The Nitty Gritty of Cat Litter

Sel-cleaning litter box with cat litterOkay, I know it’s not the most glamorous topic in the world, but it is important if you have a cat or are thinking of getting one. I adopted my very first cat less than 15 years ago. Before that time, I had decided that “I wasn’t a cat person.” I love all animals great and small but that doesn’t mean I want to own all of them.

Then – into my life – walked a cute little gray and white kitten, who I named Sadie. I was hooked. Two years later, I ended up adopting a precocious black kitten who I named Ozzie — aka The Million Dollar Cat. Now, I am a bona fide cat expert!

Well, maybe not quite but I do know a lot about cat litter. Not only have my cats tested just about every kind of cat litter there is — I also worked in the pet industry for two years. Because of this, what I lack in personal experience – I learned through the experiences of others.

How hard can it be to pick a cat littler anyway?

Here are some of the main types of cat litter. There is clay litter, clumping litter, corn, newspaper, pine, wheat, crystal, scented, unscented, natural (and not so natural), heavy and light weight. The main things people want to know are; which one lasts the longest, hides the odor and it the most eco-friendly? There are really so many things to consider. Who knew? I will explain some of the pros and cons of each and then reveal my MOST favorite cat littler in the whole world!!! :)

Clay Litter

Clay litter is probably the cheapest option, but it is heavy and doesn’t clump. This means it may need to have a complete litter change more often to prevent bacteria and odor. Clay litter may contain some chemicals to supress the odor. It also emits a lot of dust.

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Clumping Litter

This can be made of any number of materials but essentually it clumps so it is easy to dispose of liquid waste. Most of these can help to supress odor and come in scented and unscented versions. The clumping clay litter still emits quite a bit of dust though.

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Natural fiber litter

Corn, wood, newspaper, wheat, etc are biodigradable and most are natrual. You’ll have to check the pacakging. Some may be scented and some may contain chemicals for clumping purposes. I have used the corn, wood and newspaper varieties and the corn was my favorite for odor control. The pine litter I tried smelled great when I first put it in the box but it soaked up the liquid waste and got funky fast. Now, they offer a clumping version which I have not tried. I imagine it works much like the corn.

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Crystal litter

Crystal litter has become popular in recent years. I have never tried it but people who have seem to like it. Many of them use it in their automatic litter boxes because it doesn’t get stuck in the tongs like some of the other litters can.

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Scented or unscented?

This is up to you. Ozzie developed an allergy to one of the scented clumping litters I used when when he was a kitten. Sadie never had any problems but Ozzie’s paws got chapped and even started bleeding. It was horrible. That’s when I switched to an unscented version that the vet recommended. If your cat is prone to upper respiratory infections you should choose a low dust unscented cat litter.

Now for my VERY favorite cat litter! I absolutely adore this brand for many reasons…

Arm & Hammer Essentials Natural Clumping Litter

This wondrous litter is made using corn cobs and baking soda. It contains a light fresh scent which I love and luckily, Ozzie’s paws haven’t had an adverse reaction to it. I tried another corn litter before but the fine particles stuck to my cat’s paws leaving dusting cat prints all over the house.

If you have a cat I highly recommend this litter. They aren’t even paying me to say that — but they should!!! :)


Of course, not all litters work for all cats and owners, if your cat is having issues using their litter box, it is best to consult the vet. Cats are really good about going in their boxes, so if they suddenly stop doing that — it may be the sign of a bigger issue.

TIP: When switching litters, it is best to mix a little of the new in with the old and slowly make the transition. Cats can be finicky and if you totally switch it might throw them off and they may refuse to use the box all together.

If you have any questions or suggestions of your own — I would love to hear them.

Do you have cats? Why type of litter do you use?

How to Choose the Perfect Pet for Your Family

The old hound

Image on DeviantArt

Choosing the right pet for your family can be a tough decision and it should never be taken lightly. It’s not like going out to buy a sweater, or even a car; this is a commitment to take care of another living creature for the rest of its life. When you bring home a pet – you are making a promise – to provide it with whatever it needs to live a full, happy, and healthy life. You need to do a lot of research, ask yourselves some important questions, and really search your hearts to decide which pet is right for your family.

Here are just a few of the questions you should start to ask yourself – and your family – as you begin the search for your newest family member:

  • Why do we want a pet?
  • Who will take care of it?
  • Do we want a pet that will require a lot love and attention?
  • How will the pet impact our family life (traveling, cost, time)?
  • Do you have space for the pet?
  • Can you and will you provide everything your pet needs? They depend on you for almost everything.

There are so many types of pets available to suit just about anyone’s lifestyle. Let’s examine some of these, based on how much maintenance and care they require.

Low Maintenence Pets

These pets are perfect for a first time pet family. They will require minimal care. They aren’t the snuggly cuddly type of pet that will want to be touched or played with a lot. You can love them, you can care about them, but the less you mess with them, the happier they will be. Some examples of a low maintenance pets are:

  • Fish
  • Lizards
  • Hermit Crabs
  • Snakes

Remember, low maintenance, does not mean — no maintenance!!! You still have to care for these pets and provide them with the best environment possible, so they will thrive.

Medium maintenance pets

These pets require a little more maintenance as far as their care is concerned. Generally, you’ll want to dedicate around 30 minutes to cleaning and feeding them each day. Even though there isn’t a lot of care that goes into these pets, most of them still need your attention and most importantly your love. The more love you give them, the more they will love you back, and enrich your lives.

  • Cats
  • Small birds
  • Small animals (hamsters, gerbils, rats, mice, guinea pigs, etc.)
  • Rabbits

High maintenance pets

Dogs are a high maintenance pet but to their owners, they are worth every single second of it. Dogs have many requirements and you have to be particularly diligent in educating yourselves, to find the breed (or mixed breed) that is right for your family. Far too many dogs end up in shelters or worse, because people don’t take the time to find out if they are capable of such a responsibility.

Some dogs are small and do well in small spaces, other dogs need to do a lot of running and some are happiest when they are working. You have to keep in mind how much time you can spend with them and the activity level of your family as well. Many dogs can suffer from separation anxiety and they can become destructive because they are bored or simply miss you. With proper training, quality care, and lots of love, you will have a loyal family member, who values you more than you may ever know. If you can’t make them an important and highly cherished family memberthen you should probably find a different type of pet.

Dogs require:

  • Daily feeding, grooming and walking
  • Obedience training
  • Love, Love, Love
  • They need someone to take care of them when you go away on vacation
  • They need regular vet visits to keep them healthy

There is so much that goes into selecting the right pet. I urge you to go to your local library, surf the web, talk to your friends about their pets, go to pet stores, contact local rescues and humane societies to do research (volunteering is a fantastic way to help the animals and get a feel for what really goes into pet parenting), and obtain all the information you can before you add a pet to your family.

One more thing I’d like to add; there are so many pet rescues that have pets just waiting to go to their forever homes. They don’t just have dogs and cats; many have a variety of animals. Some pet stores will even have small animals, birds, fish or reptiles that have been relinquished by their owners, which are also for adoption. Open your heart, open your home and most of all love and enjoy your pets.

Do you have a pet? How did you choose which one to get for your family?