Cat Litter: Traditional vs. Clumping

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Believe it or not cat litter products have only been around for approximately 63 years! Traditionally people used any material that was readily available to them including sand, garden dirt, ashes, and shredded newspaper. Then, in 1947 in the UK, a young man by the name of Edward Lowe gave his neighbor an absorbent called Fuller’s Earth. Edward worked for his father’s company Fuller’s Earth Union (FEU), later to become a part of Laporte Industries, which sold industrial absorbents. Edward began marketing this clay as “kitty Litter” and its popularity quickly grew, creating a brand new industry.

Scoopable clay cat litters made with sodium bentonite entered the market about forty years later and instantly became a success.

Today, approximately 69% of the cat litter market is clumping cat litters.

Traditional cat litter is made from very absorbent clay minerals that also help to bind the odors found in cat urine. Clumping kitty litter, on the other hand, is made from sodium bentonite clay. The benefit of sodium bentonite clay is that it clumps together when it is moist, allowing only the soiled litter to be removed and replaced.

The reason that most people prefer clumping litter is due to the fact that traditional litter must be replaced frequently while scoopable cat litter allows the solids and clumps of urine to be scooped out and discarded and a small amount of new litter to be added each time. A cat litter box using clumping litter may last up to a month without the litter being completely replaced.

Although there is no scientific data or study to prove this, there is discussion surrounding potential risks involved with the use of scoopable litter for kittens. There are some reports that clumps can lodge in kittens small digestive tracts and cause health problems. Kittens can ingest the granules during routine grooming and develop intestinal blockages. Dehydration and lack of nutrient absorption have been reported in kittens that have accidentally eaten clumping litter. For this reason many people tend to avoid clumping kitty litter however the lack of scientific data to prove these claims leaves the decision up to each individual’s judgment.

Image by eviltomthai