Views: 0 Author: Olivia Publish Time: 2022-04-14 Origin: Site
When we first bring our cat home, everything else can be prepared later, but the litter and litter box must be ready in advance. It is a required course for every pet owner to decide which cat litter to choose.
If you google cat litter, common questions you'll find are what kind of litter is best, which cat litter smells the least, lasts the longest… Many pet owners focus most on moderate price, strong deodorant ability, low dust, large enough granules to prevent tracking far from the box, hard clumping and easy cleaning. However, that is a lot to ask for from a single litter. If we frequently change cat litter just hoping to find one which can satisfy all the requirements, it may make our cat uncomfortable and even refuse to use the litter box.
So if you are wondering “ which cat litter is best?” It is more like deciding between different types of cat litter and finding a suitable one for your cat.
When choosing cat litter, there are many factors to consider. One of the first things we should pay attention to is the ingredients. What the cat litter is made of plays a bit part in its features, e.g. weight and dust, clumping or non-clumping, scented or unscented. Acceptable price, low dust, less tracking, efficient odor-trapping, easy to handle and clean up may matter to us, while our cat may care more about texture and scent.
Bentonite cat litter, made of absorbent clay, is a popular and affordable choice worldwide. It clumps fast and works excellent in water absorption and agglomeration, with an average odor-control ability. Bentonite is generally budget-friendly, not easy to mildew and suitable for long-term storage, making It a preference for many professional catteries and breeders. It gives cats a comfortable clawing experience and satisfies their nature to hide their waste. As long as we scoop clumps out of the box every day, the urine ammonia smell does not travel far from the box. However, any clumps that sit for more than 24 hours will start to smell strongly of ammonia when you stand close to the box and after a few more hours the smell of ammonia is detectable from far away. So regular scooping is important here. But bentonite cat litter really produces heavy clumps, which have to be sent to the landfill as it is non-biodegradable and insoluble in water. But for sensitive cats, bentonite cat litter can cause a range of respiratory and urinary problems because of its dust issues. To keep indoors clean, bentonite is not a good choice either due to its serious tracking and scatter. The particles are so small that it often gets stuck in cat's paws. Imagine the dusty paws, messy footprints over the bedsheets, bentonite particles everywhere difficult to clean up. In addition, its small granules make it easy to be eaten by our cats by accident or when cats lick their fur. As is mentioned in my last blog (Why is my cat eating cat litter?), it may cause dangers(e.g.: intestinal obstruction, intestinal infection, constipation, suffocation, etc.).
Another common type of mineral cat litter available is silica gel cat litter, which is a typical non-clumping cat litter made of sodium silicate. The ingredients make it well absorbent and odor-trapping, keeping the litter box dry and fresh. It comes in two forms: crystal cat litter with an irregular shape, which is popular in North American and European countries, and ball-shape silica cat litter, which is popular mainly in Japan and China.
The particle of crystal cat litter is relatively large, which is not easy for cats to bury waste, but its absorption and antibacterial abilities are still very good. It produces low dust and tracking. Our cats' paws do not have dust residue on them after using the box and we will not notice any dusty kitty footprints around the house. We only need to replace it when the particles are saturated with urine. But there are also obvious disadvantages:
• Crystal cat litter often has sharp edges which may hurt our cat's paws. Some brands of crystal cat litter try to avoid this by more refined processing or finer particles, but it usually results in a higher price and finer particles bring tracking issues.
• Crystal cat litter has a nice appearance, which increases the risk of being eaten by cats out of curiosity.
• Crystal litter makes it inconvenient to observe our cat's urination, which may lead us to overlook our cat’s health problems.
Different from crystal cat litter, ball-shape silica cat litter is dedicated to a double-deck cat litter box. It gets smaller with use, finally dissolves in urine, and will be left on diapers, which makes it easy to observe a cat’s urination and clean up than crystal cat litter. The ball-shape particles will not hurt the cat’s paws, but there is some dust plume when pouring from the bag to the litter box. We may find particles in other areas or rooms of our house because they are light-weighted and cats love to play with them. Ball-shape silica cat litter is a litter more expensive than crystal cat litter.
