All about litter and litter boxes

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to observe cats in the wild, you would have seen how they cover their waste. They choose a sandy spot, dig a hole, go in it, and bury it. Thousands of years of instincts have gone undiluted in these beautiful creatures. They cover their waste to prevent predators from getting their scent and finding them. Cats today, have no natural predators, of course, but their instincts still need to be treasured.

Before there was litter…

In the late 40’s cat owners seldom let their cats “go potty” indoors. Their large back yards were enough for cats to take their business outside. However, with the increase in awareness about pet safety and hygiene, a concept needed to be visualized to allow pet cats to relieve themselves in the safety of their own homes. Common absorbent materials such as ash, sawdust, sand, and newspapers were commonly used to line boxes. These materials simulated the sandy texture that cats sought, when they went outside.

The first official “Litter”…

As one can imagine, using the above materials wasn’t fool-proof. The solid or liquid waste can easily seep through and make a mess at the bottom of the tray. The litter substances weren’t very effective in eliminating unpleasant odors either. The break-through moment in litter materials came, when an industrial worker by the name of Edward Lowe advocated soft ground clay to line pans and trays. This clayey material was highly absorbent in nature, and effectively eliminated scents to a large degree. This discovery led to the invention of natural clumping clay litter.

Evolution of Litter…

Ever since Lowe’s idea went into business in the mid 60’s, cat litter products have evolved in leaps and bounds. Pet care companies began investing in researching and creating better litter for commercial sales, and to be used in homes across the country. Now, litter comes in several textures, compositions, colors, and scents. The most common variety out there is of course, the clumping clay litter. Silica gel is a desiccating agent, and crystals can be used to make non-clumping, yet highly absorbent cat litter. Non-clumping litter can also be made of clay, however, its capacity to soak up moisture may not be that high. Litter can also be made of recycle newsprint, pine granules or pellets, and corn.


What good litter should do!

Apart from being an easy and safe place for your pet pal to ease himself, good litter should also be able to prevent offensive odors from traveling through the house via ventilation or A/C ducts!
Whether you use clumping or non-clumping litter, it should efficiently remove the waste material that has been released onto its surface.

People who suffer from dust-borne allergies or asthma, shouldn’t be affected by the litter particles that are kicked up into the air. Therefore, good litter should have minimum dust dispersion.
Perhaps the most important part about litter is that it should not be toxic or dangerous to your pet in anyway. Cats love to groom themselves and keep their coats clean. If a long-haired cat tracks litter on her coat, she will lick her fur and paws to get rid of it. In the process, a marginal quantity of litter might be accidentally ingested. This should not pose a threat to the life or health of the animal in any way.

In conclusion…

The invention of litter was a life-saver, both metaphorically and literally! Having your animal feel safe and secure as he goes about his nature’s call is essential in keeping him happy. At the same time, making sure that you have a pleasant-smelling house, without dust in the air circulation, is good for you and the health of your family. To keep the furriest to the biggest member of your family happy, invest some time in getting to know your pets, and get the right self cleaning litter that works best for you and the animal. Good luck!


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