How to Choose a Kitty Litter

How to Choose a Kitty Litter

A quality kitty litter is important to your cat’s well-being. When choosing a litter, select quality materials. Litters are made from clay, silica crystal, and natural materials. You may have to experiment a little before finding the right litter for your cat. Make sure you get cat litter that absorbs odor to avoid unpleasant smells in your home. Above all, pick safe litter and switch brands if your cat has an adverse reaction to a litter you’re using.

Choosing the Right Materials

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    Go for traditional clay-based litter. Traditionally, cat litter is clay-based. Clay is one of the most popular kinds of litter on the market and is a simple choice that works for most cats. It absorbs water quickly, making cleaning out urine easy, and is easy to find at most grocery stores. It may make sense to start with a clay-based litter and see how your cat takes to it.[1]

    • The one downside to clay-based litters it that they can be dusty. If your cat is prone to sneezing or coughing, or has an underlying condition like asthma, stay away from clay-based litters.
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    Look into plant-based or recycled litters. If you’re environmentally conscious, or if your cat does not take to clay-based litter, look for more natural options. Many litters are made from plant-based or recycled materials. Try something like wood pellets, wheat, corn cobs, or litter made from recycled materials.[2]

    • The major advantage of these litters is they’re more environmentally stable and some cats may respond better to natural litters. If ingested, these litters may be safer than other brands.
    • However, natural litters tend to be more expensive. If you’re on a budget, it may be difficult to stick with natural litters.
    • In general, natural cat litters tend to be flushable.[3]
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    Try silica crystal litter if you live in a small space. Silica crystal litters are litters made of synthetic materials. They’re good at soaking up urine and dehydrating feces so it’s easier to clean. Silica crystal litters make most sense if you’re living in a smaller space as they absorb odor very easily.[4]

    • A downside to silica crystal litters is that many cats dislike the texture. If your cat starts eliminating outside the litter box after you get a silica crystal litter, opt for a different litter type.
    • Silica crystal litter is also more expensive and non-flushable.[5]
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    Pay attention to how your cat responds to different materials. Trial and error may be necessary to pick a litter that works for your cat. Cats have preferences about their litter and may dislike the texture or feel of a particular brand of litter. If your cat stops using their litter box after you purchase a litter, try a different brand. With some experimentation and patience, you should be able to find a litter your cat will use.[6]
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    Choose a lightweight litter. A lightweight litter may produce less dust. It can also be easier to carry back from the grocery store if you have a long walk. Some litters are specifically labeled as “lightweight”, but some materials are naturally light weight. Corn and grass-based litters tend to be naturally lighter than other varieties.[7]

    • Grass-based litters are particularly good at absorbing odor, in addition to being lightweight. They can work great in small places where smell may become a problem.
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    Look for multi-cat variations of common litters. Most common litters have special blends made for multi-cat households. If you have multiple cats living in the same house, opt for multi-cat litter. These often help better suppress odor. If your cats are having litter box issues due to sharing a litter box, opt for a multi-cat variety of your chosen litter.


Dealing with Odor and Cleaning

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    Look for an odor-absorbing litter. Whichever material you choose, look for a litter that’s odor-absorbing. This will prevent the smell of a litter box from seeping into your home. If a litter is odor-absorbing, it should say somewhere on the label.[8]
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    Decide between clumping and non-clumping litters. The question of clumping and non-clumping litter depends on your personal preference and which litters your cats take to. Clumping litter can make cleanup easier, as it absorbs urine. With clumping litter, you can scoop out the litter box rather than replacing all the litter each time you clean it.[9]

    • However, the major downside of clumping litter is that some cats simply do not like it. If you notice clumping litter gets caught in your cat’s paws, switch to a different brand.
    • You may notice litter on your cat’s paws after the use clumping litter. You may also see a lot of litter scattered throughout your home after trying clumping litter.
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    Avoid scented litters. Odor-absorbing litters are fine, as they keep odor away. However, scented litters are not recommended. They can cause irritation for cats and many cats are repelled by the smell of scented litter. A cat is more likely to eliminate outside the box if you use scented litter.[10]

    • If the smell of your cat’s litter box is very strong, try putting up air fresheners near the box instead of using clumping litter.
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    Clean the litterbox often. Even if you purchase a litter that is very good at absorbing odors, it is important to keep the litter box very clean to ensure that your cat will still use it. Some cats are pickier about cleanliness than others, so you should keep this in mind. You should scoop the litterbox every day or every couple of days in order to cut down on odors in your home and keep your cat comfortable.

    • Once every week or so, empty the entire box, scrub it with soap and hot water, and fill it with fresh litter after it dries.


Keeping Safety in Mind

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    Try to find dust-free litters. Dust-free litters are generally safer and more comfortable for your cat. Dust can cause respiratory problems in cats like sneezing and coughing. When possible, opt for a dust-free litter.[11]
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    Watch for signs of an adverse reaction. Cats may occasionally react poorly to a particular type of litter. If you notice reactions like sneezing, coughing or general irritation, switch litter brands. Commercial litters are usually safe for the majority of cats. However, there is always a slim chance your cat may have an allergic reaction to a litter.[12]
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    Contact your vet if your cat swallows litter. Cats may sometimes eat or swallow litter. If you notice a substantial amount of litter is gone from the box, your cat may have eaten its litter. Contact your vet right away and make an appointment for evaluation. If treatment is necessary, your vet will make a recommendation.[13]

    • Some cats develop a syndrome called pica, in which they eat non-edible items. If your cat has pica, you and your vet can decide on a treatment plan together.

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