Live well indoors with cats
Written by the makers of Integrity Natural Cat Litter
If you’re sharing your home with a cat, you appreciate the fact that cats are full of personality, affectionate, and naturally fastidious and clean. However, litter box odors and problems can put a damper on even the best cat relationships. Choosing the right litter, box and scoop, and using them in a manner that works for you and your cat is the key to harmony.
The litter box from the feline perspective:
Litter box location
Make sure the litter box is set up in a quiet, private place, in a different room than the food, water and favorite sleeping areas, and away from noises that may startle her. If more than one cat uses the box, consider providing one box per cat, plus one more, and place them in different areas of the home, if possible. Increased access to litter helps prevent problems, such as a dominant cat that prevents others from using the box.
Litter box type
Cats tend to prefer open litter boxes rather than covered ones, but covered boxes are better at containing any mess and are fine to try. If a problem develops, especially in a home with more than one cat, try offering open litter boxes. In general, cats prefer larger boxes to smaller ones, and lower sides to higher sides.
Litter from the cat’s perspective:
- Texture that feels right— Indoor-only cats may have softer paws and prefer litter with a finer, sand-like texture. Cats that spend time outside often do well with coarser litter particles, such as pellets.
- Dust-free— All cat litter has some amount of dust, but too much can irritate the respiratory passages of a sensitive cat. Dust free litters tend to be of higher quality and will control odors better.
- Fragrance-free—Artificial fragrances (and dyes) may cause respiratory problems for sensitive cats and their owners and do not control odors—they merely mask them.
- The right weight—Litter should be heavy enough to support the cat’s weight. Very large cats may sometimes sink into lightweight corn or wheat litters, which typically are filled to a depth of 2 to 4 inches. Clay is the heaviest litter, and can support heavier cats.. Wood pellets may work well also because the fill is shallow, and sinking is not a problem.
- Non-sticking—Litter should not stick to fur or get stuck between the toes. Any litter sticking to the cat will be groomed off and swallowed. Plant-based litters clump less tightly when in contact with liquids, and pellet litters do not stick to fur, so both are good choices for longhaired cats and kittens.
- A clean litter box—Some cats can tolerate a box that isn’t cleaned often, while others won’t set foot in one. With clumping litters, scoop the box daily. A great advantage of corn and wheat litter is that the clumps can be flushed down most toilets, and many households keep the box in a bathroom for convenience. Clay and wood pellets will damage plumbing if you try to flush, but pellets can be composted or used for mulch after the solids are removed.
Litter from a human perspective:
- Odor control—Vitally important when cats and people live together. Control is achieved when odor-causing proteins are bound in bentonite molecules (clay litters) or in plant starches and enzymes (wheat, corn, pine and other plant litters). Artificial scents do not bind up odors, and may cause problems for sensitive cats and people. Natural scents like pine or lavender are okay. NOTE: A high-quality food can greatly reduce litter box odors. Incomplete digestion of plant-based proteins encourage bacterial growth and are the root cause of fecal odor. If your cat’s litter box is especially stinky, consider a change in food.
- Non-tracking—Litter should stay in the box where it belongs. The larger and heavier the particle, the less that gets outside the box and the easier it is to clean up.
- Easy to clean the box—Clumping litters are the easiest for most people to clean. The solids and liquid clumps can be scooped daily and fresh litter added as needed. Pellet style litters require less depth, can be scooped daily, and the whole pan changed out—typically weekly.
- Long-lasting—How long it takes to go through a bag of litter depends on the cats that use it and the owner that cleans it. Clumping litters tend to last longer than non-clumping. Quality bentonite clay litters will last longer than cheaper clay litters cut with sand or limestone. Quality pelleted litters are long lasting, but the whole box needs to be changed out from time to time.
- Good for the planet—Plant-based litters from corn or wheat are renewable, sustainable and biodegradable. Pine and other plant fibers reclaimed from the timber industry are also renewable. Bentonite clay, while not a renewable resource, generally comes from a not-too-far-away western state, and not from overseas.
