, depending on the brand, that absorb your cat’s urine. Then, the particles turn into a more wet, clay texture. If you opt for clumping litter, a popular choice and the most common, you simply scoop out the clumps with a handy tool like the Neater Scooper. If you go with non-clumping, maybe because of its lower price tag, you would need to dump the whole litter box and refill it with fresh litter (not usually as popular a choice).
A few drawbacks of clay litter, besides the dust, is it isn’t biodegradable, your cat can track it through the house (causing more clean-up for you), and it’s heavy. If you plan to pick up a bag of litter at the store, prepare to handle a heavy load, especially if you go for the mega-size container.
Whether it’s recycled paper, paper pellets, shredded newspaper, or something in between, paper litter can be a good choice for cats with sore paws. That’s because there’s no dust that can get into scratches or wounds and cause irritation. Plus, no dust means it’s more eco-friendly and a lot cleaner for your home too. Paper pellets tend to be softer than clay litter and a lot lighter, but they don’t clump or take care of odor very well. Therefore, be prepared to change it more often. For this reason, you might consider it a great short-term solution if your cat’s recovering from surgery or is dealing with an injured paw.
This environmentally-friendly litter introduces a powerhouse to the natural litter arena. The pine scent naturally tackles odors (although some cats might find it a bit strong), while the material stays lightweight, with little to no dust. Pine litter absorbs urine well and provides a soft surface for your kitty. You can find it in two types, clumping and non-clumping. The clumping version is more of a sawdust consistency, made of ground-up pine, so you can scoop it into litter bags and toss it out easily. The other type consists of pine pellets that do not clump. Plus, pine and wood litter is biodegradable and eco-friendly, and if you end up not using it in the litter box, you can use it in your garden.
Silica Gel Crystals
This litter provides incredible odor control, and manufacturers state that it lasts longer than a comparable amount of clay litter. The crystals do not clump, but the material is so absorbent, you can presumably use it for a month before needing to change it out. It’s dust-free, so your cat won’t track it through your house, and you can find it in both fragrance-free and scented styles. It typically is pricier than clay litter, but since it lasts longer, the cost difference is likely negligible. Some crystal litters also feature color indicators that can let you know when your cat has urinated, and long-haired cat parents have expressed the crystal particles don’t tend to stick to their cat’s fur.
Walnut Shell Litter
Consisting of ground-up, you guessed it, walnut shells, this natural litter absorbs odor effectively, can clump, and leaves little dust behind. The litter is biodegradable and features a natural scent. Although some varieties clump, walnut shell litter may not clump as well as its clay counterpart. You can also find it in a non-clumping version.
Another natural litter option, corn litter, features dried corn kernels that are lightweight, clump, and absorb urine. The litter is biodegradable, has either a natural scent or added scent, dust-free, and some include cat attractants. However, sometimes, it may not clump as well as other clumping litters, and it can also be susceptible to mold growth. In particular, some pet parents have a concern with toxins called aflatoxins, which can be deadly. Therefore, just be sure to stay on top of keeping the litter box clean and refreshed.
Want to Switch Cat Litters?
After familiarizing yourself with the various litters out there, maybe you’ve decided to switch to a new one. Most of the time, you can make the switch, and your feline friend will adapt relatively quickly and easily if you transition slowly.
Take about one to two weeks to gradually introduce the new litter to your cat by adding small amounts of it to the existing litter. Then, whatever portion of the new litter you add, take out the same amount from the old litter. Keep repeating this process, increasing the amount of new litter each time. Eventually, after roughly 7 to 10 days, you should be completely switched over to the new litter.
Your cat should adjust fine; however, there’s always the chance that your pal will turn up their nose at their newly remodeled kitty bathroom. If this happens, or if you know your cat tends to be picky, try out a few different litters. This is also a good idea if you have multiple cats, as one kitty might not like the same litter as their cat companion. Set up a few litter boxes near each other and see which one your cat gravitates to the most; this will tell you which litter to choose. After all, your cat has to have the final say because otherwise, they’re likely to start going to the bathroom outside of their litter box.
Looking for more helpful info that can aid you in making informed decisions regarding your pets? Check out the rest of our blog to find all sorts of fun and interesting tidbits about how to care for your furry family members.