Litter and Litter Boxes–A Review

General overview

If you have a cat, you have a  litter box(es) with litter in it(them).  There are as many litter boxes and kinds of litter as there are cats–or it seems that way. Walk into any  full size pet store and you will find a full wall of litter products and varieties of boxes to hold the litter.

Store litter section

If you have one cat, you will certainly have one litter box, or perhaps two, if you listen to the experts. Experts say that for every cat in the household, you should have one litter box per cat plus one. Translation: If you have 2 cats, you should have 3 boxes. Realistically: one cat, one box; two cats, two boxes etc.

A Review of Litter Boxes

Since there are not quite as many box designs as there are litter varieties, I am going to  review boxes first. Go into any pet store and you will find:

  •   Self-cleaning boxes that drop down the solids for easy extraction
  • Throw away boxes made of a heavy cardboard that can be discarded with the litter – designed for a short term stay
  • Plastic boxes designed for corner areas
  • Small boxes with low sides- designed for small areas- and small kitties.
  • Boxes with high sides-designed to keep litter in the box and not on the floor outside the box
  • High sided boxes with low cut entrance for easy access by kitty
  • Robot boxes  that you apparently never have to touch
  •  Closed top boxes for Kitty privacy

Prices run any where from $10 to $40. A lot depends on where you intend to put the box and how much you feel like spending. Remember it needs to be scooped at least once a day. The box needs to be completely cleaned once a week– that is– old litter dumped, box washed out with plain water, dried and refilled with fresh litter.

Unless you are totally into the latest high tech items on the market, I recommend keeping things simple. Your cat wants a place to go when nature demands it. If you have a large cat(10+lbs.) get a large box–regular rectangular, or high- sided( if your cat is young and agile and you don’t want to sweep litter everyday). Remember, one cat-one litter box; two cats- two litter boxes.

Litter box station

Litter boxes should be placed well away from the feeding area and in a low traffic area. Cats like privacy. If you live in a small, one-bedroom apartment as I do with no enclosed porch, your bathroom becomes the cats’ bathroom as well.

A review of what goes in the box

Again, I’m going to list the kinds of litter, by that I mean, the additives that go into the litter for review.  But first a little history.  Before World War II, most cats were outside animals, mostly because of the bathroom situation.

Cats traditionally dig a hole in loose sand or dirt, do their business and then cover it up. It’s tidy, but not for indoor living. People who really wanted to keep their cats indoors were relegated to using sand or dirt and ashes.  This led to an everyday major cleaning job.

An enterprising gentleman by the name of Ed Lowe was introducing  “Fullers Earth” or Kiln dried clay to people with chickens  and wondered if it would answer the cat problem. In 1947 he filled 5 lb. sacks with his clay and marked it “Kitty Litter “and charged 69 cents.

It sold. That was the beginning of the company Tidy Cat. Many companies with special reasons why you should buy their litter have come on the market since then.

Besides clay litter, there are other products on the market for Kitty’s use: wheat litter, wood chips litter, that all tout a cleaner way to take care of your cat’s bathroom chores.

The first litter was just that: litter. No additives, no clumping, no deodorant. Just plain litter. You put it in a pan and set it on the floor, in a corner. You could scoop out the solids, but you stirred the rest to let the litter dry out.

When the smell got to be too much, you took the pan outside and dumped the smelly litter somewhere in the weeds or in the bushes.

Then someone invented a way to make litter clump. When the cat urinates in the litter box an additive causes the wet litter to clump into a firm ball. It’s a simple non odorous way to scoop up the clump and the solids and toss into the garbage.

Kinds of Litter

  • Non -clumping Litter
  • Clumping Litter
  • Flushable Litter

Clumping litter is the most popular type of litter, so I’m saving that to explore last.

Non-Clumping Litter is usually clay with no clumping additive.  It can also be made with paper, pine sawdust, even grass. The trouble with non-clumping litter is that urine can pool under the litter  and cause a bad smell.

Litter can also be made from crystals that change color if your cat has a kidney or bladder infection.  For cats prone to this problem, a litter that can give you an early signal that something is wrong, is worth using.

Flushable Litter is a great environmentally friendly choice. Flushable litters are made from corn, wood, or wheat, or walnut shells. When your cat uses the litter box, just flush the mess down the toilet and forget it.

Clumping Litters are probably most used. Litter is mostly made of clay, but can be made of wheat or walnut -shells. You have a large list of additives to choose from:

  • Dust-free
  • Scent-free
  • odor-free
  • Hypo-allergenic
  • fresh scent
  • Multi-cat
  • Lightweight
  • Ultra attractant

Some of these are self explanatory. We will talk about those in a minute. Some may not be so clear. Most cats know what a litter box is and how and when to use it. Some cats have a little trouble learning to use a litter box so some litters have an attractant ( a smell that tells them this is the place).

If you are having trouble litter-box training your kitten, you will definitely want a litter with an Ultra Attractant added .

