Cat Litter

Everything you need to know about kitty litter

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Cat litter is an essential product for a cat owner to be knowledgeable about. Cat litter is used in a cat litter box and helps a cat keep proper hygiene by giving the animal a place to deposit feces and urine. Cat litter reduces the smell of foul odors and ammonia throughout the home.

A number of different cat litters are available, each with different features and price points. Depending on the location of the litter box and number of cats, these different brands and types offer distinct differences in absorbency, odor control, safety and texture. Some owners like to prevent litter from being tracked around the house, while others are concerned with environmental effects.

The Science Behind Kitty Litter

There are a number of different components from which kitty litter is made. Before the 1940s, kitty litter was comprised mostly of sand, but with the onset of the commercial market for cat litter, producers began to use clay-based litters. The advantage to this is that clay is much more absorbent than sand. Generally, these are non-clumping litters that use diatomite or zeolite as their base.

Clumping litters became highly popular during the 1980s. They were originally made from calcium bentonite, however bentonite clay became the preferred ingredient because it clumps together to form a solid mass distinguishable from other litter in the cat litter box. Clumping cat litter accounts for nearly 70 percent of the market and has the distinct advantage of not needing to be changed as frequently. However, cats can eat the litter which then hardens inside them. Also, many contain crystalline silica, which is a carcinogen.

Silica gel litter lasts the longest of all litters on the market. It can absorb urine for up to 30 days without needing to be changed. This means that 5 pounds of silica litter can do the job of 30 pounds of other litters. The main drawback with silica gel kitty litter is that it gives no warning of when it is fully saturated.

Cats are susceptible to toxoplasma gondii, which is an intestinal parasite, so make sure the cat feces are not ingested by cats, other pets or humans. Another important thing to note is that cat feces should never be flushed, as the parasite can enter the water system and cause harm to humans and sea life.

Cat Litter Training Techniques

Training a cat to use the litter box can be a challenge, particularly for kittens. Cat litter training begins shortly after birth. The best practice is to place the cat in the litter box and they will use it. Cats prefer to defecate in kitty litter than other locations, but if the cat is having a problem, other methods of cat litter training may be necessary.

The most common reason a cat will not use the litter box is because it's dirty. Be sure to keep the litter box clean and use fresh litter when needed. Removing solid waste daily is important as well as changing the litter regularly. An easy way to make the process cleaner is to use cat litter box liners. They are essentially plastic bags that go on the bottom of the litter box. You simply lift the bag and tie up the litter, making disposal a breeze.

Other reasons a cat will have a difficult time include stress. If children are home from vacation or a new pet is introduced to the household, the cat may urinate outside the litter box. Urinary tract problems can also occur. These should be treated by a veterinarian.

It is also common for the cat to be shy when using the litter box. Do not disturb the cat or attempt to play with it while it's using the litter box. This is easily remedied by buying cat litter box covers. Cat litter box covers can be placed on top of the existing litter box and give the cat a sense of privacy.

Location is also essential. Do not place the litter box near the place in which the cat eats and ensure that it is readily accessible at all times. This will help enable the cat to use the litter box much easier.