There are numerous varieties of cat litter on the market today. There is no one litter that works best for every cat or every cat parent, so choosing the right litter for your household means taking into consideration both your and your cat’s preferences. Whether you are new cat parent wondering what litter to choose or an experienced cat person who isn’t happy with their current litter, the descriptions below should help you pick the purrfect litter for you and your cat.
Conventional Clay Cat Litters
Available in both clumping and non-clumping varieties, clay cat litter is the most widely available and commonly used type of cat litter. On its own clay does not do a very good job of controlling odor, which leads many cat owners to choose a clay litter with added deodorizers and perfumes, although most cats prefer unscented litter. There is concern about silica particles in clay litter causing respiratory disease, and while clay litter is a natural product, it is commonly produced by strip mining, which is damaging to the environment.
Crystal Cat Litter
Made of silica gel “crystals”, crystal cat litter has the highest absorbency and longest odor control of any variety of cat litter. To prevent urine from pooling at the bottom of the litter box, the crystals need to be stirred daily, but with regular stirring and scooping of solid waste crystal litter can last one cat about 30 days without odor before it becomes saturated and needs to be changed. Like clay litter, crystal litter contains silica dust so the risk of respiratory disease is possible, and in addition many crystal litters contain Cobalt Chloride (it indicates freshness by changing the crystals’ color from blue to pink when they absorb moisture) which is a possible human carcinogen and hazardous to the environment.
Biodegradable Cat Litters
With the possible health and environmental issues associated with clay litters, many cat owners turn to one the wide variety of biodegradable cat litters available. Choices include litters made of wood, corn, wheat, walnut shells, or recycled newspaper, and both clumping and non-clumping varieties are available for many of these types of litters. Many biodegradable litters have excellent odor control without added perfumes and have a pleasant natural smell. Most biodegradable cat litters are slightly more expensive than clay litter but are often able to last longer.
Switching to a New Type of Cat Litter
Most cats do not like sudden changes of any kind, including a change in the type of litter in their litter box. If you decide to change the type of litter you are using, do it gradually. Don’t just dump out all the old brand of litter and replace it with the new one. Instead, gradually add in a small amount of the new litter each time you scoop out some of the old litter over the course of several days. The key is for the change to be so gradual that your cat doesn’t even notice.
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