by Amelia Glynn
litter, I've discovered, is a VERY personal matter — for cats and
their people alike. I don't have a cat, but have witnessed several debates
(some heated) over which kind of litter is "best."
An article in this week's New York Times reviews several
clay-free litters. Although clay-based litters are absorbent,
they're not environmentally
friendly. (Most are not biodegradable and some have ingredients obtained
through strip mining.) Thankfully, this era of "inconvenient truths" has
inspired a variety of natural litters made from wheat, corn and various
kinds of tree pulp.
According to the author, the criteria for evaluation included odor control,
clumping, scoopability and overall tidiness. Feel free to weigh in on
your own favorites in the comments section.
Here's what the testers said:
Swheat Scoop: This litter is wheat-based and has a "mild whole-wheat
flour" aroma and a grainy texture. One owner found that it was "really
good at absorbing smells, if scooped regularly," while another said
his cat avoided it entirely by urinating in the sink. Most owners liked
the way it clumped.
Yesterday's News: Made from recycled newspapers, these
large gray pellets smell like a "new paperback." Testers claimed that it didn't
control odor as well as other litters. Plus, it doesn't clump. One owner
said she had to "change the entire box every other day because it
smelled so bad." Another tester said it was hard to clean and is
less convenient because it is not flushable.
Katgo: This wood-based litter "smells like hamster bedding." It's
lightweight (e.g. "easy to carry home") and cheaper than other
brands. It did a good job of controlling odor and the clumps were easy
to remove. But users said it got lodged in cat fur and "tracks everywhere."
Feline Pine: This was a tester favorite. It smells "like a woodpile" and
was a champ at keeping smells at bay. Unlike the other litters, the wet
pellets need to be stirred daily, and as the week wore on, testers reported
that it got heavy and stinky. It also cannot be flushed. (Although flushing
cat litter is another hotly debated topic...)
World's Best Cat Litter: This brand is made from corn
and has a clay-like texture. It was okay at controlling
odor, but one of the testers said
it produced a "corn-wheat-urine smell that was pretty unappealing." It
formed clumps that were easy to remove, but testers complained that cats
tracked yellow dust everywhere, leaving prints "on dark furniture
or fabric that are not that easy to get off."
Here are a few quick and not-so-pretty environmental facts about kitty
Each year, litter from the 60 million cats that use litter boxes contributes
8 billion pounds of contaminated, permanent waste to U.S.landfills.
Disposal of used cat litter creates 2,700 pounds of litter per cat, which
equates to 216 billion pounds of litter over the course of the lifetime
of all of the cats in America.
The U.S. Geological Society estimates that 85 percent of the 2.54 million
tons of clay used in the United States every year is for the absorption
of pet waste.
The bentonite in cat litter is also used as a sealant for ponds and dams.
This clay has the capacity to swell from seven to 15 times its own weight.
It is strip-mined, processed and shipped all over the world.
Silica-based litter requires waste be removed and disposed. In San Francisco,
kitty liter or animal feces may not be placed into a compost bin for
collection. The Sea Otter Alliance and the Monterey Aquarium both oppose
the flushing of cat litter because toxopalsma gondii, a parasite from
cat feces, can kill sea otters. (Wastewater treatment facilities are
not designed to treat toxoplasma.)
While Christie Keith highlights degradable and flushable
cat litter options in the second part of her "Environmental impact of pets" series
from November 2007, they are still not up to the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency's standards for proper disposal of cat
According to a CatGenie spokesperson, their system is the only one that
meets the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's standards for proper
disposal of cat waste: the non-toxic, washable granuals never need changing
and biodegrade in a landfill in less than two years. The brand's sanitary
solution materials are also 100 percent biodegradable and recyclable.
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/pets/detail?entry_id=50203#ixzz0V1l08FT9