Introduction to the Integrity Family of Cat Litters
Integrity Clay Litter
Made of 100% Wyoming sodium bentonite clay, with no fillers, it offers excellent odor control, strong clumping action, low tracking and low dust. It’s easy to scoop and keep clean, and is long lasting. Because it contains no fragrances, dyes or chemicals, it makes a great choice for sensitive cats and people. The environmental impact of the clay mining process is minimized by replanting the land after mining in order to protect water quality and to create space spaces for wildlife, recreation and farming.
Integrity Multicat Clay Litter
This litter is 95% bentonite clay with 5% zeolite for extra odor control. Zeolite is a bright white clay with a special molecular structure that’s effective at trapping odors and toxins. Zeolite is so safe that it’s used to purify water.
Integrity Natural Wheat+
100% renewable and biodegradable, Natural Wheat+ is made from wheat with aspen and potato, and delivers outstanding odor control. The enzymes found naturally in wheat control odors. Wheat starches form strong clumps on contact with liquids, and aspen and potato starch keep clumps from sticking to the bottom of the box. Easy to scoop and keep clean — perfect for multiple cat households.
Integrity Natural Corn Cob+
100% renewable and biodegradable, this lightweight, cobbled litter is low-tracking, with a texture that suits indoor cats’ softer paws. It’s made of highly absorbent corncob and pine wood fibers for excellent odor control. Strong clumps form on contact with liquids, and pine adds a clean natural scent. Great for people who prefer a scented litter but don’t want chemical fragrances.
High heat treated pine pellets absorb odors and liquids by forming soft clumps from the bottom of the litter box up, leaving a dry surface for the cat. High heat also destroys any molds or toxins commonly in some plant litters and breaks up the volatile oils in pine while leaving a fresh scent. Excellent for sensitive cats. The pellets are perfectly sized for the comfort of the cat and for the cleanliness of the home. They won’t get stuck between a cat’s toes and they won’t track. Made of reclaimed pine wood from sustainable forestry projects, in a zero-waste production facility, pine litter is 100% renewable and 100% biodegradable.
Integrity Cat Litter recommendations by type of cat
Kittens—Look for a clumping, plant-based litter—it generally won’t stick to fur and is safer if accidentally ingested. Try Wheat+ or Corn Cob+.
Longhaired—Look for litters that won’t stick to fur, and are safer if accidentally ingested. For longhaired cats that go outside, try pine. For long-haired indoor cats, try Wheat+ and Corn Cob+.
Seniors—Look for a soft texture, and anything they will use! Chances are, they already know what they like. Clumping Clay and Multicat Clumping work well; Wheat+ and Corn Cob plus are good plant alternatives. Sometimes, the cat demands a change in the litter—for whatever reason. In this case, pine is often the best choice because the pellets feel different and the litter contains the fewest possible allergens.
Heavy, large cats—Choose a litter that supports the cat’s weight. Clay litters are firmest, and pine pellets require the shallowest box fill. Wheat+ and Corn Cob+ also work well.
Indoor—Look for a litter with a fine texture for softer paws, and one with exceptional odor control. Clumping Clay, Multicat Clumping, Wheat+ and Corn Cob+ are all excellent choices.
When a cat stops using the litter box
Scent is a means of communication to cats. When a cat stops using the litter box, the cat is sending a big, stinky signal to alert you that she may be experiencing a health or behavioral issue. The cat may associate the pain from a health problem with the litter box, and be eliminating in other places to avoid this pain. Signs that a cat may be having a problem include perching on the end of the box and meowing or crying when approaching the box.
In general, male cats, cats eating only dry kibble, and cats under stress are more prone to urinary tract issues. Older cats and cats with frequent hairballs may develop a tendency to get constipated, which can also be painful and lead to litter box problems.
At the first sign of litter box problems, see a veterinarian to rule out urinary tract issues and other problems. These are very treatable conditions, yet sadly, inappropriate elimination is still the number one reason cats are surrendered to shelters.
Using the right litter will result in a healthy cat and a happy home for both of you!
Have questions about the best litter for your cat? Stop in to your friendly neighborhood All The Best Pet Care. We have ideas and suggestions for you to try!