Cat Litter Brands Explained

Each of the numerous cat litter brands seems to have their own devoted followers, but an overview of the properties of each type of litter, from their ingredients to the cat litter smell they emanate, can help to sift through all the marketing on kitty litter brands.

What Owners Want in a Kitty Litter

More than 90 percent of all cat litter is clay-based, with a variety of other products noted below making up the rest of the market. No matter the type, the major concerns for owners and manufacturers are odor control, dust and tracking (when the litter attaches to the cat's paws and gets distributed around the home). Other features are the flushability and biodegradability of various litters.

Clumping litter makes up approximately one-third of the market because of its convenience, as the tiny clay granules clump together into one big lump that can be removed, allowing the rest of the litter to remain in the box. In other litter types, meanwhile, the urine seeps throughout the litter box so that the entire box must be changed every few days. Clumping litters may be harmful to young kittens, who ingest the tiny granules. To avoid this, some brands offer clumping litter in larger-sized or crystal granules.

Alternatives to Play Litter

Some of the more popular alternatives to clay are wood or recycled paper. Paper-based litter is lightweight, biodegradable and flushable in small quantities. Wood, like pine lumber pellets, is also biodegradable and not only flushable but can be used as mulch. Some wood manufacturers claim that it is so absorbable it can last up to three times as long as clay litter. Kitty litter made of corn has similar properties to wood. Other unique materials sold for use in the litter box include the peels of dejuiced fruits and wheat straw grass, both of which are biodegradable.

While odor control is a huge concern for people living with litter boxes in their home, some of the fragrant perfumes used to mask odors can be as odiferous as the waste and urine. Therefore, some brands promote the fact that they are unscented. The paper-based and crystal products tend to be the most odor-neutral. At least one product is herb-scented to attract cats, which can help with litter box training for kittens, although this skill comes naturally for most felines.

Below is a sampling of some of the healthier brands, with many more available through a web search of "kitty litter bands" or "cat litter bands."

  • Feline Pine: Made of biodegradable pine-lumber pellets, flushable or reusable as mulch. Nonclumping, safe for young kittens.
  • World's Best Cat Litter: Made of whole-kernel corn, flushable and usable as mulch. Clumps on contact with urine. May be dustier.
  • Scoop Away: Fine-grained clay clumping litter, the litter type preferred by most cats but the most likely to be tracked outside the litter box.
  • Dr. Elsey's Precious Cat Attract Litter: Herb-scented, clumping clay litter. Larger particles safe for kittens and scent helps them learn to use a litter box.
  • Pestell Clear Choice Low Track Silica Crystals Cat Litter: Crystal litters are highly absorbent and odor-neutral, but crystals can bother sensitive cat paws.
  • Yesterday's News: Made of unscented recycled newspaper, 99.7% dust-free and 3 times more absorbent than clay, with low tracking.