What can I use instead of cat litter as an alternative

Are you helping in the destruction of the world, or are you using Cat Litter Alternatives

Owning a cat is not as expensive as owning a dog, but there are still expenses, and other major repercussions you need to think about.  One of them is cat litter and all the issues that come with it.  Unless you are using a cat litter alternative, you’re unknowingly helping in the destruction of the world.  This holds true unless you’re fortunate enough to live in the country-side, and your kitty has access to the outside world through a cat-flap,

It’s convenient to leave your kitty to roam outdoors.  This helps the community with the reduction of unwanted rodents, but it also has some negative side effects.  Cats, using their natural predatory instincts, means killing birds, small mammals, and also reptiles.

Coming back to indoor cats, and their use of litter…

Cat litter has come a long way from the early days when cats used to do their business in a box full of ashes, or sand, literally.  This is why litter boxes are also referred to as sandboxes.  Along the years, clay-based litter came on the scene, and thanks to its great absorbent properties, this was wildly used, and it still is.

If you have one cat, and depending on your situation, you might regularly buy factory produced cat litter, such as the clumping or non-clumping clay type.  With two cats, then you will have to buy this twice as many times, with twice the expense.  With many cats, then this might very well go beyond a joke, since cat litter is not exactly cheap, and heavy to cart around large quantities at a time.   This also involves dumping greater quantities of the used product, creating an environment issue.

Cats in Basket azcatlitter.com
Cats in Basket

How can I help not to destroy the world?

Thank goodness, there are cat litter alternatives to cat clay-based litters, which work well.  Some easy to make, get hold of and use, and some not that easy, while others you probably never even knew of their existence before, but are still practical.

Normally, litter is made of clay, although other types provide the same function as clay litter, such as plant-based alternatives.   These are manufactured from more environmentally friendly materials, and hence have a lighter impact on the environment.

These include:

  • pine,
  • corn,
  • beet pulp,
  • wheat,
  • wood – such as cedar chips,
  • and other biodegradable substances.   

Since some are designed to be flushed down the toilet, this helps to reduce the volume occupied in landfills.

What’s wrong with regular clay litter anyway?  It works fine, doesn’t it, so why not keep on using it?

‘Yes and no’ would be the answer to that, but the ‘why’ is because this type of litter is not bio-degradable. 

Clay azcatlitter.com
Clay

When dumped in landfills, this cat litter remains there for years on end, as nature can’t break it down.  This is having a huge impact on the environment which we, as cat owners, are partly guilty of.  If we face this problem and do something about it rather sooner than later, we will be contributing towards leaving our children, and their pets, a better place to live.

Another important negative aspect of using clay litter is the possibility of the dust causing major damage to the proper breathing of your feline.  This can cause lung problems or even asthma.  Whichever way you look at it, dust is one irritant best avoided by our cats, and even by us.

With the above in mind, cat owners tend to look around for natural cat litter alternatives to cat clay-based litter. 

They do exist.  In some cases, they cost less, or about the same.  They even work better for cats, as well as safeguarding their health.

Newspaper Shredding

Newspaper Shredding azcatlitter.com
Newspaper Shredding

It is FREE, and many have tried this.  They’d put the shredded newspaper on top of a thick layer of newspapers at the bottom.  Using newspapers has the advantage of it not going all over the place, especially when kitty is digging a tunnel.  Newspapers used as litter doesn’t get stuck to a cat’s paws, like clumpy clay litter can, which helps with keeping your home clean.

Unfortunately, the idea of using newspaper cuttings was ‘cut’ down, literally, for two main reasons.

Reason 1 being that this will produce puddles of urine in the tray, and your wonderful home will stink to kingdom come.

Reason 2 is that your cat will think that any paper will do to pee on.  Don’t forget that cats are creatures of habit.  Nothing made of paper will remain sacred in your home anymore, and that includes expensive books, important documents, and everything else made of paper.

Following these two reasons alone, I would put aside the newspaper idea, although in concept it seems like a very good idea, at least, initially.  To further highlight the negative impact through the use of newspapers, I recently heard that these are treated with chlorine, to bleach the recycled paper.  This could be a leading contributor to the stink produced when using this type of litter.

