Which litter is most suitable for my cat?
Besides the big question concerning a healthy cat nutrition, the issue “cat litter“ is definitely one of the most discussed topics among cat owners. Before deciding on a litter, you should get some information on the different litter-types. With regard to the number of litter boxes, the rule of thumb is: One toilet more than cats in the household.
Cat litter – what are the differences?
Cats are extremely clean animals that attach great importance to cleanliness and hygiene. As an owner it is therefore even more important to optimally support your pet in its daily toilet-routine. Besides the basic need to clean the toilet on a regular (daily) basis, there are some other factors that account for a clean cat toilet.
At first, you should decide which type of cat litter is most suitable for your cat:
Mineral litter, mostly consisting of bentonite, a natural clay stone, is one of the most common litter-types for cat toilets. It is characterized by its high absorbency and swelling capacity, the odour absorption though can vary from brand to brand. Clump formation is generally quite good, since it takes on a loamy-firm consistency upon contact with liquids. It should be disposed of in the regular household waste or in parts mixed to the compost – but due to the resistant material not in the toilet.
Cat litter made of plant fibres (wood, cellulose, corn, straw etc.) is the most natural litter type and due to its environmental sustainability and absolute biodegradability it becomes more and more a favourite in the matter of cat litter for eco-conscious cat lovers. Often (but not necessarily) natural cat litter is an ecological litter, which is being produced domestically from renewable raw materials (e.g. from domestic woods or plants). The clumps are – as opposed to clumps from mineral litter – water-soluble and can therefore (if agreed by your local waste management) also be disposed of in the toilet. Due to its natural quality the plant-based litter-types are nearly dust-free and are also suitable for sensitive cats and kittens. Because of the high absorbency, the odour absorption is quite effective.
Clumping versus non-clumping litter
Whether you prefer clumping or non-clumping litter is basically a matter of discretion. Who decides on using clumping litter has the advantage that the used litter can easily and almost completely be separated from the clean litter in the toilet. Using a litter scoop, the formed clumps and heaps can easily be removed from the toilet on a daily basis and the leftover litter can be reused. An exchange of the complete litter should be done regularly – depending on how often the cat uses the toilet. A complete cleaning of the toilet every four weeks is recommended.
Non-clumping litter has a significant lower yield than clumping litter, since the cat toilet can only be cleaned effectively, once the complete litter is being exchanged. Here as well the daily removal of the heaps is a must.
With or without fragrance
To make the cat‘s litter box smell as comfortable and fresh as possible there are cat litters with different fragrances – for example with baby powder or lavender scent. When choosing a fragrance, you should keep in mind that the cat with its 70 million olfactory cells in total is many lengths ahead of us humans concerning the sense of smell (we humans only have up to 10 million of those cells). It is advisable to try out such perfume-additives at first and to observe the cat‘s reaction to the new odours, since it senses those differently from humans. In case the cat starts avoiding the toilet and rather prefers to do its business elsewhere, it is recommended to look for a different litter or even switch to a litter without fragrances.
Unpleasant odours in the toilet can also be avoided with-out using fragrances. The cat‘s nutrition for example is an important factor here. Often it is due to a low quality and specific ingredients of the cat food, that the odours are especially unpleasant. A high-quality feeding can remedy this.
Along with a healthy nutrition the regularly cleaning of the cat toilet is still the most essential thing! Sometimes it is not sufficient to simply exchange the litter, because as time goes by urine scale might have been settled on the litter tray. Therefore, the tray should be rinsed and cleaned carefully every once in a while.
Fine litter versus coarse litter
Also the texture of the litter can be essential when choosing a litter. Here a distinction is made between fine-grained litter and coarse-grained litter.
Fine litter is characterized by less or rather smaller spaces between the single granules and therefore by a good swelling capacity as well as a fast clumping. Consequently, the spreading of liquid takes place rather on the surface than in the lower depths, so that often flat - depending on the amount of liquid and the intensity of application - big or small clumps are being formed. Fine litter is particularly suitable for kittens, since the formation and binding of clumps, in contrast to coarse litter, is ensured despite a low amount of urine. Due to the fine granulation litter particles stick to the paws more easily. To avoid that these are being spread throughout the whole apartment it is recommended to use a litter mat.
In contrast to fine litter the grains used for the coarse litter are bigger and heavier. For that reason the litter doesn’t stick to the paws or in the fur that easily. More or rather bigger spaces between the single grains result in an effective production of clumps with a greater amount of urine. Bigger and deeper clumps are being formed, because the liquid spreads out downwards.
Which litter is appropriate for kittens?
Particularly with kittens it is necessary to adjust the cat litter to the special needs and behaviour patterns of a young kitten. It is recommended to preferably forego mineral litter, since there is a risk for the kitten to swallow parts of it. You are on the safe side with plant-based litter. In case of smaller amounts of urine, typical for kittens, the following applies: The finer the litter the more effective the clumping is usually. This means less work with the daily cleaning of the toilet and a lower consumption of litter.
Generally it can be said: In the end, the decision on which litter is the “right“ one for your cat depends on quite different factors. A good cat litter absorbs odours, has proper clumping-characteristics and is preferably at the same time eco-friendly and easy to dispose. Additional important aspects that could affect your litter-purchase, are for example dust-formation and weight. Who observes their cat carefully at its daily toilet-routine, finds out quickly with which litter it feels most comfortable with.