Clay, silica, pine, corn, paper… faced with the diversity of materials, not easy to choose! Here are a few tips to help you find the one that will suit your cat and his owner… the final decision is always up to the cat!
Master cat is a delicate animal, it is not a scoop! And if the little feline is demanding for the content of his bowl, he is just as demanding for the choice of his litter box. If he doesn’t like the smell or the texture, he will sulk in his litter box without further ado! He’ll do his business elsewhere, usually in places that are unacceptable to his master, such as the living room carpet or, worse, the bed. It is therefore better to choose a material that suits him and it is sometimes necessary to have him test several before he is satisfied.
The choice of the crate is also important. If you change your cat’s basic litter box from one that splashes pellets all over the floor to a more sophisticated model, such as a toilet house with a removable roof and a swinging door, your cat may be upset by the change and abandon his new box. The same is true if you change the location of his “toilet area”. That’s right, Kitty is very attached to his little habits!
When it comes to choosing the right material, there are plenty to choose from! But in front of the incredible diversity proposed by the manufacturers, it is not always easy to find there. Most litters are mineral, based on clay or silica, and some are clumping. But there are also vegetable-based litters, 100% natural, lighter, biodegradable and therefore more ecological. And let’s not forget the special ones for long-haired cats, for kittens, for old cats, or even those that detect urinary anomalies thanks to chemical markers. Finally, some brands offer litters with delicate exotic scents (vanilla, lotus flower, cocoa…) or colors (pink, blue, green, yellow). The must? A litter box with rose-colored grains scented with rose! It remains to be seen if the cat will appreciate it…
Some manufacturers offer kitty litter containing extracts of valerian and other herbs to attract kittens to their litter box and encourage them to relieve themselves. Older cats are not left out: for them, there are litters with aromas to neutralize the odors of more pungent urine and additives with antibacterial and antiseptic effects. Not forgetting the “health” litters to detect the concerns that older cats may face.
There are also special litters for long-haired kittens. The granules, thanks to their shape, size and texture, are designed not to cling to their fur. And for the delicate noses of the masters, there are mixtures scented with flowers, citrus or spices!
Composed of natural materials of vegetable origin and totally biodegradable (contrary to mineral litter), they can be thrown in the compost and sometimes even, in case of force majeure, in the toilet. Resulting from recycling, they are the only litters likely to obtain the NF environment certification. Most of them are made of wood (pine, fir, poplar) in the form of shavings, granules or sawdust. But there are also litters made of corn cob, hemp, straw, barley, flax and even coconut, cocoa and yucca fibers, not to mention those made of cellulose and recycled paper.
These eco-friendly litters are low in dust and have a capacity to absorb liquids and odors that varies greatly depending on the plants used. They also exist in clumping form, which limits the volume of soiled granules.
Silica crystal litter
In the form of beads or translucent granules, these litters have a strong capacity to absorb liquids and neutralize odors. The silica crystals absorb urine in a few seconds, thus preventing the spread of bad odors. On the downside, they are more expensive than clay litter, but they are dust-free, making them ideal for cats with allergies. Some brands offer materials that can detect potential health problems by adding chemical markers that will react with certain abnormal components in the cat’s urine such as blood, bilirubin, proteins, etc. How does it work? Depending on the color of the granules after urination, you can see if everything is normal or if your cat has a potential health problem that would merit a visit to the vet.
Clay litters (sepiolite, bentonite, green clay, attapulgite…) come in the form of white or grey granules. They absorb urine well and neutralize odors relatively well.
But most of them are dusty and therefore not recommended for cats with a history of respiratory allergies or asthma.
Some are clumping: the pellets clump together when in contact with urine, which is very convenient for cleaning and also more economical, as the unsoiled litter stays in place. Other litters are enhanced with antibacterial or antiseptic agents or even perfumes to better capture bad odors.