Friday, February 8, 2008

The Cat Litter Chronicles Part I

I’ve been struggling to find a decent cat litter at an affordable price. We have two cats in our apartment, so odor control is very important.

I’m concerned about the environmental impact of traditional clay litters. They are strip-mined, and there is some concern about the effect clay dust can have on a cat’s lungs (mentioned in this treehugger article).

However, alternative cat litters are more expensive. And since different types of litter have varying weights, it can be difficult to compare price per pound. Pine litter, for example, is very light-weight. There is a greater volume of litter for the weight. To add to the confusion, every type of litter seems to receive mixed reviews in terms of quality and environmental friendliness.

I am currently trying out Feline Pine Scoop clumping litter. On their website they offer a rebate for one free 4 lb box, so it was easy to justify trying it out.

A four pound box of Feline Pine Scoop costs $7.99 at Petco, as compared to Petco's brand of clay litter, which costs $6.99 for a 16 pound refill jug. (You pay more when you first buy the jug, and get a discounted price when you refill it. Even that is a step in the right direction!)

At first glance, that seems like a huge price difference, but I found that the four pounds of Feline Pine last almost as long as the 16 pounds of clay litter. As I mentioned above, the pine litter is much lighter for the same volume. In that light, you are paying $1.00 more for nearly the same supply of litter.

The Feline Pine doesn't scoop as tightly as clay litters, but it does a fairly good job. It does MUCH better with odor control than some of the clay litters I have used. The only time we notice a cat box odor is right after they go, and I don't think there's a litter in the world that could tackle that! There is a little bit of a weird smell when I scoop, but it's a vast improvement over the overwhelming dust or fake floral smell I've encountered before.

My one complaint about Feline Pine is that it is too light. The closest I can come for comparison purposes is pencil shavings from those old crank sharpeners in grade school. The cats carry some of it out of the box with them (one of the cats actually sat in the litter, and it clung to his fur). This also makes it more difficult to scoop; the clean litter doesn't sift through as quickly as clay litter.

Overall, I am pleased with the quality Feline Pine Scoop. I wish that it were a little bit heavier, and a little bit less expensive (we are on a tight budget). I'm going to continue searching out different solutions for the litter box.