Cat Litter

Wednesday, 25 May 2005 | Tags: , ,

Which cat litter really does the best job of reducing odours, clumping and providing a comfortable place for your catís bathroom necessities? We find out what finicky felines really prefer, and get our own cats in on the testing frenzy.

The Basics

  • It’s best to purchase a highly absorbent, commercial litter. Soil and sand can be messy and sawdust is not very absorbent. Newspaper turns to mush and becomes malodorous very quickly.

  • There are a few materials to choose from:

    • Clay (non-clumping) is made up of loose, gravel-like material. Its natural moisture- and odour-absorbing qualities makes it ideal for cat litter. Since it doesn’t clump, it’s hard to pick up the wet stuff. However, it’s less expensive than clumping, but you’ll use more because you need to change it more frequently.

    • Clumping clay litter is slightly more expensive but since you can scoop out the business easily, it doesn’t need to be changed very often, though you may need to top it up from time to time. Scooping keeps the box much cleaner and fresher.

    • Silica/bead cat litter use silica gel to trap odours and moisture. It doesn’t clump, but only sold waste needs to be removed regularly. It is mean to allow moisture to evaporate so the box stays dry.

    • Recycled paper is available as cat litter. It’s soft on paws, dust free, and absorbent. The litter will need to be changed more frequently than clumping litters.

    • Wood-based litters are made from compressed wood or cedar chips. Some cats can be allergic to cedar. The litter will need to be changed more frequently than clumping litters.

    • Plant-based litters, made of corn or other grains, is supposed to be clumping, dust-free, flushable, and biodegradable. It also contains no chemicals or fragrances.

  • Most types of litter should be filled up to about 2 inches.

  • If you have just one cat, you need to replace the litter about once a week, unless your cat also goes outside. If you have more than one cat, you may need to change the litter more often.

Other Considerations

  • If you’re just getting a new cat, you’ll also need a litter box and a scooper. These can usually be found at most larger grocery stores, and all pet stores.

    • An open box or closed box is up to you. Some cats are overzealous with their “digging” and “covering” behaviour and can spray litter around the area, so closed boxes help keep things cleaner, and provide some privacy.

    • Consider also buying litter box liners (small garbage bags) which make changing the litter very easy.

  • Location, location, location:

    • Keep the box in the same place and clean it regularly. If you move it, or let it get dirty, the cat might let you know by going somewhere else.

    • Make sure the cat has a clear escape route.

Be Aware

  • Pregnant women should never handle cat litter or boxes because there is a slight risk of contracting toxoplasmosis, which can affect unborn children.

  • Always was hands well after cleaning the litter box or handling used litter.


We rolled up our sleeves and tested:

  • Johnny Cat: a scented non-clumping litter that claims to absorb moisture and neutralize odour.
  • Premium Choice: a clumping clay litter made with baking soda to absorb odour.
  • Yesterdays News: made from recycled paper and claims to be dust free and odour controlling.
  • Clump and Fresh: a corn-based litter made with cedar oil. It is flushable!
  • Crystal Fresh: the most expensive, is made with silica beads to keep the litter box drier.


After several weeks of testing, it was clear the cats preferred Premium Choice brand clumping clay litter, and it was easiest to deal with from our point of view too.



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