A Cat Speaks: The Scoop On Litter

Author: Lora Schuldt, DVM

October 13, 2014

Hi! It's your favorite cat here. While perched atop my pile of sandy bentonite this morning, thinking about how I can help you in the quest for the perfect cat litter. I know you want a non-tracking, non-smelly, lightweight, environmentally-friendly substrate for me to make my deposits on. But my needs won't always match yours, so let's talk about what we felines feel about this issue.

Most of us really do prefer an unscented, clumping, clay litter, (such as the brand Integrity). A kitty behaviorist named Dr. Jacqueline Neilson spent hours watching cats' elimination patterns and verified this fact. We like it because it's fine-grained, soft, and neutralizes odors well. Some cat owners, however, prefer to avoid this type of litter because it is derived from materials (bentonite, silica) that are strip-mined.

There are greener litter choices such as those made from recycled newspaper, wheat, and corn. I'm not fussy, so I'll use any of those. But my cousin Sopheline doesn't like those pellets. Now that her joints are getting arthritic, they can be a little rough to walk on. As well, her asthma and itchy skin act up if she's exposed to corn or wheat because these litters can be more allergenic.

You are annoyed when I track litter all over the house. I wish the staff didn't stick to me too! If you scoop my box twice a day to keep it clean and dry, it will be less of a problem. And if you give me an uncovered box, I will carefully hide my contributions instead of bolting out of the box in a frenzied shower of debris. The air quality is much better in an uncovered box also. We enjoy a Porta-Potty about as much as you do.

If I stop using the litter box normally, there is something wrong and you should take me to my doctor. I won't like to go, but I could have a physically or emotionally stressful condition that requires interpretation by someone who speaks my language. My behavior is how I communicate with you, and I promise that I don't change my litter box activity to get revenge on you.

You are still wondering, "what's the perfect cat litter, then?" It's simple - the one we use the most is the best!