Whether you are a new cat owner or an existing one seeking to change the litter used in the litter box, there are a number of different types of litter to consider. Not all are suitable for all cats or for all households so here is an overview of the world of cat litter to help you make your choices.
The very first version of cat litter was simply a box filled with sand that the cat could deposit their waste into and scratch around enough to cover it over. However, quickly pet owners realised that this wasn't quite the ideal job and the first specific type to be created was a clay based one. In its most basic form, these products are made from dried and pulverised clay that works to absorb urine and can be scratched around by the cat to cover their waste.
It is easy to clean with a slotted spoon as most clumps together to be removed while the unused portion can drop back into the box. However, it is also the easiest to track around the house on cat's paws and so can often lead to a constant urge to clean for the cat's owners as litter finds itself in the most inconvenient places. Clay litter is often recommended for kittens as it causes no harm when eaten and kittens do have the habit of eating everything they come into contact with.
Clumping litters tend to be made from a clay base and is designed to clump into balls more so than normal clay litter does when wet. This makes it easier to remove both solid waste and clumps of wet litter as well. Clumping litter does still tend to track around the house in the same way as normal clay litters do.
Both clumping and normal clay litters are often now available in deodorised versions. These work using elements such as baking soda that neutralise the odor from the litter while other makes use of special enzymes in the litter.
Crystal litter is made with a silicone-based substance that absorbs the urine, the moisture in solid waste and also helps eliminate odors. They tend to be highly absorbent so less litter is needed in the box to do the job, though some cats may need more litter to feel they are covering their waste. It is easy to tell when complete replacement of litter is needed as it no longer absorbs the moisture and it begins to pool in the box. Variations include clumping and deodorizing versions and all can track on a cats paws to a degree.
For the natural and biodegradable option in cat litter, brands making use of pine pellets, wheat and corn can be used. These have a high odor neutralisation ability, though can fall apart when too wet and allow smells to be released. They are also very low in dust, so ideal for homes where someone has dust allergies. Some of these products can even be flushed down the toilet.
Recycled paper is another natural type litter now available and is formed into large pellets so there is little chance these are tracked around the house. They are also highly absorbent and dust free.
No matter what type of cat litter you like the sound of, the ultimate choice has to be with your cat – if they won't use the litter box then you may need to consider that they don't like the litter. Introducing the new item carefully, mixing with the existing litter or using in a secondary box is often the best way to win them over but always remember, sometimes they don't like something and there is no talking them around!