You can always go outside and gather some dirt from the yard or ashes from the fireplace, which is actually what cat owners used to do. But, in the 1940s, Ed Lowe suggested that his neighbor try using an absorbent clay, which at the time was quite popular for cleaning industrial oil spills in wartime factories.
This was the beginning of cat litter.
The absorbent clay was great at odor control, as the urine would siphon to the bottom of the pan. This clay was large, so unlike the sand or ash, it didn’t cling to the cat’s paws and track around the house.
Granulated clay litter was the only source of cat litter for nearly 40 years, until Thomas Nelson, Ph.D, started raising Persian cats when trying to supplement his income while in grad school. Nelson ended up developing a clumping litter that was also absorbent. He wanted a litter that would clump when urinated on, so that the clump was all that had to be removed from the litter box.
The clumping litter was much more expensive than the granulated clay, but by 1999, clumping litter had made great innovations and made up 50% of the cat litter market.
History aside, when it comes to choosing the perfect cat litter for you and your cat(s), you’ll find that there are tons of options. Personally, I prefer using Arm and Hammer; it comes in a variety of types, all of which work great whether you have one cat or multiple cats.
Other options of cat litter include:
- Scented or non-scented (cats generally prefer non-scented)
- Multi-cat formula (creates more cement-like clumps that can withstand more foot traffic)
- Flushable cat litter
- Eco-friendly cat litter (corn cob, recycled newspaper, peanut shell meal, processed orange peel, wheat, pine sawdust and shavings, and hardwood and cedar chips)
- Silica gel beads and crystals (for self-cleaning cat litter boxes)
If you’re not sure which cat litter to choose, you may want to test your cat(s) with different litter until you can find the one that you cat(s) like the best.
Most cat owners have found that their cats prefer regular clumping litter over the eco-friendly or silica gel type litters.
What cat litter do you use?