Choosing the Best Litter for Your Cat

September 7, 2018

Cat Box

Although by nature cats are clean and fastidious, cat owners commonly report poor elimination habits. Selecting the best litter for your cat's individual needs is an important component of your cat's overall well-being.

Litter Box Management

Litter is available in many shapes and forms, including clumping and non-clumping, scented and unscented, absorbent crystals, wood pellets, recycled newspaper pellets and more. It is important to realize that many litter types are created due to consumer demand and have little to do with feline preferences. According to the popular vote of felines, the number one pick is clumping, fine-grained, non-scented litter.

Remember, felines have a keen sense of smell and will be sensitive regarding the odor around their personal toilet areas. After all, they must immerse their paws in it in order to scratch in the litter box. Clumping litter helps keep daily cleaning easy and efficient. Small grain size is likely preferred due to the natural behavior of eliminating in sand.

Switching Litters

With so many choices, it can be hard to know which litter is right for your cat. While many litters offer benefits like odor control and clumping abilities that make life easier for humans, the most important thing is how your cat likes it.

If you do plan to switch litters, a gradual change is the safest method because it gives your cat time to adjust to the difference without it being overwhelming. In most cases, if you go slowly enough, you cat won't even realize that a change is taking place. Introduce a new litter gradually, over three to five days.

Cats take their litter box seriously, and you should too, lest your feline friend chooses to go elsewhere to do his business.

About Our Litters

Brand of LitterMain IngredientClumpingBiodegradableRenewableFlushable
 Litters are made from a variety of vegetable and mineral resourcesClumping litters are often more convenient and easier to cleanMost non-clay litter are biodegradableIs it made from a renewable energy source?Most vegetable-based litters are flushable; most clay litters are not
Feline FreshPineYesYesYesYes
Integrity ClayClayYesNoNoNo
Next Gen Green Tea LitterGreen Tea LeavesYesYesYesYes
Premium ChoiceClayYesNoNoNo
SmartCat LitterGrassYesYesYesNo
Swheat ScoopWheatYesYesYesYes
World's Best Cat LitterCornYesYesYesYes

Clay Clumping Litters

Most clumping litters on the market are clay-based and many owners find them easiest to use. Never flush a clay-based litter.

Pros: Convenient, strong odor control (usually carbon), longer lasting since less is used, most cats prefer them

Cons: Usually not made from renewable energy sources, more dust and litter tracking, more likely to be swallowed by cats during self-grooming, not recommended for asthmatic cats.

Flushable Clumping Litters

Flushable clumping litters bring together the convenience of clumping with the benefit of more positive effects on the earth's environment. Made from alternative sources such as wheat and corn, these litters are a good choice for cats who are undergoing treatments that require their litter to be disposed of safely.

Pros: Renewable, biodegradable, flushable, convenient, long-lasting

Cons: More expensive than clay litters, varying odor control

Litter Box Aversion: Preventing Problems

The most important feature of cat litter is that your cat likes to use it.

Tips for making your cat feel better about using their litter box:

  • Clean: Scoop daily and replace litter monthly
  • Large: At least 1/5 times the length of the cat
  • Convenient: Highly accessible, semi-private, with a box for each cat and on every floor
  • Comfortable: Most cats prefer 1–2 inches of litter
  • Separate: Food and water should be at least 6 feet from the litter box
  • Uncovered: Most cats do not like a cover on their box, this is especially important in a multi-cat household where ambushes can happen
  • Safe: Never trap a kitty in the litter box to give medications or to put into a carrier

Troubleshooting Inappropriate Elimination

Eliminating outside the box often signals an underlying medical condition. The earlier the problem is corrected, the better the chance for the cat to return to the litter box. Call us to schedule an appointment and to discuss your cat's litter box habits with your veterinarian.

In addition to possible medical reasons which need to be ruled out, the following are some reasons that can contribute to inappropriate elimination:

  • Dirty litter box
  • New litter
  • New litter box
  • Litter box moved
  • Family members move in/out
  • Remodeling
  • New pet
  • Loud appliances or other noises
  • New outdoor cat in neighborhood (threatening territory)
  • Emerging medical conditions like arthritis (difficult to get into box)
  • Litter box ambushing (in multi-cat houses)

Remember to think outside the box, so to speak to get to the bottom of the issue!