Litter. Seems like a pretty simple concept, but we could talk about it for days. Clumps make your life easier, but what is clumping litter made of and is it really all it’s cracked up to be?
There are so many different varieties of litter available these days, it makes my head spin. You may think it makes no difference considering it’s just going to get crapped all over, but our feline friends have different ideas. They’re picky. They’re also delicate, especially the wheezy little asthmatic types. The litter you choose matters to your cat, so let’s take a look at how to get it right.
What’s The Big Deal?
Not only does the litter you choose have to meet the precious standards of your cat, it makes a difference to you, too. Nobody likes cleaning out a gross litter box or spending a fortune on something that’s ultimately going to be shat all over. Good clumping litter makes your cleaning job easier and its ability to control odours makes a more pleasant home for both you and your cat.
It matters to your cat as well – and not just because cats are picky princesses. Cats mark their territory with their business and if they don’t like what you’re supplying they’ll take their business elsewhere with little regard for you. The smell, texture and general experience cats have with their litter needs to meet their fastidious standards without grossing you out.
Then, of course, there’s the issue of dust, the mortal enemy of asthma cats. Different litters produce different dust, which is bad in a number of different ways. Not all dust-free litters are created equal and neither are all asthma cats, so you might have to experiment a bit to find out which one works for everybody.
What is Clumping Litter Made of?
All kinds of things. Back in the nasty old days, cats did their business outside or in boxes of sand or fireplace ash inside. As you can imagine, houses with inside cats were generally covered in sand or ash. In 1947, a guy named Edward Lowe gave his neighbour something called Fuller’s Earth, a clay that could absorb its weight in water.
Not surprisingly, Mrs Neighbour found this clay worked better than sand or ashes so Ed Lowe decided to package it and sell it as ‘Kitty Litter’ and the rest, as they say, is history.
Clumping clay litters are still around, but these days they have competition. Many of us prefer to use natural products and litter is no exception – clay has an impact on both the environment and kitty’s health. Clay is strip-mined (bad) and used clay litter never biodegrades in landfill (also bad).
Clay litters are not only really freaking dusty, they also contain silica, a known carcinogen. The good news is you can still enjoy clumpy litter goodness without destroying the environment or your cat.
Litter is Made of All Kinds of Things!
These days there are a variety of different clumping litters available to suit even the fussiest of poopers. Natural litters are made of things such as corn, wheat, walnut husks, various woods and even paper. These are generally lighter, less dusty and less of a hazard to your cat and the world.
The clumping ability of natural litters varies depending on what they’re made of so if clumping is important to you materials such as paper are no good. It’s also important to note that some natural litters contain sodium bentonite, a type of clay which allows for better clumping. This is bad news for the environment (especially if you flush it) and bad news for your asthmatic in terms of dust.
Clumping Vs Non Clumping Litter
- Makes your cleaning job easier by trapping your cat’s wee in tight clumps, which you then just scoop out and leave the rest.
- Generally means you just get rid of what’s used and leave the rest, topping up when the box gets low.
- More expensive, but you use less.
- Lower maintenance, as scooping of liquid waste is not required.
- Typically cheaper.
- Better moisture absorption, but harder to tell where the waste is.
- Doesn’t hold odour as well and generally requires a refresh of the whole litter box when it becomes too stinky.
What is The Best Kitty Litter For Asthma Cats?
Whether you choose clumping or non-clumping litter, it needs to be dust free – especially if your cat is a digger. I don’t think I have to go into the details of why this is important, you already know that dust is no good for asthma. I go for natural, biodegradable materials that I can flush or dispose of in the garbage.
Clumping or non clumping is purely a personal preference thing, it will depend on how much odour control you need and how much time you want to spend digging in a litter box. From my experience, the softer the litter, the easier it is to scoop.
Odour control is another important factor, for the comfort of both yourself and your kitty friend, however you should steer clear of scented litters. Most of the time they smell worse than what you cat’s doing in them and the smell can be so overpowering that you cat won’t go anywhere near it. A litter that’s gentle on paws is a must, especially for the soft-footed indoor types.
Even if you choose the safest, most cat friendly and environmentally friendly litter known to man it’s still going to stink if you don’t clean it. Clumping litters make for the quickest and most convenient clean-up and are more economical over the long term, but care needs to be taken to protect your cat from hidden dangers and yourself from unnecessary nastiness.
To clump, or not to clump…what kind of litter do you use? Head to the comments and let us know…