If you intend to own a cat for the first time, you may wonder which cat litter to use. Before we identify the different types of cat litter, there are some tips you must know. First, you should purchase unscented cat litter. Understandably, you may purchase scented litter since it masks the smell of cat urine. However, the scented litter is too strong for cats. As a result, the cat may answer their call of nature elsewhere. Next, ensure that you choose dust-free cat litter.
According to Dr. Elseys, dust can result in breathing difficulties for the cat. With those tips in mind, we can identify the various types of cat litter. There are nine different types of cat litters, and here are their descriptions as follows.
9. Paper Cat Litter
Paper cat litter is made from recycled paper or unused lumber scraps. Either way, the cat litter is environmentally friendly since it does not require chopping down new trees. Paper litter is available in shredded or pellet form. Additionally, it is available in both scented and unscented forms. Shredded paper has a soft texture, which makes it ideal for declawed cats and cats with sensitive paws. The reason pellet litter is unsuitable for them is due to its coarse texture.
Although all paper cat litter is less messy, the pellet form is better than the shredded one. Pellets are large and heavy; hence they track less. By tracking less, we mean that it will not leave behind a lot of particles that will stick to the cat’s paws. That means after your cat uses the litter, it can walk around the house without leaving any traces of particles behind. A drawback of this cat litter is its inefficiency in controlling odor. As a result, you will find yourself changing the litter more commonly than other types of cat litter.
8. Walnut Cat Litter
Walnut cat litter is made from crushed walnut shells. This litter is generally effective in neutralizing odors better than any other natural litter. According to Naturally Fresh Litter, it absorbs three times better than clay litter. Like paper litter, this litter comes in different varieties. You can opt for coarse-textured, fine-textured, or pellet ones. Before you settle on a particular one, ensure you understand what your cat likes. Although some cats do not mind the coarse-textured litter, others may not like how it feels on their paws.
Another significant merit of this litter is that it is biodegradable. That means it is safe to flush, so you do not need to go outside to clean the litter. The same cannot be said of other litters like clay since it clogs the toilet due to its inability to decay. The problem with this litter is that it is non-clumping. That means you have to stir the litter frequently so that it absorbs the urine. If you do not stir it as frequently as you should, the litter will constantly smell.
7. Clumping Clay-based Litter
This litter is made from a certain type of clay called bentonite. Bentonite is one of the best minerals for cat litter due to its ability to absorb urine or any other form of moisture. It can absorb up to 3.5 times its own weight. After it absorbs the urine, it forms clumps that are easy to scoop out. Additionally, the clumps will be odorless since this litter is effective in reducing odors.
If you own kittens or young cats (7 months -2 years), this is not the appropriate litter to use. There is a risk of them ingesting the litter accidentally as they clean themselves. Or, your cat may decide to eat the litter due to it being anemic. Either way, the ingested clay will harden and clump in their stomachs. Since the clay does not get digested, the cat will have a hard time passing it out. The fact that the litter absorbs urine quickly is also a drawback. With the high rates of absorption, the clumps will form, which means the litter will be quite heavy. That means you have to clean the litter before it gets full of clumps.
6. Non-clumping Clay-based Litter
Like clumping clay-based litter, this litter is effective in reducing odors. It is able to do so since it contains baking soda, charcoal, and other special odor-reducing substances. Due to their effectiveness in reducing odors, the maintenance for this litter is low. In fact, you can even go for a week without smelling it. Compared to clumping clay-based litter, this litter is dust-free, which makes it one of the safest cat litters. So, if you have a cat that has respiratory issues, this litter should be the first on your mind.
A major disadvantage with this cat litter is how messy it tends to be. When it gets messy, it becomes hard to clean since it does not form clumps like clumping clay-based litter. If you are a person who does not like struggling to clean things, it may be best to go for another alternative litter.
5. Pine-Based Cat Litter
Pine-based cat litter is made of pine sawdust. This sawdust is collected as a waste byproduct from lumber mills. Since pine contains oils, some cat owners may be reluctant to use this litter. The concern is that the oils could trigger liver and respiratory problems. It is true that the oils can harm the cat, but you will be happy to know that this litter does not contain any pine oils. That is because the oils get eliminated after it undergoes an intensive heat treatment process. After the process, the pine is compressed into pellets. This litter is easy to clean. When the cat urinates on the pine pellets, they revert to their original state by turning into sawdust. Interestingly, the sawdust will not be wet. On the day you change the litter box, you will not even smell it. That is because the pine absorbs the urine smell as it breaks down to sawdust. To clean the litter box, you must scoop through it to find the solid waste. After that, you should shake down the sawdust so that the large pellets stay at the top.
