Sunday, January 2, 2011

All about the loo!

Happy New Year my friends!

Today's blog is all about the kitty loo. I will talk about some of the issues kitties have and their solutions. Also the pros and cons of different litter boxes as well as pros and cons of different litters.

Some kitties are very fastidious when it comes to their litter boxes. Others literally don't give a s**t (excuse the pun). These are the ones I would like to address.
First of all, if your kitty goes outside the box, have him or her checked by a veterinarian for a bladder infection. That is very important. If the veterinarian rules out a bladder infection, chances are that your kitty has some other issues with the litter box, the location of the box, or the litter itself.

A litter box should be in an accessible area. Don't make your kitty go up three flights of stairs and jump through hoops to get to the box. It should also be easily reachable by older or arthritic cats who might not be able to climb over a very high rim around the box.

Besides the location, there can be other reasons that keep a kitty from using the loo. Lots of kitties don't like litter box liners because their nails get stuck in them when they try to bury their output. As convenient as it might be to clean the box with a liner in it, if kitty's claws get stuck, it will feel uncomfortable and will not go back there again.

The size of the box makes a difference as well. Don't expect a 15 pound cat to use a box small enough for a kitten. The box should be appropriate to the size of the kitty. In a multiple cat household, you might want to put up multiple boxes since some kitties are very territorial and don't like sharing a litter box with another kitty.

Many cats don't like covered boxes for several reasons. If it is a big kitty, it will most likely hit the roof with the head and scrape the back when passing through the opening. Cats can be very sensitive to that and avoid using the box. Covered boxes also keep the smell lingering inside and who wants to hang out and do business in a stinky place? Shy kitties have a problem with not being able to see what is coming towards them while they're inside a covered litter box and might feel trapped.

Some kitties also have issues with the type of litter being used because not all litters are the same. I will get into more details about the different types of litter in a moment. Lets talk about the different kind of litter boxes first along with their pros and cons.

Standard Litter Box

This is the good old litter box as we know it. It comes in different sizes, small for kittens and larger for adult cats. It also comes in rectangular or round shape and in a variety of colors. Mostly made out of plastic, it can be found at most any store and goes for anywhere from $15 to $30.
Pros: It's cheap, you can find it anywhere, it's easy to clean, fits in most places, and can be used pretty much with any of the different litters.
Cons: It has to be scooped, changed, or cleaned manually. After a few years, the bottom of the box gets nasty and the box has to be replaced.

Automatic Litter Box

This is a rectangular shaped box with a receptacle on one end and a motor and a rake on the other end. The end with the rake has a sensor that spots kitty in the box and after a certain amount of time activates the rake. The rake sweeps across the litter box and pushes the waste products into the receptacle. The receptacle has to be emptied ever so often depending on how much the box is used. You can find it at pet supply stores or online. It goes for about $125.
Pros: You never have to clean the box yourself, just empty the receptacle or replace it and refill with fresh litter. There is always a clean box for kitty to use.
Cons: The darn things get stuck all the time. You have to check it at least once a day to make sure nothing gets stuck to the rake or it will either go back and forth endlessly or not work at all. If you use clumping litter, it gets stuck to the rake. If you use non clumping litter the urine collects on the bottom of the box.

Litter Robot

This litter box looks like something from a sci-fi movie. It is dome-shaped with a receptacle build into the step to the box. It also has a sensor and the dome-shaped part rotates after being used. It collects the waste products below in the step. The bag inside the step has to be changed ever so often and litter has to be refilled. Any litter can be used in this box.The litter robot can be found online and runs around $350.
Pros: Again, you never have to scoop or clean the box. All you have to do is change the bag and refill the litter.
Cons: Kitty has to climb up a step to get into the box. So it's not very suitable for arthritic kitties. The opening is also a little on the small side and larger cats might not like to go through the small opening. The dome itself is kind of on the small side and larger cats still have the rear end sticking out and often times pee out of the opening. That means you have to clean the step and the buttons on the front of the unit.

Litter Box Genie

This litter box gets hooked up to a water supply and also has to be located near a toilet, bath tub, or other kind of drain. It contains plastic granules that can be used over and over again. The litter box can be programmed to wash and rinse the granules as often as you like. Most people do it once a day. It is hooked up to the warm water supply and also uses a cleaning solution. After the wash and rinse cycle, the granules are dried and ready to be used again. It does the entire cycle in a reasonable time so kitty does not have to wait long to use the box again. The entire system including one cartridge of cleaning solution and granules can be bought online and goes for around $350. The cleaning solution lasts for 120 washes and a refill cartridge costs $25. The granules last for at least a year and a refill box is $25.
Pros: You don't have to do anything besides programing it and refilling the cleaning solution. The granules don't track much and the ones that do go outside the box can be swept up and put back into the box. The granules are small enough that most kitties don't mind the texture. They also don't stick to kitty's fur or feet.
Cons: It is a pretty expensive litter box. It has to be located near a water supply and a drain. It gets a little stinky while it goes through the washing cycle.

