But shouldn't the choice for a suitable “toilet” be best left with the one who would use it? Before you convert your hard-earned money to a sack of what is essentially dirt that will cover piss and poop, perhaps it would be best to first watch and learn from your cats.
THROWBACK LITTER DAYS
Did you know that in the 1940s an ex-sailor named Ed Lowe “invented” the cat litter after suggesting to his neighbor to use absorbent clay instead of sand and ashes to collect cat's piss and poop? Fast forward to today, supermarkets and pet stores now offer a wide array of cat litter that promises improved odor control, easy cleaning, low maintenance and whatever would be appealing to fastidious cats. None of them comes cheap but for cat owners who want to attempt the nearly impossible – a clean house with an indoor cat – there is no arguing the price.
Unfortunately, the fancy cat litter, especially the perfumed variety, is not always to the cats' liking. They seem very eager at first to dig in to those dry, granulated clay, only to become uninterested the next day. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) came up with a long list as to why one in every 10 cats would have a litter box lapse in his or her lifetime. The 20 most common reasons are:
* The cat is suffering from a medical problem involving the urinary tract.
* The cat experiences a bout of geriatric constipation.
* The caretaker does not keep the box as clean as the cat wants it to be.
* The owner changes the brand or tries disposable plastic liners.
* The owner changes the location of the litterbox.
* The owner switches to deodorized or perfumed litter.
* The owner buys a new box and throws out the old one or covers the box with a hood.
* The owner cleans the litterbox with too harsh a cleaning product.
* The location of the litterbox is too busy or not private enough for the cat.
* The home is too large for just one litterbox.
* The cat inadvertenly gets locked out of reach of the litterbox.
* The cat is kept from using the litterbox by another animal in the house.
* There are too many cats and not enough litterboxes.
* There are too many cats and not enough territory.
* Stray cats can be seen/smelled near the cat’s territory.
* The unneutered male cat has come of age and is marking his territory.
* The unspayed female is in heat and advertising for suitors.
* Over time, the cat has developed an aversion to the texture of the litter.
* The cat was never properly trained to use the litterbox in the first place.
* The cat is stressed by a change in routine or environment, including new baby, new furniture, work schedule changes, vacations, overnight guests or a move.
LITTERBOX OF HORRORS
Purchasing your first bag of cat litter is going to be a hit or miss as nobody could really tell what a particular cat would want to use. Clay litter is the most common type one finds in the market today. Available in clumping and non-clumping types, clay litter has the advantage of absorbing smelly odors better than other materials like paper or sand.
Because they form a clump when they get wet, clumping clay litter is easier to scoop out. But this product should not be flushed down the toilet as the clumps turn cement solid and are non-biodegradable.
The problem with clay is they are quite dusty and cat's could still track dirt if they step on some wet, soiled clump. Using clay litter also requires you to ideally visit the cat's litter box as often as cats do to remove the soiled clumps right away so that your cats don't get into contact with those anymore.
Cats can be dirt devils but they are also quite the clean freaks. When a foreign material like clay gets stuck between its claws or paws, the cat would lick it off. This becomes a real issue as many are concerned about cats ingesting clay particles and becoming ill.
As for the odor eliminating quality of certain litter products, bear in mind that though we don't find the llitterbox to be as smelly as it used to be, it doesn't mean that it's the same with cats. Cats have stronger sense of smell than humans. It's supposed to be 65:15 labial pits in millions between cats and humans. So, if they stop using the “fine smelling” litter, maybe because it still assaults their noses even though it smells fine to us.
There are other eco-friendly litter alternatives that are finding their way into stores. The new choices include hashed newspaper, orange peels, cedar chips, silica gels and pine sawdust. They all promise to be great odor suppressants that will save you from lots of cleaning but we know that only cats could review these products with credibility. When buying a cat litter for the first time, get it in small quantity and let your cat test it. If they like it, it's probably safe to buy a second batch until you notice another change in your cat's toilet habits.