Generally speaking, silica gel cat litter works better in terms of hygiene, water absorption, odor control and durability. But it may result in chapped paws and it costs much more than bentonite.
Zeolite cat litter, made of natural silicate mineral, is also a non-clumping mineral cat litter dedicated to a double-deck cat litter box. It efficiently absorbs ammonia and urine due to its porous structure. And it is dust-free, low-tracking, easy to clean up and mildew proof. Our cat’s urine and feces can easily be observed for health diagnosis. And here’s the most interesting thing, we can reuse it after washing and drying because its absorption is reversible, which means one bag will last longer. Cats may not like its large particles, but the unscented feature makes it well-accepted. However, zeolite cat litter also has the common disadvantage of non-clumping cat litter. It can not efficiently cover the odor of feces and satisfy our cat’s instinct to hide waste. In addition, it is generally not affordable as the usual retail price has a certain gap compared with all the other cat litter on the market.
If we concern more about environmental protection and waste disposal, organic cat litter may be a better choice. It can be made from different natural materials such as pea fiber, corn, cassava, wheat, wood pellets, or even grass and bamboo.
Tofu cat litter, one of the most popular plant cat litter in the world, is made of pea fiber, corn starch, etc. We can rest easy knowing that our cat won’t be hurt in any way due to its natural ingredients and low dust. The particles are large enough to fall off our cat’s paws within a few steps so the tracking stops pretty close to the entrance of the box. The clumping and water absorption ability of tofu cat litter are usually somewhere between silica and bentonite cat litter. So is its price. Its moderate hardness prevents the granules from shifting and breaking during transit, keeping the level of dust very low. There is no dust plume when we pour it from the bag into the boxes. And again there is no dust kicked up when we are scooping. Tofu cat litter may be less popular with cats compared with mineral cat litter because cats by nature prefer litter that is similar to soil and smells light. But of course, cats won't be too resistant to litter with a faint smell of raw materials. Many pet owners choose tofu cat litter because it is surprisingly good in odor control of urine and feces. It is also easy to dispose of by flushed in a toilet in small quantities at a time or used as fertilizer. But tofu cat litter sometimes does not form very hard clumps and may break into pieces when scooping and shaking the dry litter back into the box.
To upgrade the performance of tofu cat litter, in recent years some manufacturers develop mixed cat litter, which magnifies the advantages of tofu and bentonite cat litter. It ensures that the functions of the two types complement each other through professional matching tests and scientific ratios. Compared with tofu cat litter, its agglomeration speed and compactness are much improved, and even pretty close to bentonite cat litter. The price is also more affordable depending on the proportion of bentonite. But mixed cat litter also inherits the shortcomings of both, e.g., a little dusty, a small amount of tracking, can not be flushed in a toilet unless in very small quantities. Mixed cat litter is also relatively resistant to spoilage and mildew unless left uncleaned for a long time.
Other plant cat litter, such as corn, cassava, wheat, grass and bamboo, is also toilet flushable, eco-friendly and safe, but more or less has downsides. For example, corn cat litter does not form very hard clumps also and it easily breeds for aflatoxin; cassava, wheat and grass cat litter produces serious tracking issues with their fine particles; bamboo cat litter is weak in water absorption and a litter dusty…
In spite of its safe ingredients, convenience in observing urination and waste disposal, organic cat litter has common traits that it is easy to mildew if left uncleaned for a long time and it tends to stick to the bottom of the cat litter box if not thick enough, so it is necessary to clean up timely and add some new to replace discarded soiled portion.
Different from the above-mentioned plant cat litter, wood pellet cat litter, made of recycled pine, comes in a non-clumping form dedicated to a double-deck cat litter box. The granules in this litter are large enough to prevent excessive tracking, with a decent water absorption ability and natural wood aroma. But many cats actually have a hard time with this litter because it inevitably smells like pine and their paws feel uncomfortable with the large particles. It may contain hazardous chemical coagulants and artificial essential oil, which is a concern for many pet owners. The pellet will gradually crush into powder upon contact with urine, so we just need to shake the filter screen to leak the powder into the lower deck. But sometimes it causes dust issues and troubles may occur when scooping feces.
