Cat litter has one basic property, that is to soak up liquid. No matter what type of cat litter you prefer, they’re all made simply to absorb. Some types of litters absorb more than others, so you may need to try out several until you find one that suits both your and Milo’s nose.
Traditional Clay Litter
Traditional clay litter, made primarily from calcium bentonite, is the original type of kitty litter, dating back to World War II. Back then cat owners filled the litter pan with ashes from the furnace or dirt from the backyard. At the time, clay was used only to soak up industrial spills, until a savvy young sailor realized that clay made from his father’s firm had highly absorbent properties, perfect for absorbing feline waste. Regular clay litter soaks up roughly its weight in fluid, reports Animal Planet. It locks in moisture, minimizing odors until it becomes oversaturated, at which point you’ll have to change it.
Clumping litter also is made from clay, but it’s a different kind of clay called sodium bentonite. This ingredient has even greater absorbing properties than non-clumping litter, bulking up to about 15 times its size when it gets wet, according to VetInfo. Unlike traditional clay litter, sodium bentonite sticks together when it comes into contact with liquid, creating solid clumps. All you have to do is scoop out the solid clumps, as well as any solid waste, during your morning routine.
Silica cat litter is completely different than clay litters. This kind of litter, made of silica dioxide sand, oxygen and water, looks like small little crystals. The pearly white pieces are highly absorbent, with the ability to pull up around 40 times their weight in liquid – nearly three times the absorbing power of clumping litter according to VetInfo. Silica litter isn't designed to clump, rather each individual piece seals in moisture. Silica can become oversaturated quickly if Milo always urinates in the same corner, so stirring the crystals and removing solid waste on a daily basis is important.
The Secret Ingredient
Many different types of litters contain baking soda to enhance further the absorbing muscle of the litter. Baking soda picks up some of the stray moisture, locking it in so bacteria can’t grow and cause foul odors. If you notice a little smell in your four-legged pal’s box, sprinkle a little baking soda on top and add a touch to the bottom of the box the next time you change the litter. You’ll keep your litter dryer and fresher for a longer period of time.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.