Some companies have come up with a litter that will clump better, be more odor free and whatever else you want a litter to do when there are several cats in the house. These are labeled Multi-Cat.

Lightweight--Let’s face it, litter is heavy, so at least one company has come up with a lightweight version of  a ten or 15 lb. container of litter. Supposed to work as well as the heavyweight kind. You might use more, which means that you might be buying it more often.

Cats are peculiar about scents. Some will accept a scent added to the litter, others will absolutely not. You will have to work that out with the cat.

Litter Recommendations for Cat Households

The cost of a container of litter varies, depending on what you want the litter to do. Clay litters are less expensive than the environmentally friendly ones. Containers come in a variety of sizes: 10, 12, 15, 20 lbs.

I recommend that you get a dust-free, good clumping, scent-free litter.  That is the minimum that you will want to use for your cats.

Store Refill Station

There is one other choice of a dust-free, clumping, scent-free litter that is easy on the pocketbook and it is offered at a well-known pet chain. All you have to do is to return to the store with your container and refill it. You can buy a 16lb or 32lb container of litter. You get a dollar off for a refill. You can do this as long as you have cats. I currently pay $6 for a 16lb container once a week. I have two cats.

Scent-free, dust-free and good clumping litter is good for most cat households. I recommend a litter with these three  components, nothing less, to be the necessary elements to look for in any litter. Other additives will depend on any special needs you may have for your household.

Thanks for stopping by. Please let me know what you think of my litter review. Leave your comments below. Barbara Nelson











12 thoughts on “Litter and Litter Boxes–A Review”

  1. I have two cats myself, and I know the deal choosing the best option for my cats, and also for me. I like Clumping litter the most because you can easily remove your cat’s “business”  and keep it clean at any time.  also, I suggest to the cat owners not to buy those covered boxes. Cats are very neat animals, and they don’t like strong smells, making your cat do their stuff in those boxes is equal to use portable toilets in a festival. 

    1. I liked your observations, Veronica. I agree that covered boxes may not appeal to cats and should have mentioned it in my review. Thank you for doing so. You know , most of these products are designed to appeal to the pet owners who will buy them, not always for the cats who will use them.

  2. Thank you for this great review! I believe a cat lover like me and other cat lovers will benefit from your review.

    Honestly, I am at home using ‘Flushable Litter “for my cat, because in my opinion, I find it easier to clean. Even though the litter I give is good enough, my cat can still get out of the fence and go litter somewhere else.

    By the way, why does “experts say that for every paint in the household, you should have one litter box per cat plus one”? I still dont get it.

    1. Thanks for your comments . Flushable litter is a good choice. Litter is a two-fold choice- one that both you and the cat will like.  The main reason for the one box more than the number of cats, is because cats like things clean–if one box is soiled and you haven’t had time to clean it, your cat has a second choice. By the way, keeping the litter box scooped often may solve your problem of the cat finding another spot. Most cats don’t like to use a box that has been soiled. They are fastidious creatures.

  3. I totally agree wit you that the amount one chooses to spend plays a vital role in the quality of the litter boxes one gets. I have only one cat and I have two litter boxes but then, one got spoilt from my children playing around so I need to get one now. Please if you can, can you suggest a litter box for me that is of higher quality and more durable

    1. Rodarrick, Thank you for your comments. As to a brand of Litter box, makers come and go. I suggest a sturdy one (they are all a derivative of plastic),not too high sides, and a surface that will clean easily–by that I mean a smooth surface that will resist claw scratches. 

  4. Nice, just really nice. U an happy to be able to see that there are a number of things that I can do with the different types of litter boxes. You see it’s a very good thing to be able to see this. I honestly didn’t know all about the flushable litter but I feel like it will be a very good option for me. Thanks!

    1. Thanks Henderson for the comment. There are a lot of products out there. Try the flushable; if your cat will use it and seems to like it ,you have found the solution. Just scoop often–cats like a clean box,  always.

  5. Hi Barbara, good to see you share this review of litter and litter boxes. I didn’t know much about litter boxes before now but now I know what it’s used for; a very nice container for our four legged friends. So I learnt a lot about the this product for cats. Thanks your recommendation of a dust free, good clumping and scent free litter.


    1. Thanks MrBiizy, for commenting on my Litter review. Yes, most products for our pets are designed for people to like, not necessarily our pets. Because if people like it, they will buy it without thinking about whether our pets will like it.  Cats do get allergies and dust makes them sneeze and cough. Most cats dislike perfume smells and they won’t like scented litter. The clumping factor is for those of us who have to clean the box. So, dust and scent free for the cats, clumping for us –the perfect product.

  6. I found three type of litter Non -clumping, Clumping and Flushable Litter. Clumping Litters are probably most used. They are Lightweight & Ultra attractant. If we are having trouble litter-box training our kitten, we will definitely want a litter with an Ultra Attractant added . I think Scent-free, dust-free and good clumping litter is good for most cat households.

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