Now, what would a litter box be without the litter in it? Let me tell you a little bit about the different litters on the market along with the pros and cons of each of them.

Clay Litter

It comes in two forms, clumping and non-clumping litter. The non-clumping kind has coarse granules made out of clay. The clumping kind uses very fine granules also made out of clay and has an additive by the name of Sodium Bentotite which is a water retardant that makes the litter clump. The non-clumping kind goes by the name of Tidy Cat, Johnny Cat, and store specific names. The clumping kind goes by many names, some of them are Scoop Away, Tidy Cat, and Arm & Hammer. All of them can be found in any store. With the non-clumping kind you can get 20 pounds for around $5. The clumping kind is a bit more expensive and will run around $18 for 30 pounds.
Pros: The non-clumping kind is good for kittens and long haired cats since it doesn't stick to the fur or feet. It also doesn't track much. The clumping kind has a nice texture that lots of cats like. It clumps well and the box stays dry. It is good for kitties that urinate a lot. It is also easy to clean.
Cons: The non-clumping kind stays moist on the bottom of the box. You can only scoop out the feces. Urine stays in the box and thus, the litter has to be changed ever so often. The litter cannot be flushed and it is very dusty. It is environmentally unsound because it is produced through strip mining. The clumping kind is not well suited for kittens or long haired cats since it can stick to the fur and feet. It cannot be flushed down the toilet, is very dusty, and tracks a lot. This one too is produced through strip mining and also has a toxic ingredient, Sodium Bentotite, that makes it clump.


This litter is made out of silica. It comes in fine and coarse crystals that absorb the urine. It does not clumb, so the box needs to be change when the crystals turn yellow. It is found in most stores, goes among others by the name of Clear Choice, and runs around $15 for 8 pounds.
Pros: Absorbs moisture and neutralizes odor very well. Depending on the number of cats in the household it can last up to a month before it needs to be changed.
Cons: It is dusty and some cats develop a nasal allergy from the silica. Many cats don't like the texture of the litter. Urine pools on the bottom of the box and turns the granules into a yucky yellow color. You still have to scoop the poop every day. It is a little on the pricey side.

Pine Litter

Pine litter is made out of compressed pine lumber. It does not clump but the granules turn into sawdust when in contact with urine. You start out with approximately one inch of pine litter in the box that eventually turns into sawdust and has to be changed. It is also advisable to scoop out the poop every day. It goes by the name of Feline Pine, is found at most pet supply stores, and cost around $12 for 10 pounds.
Pros: It is biodegradable, can be flushed down the toilet, has little to no tracking and is well suited for kittens and long haired cats.
Cons: It does not clump but turns into saw dust. Therefore, still has to be scooped every day and changed once it's all dust. Some kitties don't like the texture of the rather large granules. It is a little on the pricey side and has to be purchased at a pet supply store. Although, Safeway has started to carry it now.

Corn and Wheat Litter

Wheat litter is made out of wheat particles and corn litter out of whole kernel corn. They clump like polenta and have no toxic clumping ingredients. The wheat based one goes by the name of Swheat and the corn based ones by the names of Nature's Miracle and World's Best. You can find them at pet stores at a cost of around $15 for a 10 pound bag.
Pros: They are non-toxic, biodegradable, flushable, and have little tracking. Nature's Miracle and the World's Best have very good odor control. Swheat however smells a little like a barn and Nature's miracle on the other hand a little perfumey. They are well suited for kittens and long haired cats as well as multiple cat households. Everything can be scooped out and a bag lasts for a long time.
Cons: It is a little pricey but then again, a bag lasts for a long time. You can only get it at pet supply stores. Safeway promised to carry it but I have not seen it there yet.

Recycled Paper Litter

As the name says, it is made out of recycled newspapers. It does not clump but rather absorb the urine. Unfortunately, it is hard to come by since some pet stores don't even carry it. It goes by the witty name of Yesterday's News and runs around $15 for a 30 pound bag.
Pros: It is an environmentally sound litter since it is made out of recycled newspapers. It's biodegradable, dust free, no tracking, and non-toxic. It absorbs well and has good odor control.
Cons: Since it only absorbs the urine and doesn't clump, it has to be changed often. So you will use up a lot of litter in a short time which, at this price, will get expensive. It is also hard to come by and some cats don't like to step on wet newspaper.

Well, with all this information, I am sure you will find some kind of solution that pleases you and your kitty. Keep in mind that when changing from one kind of litter to another, it is best done gradually over a period of time so your kitty gets used to the new litter while the old one is still available.

As always,
Love and Peace,

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