Choosing the right cat litter can be a bewildering task, given the range that is available!
There are several different types of litter, so it’s important to weigh up the options to make the best decision for your cat.
Here's what to consider.
Varieties of cat litter: what's the difference?
Cat litter is made with a range of materials, and they all have different pros and cons.
- Clumping litter. This type of litter can be made of clay, or grain-based materials. It is highly absorbent, and soaks up urine, forming distinct clumps that can be easily scooped up and disposed of along with faeces, leaving the remainder of litter clean. As waste can easily be removed and the rest of the litter is still clean, clumping litter means fewer complete changes of the litter tray. Young kittens can sometimes mistake the lumps for food at first, but they do learn to make the distinction!
- Crystal litter. This is made from non-toxic silicon crystals that are highly absorbent. It doesn’t generate dust and helps to reduce odour. Crystal litter is long lasting, but it can be hard on cats or kittens with sensitive feet.
- Recycled paper litter. Pelletised recycled paper pulp is used to make this litter. It’s one of the cheaper litter options available, and is highly absorbent and can be composted. However, it generally doesn’t reduce odour, so will need to be changed frequently.
- Wood pellet litter. This kind of litter is made from pelletised timber shavings. It is highly absorbent, and naturally deodorising. It is completely biodegradable and can be composted.
How to get the right litter for your cat
Your choice of litter may come down to factors such as cost and convenience, as well as environmental concerns. Cats can also be quite fussy about which litter to use, for no clear reason!
A good starting place is to ask your breeder or rescue organisation what litter they recommend. Some may include a ‘starter kit’ to take home with your cat, others may not. But if you can, duplicate the litter that will be familiar for your cat as it starts life in a new place.
If you wish to change the type of cat litter, try and transition between one type and the new one gradually. If you have more than one litter tray, you can do this by putting the new litter in one tray to start. If you have a single tray, gradually add increasing amounts of the new litter until you’ve achieved a complete change over.
If you have more than one cat, you might find that some prefer one type, while the others have a different preference. In this situation, you need to be prepared to use multiple types of litter in different trays.
Choosing the right cat litter tray
The litter tray is the other important factor in a good toileting routine.
Cats are naturally clean animals, and by the time you get a new kitten, its mother will usually have taught it to use a litter tray. However, they can be quite shy about using it.
Locate your litter tray in a low traffic area, so your cat has a quiet place to toilet. Small kittens will need low-sided trays for easy access. As they grow, trays with high sides are better for containing the litter, depending on how much they scratch around. Covered trays with flap-style doors can be useful to minimise odour – and they also offer more privacy.
Cats don’t like to share litter trays. The general rule is to have one tray per cat, so as you add to your menagerie, you need to add another tray.
It might take a bit of adjustment, but having litter your cat is comfortable with and the right tray will go a long way towards avoiding toileting issues in the long-term.