Image Leonora (Ellie) Enkling, Flickr
Choosing the right cat litter
Cat litter has changed so much in the past 20 or so years. I remember the days when you could really only purchase the standard clay type litter. There's a whole range of different types now, each with their pros and cons.
This is the first type of cat litter to come on the market and is still readily available. It is cheap and works well to absorb odours. Did you know that the original use for cat litter was to absorb oil? A man by the name of Ed Lowe gave his neighbour, a cat owner a bag of fullers earth to use in her cat's litter tray, she loved it so much she asked for more. Ed then started supplying the clay to pet shops.
This litter is made of clay also, but when it is wet clumps form. These are easily scooped out. I have found that the cheaper brands of clumping litter can be a bit gluggy, so tend to stick with the most expensive brands (I like Catsan for those of you in Australia). Clumping litter is somewhat controversial, if cats eat it, it can clump in the stomach. It should never be used with kittens.
This is a popular one among breeders who claim it is good for odour control and if a kitten does accidentally eat some, it won't clump in the stomach like clay types will.
This is a more expensive type of litter but in my opinion, it is the best for absorbing odours. Urine is absorbed into the litter, and only solids need to be scooped out. This is the type of litter I use for our cat now. But as we only have one, cost isn't a factor. I like this type because it is dust tree and tracking is minimal.
These are finely shaved wood pellets which are used with litter boxes with a sieve type tray. The litter sits in the sieve insert and when the cat goes to the toilet, the wet wood pellets dissolve to sawdust and fall into the tray along with the urine. Leaving the top layer try. I found this type of litter to be quite good when I had a lot of cats.
How often should cat litter be changed?
This depends on the number of cats and how many are using a litter tray. I personally recommend scooping out the trays twice a day and fully emptying, disinfecting and replacing with new litter once a week. Twice if you have a lot of cats sharing trays.
Choosing the right one for you
It really comes down to your preference and what your cat likes. There is a brand of cat recycled paper litter in Australia that people rave about, I tried it and didn't like it, it seemed to make my whole house smell. I've always found for odour control the clumping and silicone litters are my preference. I also think you need to look at your pets. Do you have a kitten or cat who is prone to eating litter? What about other family pets? Some dogs can have an attraction to cat litter, if this is the case, you should naturally try to keep the litter tray in an area your dog can't access, or a type of litter that won't cause your dog harm. The best way to keep your dog away from the litter tray is with a baby gate.
Disposing of cat litter:
Some types of cat litter can be flushed down the toilet. Paper and recycled wood pellets are okay with this, although I am still nervous about putting large volumes of cat litter into the toilet for fear of a rather large plumbers bill to unblock drains. I prefer to put it in a plastic bag in the regular garbage.
Some types, such as paper and wood pellets can be used in the garden, although it should never be placed where food is being grown.