When Did We Start Using Clay Cat Litter
For most of feline history, most cats lived outdoors and thus, used the dirt of nature as their litter and litter box. Prior to the creation of the first clay cat litter, if your cat had to use the toilet indoors, the litter box would be filled with dirt, sand or even ashes.
In 1947, a man named Ed Lowe realized that fullers earth a blend of clay materials thats long been used to extract grease and other impurities from cloth was a highly effective and marketable receptacle for cat excreta. The first bags of Kitty Litter were rejected by stores because they were just too expensive at 69¢ per 5lb bag. But as youve guessed, the product eventually caught on.
Though the original cat litter was a major upgrade from ashes, newspaper, and the great outdoors, it didnt clump. In fact, clumping cat litter wasnt created until the 1980s, when biochemists recognized the litter box potential of sodium bentonite clay, which expands when it comes into contact with water. By expanding into a clod when touched by urine, sodium bentonite clay litter allows you to scoop out the poop and the pee for a cleaner, less smelly litter box.
Does Clay Litter Clump
Yes, clay cat litter does clump, and the clumping properties are one of the hallmark benefits of using this type of litter for your cat. Please note that each time you scoop the litter box, you will need to add more litter to maintain the proper litter depth.
Pro tip: Please note that most cats won’t use a litter box with less than two inches of litter covering the bottom of the litter box. Fill the litter box with at least two to three inches of clay litter for the best results. Maintaining a consistent depth of litter is crucial to keep your cat using the box correctly.
Are you curious about how non-clumping cat litters work and the pros and cons of using this type of litter? Click here to read “How Does Non-Clumping Clay Litter Work?”
What Is The Best Place To Put A Cat Litter Box
Cats prefer a quiet, clean place to do their business, just like humans do. Its best to place the litter box in a quiet room with limited foot traffic, and against a wall so your cat will feel safe when they use it. If a litter box is too hard to reach or too far away , your cat may not be able or even willing to go there. And boxes that are near loud appliances can upset your pet.
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What Are The Benefits Of Using Clumping Clay Litter
Clumping clay litter creates cohesive, easy-to-scoop clumps. When litter clumps well, its easy to maintain a fresh litter box without regular dumping.
Cats usually like the texture of the fine clay granules.
Clumping clay litter offers good odor control and typically neutralizes fecal urine, and ammonia smells.
Silica Gel Crystals In Cat Litter
Crystal cat litter is made from the same type of silica gel crystals found in the desiccant packets that come with products like leather bags, cameras, and jerky.
Although these packets are well-known for their do not eat labeling, the silica gel crystals are non-toxic and safe for your cat.
Silica gel crystals are synthetically made from a combination of silicon dioxide, oxygen, and water.
Each crystal has millions of tiny pores that capture moisture.
Watch the video below for a closer look at how these types of litters work:
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The Clumping Litter Controversy
For some time now there has been debate about the safety of clumping clay litters that use sodium bentonite as a clumping agent. Sodium bentonite is a natural clay that swells to fifteen times its natural size when exposed to liquids. Many cat owners worry about what might happen when their cat licks his fur and paws, possibly ingesting sodium bentonite dust. Some owners are concerned about their cats breathing in this dust, and the possible respiratory damage this might do.
Kittens are considered particularly vulnerable to sodium bentonite toxosis, because curiousity might compel them to taste cat litter. Opponents of clumping clay litter say that the sodium bentonite then clumps inside the kitten’s body, causing gastrointestinal blockage and death.
Final Thoughts On Clumping Cat Litter
Unfortunately, in my experience, I havent found the absolute best cat litter.
Currently, Im settling on walnut clumping litter.
Mold will always be a problem when moisture is involved.
But walnut litter is safe to breathe, ingest, and it clumps with food-grade agents.
Cats prefer naturally unscented clumping litter and a clean box.
Want to make your cats happy? Grab my Cat Happiness Daily Checklist!
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Thoughts On The Cat Litter Low Down: Everything You Need To Know About Cat Litter
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Is Clumping Litter Safe For Cats Or The Environment
Since the typical clay litters dont serve the possible health hazards that clumping clay cat litters do, they do have their own set of problems:
Clay contains particles of crystalline silica, so its dangerous to inhale large amounts of its dust.
There has been a rise in depressed immune systems, respiratory distress, irritable bowel syndrome, and vomiting among cats that I have seen in the past two years. All had one thing in commona clumping product in their litter box. In several cases, simply removing the litter improved the condition of the cat. Dr. Lisa S. Newman, Ph.D. founded Azmira Holistic Animal Care® in 1982
I think the awareness of theses clumping type litters isnt prevalent yet.
