For those living as natural a life as possible, whether going the full-organic, homesteading, natural healing route or at least opting for as few harmful products and practices as feasible, some tough choices must often be made. Humans coexisting with felines (“cat owners” is simply a ridiculous term, as many already are aware) will usually be concerned, therefore, with having access to the healthiest possible products to ensure the well-being of their furry family members. Among such products will be, almost as important as cat food, the type of litter to be used. As many cats are indoor-dwellers for their entire (and therefore usually lengthier) lives, kitty litter is an essential part of sanitation for the entire residence. Control of odors from urine and waste, the ability to cover the aforesaid “feline byproducts”, and the expense of the litter are among the highest priorities, of course. However, the numerous variations now on the market are leading many cat guardians to look into the ingredients. Are there additives which may cause an allergic reaction to either the user of the litter or the human(s) sharing accomodations? Is the litter biodegradable, or will it sit in a landfill for eternity, or close to it?
Lily, a seven-year-old orange tabby with decidedly finicky preferences where litter is concerned, was recently asked by her human mama to try a product recently purchased at Walmart. As “Mama” was pushed for time and in desperate need of fresh litter, she brought home a small bag of “Kitty Diggin’s” brand litter, from Oil-Dri Corporation of America. This product, made of fuller’s earth (a type of clay made from hydrous aluminum silicates, originally used by those in the wool trade to purify the product, now used primarily as an absorbent for oil, grease, etc.) is labeled as all-natural, free of any fragrances, dyes, safe for both cats and humans with allergies. Having noticed that other brands with scents made her wheeze, as well as repulsing Lily, “Mama” was eager to try this litter. The price, at only ninety-eight cents for a seven-pound bag, was more than reasonable. The fact that it was non-clumping, however, justifies the extremely low price, as this factor necessitates the use of two or three such bags per week for even one cat. Surely, she hoped, Lily would not mind this change; after all, she’d used non-clumping litter brands the first three years of her life.
“Mama” did what most cat parents would recommend, mixing the new litter in with the old at first until the clumping brand had run out. Lily, however, immediately noticed the change and looked with a discriminating eye at the mixture. “Kitty Diggin’s” has a much higher amount of dust when added, something most humans don’t care for. Cats also dislike having dust on their paws, and it must certainly be unpleasant, even if chemical-free, to lick off. “Mama” added baking soda to the box in order to help it clump as many people recommend. This absolutely does not work. It does help control odor and assists in the cleaning out of the box, but it makes no difference in the litter’s absorbency. She was concerned about the possible effect of the soda on Lily’s pads, as this may sting a bit. Ever get baking soda on sensitive areas of your own skin? Despite its use in soothing skin when mixed with water, the concentration of dry sodium bicarbonate on sensitive skin can cause irritation.
Overall, Lily began avoiding the use of her “potty”, preferring to hold it longer times than normally. Obviously this is not a good situation, as felines can often have kidney or bladder problems in later life, developing sand (extremely fine stones) in these organs. Constipation is also not a good condition for any species, and can cause discomfort and trouble eliminating. Thankfully, Lily did not opt for going elsewhere, as many cats would. However, she seemed to dislike pawing through “Kitty Diggin’s” even without the added soda, to cover what she had done. The coarseness of the clay particles did not appeal to her. Spoiled? Certainly not—how many humans would care for going barefoot on rough particles of clay, almost like crushed gravel?
All in all, for kitties that do not mind the texture of “Kitty Diggin’s” and do not object to non-clumping varieties of litter, this is a good product. The fact it has no obnoxious scent (which is usually similar to toilet cleansers, frankly), no additives that harm the environment, and is extremely low-priced, make it a good choice. You humans, though, may not appreciate the lack of convenience involved with a non-clumping variety. There are a number of such products on the market that are also ecologically-friendly and reasonably inexpensive. When you need to buy multiple bags of litter per week per cat, you may question whether it’s really worth it to buy this brand. Since you and your cat are both going to be involved in the use of the litter you choose, you may want to make the choice carefully. It’s as important to your cat as the choice of bathroom tissue is to you.