A litter box is an important part of cat care. Even cats that spend most of their time outdoors should have a litter box at home that they can come back to—your neighbors and your flower bed will thank you! There are many different types of litter to choose from, although the decision is ultimately up to your cat, since a litter box won’t do you much good if your cat doesn’t use it. Finding the right litter can take awhile—you might not get it right the first time, and you should be prepared to experiment.
Cat litters are classified by what they are made of. Their make-up affects how often they need to be changed, how much dust they create, how well they absorb odors, how much they cost, and their environmental friendliness. In the end, you’ll need to find a litter that both you and your cat can tolerate.
Standard clay litter has been around for more than 50 years. This litter does not clump, but instead absorbs moisture. It is meant to be thrown out completely every week (depending on how many cats use the litter box). Since all of the litter is thrown out, it takes very little time to change—but you will also go through more litter. Clay-based litters are the least expensive per pound, but, again, you will use more than other litters. Clay litter will have some dust and cause some tracking.
Scoopable litter is made of a special type of clay that clumps around the moisture in urine or feces, creating balls that are easily scooped or sifted out and thrown away. This type of litter rarely gets completely thrown out—instead new litter is added to what is already in the box. You will go through less litter with this variety in comparison with clay litter, but it also costs more per pound. You will also need to maintain the litter box regularly (although some scoopable litters are also flushable, which can be convenient). Scoopable litters are often less smelly than paper or clay-based litters. There will be some dust with this litter and probably some tracking.
Silica bead litter is a type of litter made of silica crystals or beads that absorb urine completely. It costs more than traditional litter, but needs to be changed much less frequently. There is also less waste than with clay or paper litters. Silica is less smelly than clay- or paper-based litter, and there will not be any dust or tracking.
Grain-based litters are made from natural grains, such as wheat or corn, which are fragrance-free, chemical-free, and biodegradable. These litters use natural grain enzymes to neutralize odors; the wheat and/or corn starches naturally clump when they come into contact with moisture. Grain-based litters cost more, but you will use less than clay or paper varieties (as they work like scoopable litters). There will be less dust with this litter than with clay or scoopable litter.
Recycled litters use recycled newsprint or other papers (and sometimes wood fibers) to absorb moisture. Like standard clay litters, they will need to be thrown out completely every week or so—and like clay, they also cost less than silica or scoopable litters. There is little dust or tracking with this type of litter, and it is both recycled and biodegradable.
Our store carries many different types of cat litter. Ask one of our knowledgeable staff members about which ones may work for your cat. Remember, finding the right litter may take some time and experimentation.