Littering

Those of you who don’t have cats can probably skip this post. Unless you like theoretical problems in waste disposal, you’re probably better off leaving this one to those with practical experience.

As you might expect, with nine cats–counting MM–and eight litter boxes, we go through a lot of litter.

The catio box gets the old standby, clay-based litter. Not because it’s cheap, although it is, but because the box and the storage cabinet are outside. See, the clay stuff comes in a plastic jug, which keeps it dry even in wet weather. Handy. It clumps fairly well, making scooping the box simpler, and most importantly, MM is comfortable using it.

Matters aren’t so clear-cut indoors.

We used to use corn-based litter, either World’s Best or Pet Food Express’ house brand equivalent. It has advantages over clay. It clumps better and produces less dust.

On the down side, it’s not so great on odor control–a major consideration for us–though no worse than clay. And it’s getting more expensive and harder to find. WB raised its prices recently, and the PFE “Smart Litter” has vanished from the stores.

One might have expected the opposite, given what the current trade war with China has done to the price and availability of corn. But history shows that logic bears only a passing relationship to economics.

But I digress.

Lately we’ve been trying Nature’s Miracle. It’s also corn-based, though the packaging emphasizes that it uses corn cobs, rather than dried kernels. It’s loaded with “bioenzymes” (type not specified) and judging by the scent, a certain amount of evergreen wood.

The piney scent does help with odor control. The biggest problem with the NM is that the particles are smaller than the other varieties we’ve tried. Smaller pieces means more mobility, i.e. more litter migrating out of the box. That’s annoying but manageable: the stuff does vacuum up easily. What makes it a problem is that the litter doesn’t clump well–or rather, the clumps tend to fall apart during scooping. So used litter accumulates in the box, migrates out of the box, and makes the nearby floor unpleasant for humans and felines.

We’ve had some luck mixing litters. Get the proportions right and you wind up with the best of both worlds: good clumping and good odor control. Unfortunately, figuring out the correct ratio and thoroughly mixing the hybrid litter are non-trivial problems. Get the balance wrong or fail to properly integrate the two types, and you get non-clumping litter that doesn’t do diddly to suppress odors.

We can’t be the only people facing this dilemma.

Any feline caretakers out there who’d like to offer advice? We’d love to hear what varieties of litter work well or what tricks you use to improve the performance of what comes out of the bag.

10 thoughts on “Littering

  1. Thanks for this. I, too, used World’s Best, and while it’s great at attracting the old lady and certainly biodegradable, a friend described the owner as being “barn-y.” The pee is flushable (I don’t dare flush the poop for fear that the Toxoplasmosis Police will arrive at the door) to an extent, but when a cat pees with the frequency as both Duncan the tubby and Marie the altercocker do, it takes two flushes, which puts a damper (so to speak) on the ecofriendliness.

    That said, one boxful lasts a lot longer than the clay litter, which now seems like a dial-phone landline to me.

    Have you tried the newspaper products or the pine? I found the former too gooey and the latter strong smelling.

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    • Yeah, it seems like the corn-based litters are physically and legally flushable, but the law (at least in California) strongly discourages actually doing so. [shrug] We don’t flush it–we’d spend all day flushing if we tried–so that’s not a big factor for us.

      We haven’t tried the newspaper, but yeah, gooey doesn’t sound like much fun. The Nature’s Miracle is, as I said, piney, but apparently that’s not its main component. Might be worth trying the actual pine stuff and see what comes of it.

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  2. By the way, has anyone here tried Pretty Litter, which turns color when your cat has a urinary problem? Or are those two different litters?

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    • Hmm. I’d be dubious. Sounds like the jewelry that claims to detect any drugs that have been slipped into your drink. I mean, there are a lot of things that can go wrong with the feline urinary system, and the more of them you try to detect, the more likely you are to have false positives.

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      • pretty much my thinking, but if there were such an indication, I’d head for the vet. You can still figure this out by your own senses of smell and sight.

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        • Hence the problem with false positives: vet visits can get rather expensive. And a change in the frequency of urination–something color-changing litter can’t track–is one of the best warning signs.

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  3. Dr. Elsey’s long haired cat litter. For any haired cat. It’s silicone based, controls odor ocmpletely, only downside is very dusty. But lasts a long, long time so the sticker shock price works out in the end.

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    • Sounds interesting. Might be worth a try with the Formerly Feral Fellows, since the mostly closed door will help keep the dust confined and the vacuum lives in that room.

      Thanks for the recommendation.

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