They can make your kittens/cats very sick, it can harshly impact their intestines and even kill them.
Whats the best type of cat litter for kittens?
One teaspoon of litter could expand to cup of an insoluble mass in your cats body.
Because kittens are curious, slightly messy creatures with a tendency to eat litter and because their tiny intestines cant handle even small amounts of clay, its recommended that kittens avoid clumping clay litter until theyre 3-4 months of age.
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The Cat Litter Industry Is Constantly Innovating
Almost 40 years after the advent of Kitty Litter, biochemists made a discovery which revolutionized cat litter into the scoopable substance that is most popular today.
In the 1980s, they recognized that sodium bentonite clays propensity to expand in contact with water made it the perfect cat litter ingredient.
Although traditional non-clumping clay litter still has a following, its clumping clay litter that leads the pack.
Its the most popular type in North America and Europe by a large margin.
In the 1990s, silica gel crystal cat litter hit the market, offering a lower-maintenance solution.
Despite its strengths, however, silica gel crystal litter hasnt caught fire the way that clay litter did.
Recently, natural and biodegradable cat litter emerged from the underground.
Celebrity cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy reflects on the changing biodegradable litter scene:
Early in my career, when I recommended a change to my cat guardian clients, the cost was prohibitive, they had to conduct a bit of a scavenger hunt to find it, and, sadly, the clumping and odor control was just not up to the standards they were used to.
Today, natural and biodegradable litter is not exclusively for the impractical granola vanguard.
Our options are diverse and a number of the products available are both effective and affordable.
What Is Cat Clay Litter
If youre a new cat parent or youre planning to become one, one of the important choices youll have to make is choosing the cat litter for your pet kitty.
Clumping clay litter is cheap, and you can find them anywhere, but are the hazards worth it? The answer is a big no. But what is cat clay litter in the first place?
Clay cat litter was invented in 1947 by a successful businessman named H. Edward Lowe, who was in the building supply industry. The process involves getting clay that comes from beneath the earths surface, which is about 30 to 40 feet down, and then it is sent to a processing plant for drying.
The clays are then broken down into smaller pieces and baked in a 2000-degree Fahrenheit kiln. Baking the clay removes any moisture. The clay is then processed by crushing, sifting, grounding, and crushed again.
Lastly, sodium bentonite is added to the clay, making it swell or expand when it comes into contact with moisture.
Before sending the cat clay litter to packaging, some manufacturers add dust-reducers, scents, and other chemicals.
Most cat owners would think that cat clay litter is safe since it comes from a natural resource. However, most cat parents dont know that cat clay litter contains aluminum silicates and minerals that cause health problems in cats.
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When Was Cat Litter Invented
Remember: cat litter has helped transform the way we live with our cats.
Cats have been a part of human society for at least 4,000 years.
Since the advent of grain storage, these small predators have been hunting and purring their way into our hearts and homes.
Yet it wasnt until the last century that we had any consistent means of providing indoor toilets for them.
In the attempt to trace the history of cat boxes and litter, youll find a surprising lack of documentation on feline potty habits before the creation of the first commercial cat litter.
We can speculate that the trivial matter of cat waste wasnt worth anyones paper and that using an indoor cat box was directed by common sense and word-of-mouth wisdom.
As I did research on these early versions of cat-box filler, I was struck by how little anyone talked about it. Even a 1903 volume on breeding and showing cats, whose author was obsessed with cleanliness, failed to offer specific instructions for creating and keeping a sand box.
Though we cant place a date upon the first usage of a cat toilet box, we know they existed before the creation of the first commercial cat litter.
By the early 1940s, progressive cat people could purchase the E-Z Klean Kitty Toilet a heavy porcelain pan lined with waterproof disposal sheets.
Charmingly, the toilet came with a decorative screen to keep kittys powder room private.
What Happens If A Cat Eats Clumping Cat Litter
If your cat is eating clumping litter you should seek help from your veterinarian. It might mean your cat has a nutritional deficiency. Cats and dogs seek out nutrition when they are lacking. Dogs may eat poop to get this nutrition, and cats may eat litter. Clay litter can expand and cause a blockage. And other food-based litters can grow deadly mold.
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Best Clay Cat Litters With Our 2022 Budget
Clay cat litter first came into existence in the 1940s, and its remained the most popular cat litter since then. Clay cat litter is efficient, cost-effective and convenient to purchase, so its no surprise that its remained an exceptional choice among cat parents all of these years later.
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While theres no definitive scientific evidence to prove that clay cat litter is detrimental to a cats health, some cat parents and veterinarians worry about the effects of silica dust on a cats respiratory system. Luckily dust-free solutions are available now, and some clay litters even go through a special process to reduce dust in the granules.
