Before kitty litter was invented in 1948, the most popular litter materials were sand and fireplace ashes. It isn’t hard to see how unpopular “ashy” footprints would be in a home, or the lack of odor control. Over the years many versions of litter have been created, each with different benefits for the pet owner and the environment.
Clay Non-Clumping Litter
Made up of absorbent, diverse clay minerals, this litter has been popular for decades.
-Benefits: This form of litter will effectively absorb moisture and provide odor control. It is relatively inexpensive, and can be used for other purposes such as motor oil clean-up, traction for icy driveways, etc.
– Issues: This form of litter is dusty and can cause respiratory issues. It does not break down naturally, which has a negative impact on the environment and landfills.
Clumping (or Scoopable) Cat Litter
This too is a clay-based litter, but the main ingredient acts to absorb urine and turn it into a tight, solid clump that can be easily removed and thrown away.
-Benefits: The clumps eliminate odor build-up and keep the box cleaner. This version works well in mechanical or sifting litter boxes and is virtually dust free. This style is particularly successful in multi-cat households.
– Issues: Due to the absorbent nature of this litter, flushing it down the toilet can cause damage to plumbing. This litter is not biodegradable and is more expensive than clay litter.
Recycled Paper Cat Litter
Post-consumer recycled newspapers are converted into pellets.
-Benefits: Excellent recycling use for newspapers, biodegradable and safe for septic systems. It is dust free, scent free, and safe for kittens and post-surgical cats.
-Issues: This style litter absorbs urine from the bottom, so having the litter too deep makes it difficult to find and remove the soiled litter. Paper litter is more expensive than clay, and some cats do not like the texture of the pellets.
Pine Cat Litter
Pine pellets are made from 100% recycled pine and is often used as bedding for other animals such as horses.
-Benefits: This is a recycled product that is biodegradable and is safe to use with kittens or post-surgical cats. It is safe for flushing, composting and has a fresh scent.
-Issues: More expensive than clay litter, not always found in grocery stores, and not all cats like the texture or scent.