How to Select the Best Kitty Litter for Your Cat and Your Home



Selecting the right litter can be a challenge if you're a first-time cat owner. You want a brand that will please you and your cat.  Many pet parents prefer litters that are easy to scoop and leaves their homes smelling clean.

Dozens of cat litter products are available on the market. Which one is perfect for your feline friend to do its business? You'll learn how to choose the best kitty litter for your home in today's South Boston Animal Hospital blog.

Things to Consider When Selecting Cat Litter

Before cat litter was invented, most people kept cats outdoors. They used sand, dirt, or ashes in "litter" boxes when they brought their pets inside.

Minnesota inventor Edward Lowe created cat litter by happenstance. He owned a business that sold natural materials, including an absorbent clay called fuller's earth. In 1947, a neighbor asked Lowe if he had any sand she could use as litter since the winter weather froze her pile.  Lowe suggested she use clay instead. After using clay, the neighbor would use nothing else. Soon, other neighbors asked to purchase clay for their litter boxes. Lowe marketed the clay at pet trade shows as kitty litter. Today, the business is a multi-million dollar market.  

Cat litter comes in a variety of materials and scents. Pet owners should consider several things when buying cat litter for their pet. Here are eight questions pet owners should consider when selecting a cat litter for their pet:

  1. How much does the product cost?
  2. Does your cat like the texture and feel of the litter?
  3. Is the litter flushable down a toilet?
  4. Does the kitty litter contain chemicals, perfumes, or dyes?
  5. Is it eco-friendly and biodegradable?
  6. Does the product stay odor-free after your cat uses it?
  7. Are there any chemicals that can make your kitty sick?
  8. What is the litter's weight?

Seven Cat Litter Choices on the Market

There are several kitty litters to select from on the market. Here are seven types you can use in your home.

1. Clay Litter 

This most common cat litter available on the market. Many cat owners prefer clay litters because they are highly absorbent. They are also available in most stores and pet supply chains. You'll need to change this litter a couple of times a week, especially if you have more than one cat. Some manufacturers enhance this litter with odor-control additives such as alfalfa, fresheners, baking sodas, and oils.

2. Clumping Cat Litters

These liters use a substance called sodium bentonite clay. When your cat urinates into the box, it causes the litter to form clumps. The hardened material results in much less cleaning since they only have to scoop out the chunks of urine or feces. Unfortunately, clumping clay poses some health risk. The sodium bentonite can cause some health issues in cats, and the quartz silica in the product is carcinogenic.

3. Eco-friendly Litters

Natural litters are beneficial because they reduce your kitty's carbon footprint. These products are biodegradable, compostable, and don't collect in landfills. They are also a better choice for allergy-prone cats and those who had recent surgeries. Manufacturers sell a variety of eco-friendly litters, such as newspaper pellets (made from recycled paper). Other materials include peanut shells, corn, wheat, grains, orange peels, or ground pine. You can throw away eco-friendly litter in the backyard.

4. Odor-control litters

This litter controls unpleasant smells after a cat uses the litter box. Manufacturers sell products with scented and unscented ingredients that can mask bad odors. Scented products can cause issues because pets may be sensitive to the product. Additionally, the floral smell may deter some cats from using the litter box.

5. Pine, cedar, and sawdust litters

This litter leaves a pleasant, natural smell when your cat uses the litter box. The wood pellets soak up moisture before the material turns into sawdust. Some cats avoid using the litter box if they don't like the smell. Switch to an unscented product when this occurs, to see if it eliminates the issue. The litter is flushable (in small amounts). It is also great as a garden mulch. 

6. Lightweight litters

Clay-based litters are heavy, making them difficult to lift or pour. Manufacturers now sell products that weight 50 percent less than traditional litters.

7. Diagnostic litters

These products alert cat owners about potential health problems such as urinary tract infections, diabetes, or kidney disease. The litters use a pH indicator that change color after your cat urinates on it. Shelters use this litter to monitor undiagnosed medical issues in cats. Pet parents can use these litters for kitties that have chronic health issues to watch for any potential problems.

When to Clean Your Cat's Litter Box

Pet parents should clean litter boxes every day.  Allowing too much time in between cleanings can cause the cat to urinate elsewhere in your house. Its also a good idea to shake the litter box to stop urine from collecting in one area. Always throw away litter after one week, then replace it with a fresh batch.

READ MORE: 4 Things to Check if Your Cat is Peeing Outside the Litter Box

Here are some tips you should follow when cleaning your kitty's litter box.

Daily litter box maintenance

  1. Put on disposable gloves, then scoop out the solids and urine clumps from the litter box.
  2. Place the waste in a nearby trash bag.
  3. Replace any lost litter.
  4. Don't put used kitty litter into waste bins inside of your home. Always place the bags inside an outside trash receptacles.

Weekly cleaning recommendations

  1. Wear gloves to empty out old litter.
  2. Wash the litter box with hot water and detergent.
  3. Allow the area to dry, then add baking soda to the bottom.

Tips to Select the Right Litter Box                         

You should select a litter box based on your cat's size. The bigger your pet is, the larger its litter box should be. Your feline friend needs enough space to climb and dig around inside the area.

To find the right sized box, measure your kitty (from the tip of its nose to the tail). The box should be about one and half as long as the cat.

Additionally, you should have one more litter box than you do cats. If you have two cats, you should have three litter boxes. If you have three cats, you should have four, and so on. 

Most felines prefer uncovered boxes because they allow your pet to spot possible dangers.  Self-cleaning machines have become popular because they automate the cleaning process.  Although these boxes are convenient, they're loud. These machines scare some cats so much they may avoid using the litter box. They're also expensive and need frequent maintenance.

If you need help selecting the right litter, stop South Boston Animal Hospital and speak with one of our veterinarians. Our friendly team can help you choose a product that both you and your kitty will love. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.