A healthy and hygienic litter box makes for a clean cat – and a happy you! Here’s the lowdown on some of today’s litter and tray choices.
Once, clay litters were the big thing. No longer. Not only are they heavy and a no-no for flushing down the toilet, making them difficult to dispose of, but they can harm a cat’s health if he ingests them or inhales too much of the dust. As well, clay litters aren’t biodegradable and the clay is mined an unsustainable way, important considerations in today’s eco-conscious world. It’s estimated that hundreds of thousands of tons of clay litter end up in landfill each year, where it will sit for decades without breaking down.
Luckily, there are lots of natural, biodegradable alternatives available. These litters are designed to be safe, earth-friendly and long-lasting as well as lightweight, absorbent, flushable and easy to scoop. Many offer natural odor control without synthetic fragrances or other chemicals, clump without the hazards of clay, and are dust free and won’t track through the house. Some are made from materials you might not even consider. For example, Close to NatureNow is made from soybean meal and granulated potato starch, while Feline Pine Scoop is made from renewable southern yellow pine and natural guar; pine naturally neutralizes ammonia and the odor of urine. Green Tea Leaves clumping litter, made from 100% recycled industrial wood byproducts and recycled tea leaves, uses a natural tannin to eliminate odors.
There are many reasons for inappropriate elimination, including illness and stress, and these should first be ruled out with a visit to the vet.
Other litters, such as Swheat Scoop and World’s Best Cat Litter, are made from naturally processed wheat and corn, respectively. Both contain natural enzymes and proteins that absorb moisture, neutralize smell and make the litter easy to scoop. Ultimate Cat Litter, meanwhile, is a specially formulated long-lasting silica litter. It works by quickly absorbing liquids and dehydrating solids so that odors are eliminated and bacteria growth inhibited. When disposed of, the litter decomposes to its natural constituents, silica and sand, so it’s safe for the environment.
Who says a litter box has to be boring? Several companies make litter boxes that are decorative as well as practical. These are ideal for people who live in apartments or otherwise need a way to visually conceal their cat’s bathroom. The Litter Chest is made from pine, maple or cherry with a selection of finish options, and features simple, traditional styling that blends in with a range of decors. Your cat’s litter tray goes inside the chest (it has a hinged lid), and a door on one side lets your cat in and out, without allowing access to dogs or small children. The Hawks Will Litter Box Hider is similar. These solid white pine boxes are carpeted so any litter clinging to the cat’s feet stays behind; the carpet is easily removed for cleaning or replacement. The hiders come in a variety of sizes and fit in well with household décor.
Cats like their privacy, so put the litter box in an area that’s easily accessible but not where there’s a lot of noise, activity and traffic. Some people keep the litter box in the bathroom, but you can also use a laundry area, a clean basement room, or a quiet corridor or spare room. You might need to try a few different areas before you find one your cat is comfortable with.
Not all litters or box types will suit all cats, so you may have to experiment until you find the best products for your own feline. But with so much out there, you’re sure to hit on something that will keep both you and your kitty happy – and your house clean!
If you’ve ever tried to lift an especially large clump only to have the scoop snap in two, you’re not alone. You may not think litter scoops merit a lot of attention, but a good quality scoop can mean the difference between a task that’s quick, clean and easy, or annoying and messy. Keep these tips in mind when shopping:
- Look for a durable, well made product. Avoid cheap scoops with flimsy handles.
- Get one that’s generously sized. Trying to lift clumps in a scoop that’s too small leads to spillage and frustration.
- To avoid wasting litter, look for a scoop that allows you to effectively sift unused litter back into the box as you’re cleaning – the gaps should be wide enough to prevent clogging, but not so wide that bits of waste fall through.
Self-cleaning in Style
If you’re looking for a litter tray you don’t have to clean every day, consider an automatic self-cleaning model that does it for you.
The Litter-Robot uses a patented sifting process that separates waste clumps from clean litter without the rakes often found in other automatic litter boxes; these rakes can get clogged or need frequent cleaning. Once the system senses the cat has exited, the globe slowly begins to rotate, sifting and separating the waste and depositing it in a large waste drawer. All you have to do is empty the drawer once or twice a week.
Another choice is the CatGenie. This auto-matic cat box uses permanent washable granules, so it does away with the need to buy litter. The granules are washed, dried, and returned clean to the tray, which is also automatically washed out, while the waste is flushed away. This box requires a cold water connection and drainage.
Close to NatureNow – The Organic Farm Store, www.theorganicfarmstore.com
Feline Pine – Nature’s Earth Products, www.naturesearth.com
Green Tea Leaves – www.nextgenpet.com
Swheat Scoop – www.swheatscoop.com
Ultimate Cat Litter – Ultimate Pet Products, www.ultimatepetproducts.com
World’s Best Cat Litter – www.worldsbestcatlitter.com
The Litter Chest – Fat Cat Creations, www.bigfatkittycat.com
Litter Box Hider – Hawks Will Custom Wood Work, www.hawkswillwoodwork.com
Litter-Robot, Automated Pet Care Products, www.litter-robot.com
Cat Genie – www.catgenie.com
Litter Zipper – Conceptual Products, LLC, www.litterzipper.com