Confused by cat litter? Not sure whether there’s a difference between the cheapest supermarket brand and the $200 “it scoops itself” robot systems?
Never fear. There’s a rule of thumb that cat experts across the country agree on – how much work do you want to put into keeping the litter box from stinking up the house?
“The least expensive supermarket litters are usually effective, as long as you understand what they’re supposed to do,” says Megan Williams, the operations director for the Second Chance SPCA animal rescue and no-kill shelter in suburban Dallas, as well as a long-time cat owner. “It’s when people don’t understand how often the litter box needs to be cleaned – and how much work that might be – that they start to wonder if there’s something easier. The question to answer: How much work do you want to do?”
In this, easy equals cost, says Cathy Foster, a professional cat sitter in Chicago who has also worked with cat rescue groups. The more you spend, the easier cleaning the litter box gets. There are other considerations, of course, including how environmentally friendly the litter may be.
But, typically, the decision comes down to price and on how often the litter box needs to be scooped and cleaned, says June Matics, the director of content development for the advocacy organization, Alley Cat Allies.
“Spending more may give you a litter system that’s more aesthetically pleasing, so you may feel comfortable with it being visible in your home,” she says. “These may include boxes with covers.
Some cats don’t like covers very much because they may be confined in such a space and unable to see their surroundings, which can make them feel unsafe. So pay attention to how she behaves in tight quarters before choosing a litter system with a cover.”
The experts’ advice for choosing a cat litter system:
The least expensive products are made with clay, which is mostly clumping products, says Foster. Scoop regularly, change the litter twice a week or so, and all should be well.
Related: Try These Eco-Friendly Cat Litters
Lightweight clumping litters, sometimes made with clay and other materials like corn fiber, are less heavy and therefore less burdensome to cart off. But they also cost around twice as much as traditional clay litters.
Automated systems may be no more complicated than replacing the filter for your heater and air conditioner; in other words, no scooping and throwing out a filter instead of changing the littler. “They’re geared toward eliminating the job of scooping altogether, for which some people are willing to pay a hefty price,” says Cathy – often a couple of hundred dollars for the system, plus the filters. One of the filters, good for a week, can cost more than a 35-pound of bucket of clay litter.
Featured Image: Lightspruch/Getty Images
Read Next: 10 Weird Cat Litter Box Habits