ZFF Tips on Litter and Litter Boxes

When you become a ZFF cat guardian it is hard to decide what litter is best for your cat(s). There are so many choices.

Litter Box Set Up

Start by having your litter and box set up for your cat and then show the newcomer where the box is upon arrival.  Cats are intuitive and house trained instinctively.  When they are not, that is usually an indication of something and one way of getting your attention is by not using the litter box (change of litters, box not clean enough, change of placement of box, or worse, something physically wrong—see our article on why no dry food!).

This article is to help you choose your litter, your litter box, and where to put the boxes.

Lots of news on the litter front, lots of new litters out there!

Clay litters

They are super cheap but have other drawbacks.  They clump like cement, making the box extremely difficult to clean; they smell awful as they get used.  But more importantly, clay litter ingested by your kitty can expand up to 138 times its size in the digestive tract of a kitten diligently cleaning her paws post litterbox use!  Clay litter can be used as an alternative salt to de-ice in the winter and so much better for all our wild creatures’ paws!

Scented litters

These smell nice to us but try to think from your cat’s olfactory point of view.  These scents are too strong especially if you are using a covered box.  Think of going into a public restroom with those overly perfumed air fresheners designed to give you a migraine but keep the bathroom odor down.  You can attach a scent freshener outside the box or in the bathroom (citrus or cinnamon apple absorbs too).  Or spray a little Poo Pourri Juniper for an especially smelly dump (feeding fish?  Yep, that’ll do it!)  Put in some baking soda to absorb odors but most litters today have odor control built in.

Flushable litter

YES!  More expensive but oh so much easier.  Keep the litter box in the bathroom and scoop right into the toilet—almost no work at all!  If your bathroom is cramped, you can even keep the box in the bathtub and, if you have a big scuffer, the couple of litter pieces can go right down the drain without damaging the pipes.
Which flushable litters?  World’s Best Cat Litter, made of corn (red bag for multicat homes); Okocat (pink band on box is the finest and easiest on kitty’s feet but it does track so you need a good mat for a cat launch out of the litter box); Garfield Tiny Grains is flushable and also detects urinary tract problems; Wee Kitty is pellet style but flushable AND mulchable; YCSJPet is pellet style made from tofu; Feline Pine is pellets or fine and while ok for the toilet, may not be for a septic tank.

Which non flushable litters?

Good quality if you throw your litter out–Nature’s Miracle is cedar or pine scented, very fine clumping corn style; Switchgrass with Bio Char is biodegradable; Naturally Fresh is made from walnut shells; Catspot is made from coconut shells; Frisco makes a grass seed litter; Swheat is from wheat.  Pretty Kitty will also alert you to urinary problems!  There is also Crystal litter (I can’t imagine a cat enjoying walking on that) and Cat Attract which is clay but guaranteed if you have a cat who is persistent about not using the box, mix a little only.

Litter boxes and Liners

Liners

NO! While conceptually you just take out the whole bag and throw it away and start fresh, your cat has scratched right through so now you have messy clean up of the scratched through bag as well as a messy litter box to clean.

Litter boxes

Litter boxes have become a very creative product ranging from the usual step ins with low entry (and you want high side walls for your scuffers) to covered boxes, to corner boxes (right, ones that fit in the corner), to top in (they have a hole in the top that the cat jumps in and out of), to ones that look like furniture, to disposable boxes (especially useful if you are taking kitty for a short trip or home for the holidays).  Rule:  Make sure the box is 1.5 times the length of your cat so he can turn around comfortably and tall enough if a covered box if your cat is a plus size.

Toilet training

NO! It’s an unnatural position for your cat, a problem for when your cat is older, arthritic, and it’s just plain gross!

Where to put the litter box

If your kitty or cat is a city critter, going from a studio apartment or 1 bedroom to a house is a challenge if the litter box is kept in the basement and sleeping quarters are upstairs.Think from a purrsonal preference:  do you want to go up and down 2 flights in the middle of the night?  And if you are bringing kitties home, they eat, play, pee/poop, sleep, then the cycle starts all over again (not necessarily in that order) and, if in the middle of play, it’s challenging to stop playing in time to seek out the kitty litter.  Start with flushable litter in a litter box on each floor in or just outside the bathroom.  Make it easy for your new kittykat and it will be easier for you!