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Choosing the right litter for a cat to do its business in is serious business. Different brands and types can fit your kitty’s different needs, and we’ve got the scoop on how to select your best match.
Clumping vs. Disposable
The first choice to make is whether you want to scoop the stuff out of the litter box every day or throw all the litter away and start fresh. Clumping varieties cost a little bit more, but they last longer. For added convenience, many clumping varieties are also flushable.
Natural vs. Synthetic
If you choose a scoopable litter, the next choice is natural or synthetic. There is some controversy about the health risk of clay litter -- your cat licks its feet and grooms its fur, which means he or she could ingest some of the litter -- but many people still choose it for convenience.
Natural cat litter choices tend to be more expensive, and some cats may take a while to adjust to them because they are different in shape and texture. Some examples include World’s Best Cat Litter (made from corn -- a larger “pebble” litter), Feline Pine (made from pine -- pellets or a dusty kind of soft shaving) and Yesterday’s News (made from recycled paper -- pellets that dissolve when used). While these are becoming easier to find, some of these may need to be purchased in specialty pet stores.
Synthetic varieties include Fresh Step Crystals (soft, crystal-like pebbles that absorb odor) or Tidy Cats (virtually dust-free small pebble litter). These are widely used and are available in most supermarkets.
If you choose a natural litter, your cat may need an adjustment period since the materials are so different from what your pet may be used to. It is recommended to switch litters slowly, as you would food. Start first with 1/3 new litter and 2/3 old litter, then move to 50/50, and then progress to 3/4 new and 1/4 old until your cat has fully adjusted and is used to the new variety, especially if you are switching to a pellet litter.
Litter choice is important for both you and your cat. The easiest way to find what works best is to try a few and see how you and your cat like them, factoring dust, your cat’s comfort level when stepping into the box, and ease of disposal.