(Excuse the Pun)
I will get right to the point—in this case, “the end.”
There are 3 common complaints any cat lady or cat daddy, not to mention their friends and family, have about cat litter: dust, tracking and the fragrance that wafts throughout the house and hits visitors in the nostrils sometimes knocking them unconscious. To address these issues, there are only two brands of cat litter I recommend, with a provisional recommendation for a third brand.
In 1947 the first cat litter was made from clay and made it possible for cats to live inside a home with the family. Now that the number of cats living in US households has reached 95.6 million in 2017, it is easy to see why there is a dizzying array of cat litter to choose from ranging from clay, silica, plastic beads, pine pellets, wheat, corn, walnuts, newspaper and good old fashioned sand.
Dust is a huge culprit. It gets into everything, even if you can’t see it right away: furniture, carpets, cabinets, clothing, your hair. Your cat and other inside animals suffer the worst because they are so close to it and inhale it. Hooded litter boxes are not recommended for this reason. It is also a danger to anyone with asthma, allergies and respiratory issues. Many cat litter brands claim to be “dust-free.” Don’t believe it, especially if the litter is clay or wheat.
Tracking happens when a cat leaves the litter box and the litter that is caught between the cat’s paws leaves the box also. When litter particles were made smaller, especially with the invention of “clumping” litter which forms a tidy ball of urine for cleaner removal, it was easier for the litter to get tracked outside the box. This was especially so in multi-cat households. No litter is “track-free,” but it is possible to keep tracking to a minimum by placing mats around the box.
Ammonia(NH3) is the pungent smell most cat litter made today attempts to conceal, be it with perfumes and fragrances—NOT recommended—or inhibitors such as baking soda. Ammonia is a toxic, invisible gas. We cat lovers mistakenly believe that one source of ammonia comes from a cat’s urine. Not so. When cats urinate in the wild and cover it up, there is no ammonia released. Ammonia is formed when a cat’s urine comes into contact with pre-existing bacteria in the litter box. Pre-existing bacteria can form from waste material that has not been removed or a litter box made from plastic that absorbs and retains waste material or has not been properly cleaned.
This is why it is so important to discard used cat litter that is more than a month old, sooner is better, and wash the litter box with water and vinegar.
***The mistake we make is trying to conceal the odor. The odor is actually a warning that something toxic is present. Over-exposure to ammonia can lead to respiratory tract and lung infections and the development of allergies and asthma in humans. People already having those issues, children, the elderly and anyone with a compromised immune system need to avoid contact with ammonia. When we use products that “mask” and conceal the odor with fragrances, perfumes and hooded litter boxes, we may be contributing to a serious health problem in our animals and people alike.
When it comes to addressing all three issues, there are two brands that stand out above the rest. My favorite is Cats Incredible Unscented. The 25-lb biodegradeable bag has 2 handles and a side pour snout, making this easy to carry and easy to pour. According to the manufacturer, Lucy Pet Products, Cats Incredible is formulated from a proprietary technology from Dow Chemical that prevents ammonia gas (NH3) from even forming. It is free from borates(banned in Europe), detergents, fungicides, insecticides and bleaches. It is 99% dust-free. I have used this cat litter and can attest to the lack or absence of dust, tracking and ammonia smell. Lucy Pet Products has a great informative video at https://vimeo.com/199573809, and their website is https://www.lucypetproducts.com/catsincredible/
A 25-lb bag from Amazon.com runs $29.44 with free shipping. Specialty pet stores often offer $2 coupons.
A close runner-up is Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Ultra Premium. Dr. Bruce Elsey is a practicing feline-only veterinarian who formulated this cat litter and has an array of specialty litters to address other issues. According to the website, this litter is made from medium grain clay with hard-clumping granules for minimal tracking. It is 99.9% dust free, hypo-allergenic, and uses sodium bentonite from Wyoming to control odor. The 40-lb bag is the most economical at $17.99 from PetCo. I have also used this product and for the price, found it very effective in terms of controlling dust, tracking and odor. If you can lift the 40-lb bag up a flight of stairs without developing a hernia, this is a great buy.
A third very popular choice is Arm & Hammer’s Clump and Seal. According to the website it also uses bentonite to control odor. Very little else is revealed about the rest of the ingredients or where they come from or where the product is even made. I made several inquiries by phone and email but received no response from the manufacturer. With so little transparency, I can only provisionally recommend this product. I have worked with this litter, the baking soda and bentonite do a good job of controlling odor, I would not call it dust-free, and the tracking is not good, even with mats. Still, it is a popular choice.
Arm & Hammer has a new version called Slide that is very user-friendly and keeps waste matter from turning into concrete at the bottom of the litter box. A 19-lb box costs $9.99 from Chewy.com
It is impossible to calculate the number of beloved animal companions who have suffered or died needlessly from exposure to products made for human convenience. The most common exposure comes from toxic household products and cleaners. Cancers, cysts, respiratory tract infections, vomiting, hepatic lipidosis(fatty liver), kidney and other liver disease are all-too common occurrences in our household animals, according to well-known holistic veterinarian, Dr. Michael Fox. How many of these could be prevented by becoming better educated about the products we use inside our homes?
As stewards of our planet we ourselves are just coming to understand the damaging effects our reliance on toxic sprays, pesticides and non-biodegradable waste such as plastic are having on the environment, our water supply and our own bodies. Once again, the animals become our teachers and show us how to live in harmony with the environment.
Dr. Elsey’s https://www.drelseys.com
Dr. Michael Fox, DMV., www.truthaboutpetfood.com
Lucy Pet Products https://www.lucypetproducts.com
U.S. Pet Market Trends and Opportunities, www.giiresearch.com
# # # # #