Recycled paper litter

On the other hand, ready bought recycled paper litter seems to be quite popular.  Cat owners are very happy with the price, as well as its overall performance.  The ink is first removed from the paper, it’s screened and then turned into a pulp, which then is dried and formed into pellets.  Odor control agents are added to the pellets.  Furthermore, paper-based litter is lightweight and extremely absorbent.  It can also be flushed away instead of dumped in landfills.

Soil

Soil azcatlitter.com
Soil

It can be used as an alternative, and it does work very well as the pee gets soaked in, and the poo is covered up.  All this is great, it’s basically free, BUT, there’s always one but… or two.

Reason 1, is that if you don’t have a supply of soil available, it can be a pain in the backside to cart it around since soil isn’t exactly light.  If you don’t have a garden within reach as your never-ending supply of the stuff, you might need to think twice about this idea.

Reason 2, it tends to get everywhere in the house, especially when wet, either with pee or from the garden after it rains.  It can even finish off on your very expensive sofa, carpets, and beds, as this easily gets stuck to your kitty’s paws, and no place in your home would remain sacred.

So, think again, and bear this in mind when you go back to the drawing board.

Corn litter

This is another alternative to regular litter.  There exist several advantages to using this, one being that it clumps easily, and hence can be cleaned up better.  It is flushable, provided you don’t dump the contents of the whole box in the loo in one go, as that would blog your drainage system.  It’s roughly the same price as clay litter, but it tends to last longer since corn has a natural ability in the suppression of ammonia.  The downside to using corn as litter is that it is very dusty, and it doesn’t tend to be heavy on the odor control front.

Although many seem to love it, there exist those who are not convinced at all with the product.

The worry highlighted is that corn and moisture don’t really get on that well together.  It seems that a deadly aflatoxin mold can be the product of this combination.

From Cornell University Department of Animal Science “, the commodities with the highest risk of aflatoxin contamination are corn, peanuts, and cottonseed.  Pre-harvest aflatoxin contamination of peanuts and corn is favored by high temperatures, prolonged drought conditions, and high insect activity; while post-harvest production of aflatoxins on corn and peanuts is favored by warm temperatures and high humidity.”  http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/plants/toxicagents/aflatoxin/aflatoxin.html

Feline Pine

pine azcatlitter.com
Pine

This is another great product to consider as an alternative.  This boasts of being of low dust; contains no harsh chemicals, and so it’s pet-friendly.  It is lightweight, highly absorbent and neutralizes odors on contact.  Since it’s basically sawdust shavings, this product is gentle on your cat’s paws.  It is available in either clumping or non-clumping versions.

This product contains natural pine and clumping agent, while also containing mineral oil for the purpose of dust control.

The manufacturers, Feline Pine Cat Litter, promise that to make this product, no new trees are cut, and this natural litter is made from dried shavings reclaimed from lumber production.

This enterprise dates back to 1992, which began as an ideal and healthy solution for cats, and the litter they use.  This product is the brainchild of the lumber industry, where after various substrates from several different types of lumber were tested, Southern Yellow Pine was found to be excellent at neutralizing odors and absorbing moisture.

What started as something small back then, today, the enterprise is much larger, but Feline Pine Cat Litter still maintains the Feline Pine roots and supporting its belief and the continued commitment to natural products that work in favor of your health, and that of your cat.

Wheat

Wheat azcatlitter.com
Wheat

This, when used as a cat litter, is made into pellets after it’s grounded to a fine consistency.  This results in a lightweight, flushable and biodegradable litter.  This type of litter contains natural enzymes that have been reported to neutralize any odors.

Clumping and non-clumping litter

Of all the brands of cat litter available out there, both clay-based, and not, can basically fall into two different categories, the clumping, and the non-clumping type.  However, given that there is such a wide variety of products, it makes it difficult to choose one over the next.  With the passage of time, clumping cat litters have become very popular, although the non-clumping types are still widely used.

When cat litter first hit the shops in commercial quantities, it was of the non-clumping type.  Personally, we mainly use non-clumping for our cats, and so far, we’ve never had any issues with it.   Apart from helping to further overload landfills with more rubbish than they can actually cope with.  This is something we’ll need to address pretty soon.  Apart from that, we’ve found non-clumping litter has the ability to absorb our cat’s pee without any problems whatsoever.   It also contains any odors without any problems.

Once this starts to saturate, just replace the whole contents of the box, spreading out fresh litter.  This is generally done once a week, or so, depending on how hot the climate is.