Paper cat litter, another kind of cat litter made of recycled paper materials, has a soft texture, which is very suitable if our cat has a paw injury. It is dust-free, toilet flushable and the light-weighted granules are easy to handle. However, upon contact with fluid, it will turn into a paste, making it a messy job to clean up. Do not expect too much of its odor-control ability unless activated carbon or deodorants are added additionally.
Based on the above, we may find it difficult to hunt for one cat litter that handles all problems well. We have to make choices between the main properties we focus on.
• Clumping cat litter usually behaves better in odor control, but it may be sticking to the bottom of the litter box and makes it inconvenient to clean up. So non-clumping litter with good absorption ability or natural deodorant additives (e.g.: activated carbon, baking soda, etc.) is also a good choice.
• If we want low dust, choose cat litter with high particle hardness. But it is at the expense of some water absorption capacity. Because good water absorption usually comes with a loose and porous structure, which means the litter may crush more easily and produce more dust.
• If we want less tracking, choose cat litter with large and heavy granules. But it means the cat litter will be weak in clumping and the clawing feel may not be that good.
• If we want to be more green, we may look at the benefits of using organic cat litter as compared to a mineral cat litter. Excessive mining is not environmentally friendly and you will also like the fact that you can dispose of cat litter by flushed in a toilet or as compost.
• The above comparison and comments are made based on an analysis of the average level of different cat litter. High-end branded cat litter usually has improved performance in common problems of its type and more stable quality. After all, you get what you pay for.
• Last but not least, always pay attention to our cat’s preferences. Do not frequently change the type of cat litter because it will make our cat upset and may cause health problems. Cats are sensitive and picky, even when we are still using the same brand of cat litter, mix the new cat litter with some old portion so that our cat can get used to it gradually.
#3 Tips for buying cat litter
If we determine which type of cat litter to choose, we still need to judge the quality difference between different brands and prices. Here are some things to note when buying the right one for our cat.
• PH value
We can judge by the PH value whether there are harmful substances added. Take mineral cat litter as an example, when low-grade bentonite is used to make cat litter, chemical substances have to be added to improve the odor-absorbing ability, which will affect the PH value.
Generally speaking, PH 8-10 is a reasonable range. Litter dust may cause burns to the esophagus or respiratory tract of cats and humans if the PH value is above 10. Since we do not have professional measuring instruments like manufacturers, we can rub the dust in our hands, let it stand for 10 minutes and then flush it with water. If there is a burning sensation, it means that the cat litter is not safe!
Cat litter with higher moisture will produce more dust. Normally manufacturers will remove excessive moisture by drying process, which is the most cost-consuming part of cat litter production process. So some manufacturers reduce costs by using sun dehydration, which results in high moisture. The moisture of premium cat litter shall be below 10%. If the particle easily crush into powder when we pinch it with our fingers, the litter is not a good choice.
• Absorbing capacity
The adsorbing capacity is a measure of deodorization ability, which we can figure out by a simple method. One of the "most smelly" places in our home except the cat toilet is the refrigerator. Just put a small cup of cat litter in the refrigerator and take it out the next day. Smell it and you will know whether the cat litter absorbs well.
Cats rely on sensitive smell to judge the location of food storage, distinguish the nature of food; during courtship, they can sniff out the scent of the opposite sex hundreds of meters away; mother cats recognize their babies by smell; the first thing a baby cat does is sniff out its mother and mother's nipples... Therefore, cats have a very sensitive sense of smell and are very disgusted with what we call "fragrance".
Strong fragrance can lead to olfactory paralysis and make cats feel upset and stressed. The scent of cat litter comes from two sources: chemical additives and natural plant ingredients. Chemical fragrances last a long time while plant fragrances do not. And plant fragrances are usually not harmful to our cat's health and are allergic friendly. So if you prefer scented cat litter, those with plant fragrances are more recommended. But of course, the best is unscented cat litter. Do not expect to cover bad odors of urine and feces with a strong fragrance. It would be better to choose cat litter with a good odor-trapping ability and do regular cleaning.