Let's Talk about Cat Litter

I’m not talking about cat’s not using the box. I’m talking to you owners: Have you thought about the arm strength it takes to scrape off Dr Elsey’s? Or how often the non-clumpable needs a box change or the sheer weight of clay litter?

So I just got back from a very fun sit and I’ve got nothing bad to say about it at all, but I do wish they used something other than the clumpiest of clays – Dr Elsey. I think it’s popular with people who have rescue cats, possibly recommended by vets for cats that were never well-trained or had some medical issue that threw them off. I get it. I used the stuff myself for about 10 minutes 10 years ago when we adopted a certain rescue. Then I realized it wasn’t the litter, it was the placement of the box and his confusion about other things at right angles. It took a while, but we got things right and I ditched the Dr Elsey’s for some lighter weight easier to handle stuff. Eventually, when the Senior Cat needed radiation we had to use flushable corn (World’s Most Expensive) and I realized how easy it was! It’s lightweight and it clumps but it doesn’t stick to the pan. When I go on a sit and I see it in the box, I feel so relieved.

So I’m not out to tell other catparents what litter to use, but I am strong advocate of World’s Best – despite the price. It lasts longer between complete changes. It never sticks to the pan or liner. It’s very good on odors. It’s pretty low tracking too.

Anyone else have a favorite?

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I switched to wood pellets about 2 years ago. They are meant for wood stoves but have become quite popular as a litter alternative. Minimal odour, no tracking and doesn’t ‘cake’ onto the cat paws. Just turns to sawdust after it gets wet. Costs about $8 (CDN) for an 18kg (40lb) bag which will last 6 to 8 weeks for my one cat.

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I don’t know what kind of pellets they used at a sit I did in London, but it was the most practical setup, because you just shoveled the clumps into the toilet and flushed. And they kept fresh litter at hand, so it was easy to refresh.

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We have had 2 sits lately with the wood pellets and I struggle with it. Both owners used regular litter boxes so no sifting part or pee pad. I found the poop really stinky as the kitties didn’t bury it but easy to remove and then I just mixed around the sawdust with the pellets as couldn’t see what else to do with it. Am I missing something as I didn’t like that all the pee was still in the box in sawdust?

I quite like the Pretty Litter type.

We gotta use what the kitty won’t refuse: clay.
I cover my mouth and nose due to the dust the dust free litter creates.

We’ve tried.
Clay is the winner.

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It may help to identify which country you are in as, obviously, what brand of litter is available in America won’t be the same as in the UK or Australia. Of course, wood pellets, crystals and clumping clay, for example, will be available, but just different brands and some better than others.

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We use World’s Best Cat Litter (unscented) for our cat. It absorbs all the odor, has no chemicals or perfumes, and is practically dust free. It’s just ground dried corn. I know that sounds like a commercial, but we love it and it seems that our kitty is happy with it as well, and her lack of urinary tract infections (she’s 9 1/2 and I think she’s had one in her lifetime) speaks well for it as well. When I cat sit for our neighbors’ cat, I can hardly stand the clay litter and the smell when I clean out the litterbox over there each day.

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I am in the US. I use a Tidy Cats clay litter now, and have tried almost all the others. I like World’s Best except for the price, and I don’t find Dr. Elseys to get any heavier than other clays. I don’t like the lightweight litter because it seems very dusty. I prefer a clumping to the others - unless I have young kittens, and then I need to use a natural, non-clumping, litter in case they eat it.

I used to buy litters that seemed more environmentally-friendly (paper, corn, etc) until I read this article: https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-cat-litter/#sustainability-and-cat-litter.

Cat feces should never be flushed down the toilet, though it is very convenient. It can introduce parasites (toxoplasma) into the water system and not all filtation systems can eliminate it. https://www.wusa9.com/article/news/verify-yes-flushing-cat-litter-is-helping-to-spread-a-parasite-in-drinking-water/507-038b8ccc-5cb2-49ba-a8db-bbe687c84618

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That was probably World’s Best or equivalent. It’s corn. It may be illegal in some places to flush kitty litter. If the cat gets radiation treatment for hyperthyroid, they encourage you to use it to dispose of their waste for 10 days. That’s why we started to use it, but it feels wrong to flush it and we only have one bathroom. Maybe if I had a designated cat bathroom.

I am so sorry!

I also use wood pellets in my cats’ litter trays. They cost around $NZ 14.00 for a 15kg bag. It’s easy to remove ‘poo’ from the litter trays and used/wet litter is emptied into a corner of the garden or under the hedge. I live on a rural property so I have plenty if places in which to empty the trays. I use baby’s baths as litter trays - the higher sides mean that there’s less chance of puddles on the floor.

Well, in this country and according to EU directives, there should be no contact between waste water and drinking water (but I cannot access that url from here).

On a sit in Norway, I was instructed to throw the cat feces in the toilet. Also here in Sweden, googling does not show warnings from the water suppliers against that. Of course, warnings against other stuff: no frying oil, no plastic wipes, tampons, etc. And no clumping cat litter.

But yes, toxoplasmosis is a risk for cat owners/sitters.

Hi @Marion
As an experienced sitter I hear you. I had this exact issue recently while looking after my brothers two 4 month old kittens. I would often find the litter almost glued to the litter tray on a morning despite leaving them a fresh clean litter tray when I closed them in their sleeping quarters. I did suggest to my brother they try other litter solutions and maybe either 2 litter trays or a much bigger litter tray.

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So did I. (The recommended) biological wood pellets are right at the bottom of the litter hierarchy for me. What I struggled with the most was the sifting part. It was awkward to manage, heavy to handle, almost impossible to completely empty the sawdust, and time-consuming. To top it all off - I couldn’t stand the smell.

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Just slightly off topic, but I just changed to using a stainless steel litter tray. (Bought from Amazon)
It doesn’t scratch up like the plastic ones, and clumps (I use Tidy Cats lightweight) slide off the bottom very easily when scooping. Expenisve, but over the long run will last much longer than the plastic kind.

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Hmmm. I’ve been using liners since I got my “ModKat” pans which are expensive but nicely designed – especially for my high-peeing boys. My only concern with metal – with no liners – would be rust and whether or not they would eventually take in the odor.

I’m also thinking of rethinking the liners which are specifically for ModKat, and are washable/reusable for a while and will allegedly keep the pan itself from absorbing odor. Washing them is work and I’m now adding some Nature’s Miracle laundry booster, but they are also expensive to replace. The pans look good though!

Just checked Amazon. Okay, so my problem is my high-pee-ers. I see one with a plastic top, but I’ve found when I’ve used those types of covers pee gets through the seam!

Another rave for wood pellets - I sat for a pelletized cat and it was so easy to clean up. Clumps and feces were flushable (and this was a house on a septic system) and the degraded litter fell through a grate onto a liner in a lower tray to very easy to dispose of. Ten day sit and I had to add more litter, but didn’t have to completely empty tray at all. Didn’t get the brand name because the fresh litter had been emptied into a bin.
Current sit uses crushed walnut shells - so far pretty easy but its only been 2 days.

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have you tried a top-entry litterbox?

One out of three is a top entry. It is not the “preferred box” by any of them. Two out of three cats will use it. One never has and never will. The box that works best is the ModKat fliptop which is higher than the rest and doesn’t have the seam, but one of the little monsters is capable of going over the top if he wants to!

One of my HOs had this litter and it was f@!king fantastic! There was no negative smell at all and actually I felt like it smelled like fruity cereal or something. Total mindbender! Most pleasant litter box experience I’ve ever had and clumped very nicely! (UK)