The litter we use has some form of scent in it, but I’ve never actually smelled anything.  It could be the case that this comes into action when pee is introduced.  Scented and non-scented litters are available, while some non-clumping brands include baking soda or charcoal into the formula.  These are added to help control unwanted odors.

Which type shall I use?

question-mark azcatlitter.com
Which to use?

It’s a question of taste and preference what to choose.  Some tend to prefer the non-clumping littler since it’s usually less expensive than its clumping counterpart.  Others just stick to one particular brand mainly since their pets tend to prefer it.

On the other hand, clumping litters are manufactured in such a way that pee and poo are easily removed from the litter box without having to throw out the whole box contents.   A majority of this type of litter contains bentonite (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bentonite), which helps litter form nice solid clumps as this absorbs the liquid.   Bentonite is an absorbent aluminum phyllosilicate clay, consisting mostly of montmorillonite, named by Wilbur C. Knight, in 1898.  The chemical structure of bentonite attracts water, and also ammonia, making this product stand out with regards to its absorption properties, and as an odor control agent.

This helps with the prevention of bacterial build-up

It is easy to remove clumped litter from the litter box.  An advantage is that you just scoop out the clumps, which consists of pee and poo.  This leaves the remaining cat litter clean, which can be topped up with fresh litter. It is in the cats’ best hygienic intentions, as well as yours, to empty the box totally, clean it, and refill it with fresh litter every so often.  Ideally, this would be done once a month, or so, depending on the number of cats in the household.

Surface Mining

Today, about seventy-five percent of the cat litters on the market use this bentonite clay.  This is mainly strip-mined, however, this process does nothing but destroy the local environment.  Another term for strip mining is surface mining, where everything at surface-level is bulldozed.   This includes trees and bushes, vegetation and topsoil, which make up wildlife habitat, causing their displacement.  The removed surface ‘waste’ is then just dumped, leaving massive piles of discarded matter.

azcatlitter.com strip mining
Strip Mining

Many companies have now improved their practices, thanks to state laws.  However, the process is still dubious as to how the environment can benefit from this, at least from a conservational point of view.

As in everything else, there are always pros and cons to what you choose in life, and some of those involving cat litter are as follows:

Clumping cat litter:

Pros:

  • Clumping litter is easier to scoop because the cat’s business is all restricted in clumps.
  • It helps to keep your house free from foul odors since it contains any smells.
  • This type of litter also absorbs pee before it finds itself at the bottom of the litter box.

Cons:

  • Clumps can get attached to your cat’s paws.
  • Then, while the cat is cleaning itself, it will ingest the litter, sometimes with negative results.  This depends on the quantity ingested. This would only hold true if the litter isn’t derived from a natural source.  It’s still wise not to let your cat ingest its litter in the first place, if at all possible.  This protects your cat’s health and to reduces unnecessary vet bills.
  • It is bad for the environment since this is extracted from the earth. It may also contain harmful dust which is a hazard both to you and your cat.
  • When this saturates, pee may begin to accumulate at the bottom, and the whole litter would need replacing.

There is no hard and fast answer as to what’s best between the types of litter mentioned in this article.  All, to some extent, produce some dust, but some tend to produce more than others.  Most alternative litters do the job as clay clumping litters, and these do not require any particular kind of attention.

Many alternative cat litters may actually cost that bit more than litter containing bentonite. However, on the whole, many of them fall within budget.  The best thing is that these are environmentally friendly.

Another factor when considering the choice of which to use is how much time you have at your disposal to spend cleaning up the litter box.  You shouldn’t forget the dust issue, especially if you or your cat suffer from breathing problems.

Which cat litter shall I use?

Cat litter preferences ascatlitter.com
Cat litter preferences

It’s a purely personal decision based on the above points, and, after all, on what your cat prefers.

The object of this article is not to get you to discard one type of litter over the next, or to save you money by using that brand and not the other.

The scope of this article is to show you that there are alternative cat litters you can use, which will be beneficial to your cat, to yourself, and also to the world we live in.

At this moment in time, I still think that a particular litter is still number one until something better comes out on the market…

Put your mind at rest after you get  PrettyLitter…

No other litter comes close!

For more information about this out-of-this-world kind of litter, and to know your cat’s fine, go find out more about it here.

(I’d like to hear from you, so please leave me a comment and let me know if you’ve taken something positive, or not, from this blog…)

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