With so many options available choosing the best cat litter for your cat can be a difficult task.
About 70 percent of the cat litter market in the US consists of the clumping variety, most likely because of its convenience and affordable price. But nowadays there several types of litter available:
- Non-clumping conventional
- Silica gel or crystals
- Wood chips
Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of each litter type.
Non-clumping conventional litter
Traditional, non-clumping litter appeared just after World War II. It’s made of calcium bentonite, a type of clay capable of absorbing approximately its weight in fluid before reaching its saturation point. Usually it’s necessary to replace the litter and clean the litter box at least once a week.
- It’s usually less expensive than other types of litters.
- White clay absorbs three times its weight in liquid.
- The litter bags are heavy to carry.
- Although clay is a natural product, it’s a nonrenewable resource.
- It’s dusty.
The clumping variety is made up of sodium bentonite. The main difference between this and calcium bentonite is that sodium bentonite clumps together when it comes into contact with moisture. This allows for urine and feces to be easily removed from the box without having to empty the entire box. You should scoop the box every day, add litter to maintain a relatively constant depth, and completely replace the litter and clean the box every two to four weeks depending on your cat’s habits.
- Easy to clean.
- Manufacturers usually add some kind of odor control, such as baking soda or activated charcoal.
- The base of these litters is often a nonrenewable resource.
For “green” kitties and their humans, there are several types of biodegradable and natural cat litters to choose from. You can find litters made from several plant resources, such as wood products, corn, wheat, barley and even dried citrus peels.
- Like many green products, they tend to cost a little bit more.
Silica gel litter
This litter is usually made from porous sodium silicate and it has the highest absorbency of any cat litter. The crystal beads are like little sponges that soak up urine and moisture.
- It’s lightweight.
- High absorbency rate.
- When saturated, urine can pool at the bottom of the litter box.
- It’s not as eco-friendly as other products.
Wood chips litter
Veterinarians often recommend cat litters with large pellets for post-surgery cats, since the pellets are too large to adhere to the cat and aren’t easily ingested.
- Lightweight and therefore easy to carry.
- Urine does not form clumps, so scooping is harder.
- Felines need to adjust.
What is the best litter for my cat?
There’s really no clear answer to which type of cat litter is the best. You must remember it’s all about what your cat prefers. Cats have their own personal preferences when it comes to litter. Many cats appear to prefer clumping litter because it is easier for them to push aside, but some cats prefer non-clumping litter. What matters is that you provide your cat with the litter he feels comfortable with.
Choosing the litter that your cat prefers will reduce litter box avoidance issues and inappropriate elimination. Your preferences combined with your cat’s preferences should determine what cat litter to choose.
So which litter do I choose?
If your cat isn’t experiencing an elimination problem, your best bet is to stick with the kind of litter you’re already using. If you do decide to try something new, make sure you transition from one type to another gradually and leave a litter box with the old litter around until your cat adapts to the new litter.
If you are a new cat parent, then clumping litter seems to be a popular choice. Silica gel litter, which is also clumping, is my personal choice. I love that it is super absorbent, easy to clean and doesn’t leave a trail of dust on my house. Besides, since it is light weight, it’s easy to transport from the grocery store. And what’s best is that my cat seems perfectly happy with it.
There’s a huge number of brands of cat litter to choose from and the prices vary depending on the vendor. Here’s a list of some of the best-selling brands/varieties in the US:
- Precious Cat Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter
- Arm & Hammer Double Duty Clumping Litter
- World’s Best Cat Litter, Quick Cat Clumping Formula
- Nature’s Miracle Just for Cats Easy Care Crystal Litter
- Dr. Elsey’s Cat Attract Cat Litter
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