The scoop on kitty litter

Posted: July 8th, 2016 | Columns, Featured, Lifestyle, Pets | No Comments

By Sari Reis

When it comes to choosing cat litter, there are a multitude of choices available these days.

There is clumping and non-clumping, scented and unscented. You can also choose between granules, crystals, grains, pellets and silica gel beads. Litter may be made of clay, corncobs, walnuts, pine chips, wheat or recycled newspapers. Some have added deodorizers like baking soda. The size of the particles can also vary from very small (a fine sand) to much larger (as in the crystals).

With this many options to choose from, how does one decide which is the best litter for your kitty?

First and foremost, the litter has to be one your cat will use. If your kitty is not using his litter box to relieve himself and any potential medical problems have been ruled out, chances are he doesn’t like his litter.

Choosing a litter your cat prefers is important for both your and your cat’s health. (

Choosing a litter your cat prefers is important for both your and your cat’s health. (

In research studies done on cats’ preferences for litter, they seemed to prefer clumping litter that was unscented and was made of small granules like sand. They do not like any deodorizer added. That being said, there are other considerations as well.

As someone who has scooped hundreds of litter boxes over the past eight years, I prefer clumping litter for some very important reasons.

Firstly, it is much easier to scoop out the urine when it has been shaped into a hard clump.

Secondly, most clumping litters are very good at sealing the odors in the urine.

Thirdly, with litter that is non-clumping, the soiled litter gets mixed in with the clean litter, causing all of the litter to be urine covered and malodorous.

If the litter isn’t completely replaced every couple of days, the ammonia smell can be overwhelming. Trust me, I have cleaned boxes where the ammonia made my eyes water and almost knocked me off my feet. This is not only very undesirable for you, but your kitty has to be exposed to that each time nature calls.

Fourthly, if the dirty litter is still in the box and your cat is walking around on it and pawing at it to cover up his business, all the bacteria, germs and toxic smells are now on his paws and in his lungs. If your kitty is allowed on your furniture or in your bed, all that stuff left on his paws is now all over your home.

Another consideration is the size and texture of the litter. This is particularly important if your cat has been declawed. Your cat is walking on his litter several times every day and if the texture is not reasonably soft, it can irritate his paws, particularly the large crystal litter. It would be like you walking barefoot on a pile of rough stones. My suggestion then, is a clumping, sand type litter that is unscented and has no added deodorizers.

Regardless of which litter you choose, I cannot stress enough the importance of scooping the litter box at least once every day and changing it completely once every week or two at most.

Cats are meticulous creatures. Please give them a clean, healthy place to do their business. They will love you for it.

—Sari Reis is a Certified Humane Education Specialist and the owner of Mission Valley Pet Sitting Services. For more information you can contact her at 760-644-0289 or at

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