Bought a pair of shoes, electronics or even a bottle of vitamins lately? It is guaranteed that you’ll find a sugar packet or barrel shaped sized surprise tucked inside their packaging. This packet is silica, a sand based compound used to suck any moisture out of product packaging. When removing moisture from the packaging, the silica swells to several times it’s size.
Why do I bring this up in an article about greening your pet? Because silica is a significant component in clumping clay cat litter and can be fatal to your favorite feline. Health issues are a significant part of green principles.
As “Mittens” tracks through his clay-filled litter box to do his business, his paws kick up dust which contains silica. When Mittens inhales or licks the dust from his fur when cleaning, this dust acts like the silica packets by swelling to remove moisture in the immediate area. This situation becomes a significant health concern for all involved, Mittens, kittens and even owners.
Clumping clay kitty litter also fails as a green pet product due to the fact that it is not biodegradable. Although clay comes from the Earth, it accumulates at dump sites. Despite following the recycle, reduce, reuse principle, reusing grocery bags to collect and dispose of cat waste only drags out biodegradability.
But as the human population moves toward a sustainable existence, kitty litter manufacturers have developed organic products to fill Mittens’ litter box. These products biodegrade, providing nutrients to the soil. The following is a list of new litter products and their main ingredients. Note that these are in no particular order, but do provide information to help you when making your next cat litter purchase.
Nature’s Miracle – Also known as Fresh Results, it contains corn cob granules, not kernels. It is more expensive than clay litter, but is lightweight, flushable and good at odor control.
Exquisicat Litter – This litter is available in 6 options, providing you with every natural litter material available. The corn based litter controls odors naturally with no fragrance. It clumps well and is long lasting.
Feline Pine Scoop – Economical and great at odor control, this pine pellet is highly concentrated for better absorption. And pine is a natural deodorizer so there are no concerns about indoor air quality. Additionally, Feline Pine is flushable and organic. On top of that, it can be used for multiple cats or as mulch.
Arm & Hammer Cat Litter – Although the packaging says it uses natural clumping ingredients instead of clay, the manufacturer does not specify what those ingredients are. A few sources report it is corn-based. It does uses baking soda as a natural deodorizer.
World’s Best Cat Litter – A bit more expensive than clay litter, it is reported to last longer. Also a corn base product, it clumps very well, is flushable and provides fair odor control with a farmy scent. And because it tracks less than other litters, it is best for multi-cat homes. It does have high dust though.
Fresh Results Natural – This litter is made from corn cobs and carries the same properties as other corn litters, but has a clean, pine scent.
Swheat Scoop – This litter is made from wheat enzymes and provides moderate clumping and good odor control with a wheat/flour scent. It is lightweight and has low tracking but high dust.
Yesterday’s News – This biodegradable cat litter is made from recycled paper. It is 3 times more absorbent than clay litter with no fragrance and little tracking.What
Homemade Litter – Depending on your personal level of greenness, there is a homemade solution of shredded newspaper and using baking soda as a deodorizer.
As you can imagine it is difficult to ascertain the “best” clay alternative cat litters. Research shows that Swheat Scoop has rather poor clumping ability and that lighter litters produce very low dust, indicating poor clumping. World’s Best Cat Litter is reported to perform the best. Of course, the best way to determine if one of these kitty litters will work best for Mittens, you have to try them for yourself.
This article simply addresses the need to change cat litter from clay and silica based to a natural material such as pine, corn or paper. Many cat owners have taken this extra step to keep their pet healthier and happier. Simple changes like this one can be implemented with little trouble since many large supermarkets and most pet stores, as well as online purveyors, carry these alternative litter products. Therefore, so I encourage you to try them for yourself. As well, I would appreciate your comments about using alternative cat litter, if you have successful experiences with them, and if you know of other green cat litters you’d like to share with our readers.
Rochelle Paulet, Certified Green Consultant