I was pet sitting and scooping the litter at a clients home the other day and the thought came to mind, “Who came up with the idea of clumping litter? I love them.” So of course I had to look it up when I had some extra time and here is what I found.
Before World War II most cats lived both indoor and outdoor lives so they used the bathroom outside which wasn’t a problem. But when inside they were accommodated with a box of sand or ashes taken from the furnaces or fireplaces. In the 1940’s a man by the name of Ed Lowe knew that clay was used in factories to absorb spills so he came up with the idea to use absorbable clay instead of ashes or sand – kitty litter entered the scene!
Okay, not to be disrespectful to Mr. Lowe – but he is not the one I love. I’m sure the women who were using ashes and sand in the 1940’s loved him but I love the person who came up with clumping litter. So I had more research to do.
People were happy with their clay kitty litter for a long time, but in 1984 Thomas Nelson, Ph.D. developed clumping cat litter. He is quoted in Cat Fancy magazine as saying, ” I had a box of litter I did not change in 10 years – I just added more – and it had absolutely no odor at all.” Okay, eww. Ten years are a bit past what I would recommend…but I still hold a strong affection for this man who has made my live so much easier when it comes to scooping.
What’s the best litter for your furry feline? That’s a matter of personal choice – you and your cat’s. Clumping litter is considered more expensive (pound per pound) than regular clay litter but it has to be considered how often you need to change the clumping vs. non-clumping kind to figure a true cost comparison. Clumping litter can sometimes accumulate in the corners or on the sides of litter boxes if you aren’t careful about removing it from those areas but they are much better at controlling odors than the granulated clay litters. Some people find there is more of a dust issue with the clumping litter than the granulated. Not convinced that you even want clay litter? There are other litters on the market such as recycled newspaper, corn cob, wheat, peanut shell meal, pine sawdust … the list goes on and on!
There was an interesting study done in 1990 by Dr. Peter Borchelt, an applied animal behaviorist, where he let cats choose between 14 different types of commercial litters. In test after test he found that most cats chose the fine-grained clumping litter more than twice as often as the other litters. It’s interesting to note that his test-cats turned their noses up at the wood chip litter, grain litter and the recycled newspaper litter. They didn’t use them at all when given another choice. His conclusion was that the most important factor in a cats choice of litter material is texture, granularity or coarseness.
Whatever litter you choose, keep in mind that your cat really is the final judge. If you like the litter but she doesn’t … guess who wins that one? Remember that most cats prefer non-scented litter and all cats want a clean litter box. So there you have it – cats like clumping litter too!