When you suffer from allergies, choosing a toilet situation for your cat can be a fine balancing act between your need for cleanliness and your kitty's need for scratchable litter. Luckily there are many low-dust, hypoallergenic options that can keep you breathing while your cat poos to his heart's content.
Like a Lumberjack ...
Pine litters are very popular and widely available. Provided you are not allergic to pine resins, these litters may be a good compromise between your air quality and your kitty's toilet quality. They look more like pellets than conventional litter, but most cats use them readily. These litters require a scoop with wide spaces, and they fall to damp sawdust rather than clumping, so expect to empty the box and replace the litter completely on a fairly frequent basis. Pine litter somewhat suppresses cat potty odor, but by replacing it with wet pine odor, which can take a bit of getting used to.
Don't Eat These Wheaties
Wheat litters look and behave more like conventional cat litters. They're made of wheat starch and clump when soiled. They are purported to produce significantly less dust than clay litters. You'll want to store this litter in a sealed plastic container, as it can attract bugs just like other grain products.
Light Bathroom Reading
Newsprint is cheap, nontoxic and highly absorbent, and so is litter made from it. These litters are often the most economical and, made of recycled paper, they're definitely the greenest choice. Like pine litter, newsprint litter usually comes pellet-shaped and requires a scoop with spaces large enough for it to pass through. It clumps somewhat more than pine, but not nearly as much as clay. Expect most liquid waste to sink to the bottom of the box. These litters provide some natural odor suppression.
A Playful Experience
Regular old playground sand is an alternative litter gleefully accepted by most cats. It can be purchased very inexpensively in very large bags at most hardware stores and is virtually dust-free. The drawback is that it's very heavy and does not clump, so you'll probably need help portaging it and then be emptying that weighty box of goodies at least every other day. If you only have one furbaby using the box, though, it may be worth a try. Odor suppression is relatively low.
Litter made of ground corn cobs is one hypoallergenic alternative on the market. These litters are generally not recommended if there's any chance your kitty may ingest them. Some pet owners report that the texture is not ideal for their cats' scratching needs. They also tend to grow mold more than other litters, which can be a concern if wet litter is collecting at the bottom of the box, or if you have to go a couple of days without scooping (vacation, anyone?).
Disobeying the Directions
When switching to a new litter, you may need to gradually mix it into your pet's older litter if he's persnickety about his bathroom routine.
Familiarize yourself with the directions for use on the package if a litter alternative is completely foreign to you. However, please do not ever flush any cat litter, no matter what the package says. Cats can carry a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. Flushing litter sends these nasties into the water, where they kill endangered wildlife, like cute little sea otters.
Angela Libal began writing professionally in 2005. She has published several books, specializing in zoology and animal husbandry. Libal holds a degree in behavioral science: animal science from Moorpark College, a Bachelor of Arts from Sarah Lawrence College and is a graduate student in cryptozoology.