We believe there are a variety of excellent reasons to use a clay cat litter for your feline friends. There are many safe, healthy clay litters on the market today, and we have a handful of recommendations for you. Lets start by reviewing a multitude of benefits that clay litter has to offer.
The Type Of Litter Most Cats Prefer
While every cat can be different, studies have shown us that cats tend to have certain universal preferences when it comes to litter. Here are two things that we know generally about cats and their litter preferences:
- Smaller Litter Particles: Cats tend to prefer fine particle litters, as opposed to pellet and crystal-type ones. It makes sense, of course, given that cats were originally desert-dwelling animals that buried their waste in sand. Not to mention that a finer particle feels better on their paws. I mean, would you rather walk barefoot on a rocky beach, or a soft, white sandy one? Similarly, your cat will probably prefer fine particle, clumping clay litters.
- Odor Free: Cats tend to prefer unscented litters to scented ones. Your cats nose and sense of smell is quite a bit more fine-tuned than yours . So, to play it safe, you should resist the urge to get a scented litter, whether thats a flowery scent or any other kind. Opt for unscented litter instead. If youre worried an unscented litter will result in a wafting plume of kitty stink, dont worry here are 7 Ways to Reduce Litter Box Smell .
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Also Great: Arm & Hammer Cloud Control Clumping Litter
*At the time of publishing, the price was $15.
We like the Arm & Hammer Cloud Control Clumping Litter because it does a good job of trapping odors, and it has tiny litter granules that clump better than those of most cat litter brands we tested. Also, the Cloud Control litter doesnt gunk up the bottom of a pan, and it produces virtually no dust. But those tiny granules may track throughout the home, and the Cloud Control litters traditional cardboard-box container can be a hassle to carry and open.
Even though Dr. Elseys Ultra had the best odor control, the Cloud Control litter did the best job of making tighter, defined litter clumps that were the easiest to scoop and clean during our tests.
In our tests, the Cloud Control cat litter trapped stinky ammonia and sulfur-like hing odors better than the competition, and only a faint stench remained when we were sitting next to the dirty litter only Dr. Elseys Ultra beat it in this area by completely trapping the odors. The Cloud Control cat litter quickly negates odors if your cat regularly buries their waste, but itll take a few minutes for the smells to dissipate if your cat is rude and never covers things up.
Can You Get Toxoplasmosis From Breathing In Cat Litter
Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondiiwhich may be present in up to half the cats in some areas, and is most commonly found on pets that spend time outdoors. Most humans come into contact with the parasite when they eat undercooked or contaminated food or water, while gardening in an infected flowerbed, or when they come in close contact with cat feces . An infected person may be asymptomatic, the CDC notes, but the parasite can survive in a host for years. Pregnant people may pass it on to their children, where it can potentially be fatal and immunocompromised people may have severe symptoms.
Currently, the best way to prevent infection when youre around a cat, litter box or surfaces that may have been exposed to fecal matter is to thoroughly wash your hands before touching your eyes, nose or mouth. If youre pregnant or immunocompromised, its best to ask someone else to take over your litter-box-cleaning duties. If you live alone, clean the litter box daily, wear disposable gloves, and wash your hands. You can also keep your cat indoors and only feed them commercial can or dry cat food to limit their exposure to parasites.
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Pelleted Biodegradable Cat Litter
Made from either wood or recycled newspaper, pelleted litter has an incredible ability to absorb liquids, and in doing so will crumble into an easily removable form. Sawdust that is a by-product of wood processing industries or recycled newsprint is formed under very high pressure into pellets, which are then thoroughly dried. Wood pellets absorb urine so well that they are used extensively as bedding in horse stalls. Feces must be scooped from the cat litter box regularly, along with the pellets that become urine soaked and crumbly, leaving the remaining pellets behind. Pelleted biodegradable litters are about 25% of sales at A Pets Life.
Is Kitty Litter Toxic
You may have heard fellow cat owners talk about the toxicity of traditional kitty litter and debate whether the materials should be swapped for something more natural. According to Romine, most litters are completely safe for your beloved kitty. For litter made from bentonite, the only toxicity that can occur is if there is a cat that starts eating the litter, she says, noting that eating the litter can cause obstruction or constipation. Romine explains that if your cat suddenly begins eating the litter out of the blue, you should consult your vet, as it might be a sign that the cat is anemic and in search of iron.
Cats could also experience a negative reaction with this type of litter if they have a breathing problem like asthma or are sensitive to dust. In these cases, Romine recommends a low dust litter and litter box without a cover, since the cover traps the dust.
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