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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.

General Cat Care #1: Before You Bring Your Cat Home
You will need food, food dish, water bowl, interactive toys, brush, comb, safety cat collar, scratching post, litter and litter box.
General Cat Care #2: Feeding
An adult cat should be fed one large or two smaller meals each day. Kittens from 6 to 12 weeks need to be fed four times a day. Kittens from three to six months need to be fed three times a day. You can either feed specific meals, throwing away any leftover canned food after 30 minutes or free-feed dry food (keeping food out all the time).

Feed your cat a high-quality, brand-name kitten or cat food (avoid generic brands) two to three times a day. Kittens can be fed human baby food for a short time if they won’t eat kitten food softened by soaking in warm water. Use turkey or chicken baby food made for children six months and older. Gradually mix with cat food. Cow’s milk is not necessary and can cause diarrhea in kittens and cats. Provide fresh, clean water at all times. Wash and refill water bowls daily.

Clay litter

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.


General Cat Care #3: Grooming
Most cats stay relatively clean and rarely need a bath, but they do need to be brushed or combed. Frequent brushing helps keep your cat’s coat clean, reduces the amount of shedding and cuts down on the incidence of hairballs
General Cat Care #4: Handling
To pick up your cat, place one hand behind the front legs and another under the hindquarters. Lift gently. Never pick up a cat by the scruff of the neck (behind the ears) or by the front legs without supporting the rear end.
General Cat Care #5: Housing
Cats should have a clean, dry place of their own in the house. Line your cat’s bed with a soft, warm blanket or towel. Be sure to wash the bedding often. Please keep your cat indoors. If your companion animal is allowed outside, he can contract diseases, get ticks or parasites, become lost or get hit by a car, hurt in a fight or poisoned. Also, cats prey on wildlife.

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!

General Cat Care #6: Identification
If allowed outdoors (again, we caution against it!), your cat needs to wear a safety collar and an ID tag. A safety collar with an elastic panel will allow your cat to break loose if the collar gets caught on something. An ID tag or an implanted microchip can help insure that your cat is returned if he or she becomes lost.
General Cat Care #7: Litter Box
All indoor cats need a litter box, which should be placed in a quiet, accessible location. A bathroom or utility room is a good place for your cat’s box. In a multi-level home, one box per floor is recommended. Avoid moving the box unless absolutely necessary. Then do so slowly, a few inches a day. Cats won’t use a messy, SMELLY litter box. Scoop solids out of the box at least once a day. Dump everything, wash with a mild detergent (don’t use ammonia) and refill at least once a week, less frequently if using clumping litter. Don’t use deodorants or scents in the litter or litter box (especially avoid lemon scent).
Updated: February 24, 2017 — 5:50 pm

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