So, you’ve done your research, you’ve found the right breeder or shelter, and you’ve bought a new kitten. Congratulations! You are in for years of love, laughs, and the occasional face-palm! Those little paws will leave prints on your heart forever. Let me be the first to welcome to the Club of cat lovers from around the world.
You get them home and let them out of their carrier; you watch as they venture tentatively into their new homes and explore their surroundings. And then you remember – litter! You haven’t bought litter! You rush off to the pet store while you prepare yourself for an overwhelming aisle of agonizing decisions!
But it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m going to run you through some of the most common litters – their pros and cons – and help you to better understand your options when it comes to what’s right for you and your beautiful new pet.
Crystals: Crystals are available in a wide variety of types: clumping, dry, with fragrance, odor locking and more. Let me talk you through the basics.
Clumping litter is activated when the urine touches the crystals. They absorb the urine and lock together to form a clump that can then be removed with a small litter shovel. These are often odor locking and practical for the home as you only dispose of the used litter, and top up as needed.
The other common crystal litter is the one that allows the urine to free-drain to the bottom. These crystals are often disposed of daily.
Small numbers of crystals can be retained in your cat’s paws or fur and be found throughout your house. And if your cat is a zealous burier, you can often find crystals around the outside of their tray, as the crystals are extremely lightweight.
Paper pellets: Paper pellets are often the environmentally conscious choice as they’re usually made from recycled paper pulp and formed into pellets. They have little or no odor control, and do not clump, so you will need to replace the lot with each clean.
Organic wood pellets: These pellets are fast becoming popular with the environmental crowd as they are produced using the pulp that is a byproduct of timber mills. The pulp is collected before any timber treatments have been used, so is perfectly safe for your pet, and the litter is usually sold with a special double tray. The inner tray will have a series of small holes in it, on top of which you pour the litter. The bottom tray is a solid catchment tray. Your cat’s urine will run through the litter and inner tray, and then will be caught in the tray beneath. The pellets that have been wet in the process disintegrate into small wood shavings which fall through into the catchment below. Poop can be removed from the top tray using a scoop or bag, and the bottom tray can be washed out and reused. The used pulp is also safe for your garden!
Sand: Cat sand is often clumping, and works much the same as the crystals. The positive to cat sand is that it is usually cheaper than other types of litter, meaning that top-ups and replacements are more cost-effective, but the downside is that your cat will often leave dusty or muddy paw-prints on their departure.
Letting your pet outside: Many people allow their cats outside to toilet. Whilst this can sound like a great no-mess, money saving option, consider your garden – and your neighbors! No one wants to be working in their garden only to find copious amounts of cat poop, so I always recommend that you provide your pet with a litter tray instead.
Check out this really informative video about the topic.
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