How to Choose a Green Cat Litter
If you've been thinking about switching to an earth-friendly cat litter, the good news is that there are now more choices than ever before. Some of the more popular green litters are made from corn, wheat, recycled paper, and pine. These days, you can also find litters made from exotic ingredients such as organic wheatgrass, coconut husks, and even green tea leaves.
With this dizzying array of options, how do you know which litter is best for your cat? To help you choose a green cat litter, ask yourself these five simple questions.
1. Does your cat use clay litter, and if so, is he or she very sensitive to change?
If this describes your cat, choose a litter that has a grainy or crumbly texture. Litters made from wheat, corn or soybean meal are closest to clay in terms of shape and feel.
Recycled paper and pine litters typically come in the form of cylindrical pellets. If your cat has been using a clumping clay litter, they may notice that a pellet-shaped litter is a different texture from what they are used to. This doesn't necessarily mean that you should automatically rule these litters out, as they're also available in a softer crumbly texture, which may be amenable to your cat.
2. Does the litter box get stinky very quickly?
Eco-friendly cat litters do not contain synthetic chemicals that mask odors and thus, need to rely on natural means for keeping smells at bay. If you have more than one cat or if your cat's business is particularly pungent, you may want to focus your search on earth-friendly litters that have an edge in odor control.
Some cat owners claim that pine-based litters are the best for odor control, but it may just be that people tend to like the smell of pine. Generally speaking, most green cat litters do a good job of controlling odors if you scoop daily.
Regardless of which litter you choose, you can help keep the cat's box odor-free by cleaning it regularly and sprinkling a thin layer of baking soda on top of the litter to absorb smells. Be sure to add just enough litter to cover the baking soda so that your cat doesn't notice anything out of the ordinary.
3. Are you looking for a cat litter that clumps?
Chances are, your cat doesn't care whether or not the litter clumps. However, a clumping litter can make scooping urine out of the box much easier for you. Choose an eco-friendly litter made from ingredients that bind when wet. Look for litters made from corn, wheat or plant-based starches. Some pine litters also come in a clumping version.
4. Does your cat tend to track litter around the home?
Try a pellet-shaped litter. These are usually made from recycled paper or fibrous plants such as pine or organic wheatgrass. The pellets are less likely to stick to your cat's paws and are much easier to sweep up when the odd pellet makes its way out of the litter box.
5. What options are available at your local pet store?
When choosing a green litter, consider how far it needs to travel to get from the manufacturer to the store and then to your home. The shorter the distance, the more earth-friendly it is. Litter is a heavy and bulky item that you use regularly, so your choice can have a significant environmental impact. Buying from a nearby store as opposed to ordering online will reduce the amount of packaging for shipping.
Although there usually isn't one litter that's perfect for all cats in all situations, asking yourself these five questions will help you focus on what's best for your cat. Once you choose a litter, use a gradual process to transition your cat from the old litter to the new one. If you need more information on how to switch litters, there are many online resources. You can also get advice from friends who've made the switch with their own cats, or ask your veterinarian for tips.
Once you and your cat have adjusted to the new litter, give both of yourselves a pat on the back. You deserve it, as this is one of the best things you can do to reduce your cat's carbon pawprint.
About the Author: Holly Tse is a green cat expert and also the author of Make Your Own Cat Toys: Saving The Planet One Cat Toy At A Time. Her blog, Green Little Cat, shares eco-friendly tips and ideas for cats and cat lovers.