Metro Pets

By Meredith Clinton Bell

It’s happy days when you can forget about your cat’s litter box, but the minute you have to crinkle your nose and sniff twice, it’s not so wonderful. No one wants an apartment filled with the smell of kitty litter, so maybe, like me, you’ve always stuck with the tried and true, chemically enhanced clay litter that clumps like magic and covers the smell as you’ve come to expect.

With all the “going green” initiatives around, I’m embarrassed to say that I never thought seriously about the carbon footprint (or pawprint if you want to get cute) my two kitties were leaving behind. I’ve never been willing to sacrifice odor control and overall effectiveness for one of those “eco-friendly” litters.

But clay litter has stirred up some controversy because of an ingredient, sodium bentonite, and crystalline silica dust that’s produced. Dr. Louise Murray, Vice President of the ASPCA’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital (http://www.aspca.org) said the crystallized litters, especially, produce a lot of the dust, which can lead to gastrointestinal problems when ingested. “Other concerns regarding silica center around the potential for respiratory irritation. Most veterinarians recommend that cats with asthma do not use clay litter,” said Dr. Murray.

Mother Nature isn’t receiving any favors from clay litter either. The clay is strip mined from the earth before it arrives neatly in a box to your local pet shop. And after you’ve used the litter in your home, it’s shipped off to a landfill – where it sits for eternity and piles up quickly.

Needless to say, it’s time to see if any of these eco-friendly litters can actually take the place of what used to be top dog. My two cats luckily agreed to test out a few – they were great sports, even if they were a little confused.

Made from whole-kernel corn, World’s Best Cat Litter comes in Original Clumping Formula and Multi-Cat Clumping Formula. The multi-cat version has a little extra natural somethin’ somethin’ for stronger clumps. If you’re used to clay, this has a similar consistency and clumps just as well for easy scoopage. 100% biodegradable and flushable, it’s even safe for your septic tank (in case you happen to have one).

Better yet, it covers the smell well and a little goes a long way. You’ll find no silica dust or added chemicals with this American-grown litter. If your new kitten gets a little curious and wants to have a taste (or if your dog’s a fan of the litter box) that’s OK too.

Available in 7, 8, 17, and 34-pound bags.

Yesterday’s News from Purina is recyclable in every sense of the word – right down to the bag it comes in. It works a little differently than the other litters: the pellets, which are crafted from recycled newspaper, absorb liquid from the bottom of the box. As long as you don’t over-fill the container, those pellets will soak the urine right up. There are no clumps to clean, which took me a little longer to get used to, but it still does the trick.

The News pellets can’t be flushed, but that sounds like too much work anyways. It’s fragrance free, non-toxic, and comes with a 99.7% dust-free rating (I didn’t notice any at all).

Available in 5, 15, and 30-pound bags.

This one gets my “most creative product name” award. Swheat Scoop. I love it. As you can guess, it’s made from wheat grown in the U.S. of A. – and with this renewable resource as an ingredient, there’s no strip mining necessary. Also 100% biodegradable and fragrance free, you can use it for compost if you’re so inclined.

The Swheat Scoop Multi-Cat works hard and clumps fast. No clay or chemicals means it’s another safe option for your loved ones, human and animal alike.

Available in 14, 25, and 40-pound bags.

All three litters are available at Petco and Petsmart. For other locations visit their websites. (www.petco.com and http://www.petsmart.com)

These litters prove worthy replacements for my old clay litter. Whatever your reason, environmental or personal health, consider making the switch. When planning to switch litters, Dr. Murray cautions to do it slowly to avoid behavioral issues, just like you would when introducing a new food. Your kitties will be happy they can clump and dump the eco-friendly way!

Originally published September 2010
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