It’s a perpetual topic of discussion among cat owners: what’s the best type of litter? Is there one brand superior to the others out there? And which one makes the least amount of mess?
Let’s get the basics out of the way: The FDA regulates a lot of products related to your four-legged family members (like what they eat) but cat litter is not one of them. In fact, the agency doesn’t regulate where your cat urinates or defecates, or where it sleeps, or what it plays with. So that’s all on you, and your feline’s preference.
But if your cat is anything like mine, it will have very specific tastes. As far as her litter box goes, she used to love her pellet litter. Until she didn't, and began pooping all over the house.
Read also: One really nice thing about cats is that they typically need minimal training to use a litter box, says Mikel Delgado, an IAABC-certified cat behavior consultant and co-founder of Feline Minds in Berkley, California.
So I called upon an expert, Dr. Carly Fox, a veterinarian at New York's Animal Medical Center , to get into the weeds of cat litter.
"I think the best type is the clumping unscented litter. But it depends on your cat. Most cats prefer clumping non-scented litter," said Fox. "The best litter is what your cat prefers. It sounds crazy but it’s true. Whatever your cat is used to."
Clumping cat litter
The benefits: "It allows easier removal of urine and feces. You don’t need to dump the entire box of litter. It allows the easy replacement of clean litter. You need to clean your box less often," said Fox.
INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), pet owners in the United States spent $60.28 billion on their furry friends in 2015. That number is expected to rise by more than $2 billion in 2016.
Dr. Elsey's Cat Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter, $17, Amazon
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Dr. Elsey's Cat Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter
Also available at Chewy .
This is Amazon's best-seller, and two of our staff cat owners swear by this stuff.
Read also: And, I found it: the Iris top-entry cat litter box. Iris Top-Entry Cat Litter Box, $30-$34, Amazon Ollie the kitten sits on his new litter box ... Basic Iris Top-Entry Litter Box, $18, Amazon
Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal Litter
Another top seller. "The holy grail of cat litter. It clumps solidly like a rock. It sifts through the scooper like fine beach sand. It doesn't kick up any clay dust clouds," wrote one reviewer.
Fresh Step Ultra Unscented Litter, Clumping Cat Litter, $10, Amazon
Fresh Step Ultra Unscented Litter, Clumping Cat Litter
Another crowd pleaser. "So far I love this litter and my cats do too," said one reviewer, who has "very fussy" cats.
Non-clumping cat litter
The benefits: "It allows for a better absorption of orders. It sucks up the odors of urine. People think it smells better. But I think it’s more difficult to remove urine and feces. You have to replace the litter more often and clean your box more often," said Fox.
INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Your dog can smell your feelings. In fact, your dog’s sense of smell is approximately 100,000 times better than yours. So it shouldn’t be shocking that they can in fact, smell things such as fear. When a human is fearful, they perspire, and a dog is easily able to pick up on this change.
Purina Tidy Cats BREEZE Litter System Cat Pellet Refills, $8, Walmart
Purina Tidy Cats BREEZE Pellets Refill Cat Litter
"I'm a neat freak and can't stand bad smells. This pellet system is phenomenal!" wrote one reviewer.
Fresh News Post Consumer Paper Pellet Cat Litter, $14, Amazon
Fresh News Post Consumer Paper Pellet Cat Litter
Also available at Chewy .
This is the cat litter we used for years, until for whatever reason, my fickle feline decided she needed a bigger litter box. It made zero mess, had no odors and was so easy to clean out.
Simply Pine Natural Cat Litter, $13, Amazon
Read also: Some nice large, functional cardboard cat scratchers are 51 percent off on Amazon. The internet provided a solution: cardboard cat scratchers — one for the living area and one for my bedroom. My kitten likes these scratchers more than his cat tower
Simply Pine Natural Cat Litter
Also available at Chewy .
"This stuff is waaaaaay better than any clay or clumping kind though. While I wouldn't say a cat box ever really smells great after it is used, it keeps the smell down a bit," wrote a reviewer.
Is one product or brand safer than another? Nope. "Most commercial litters are very safe for cats. It’s more worrisome for dogs who will eat litter. I’ve never seen a cat eat litter. As far as toxins are concerned, they are safe," said Fox.
Cleaning your litter box
Apply house rules consistently. When your pet knows what to expect from his behavior, he will be much more inclined to do more of what you approve of and less of what you don’t.
So let's get to the nitty-gritty here. "If you have one cat, you should clean it once a week. Most people stretch it. Scoop it twice a day and clean once a week, is a good general rule," said Fox.
The best way to clean it is using "warm water and an unscented soap, or an enzyme spray cleaner . Cats are super sensitive to smell," said Fox. "Most people have an uncovered regular litter box. I like the ones cats can jump in and get in and have privacy. I love the way it looks and there’s no litter everywhere. Any change needs to be gradual."
For more cat-related content, check out our article on one editor's great experience with a new litter box.
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