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Choosing a Cat Litter

Ever had a conversation about toilet paper with a friend? It can be a contentious one because we are all devoted to that one brand/colour/pattern. Well, it seems that can run in the family and just like we humans, some cat’s will only use one type/brand and some cats couldn’t give a rats behind!

The variety of substances that can be turned into cat litter is varied and growing. The most common types include clay (clumping and non-clumping), crystals, recycled paper, pine & other woods and grains. Cats are notoriously fussy and if owners find a litter that the cat happily uses, then it can be a real challenge to get Puss to change.

So how do you decide which one is right for you and your cat? Let’s explore each type and how they work.

Bentonite Products

Sodium Bentonite is a highly absorbent form of clay which clumps when moisture is added. The clumping action provides two benefits in that it tends to contain odours better and makes it easier to collect the waste affected clumps from the litter tray, leaving the untouched remainder in place for the next use. Some brands may give off small amounts of silica dust so cats with respiratory disorders may not be suited to these products. These products cannot be flushed and should be disposed of via normal household waste collection.

Non-Clumping Clay Litters

These litters do not form clumps when the cats void but will still absorb urine which means that when you clean the litter tray, some affected pellets or pieces may remain if not doing a complete litter change. Chandler litters are non-clumping and is a hydrated magnesium silicate made from Australia’s only commercial Attapulgite mine. Non-clumping clay litters generally require changing more frequently than clumping litters. As they are a mineral based product, they should not be flushed.

Silica Crystal Litters

Made from solid granules of sodium silicate, the products tend to be highly absorbent due to an increased porosity. These litters are highly absorbent and control odours well so they tend to need to be changed less frequently than other products. Something to consider with silica crystal litters is that even though the smells and urine are trapped in the granules, by not changing the litter as frequently, bacteria does remain in place for longer periods? Some cats don’t like the feel of crystals to walk on and may struggle to get used to that form of surface. Silica crystals should not be ingested and being a very fine substrate, it is important that cats who groom or lick their feet quickly after toileting, are not actually eating the litter after voiding. Silica crystal litters should be disposed of via the normal waste collection process.

Biodegradable litters

These litters tend to be made from recycling products already in use, or using waste components from other products being manufactured so in themselves they become a useful part of the re-use of waste and good for the environment effort. Most of these litters can be flushed into the sewerage system but it is wiser to do this in smaller batches. Most of the biodegradable litters do need to be changed more frequently.

Recycled Paper Litters

Paper litters come in a granule or pellet form and are made from recycled paper. These litters are very absorbent but do not form clumps to hold the urine within. The urine tends to sink down into the lower layers and you can change just the ‘wet’ part of the litter then top-up the tray. Paper litters are dust-free and biodegradable.

Bamboo Litters

Bamboo is a highly absorbent material which is normally derived from a sustainable source which makes it the perfect Earth-friendly choice. Most are compostable, flushable in small quantities, septic safe and can be used as surface mulch in a garden. Look for a fast-clumping version, that traps ammonia to contain smells in the litter box.

Wood Based Products

Wood waste from other forms of manufacturing or processing are treated to remove any contaminants and then made into pellets, granules or raw pieces. The natural absorbency of wood draws urine into the material and may clump in a less traditional form. If the wood is very fine, the urine may create a sort of crumble sawdust material.  Pine is a common wood used for these litters. Some wood products like Catlux includes a small percentage of Bentonite but are still flushable.

Grain Based Products

The natural starches from grains are extracted and once soiled by urine, the product forms into natural clumps which can be collected and disposed of easily. Being a natural grain, usually corn or wheat, the litter is fully flushable. These products are generally very low in dust and provide a natural odour control. For cats who have any digestive issues or are allergic to grains, they may not be ideal as some ingestion may occur through grooming.

Selecting the right litter

The key things that cat owners use when choosing which litter to buy are based on:

Clumping litters remain the most popular, generally owner driven, as they are easy to do a quick-fix with in a busy day. It is important to remember to top-up the litter when removing waste over a few days though.

Selecting the right litter Tray

Now you’ve chosen your preferred litter, you will need something to keep it in. There are two main types litter trays to consider:

Standard Flat Tray
Hooded Litter Trays
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