There are many different types of cat litter currently available and there is no absolute guarantee that the litter you chose will be accepted by your cat. It may be that the cat is new to the household and you want to change the type of litter he or she uses. Or it may be that you want to try something different because you feel what you have isn’t doing the job. Whatever the reason for trying a new litter, understanding the different types available is the first step.
Clay based litter is the most traditional form of cat litter and probably the one that most cat households make use of. It is now commonly available in two main types; clumping and non-clumping, both of which have advantages and disadvantages for you and for your cat.
Clumping clay based litter does what it says – it forms into clusters when wet so therefore it is easy to then remove these clusters. This often means that less litter is wasted as you only remove the litter clinging to the waste, though most recommend a total litter tray change once a month. This type of litter is very good at odour control as long as the clumps are regularly removed.
Non clumping clay litter absorbs the waste but doesn’t form into clumps meaning that the whole of the litter tray may need changing more often, generally once a week. This type of litter can come in scented and dust-free variations meaning the odour can be reduced and also the associated dust, which many people find to be an irritant. It had moderate odour control, depending on frequency of cleaning and particular brand.
Other types of litter
Crystal cat litter is made from sand or a blend using sand and absorbs wet waste easily but doesn’t form into clumps too well. This means litter tray needs cleaning daily and the total removal of all of the litter around once a week. It is good at controlling odors and also at absorbing waste but its biggest benefit is the lack of dust created. This means it is perfect for people who suffer from allergies that are affected by the dust from clay litters and also those who find the dust build up to be a problem. This type of litter is also non-toxic.
Natural and biodegradable litters are a new category of cat litter that contain products made from a variety of materials not once associated with the litter tray. These can include paper, wheat, corn and pine and come in clumping and non-clumping types. They are healthy for the cats, particularly if ingested, and also good for people with allergies as they are dust free and non-toxic. Many of them can be flushed so build up in the garbage and then the landfill is avoided but crucially are very effective at both odour control and ease of cleaning. They are often more expensive than traditional types of litter but for those who have allergies or prioritise biodegradable products above others, these types of litter can be ideal.
Changing the litter
When it comes to swapping from the old litter to the new one, there is no right or wrong approach. However, cat behaviourists do offer some pointers at the best way to do it without causing too much stress as some cats don’t adapt well to change. The best method is to change gradually, mixing a small amount of the new litter with the old and over the course of three to five days; increase the balance from old to new. Watch out for signs that they are becoming distressed as this can lead to avoidance of the litter tray and some messy problems.
If you are unsure what type of litter to offer to your cat, set out two litter trays or more with the different types of litter in them and see which one the cat chooses. Then you know what they prefer and that when the other trays are taken away, you will be keeping the one they favour.
There are many types of cat litter, all offering their own advantages but the only way to know which is best is to let your cat decide. Cats are fussy around their litter tray and need to feel comfortable and happy with it or problems can set in. Remember, if problems do occur, never tell your cat off because they won’t understand and may come to associate the tray with being in trouble, opening the door of a whole host of new problems.