As effective as it is in getting rid of odors, your cat may not be drawn to this litter. Some cats detest its smell or how it feels on their paws. That means you will have to train your cat to get used to it. Even after training it, there is no guarantee that it will use it. Therefore, you may have to be patient with your cat.
4. Silica Gel Litter
Silica gel is produced by mixing sand particles with water and oxygen. After it has been produced, tiny pores within the silica gel crystals will be created. These pores are incredibly absorbent since they can absorb liquid 40 times its weight. Unlike other cat litters, silica gel does not clump after absorbing urine. Instead, the urine evaporates while its odor remains trapped within the crystals. Besides its liquid absorption power, silica gel litters come in special colors. As the cat urinates on the crystals, they change color. The change in color is noticeable from afar, and that will signify that the cat owner must empty the litter.
A possible challenge you may face is your cat may not like this litter. The cat may find the crystals too rough for them. If you want to use this cat litter, it would be best to introduce it to young cats. However, if you have older cats, you can still get them accustomed to this litter by introducing two litters (one with their previous litter and the other with silica gel crystals). Gradually, the older cat will be accustomed to this cat litter.
3. Corn Cat Litter
There are several types of corn cat litters in the market. You can find one that is mixed with several ingredients or the other that is 100% compressed corn. Both are effective cat litters, but the latter is best if you want to flush it down the toilet. It is biodegradable, so you will not need to worry about clogging your toilet. Since corn cat litter does not contain artificial fragrances, you do not need to train your cat to use it. That is because cats like their litter boxes unscented, as earlier established. According to Medium, cats’ noses are 14 times stronger than ours, which means scented litter boxes will greatly overwhelm them. That means the cat would be forced to answer its call of nature outside, where it could end up getting lost. Luckily, this litter will not cause your cat to go outside.
A great disadvantage of this cat litter is its tendency to smell pretty quickly. Although corn cat litter absorbs smells, it only absorbs a fraction of them. As a result, you have to be ready to change this cat litter frequently.
2. Wheat Cat Litter
Wheat cat litter is another biodegradable alternative to consider besides corn cat litter. You can buy two types of wheat cat litter: the one that uses a wheat blend to make pellets or the one that uses wheat grass as its base. The former type is manufactured from a blend of different types of wheat, and waxy wheat is the predominant ingredient. Waxy wheat has high starch content, which helps it to trap liquid and clump. Meanwhile, the latter is made from wheat grasses. In particular, red winter wheat grass is used, and it reduces ammonia odors by absorbing liquid and bonding nitrogen. The beauty of this litter is that it is safe. We earlier noted the dangers that arise when a cat eats their litter. If a cat accidentally consumes wheat, there is no cause for alarm as it is digestible. Another aspect of safety to consider is its fine texture compared to traditional clay litter. Due to its soft texture, the cat will not get injured by litter that has coarse textures.
One of the common complaints raised by cat owners is the pungent smell due to the combination of wheat litter and cat urine. As a result, you will be forced to counteract its smell, and you can do that by adding baking soda to the litter. Another challenge you may face is that sometimes the wheat husks harden into cement-like clumps. This means you will have to spend a lot of time and effort removing the clumps.
1. Grass Seed Cat Litter
This litter is completely natural since it is made only from grass seeds. One of the major selling points of this litter is its clumping abilities. The litter readily forms clumps as soon as urine touches it. What distinguishes this litter from its natural litter is its firm and solid clumps. That means the clumps will not disintegrate as you scoop them. Since they do not break into bits, cleaning this litter is generally easier. Another thing to appreciate about this litter is its soft texture. The litter is so soft that the cat can dig its claws deeper into it. That means training your cat to use this litter will not be an uphill task.
A major drawback of this litter is its tendency to track. To minimize the tracking, you have to use a litter mat. When the cat walks on the mat, it will minimize the spread of litter all over the house. Additionally, you can minimize tracking by combining this litter with walnut litter. Although walnut does not track, it forms clumps that easily disintegrate. Compared to tracking, clumps disintegrating seems to be the least of your worries.
Having read this article, you may be wondering which cat litter to use. Truthfully, we leave it for you to decide. We have discussed the pros and cons of each so that you can choose a cat litter you deem perfect. As you choose one that you like, also consider how your cat will respond to a particular litter. Is the cat sneezing? Or does it keep leaving the house? If you notice it reacting to a particular litter, it may be time to get another.