You’d think choosing the right litter for your cat’s litter box would be an easy decision, but that’s not always the case. Cats can be particular, and if they don’t like the litter you choose, they’ll find another place to do their business. Fortunately, there are plenty of litter options out there to match your cat’s preferences.
Most Common Types of Cat Litter
Let’s talk cat litter types. After choosing a litter box, the next step is selecting which type of cat litter to use. While clay-based litter can be an economical and popular choice, there are many other varieties to choose from, ensuring a preference match for both cats and cat lovers alike.
Clay cat litter is the most well-known type of litter. It absorbs moisture and dries out solid waste while providing some natural odor control. There are pet stores that sell clay litter by the pound and let you bag it yourself. You can also purchase clay litter in a prepackaged 20-40 pound bag. Clay litter is available in clumping and non-clumping varieties, with non-clumping being the most economical.
Crystal cat litter, also known as silica cat litter, consists of tiny, non-clumping crystals. It excels at controlling odors, absorbing moisture and, depending on how many cats you have, can contain cat pee for up to a month, which may allow you to change the litter less frequently. Crystal litter is also dust free and low tracking, so there's less mess for you to clean up. When you combine crystal litter's ability to absorb moisture and odor with a self-cleaning litter box, it offers a low maintenance solution for cat parents.
As you may have guessed, pine cat litter is made from pine trees or, more specifically, the sawdust waste from lumber mills. Pine litter is a “green” litter in that it reduces the ecological impact of mining for clay and is biodegradable, so it’s less likely to impact landfills. Pine litter clumps from the bottom up, creating a soft fluffy layer that is easy to scoop. Pine litter is low in dust and is allergy friendly.
Paper cat litter is another eco-friendly option for the litter box. Paper-based litter comes in scent-free and scented options and produces little to no dust. Paper litter has a soft texture that some cats find appealing and is low tracking, which every cat parent appreciates. However, one downside is that paper litter is not the best for odor control, so you’ll want to scoop and sift daily.
What to Consider When Choosing Cat Litter
If you’re thinking about bringing a cat into your life it’s essential to find the right litter for you both. Remember that your cat may already have a preference for a specific type of litter, so it’s worth talking to the shelter or former owner to learn about your new pet’s potty habits. While there are many litter varieties, they can be divided into two categories, clumping, and non-clumping.
Clumping vs. Non-Clumping
Cat litter comes in either clumping or non-clumping forms. Both clumping and non-clumping cat litter contain odors well, but depending on the litter’s consistency, either can be prone to cat litter tracking. As the name implies, clumping cat litter absorbs moisture to form into solid clumps that are easily scooped and removed from the litter box. As the clumps and poop are removed, you can replenish the box with fresh litter. Non-clumping litter is good at absorbing large amounts of liquid. You need to keep an eye on the litter box when using non-clumping litter because once the litter becomes saturated, it can get muddy. When this happens, you need to replace the litter and clean the litter box.
Scented vs. Unscented
Most cat litter is available in either scented or unscented varieties. Both unscented and scented litter may use carbon, plant extracts or baking soda to help absorb odor in the litter box. The way scented litter works is straightforward, in that the scent helps to cover litter box odors. Remember that some cats may not like strong scents, so if you’re transitioning to a scented cat litter, keep an eye out to make sure she’s ok with the new scent.
Tips for Transitioning Your Cat to New Litter
Like many of us, cats don't like sudden changes to their routine. So when transitioning your cat to a new litter, avoid throwing out all of the old. Instead, gradually replace your cat's current litter with a portion of the new every day for about three to five days; the length of time will depend on how particular your cat is. When you gradually transition your cat to a new type of litter in this way, the change won't be so abrupt, making it easier for her to accept it.