Cat parents know the importance of practicing good litter box maintenance for the sanity of both them and their cat. No one likes to walk into a room only to have their nostrils bombarded with the scent of her latest trip of the litter box – and neither does she. Let’s not forget cats have a much stronger sense of smell than humans, after all!
Maintaining a litter box that is properly cared for includes scooping waste often, and is an essential part of taking care of a cat. It not only prevents accidents and health concerns, but prevents offensive odors from wafting around the house.
Part of establishing a good relationship between a cat and the litter box starts with picking the right cat litter. With so many options available, it can be difficult to make a decision that makes you both happy. Two of the biggest elements to take into consideration is whether or not she has any health issues, such as asthma, that could be triggered by certain types of litters, and odor control between cleanings.
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Do Your Homework
So where do you start? One of the best things to do is research. Ask fellow cat parents what they use and why they like or dislike it. Getting honest opinions is sometimes better than just reading reviews of products online, and if several cat parents are experiencing the same problems you’ll know which brands to avoid. Checking in with your vet is also a great way to find the right litter, especially if your cat experiences respiratory issues or Pica, which is when she eats something that has no nutritive value, such as litter.
Finding the Right Material
Knowing what kind of litter is out there can help cat parents make a well-rounded decision in picking a type of cat litter. With a range of different materials, levels of absorption, and scents out there, cat parents might experience some analysis paralysis when it comes to making a decision.
One of the most common types of cat litter used by cat parents is clay litter, like this one from Tidy Cats. While there is some debate regarding the negative environmental impacts of using non-biodegradable clay litter, there is no doubt that is widely used due to the low cost. Cat parents also pick clay litter over other materials because it hides odors relatively well and is easy to scoop, which makes cleaning the litter box a little easier.
However, some people dislike clay litters because they can be slightly dusty when initially pouring the litter into the litter box. Others dislike that it doesn’t clump urine together, which can be unfavorable with picky cats and cause the litter box to have to be changed more often.
In addition to their clay litter, Tidy Cats developed their Tidy Cats Breeze system. Instead of using more traditional materials like clay or paper, the Breeze system uses pellets that are made out of silica gel and zeolite. With the pellets, cat owners can look forward to a dust free litter box.
While the Breeze system works for some cats, other cat parents had negative results. The pellets are a little harder than traditional litter and many cat parents found their cats to dislike walking on them, which would result in accidents outside of the box. Others don’t like that the litter doesn’t clump. Instead, urine slides through slots on the bottom of the pan and is soaked up by a pee pad, which needs to be changed one to two times each week, depending on the frequency of use and the number of cats in the household.
There seems to be mixed reviews on this product, but perhaps the tipping point is the hefty cost of replacing the pellets and the pee pads. However, Tidy Cats does say the pellets can be reused if someone wants to take the time to disinfect them and let them dry in the sun.
Lightweight kitty litter like Fresh Step Lightweight and Purina Tidy Cats LightWeight 24/7 Performance Clumping Litter isn’t an entirely new concept, but since it came onto the scene, it has sparked some controversy. People loved the lightweight concept, especially cat parents who lived in apartment buildings without an elevator. Unfortunately, not long after Tidy Cats released their lightweight kitty litter, rumors began to circulate that the dusty formula was detrimental to the health of cats, going so far as to cause death.
Despite these rumors, there isn’t any concrete evidence to confirm whether or not they are true, so lightweight litter is still available. If you choose to use lightweight litter (from any brand) be cautious. The dusty nature of the product can cause irritation in cats with respiratory problems and be harmful if ingested, so be sure to consult your vet if you notice any changes in her health or behavior.
If you prefer to stick with a lightweight option, but don’t want to worry about health concerns, cat litter made out of newspaper is a great alternative. Yesterday’s News is one of the more popular brands out there, but if you have a paper shredder, you could certainly save some money and make your own.
Paper litter is great for cats with sensitive paws or have just had surgery, as well as cats with allergies and respiratory problems. It’s also scent free which is a bonus for many cat parents who worry about strong smells and chemicals in their pet products.
There are some downsides, however. While paper litter is pretty absorbent it doesn’t mask smells as well and it doesn’t clump, so a lot of the urine will collect at the bottom of the box, making the overall cleaning process a bit lengthy in comparison to other litters. Paper litter also requires a more frequent change than litters that allow for scooping in between full changes.
For a totally natural cat litter, CatSpot makes a 100% natural and chemical free kitty litter using just coconut shells. According to CatSpot, one five pound bag of coconut cat litter is equal to a twenty-pound bag of clay cat litter and can last up to a month for one cat. Other benefits include that it is hypoallergenic, so there isn’t a lot of dust kick up, and it does a great job of absorbing and hiding unpleasant odors.
The drawbacks of this product definitely revolve around the price. At $19.99 per five-pound bag, the cost can add up quickly in a multi-cat household. Some Amazon users also complained the lighter weight of the product resulted in messes around the litter box and through the house, but others didn’t seem to have an issue.
Invest in the Right Tools
Once you’ve found the right kitty litter, you’ll need accessories to make litter box maintenance quick and easy! No one likes to spend a lot of time scooping the litter box or dealing with a messy cleanup, so making sure you have the right tools will be key to an effective cleaning strategy.
Cat parents love to use litter box liners to make a full litter box change as seamless as possible. There are many brands available at varying prices, so finding something to fit your budget shouldn’t be too difficult. If you want to save a little money, using large garbage bags to line the pan works just as well.
If you end up with a kitty litter that doesn’t absorb odors well, or you just want to do some extra prevention for odor, a deodorizer like Arm & Hammer is an inexpensive way to add a little oomph to your odor protection arsenal.
Another great litter box accessory to invest in is a Litter Genie. You may have guessed just by the name what it does, but the Litter Genie is very similar to a Diaper Genie and can be a huge time saver when it comes to scooping the litter box. Instead of having to scoop waste into a plastic bag and bring it to the garbage right away, the Litter Genie allows you to dump the waste into a specially designed bag that holds odors for up to two weeks. Its super easy to use and the refill bags last forever, so it’s relatively inexpensive!
For any cat parent tired of litter getting tracked outside of the litter box and through the house, investing in a mat will help reduce this problem. One like the Cat Litter Trapper has a double layer that makes cleaning the mat simple and prevents wasting litter. All you have to do is lift the edge and pour it back in the box!
It might take some trial and error before you find a kitty litter that works for you and your cat. Even though you may have an idea of what you want her to use, she could disagree. Taking notice of her reaction when she is introduced to certain types of litter will make the process a lot easier, however. Once you find the right one, you’ll know!