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Published on March 11th, 2009 | by Becky Striepe

12

Adventures in Kitty Litter


How could we not want the safest, healthiest litter for this little lady?


[social_buttons]Our hunt for an alternative cat litter began when our vet said that clay litter was a respiratory irritant. The more we researched cat litter, the more we learned that clay wasn’t just bad for our sweet kitties, it was bad for the planet. Clay, which makes up about 90% of the cat litters on the market, does not biodegrade. On top of that, much of the clay used in cat litter comes from strip mining. Yikes! Luckily there are all sorts of good options out there!

Making the Switch
Before we get to the litter alternatives, let’s talk about this whole litter-changing situation. Cats love routine, and they tend to freak out a little if you break that routine. When you’re changing anything in a kitty’s day-to-day, you don’t want to do it suddenly. Make it a gradual switch. Try Mixing 1/4 new litter to 3/4 old at first. After a week or two, go to half and half, then 3/4 to 1/4. It might take more than a month to completely switch litters, but I promise it beats a cat that refuses to go in the box.

The Scoop
When we first gave up the clay, we tried Yesterday’s News. The texture was a bit different from regular litter, so our cats weren’t fans at first. As they got used to it, though, my husband and I realized that we weren’t exactly fans. The box was still pretty stinky, despite the baking soda we were adding. It was time to try something new.

Up next, we gave Swheat Scoop a go. The cats liked this one a bit better, but the hubby and I disliked it immediately. The litter box stank. Intensely. Even on the same day that we’d changed the box. Gross! Sorry, kitties, but we had to give at least one more litter a shot.

The last litter we tried was Feline Pine. Our cats were hesitant about this one at first. It has the same pellet shape as the Yesterday’s News, but they’ve adjusted to that now. Thank goodness they did, because this stuff is here to stay! It somehow manages smell even better than the Arm and Hammer Multi Cat litter that we ditched at the beginning of this experiment. On top of that, it turns out a side effect of clumping is that the litter sticks to the sides of the box. This non-clumping litter is so much easier to clean out! Between the smell management and the cleaning ease, I’d recommend this litter even if I weren’t trying to give clay litter the boot!

Looking for more ways to green up the family pet? Eco Child’s Play has you covered!

[Image Credit: Photo by Becky Striepe]






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About the Author

Hi there! I'm Becky Striepe, a green crafter and vegan foodie living in Atlanta, Georgia with my husband and two cats. My mission is to make eco-friendly crafts and vegan food accessible to anyone who wants to give them a go. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .



  • Amy Bell

    Thanks for the great article, most people don’t realize the problems (environmental and feline health) associated with traditional cat litters. I’m surprised you didn’t like the Swheat Scoop, we wouldn’t use anything else in our house. Maybe it works well for us because we only have one very small cat.

  • http://glueandglitter.com/main Becky Striepe

    That could be! We have two cats: Agnes is only 6 pounds but Molly is 12. With the Swheat Scoop, our house just smelled like cat pee constantly. Good to know that it performs better in a one-cat house! Maybe I can give the half box of the stuff that’s been sitting in the closet to a friend that’s got one cat!

  • http://www.errantdreams.com/ Heather (errantdreams)

    Yesterday’s news drove me nuts for the same reason—intense urine smell, constantly. We had to change it soooo frequently.

    Feline Pine is my second favorite litter, and we’d probably still be using it if we hadn’t found “World’s Best”—a corn-based litter. It’s clumping like clay, but biodegrades, and is flushable. It also does a better job on odor with our two cats. If I couldn’t find it I’d go back to the pine, but I definitely prefer the corn.

  • Hope Anderson

    Actually, I’m amazed that you had any problem with the Swheat Scoop at all. We use it with our two cats and have had no problems at all with odor. We had started with Feline Pine, which the cats loved for awhile but then decided they didn’t like one day out of the blue. The Swheat Scoop has been a great alternative, no smell at all and the cats seem to enjoy the “feel” of it. Only problem is the mess when they cover, we’re still trying to figure out the tracking issue.

  • http://glueandglitter.com/main Becky Striepe

    I have heard nothing but praise for World’s Best! The price is what’s kept us from trying it. Do you really not have to change the box each week with the two cats?

  • http://www.errantdreams.com/ Heather (errantdreams)

    We buy the World’s Best in the bulk bags from our local Petsmart (I think they’re 17lb bags), and we get the multi-cat formulation. And yeah, believe it or not we don’t have to change it every week as long as we clean it each day, despite having the two cats. In fact, when we reach the end of the bulk bag is usually when I change the box. I’m still pretty amazed by how well it works! There is definitely some tracking, but I’m willing to deal with that for the other benefits.

  • http://blogs.howstuffworks.com/author/hswrlamb/ Robert Lamb

    I caught Biscuit using the pine straw in the front yard this morning — perhaps the pine-based litter has some possible application towards convincing her that litter boxes are not the devil?

    ~rl

  • http://glueandglitter.com/main Becky Striepe

    I wonder if you could even mix some pine straw with the litter at first. Trickery!

  • Thomas

    Feline pine is way overpriced. I managed to pick some up on sale, which is why I’m currently using it. Considering it is simply low grade pine fuel pellets, you should look for those instead. It will save you a ton of money and is exactly the same thing. I’ve heard that horse stall pine pellets work well too, but I don’t know if that is the same thing. Other options can be found just by searching for “alternative kitty litter”, including numerous grains that you can buy in 50 lb bags at your local feed/supply store for next to nothing. I also compost my cat’s litter and use it on the ornamental beds, so nothing goes to the landfill either.

  • James

    Here’s another vote for “World’s Best”. We tried pretty much all the other non-clay solutions and have found that World’s Best (which is made of corn) clumps like clay and has excellent odour control. Sure, a large bag of it costs more than Yesterday’s News and Swheat Scoop, but it is worth it because of how much better it works.

  • http://glueandglitter.com/main Becky Striepe

    Thomas – Is it OK to compost cat litter? I thought kitty pee wasn’t ideal for that. It sounds like you keep it separate from your compost for edibles, is that right?

  • http://www.corncatlitter.com Corn Cat Litter

    Becky – If the litter is made from 100% natural fibers like many of the corn and wheat brands are, it is safe to add to your compost for gardening. There are however some brands out there that blend natural and artificial ingredients or add other fragrances and chemicals. Those aren't such a good idea to compost.

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