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What is The Best Kitty Litter?

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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What is The Best Kitty Litter?

What is the best kitty litter? Do you know how to choose the right cat litter for your pet?

As a vet, one question I commonly get asked is: "What is the best material to use for cat litter?" There are a number of cat litter materials on the market to choose from, with different benefits and drawbacks.

Here are some common types of kitty litter:

  • Non-clumping clay litter: This is the type you don't scoop – just fill the litter box and change the entire box when it gets dirty. This can be anywhere from one to several times a week, depending on how many cats you have and how many boxes are available for them to use.

  • Clumping clay litter: this type of litter clumps when it gets wet, making it easy to scoop out soiled litter. Clumping clay litter should be scooped daily and changed completely at least once a month. These litters are convenient and very popular (approximately 80% to 85% of all litters purchased are scoopable litters). They can also be very heavy, dusty, and smell bad if not cleaned regularly.

  • Pine: a natural litter derived from biodegradable pine wood, this is an Earth-friendly option for cat lovers. Lightweight and pleasant-smelling, some types of pine litter clump while others require cleaning of the entire litter box. Although less dusty than clay litters, it also tends to be more expensive.

  • Corn and Wheat: another popular alternative to clay, corn- and wheat-based litters are often flushable and biodegradable. They are slightly heavier than wood-based litters and come in small grains similar to rice or cereal. Some types clump slightly when wet but typically must be cleaned like non-clumping litter. Natural litters may have a distinct smell and frequently track easily, but are a good alternative to cats who cannot handle the dust or clumping properties of clay-based litters. Waste can also be flushed safely down most toilets rather than bagged or put in garbage cans.

  • Newspaper based litter: when traditional litters are yesterday's news, paper-based litters can be a good option. These are recycled from newspaper and come in pellet and granule form. Some formulas are very low in dust and most biodegrade easily after use. However, many do not contain odor-resistant materials and have poor clumping qualities. They also tend to be more expensive than clay litters. Paper-based litters are recommended for cats recovering from surgery.

  • Silica: These litters have become increasingly popular for their exceptional odor control, light weight, and ease of use. Silica is a natural product which resembles small white or clear crystals or beads. This type of litter absorbs a large amount of moisture and can be used for 3 to 4 weeks before needing to be changed. Some types of silica litter contain a moderate amount of dust but others come in low-dust formulas. Drawbacks include silica litter's tendency toward tracking and higher price tag.

    KEY POINT- Some cats like certain litters and hate others. No two cats are exactly alike. These recommendations give you an idea of what many cats prefer but remember: the best cat litter for your cat is one that he or she likes!

    Questions to consider about your and your cat's litter preference:

    •        Does your cat prefer fine sand or chunky pellets?
    •        Do you prefer clumping or non-clumping litter?
    •        Do you prefer a litter that's ecologically friendly?
    •        Is tracking or odor control a big concern?

    Choosing the Best Cat Litter

    What is the best cat litter? If you ask most veterinarians it is an unscented scoopable litter such as a clay-based clumping litter. Humans like easily scooped litters that don't track and aren't dusty. Many cats are repulsed by the perfumed scents. The scents are made for people – not for cats.

    KEY POINT: Once you find a litter your cat likes, stick with it. Don't buy whatever is on sale this week. Cats are very particular and litter changes can lead to unwelcome modifications in bathroom habits.

    I hope this helps you find the best kitty litter for your cat.


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