Updated August 8th, 2015
When you have a cat, litter is a fact of life. It becomes routine (for the owner as well as the cat), but all cat owners secretly long for a better way to deal with the litter box.
Science understands, and continually tries to come up with new and better formulations. A few decades ago, clumping litter, also
known as scoopable litter, came along and was the biggest breakthrough ever. With clumping litter, areas that get wet clump together, allowing you to scoop out everything, leaving a (relatively) clean pan that only needs to be completely changed a few times a month.
While non-clumping litter is still manufactured and sold, clumping litter is definitely the most popular option for cat owners. But not all clumping litters are alike, and there are a lot of choices when trying to choose the best. Here’s a look at some different types and brands.
|Fresh Step Premium Scoopable Unscented Multiple Cat Strength, 25 lbs.||Clumping||N||Clay|
|Tidy Cats Scoop Immediate Odor Control Formula||Clumping||N||Clay||N|
|Cat's Pride Fresh and Light Premium Clumping Fragrance Free Scoopable Jug, 15-Pound||Clumping||N||Clay||N|
|Better Way Flushable - 12 lb||Clumping||N||Clay|
|Precious Cat Ultra Premium, 40 pound bag||Clumping||Y||Clay|
|Nature's Miracle Just for Cats Corn Cob, 18-Pound||Clumping||N||Corn Cob|
Litter is traditionally made of clay, which siphons liquid to the bottom of the litter box and controls odor. Clumping litter involves a different type of clay. Because you can remove everything the cat deposits in convenient clumps, a box filled with clumping litter generally smells less unpleasant than boxes filled with traditional litter.
Trouble comes if you have more than one cat, though. Many cat people believe that you should have an amount of litter boxes equal to the number of cats you have. The problem is explaining to your cats that they are each supposed to use a certain litter box; you can try, but they won’t listen. And so, multiple cat formula was born.
Supposedly, these special varaties will work better in multiple cat households because they create firmer clumps that are less likely to break up in the box.
Another option is scented or non-scented. For people, scented is certainly nice, but some cats reject it. Dust-control litters exist, as well as litters that claim to refresh the scent every time your cat scratches at it, stick to the cats’ paws less so there’s less tracking through the house, and perform other miracles. Most work well in automatic litter boxes.
Clumping cat litter is more expensive than traditional litter. It is usually not flushable, though some flushable types do exist. No litter should be flushed if you have a septic system. There are litters made from pine shavings, wheat, cedar chips, recycled newspapers and silica gel beads. Choosing the best litter is often a matter of trial and error. Some of the currently popular and highly rated include:
Arm and Hammer Super Scoop – Available in a variety of formulations including scented, unscented and baking soda formula, Super Scoop is a bit lower-priced than comparable brands. It comes in cardboard boxes which keeps the cost down, but makes it a bit harder to pour.
Fresh Step – Fresh Step has been around for a long time, and is still available in traditional, non-clumping formula. Its clumping litters feature various descriptors like Odor Shield, Extreme Odor Control and Lasting Power.
Tidy Cats – A little more expensive, Tidy Cats clumping litters come in plastic jugs or pails. This brand focuses on specific needs: multiple cats, small spaces, immediate odor control. Though you may pay more for Tidy Cats, it is one of the best brands, particularly as far as odor control is concerned.
Cat’s Pride – Less expensive than some, Cat’s Pride doesn’t make any remarkable claims – but manages to be one of the top brands available. It has a finer texture than most comparable brands, and clumps well. The best feature of Cat’s Pride is that the wet clumps do not tend to stick to the bottom or sides of the pan as they do with most brands. Sometimes, scooping out the clumps that stick the box is extremely difficult; not so with Cat’s Pride. It comes in scented and fragrance-free formulas, but it isn’t available in as many different formulas as most brands. Sometimes simpler choices are best. Cat’s Pride Premium is an excellent litter and easy to maintain.
Ultra Pet Better Way – Better Way makes a clumping and flushable litter. This litter also contains a natural cat attractant made out of tree resins to make the box and the litter more desirable. Better Way is great for odor control and some version can be used with kittens too. Of course, this flushable version is not for septic systems.
As for the preference of cats themselves, studies have indicated that most cats prefer finer grained clumping litter to other types. Clumping litter seems to work best for both cats and owners, which explains its popularity. There is no one shoe fits all for cats (or people), so it really is a matter of trying different brands to see what works best for you and your cat or cats. A look at Amazon shows equally high ratings for many different brands mentioned here, so you have to consider price, your lifestyle, and your cat’s preferences in choosing.