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postheadericon For as long as i can remember, clay based cat litter was the standard

For as long as I can remember, clay based cat litter was the standard. Clay based cat litter was always inexpensive and reasonably effective. The trick was to keep the nasty bits scooped out and change the litter at a reasonable interval. When to change the litter was fairly easy to figure out since the clay would absorb only so much urine. Several cats I have had the pleasure to own over the years were not shy about telling when they thought it was time to clean the litter box.

Prior to the introduction of clay cat litter, owners of inside cats relied on a wide variety of materials. Shredded newspaper, sand, and even plain dirt served the purpose but had some obvious drawbacks. None of these materials was very absorbent and needed to be changed often. As any owner of an inside cat will tell you, controlling the inevitable order from the cat box was difficult.

As with most product inventions and improvements, the inventor was responding to a need. The introduction of what came to be commonly known as kitty litter was not much different. Introduced in the late nineteen forties, clay based cat litter changed the way people, and cats, thought about controlling cat waste. Compared to other soil types, the composition of clay soil makes it naturally absorbent. In its natural state, clay has a very high moisture content, sometimes to the point of saturation. Now this hardly sounds like a substance that would make a great filler for the cat box.

What makes clay based cat litters work is what happens between the time the clay is collected and when it lands in the litter box. Raw clay would be dried, usually in a hot kiln. The process of kiln drying and baking is used in the production of clay pottery and the drying of milled timber. Baking the clay removes a significant amount of moisture. As water is removed from the clay, the volume shrinks and what remains is a substance that is once again capable to absorbing moisture. Its as simple as that and an entire industry sprang up around that one simple fact.

So for almost fifty years, clay based cat litter ruled the cat box. Along the way, attempts were made to add odor control ingredients, including aftermarket products. Since cat urine would turn mildly acidic over time, many folks would combine simple baking soda with the clay litter. The baking soda acted to change the Ph of the urine, neutralizing the acid and reducing odor. Other aftermarket products used combinations of various chemicals, including perfumes and odor neutralizers. These products were easy to use and were just sprinkled into the litter.

Just as we thought the science of cat litter had reached its zenith, along comes scoopable litter. It clumped, it lumped and turned the undesirable chore of cleaning the cat box into something almost bearable. Loaded with deodorizers, this unique product remained in granulated state until being used by the cat. The granules adhere to the urine and feces, encapsulating it in a clump. Using a common litter scoop, the waste is easily removed, leaving the clean litter behind.

The convenience of scoopable cat litter does come with a price. While clay based litter is relatively inexpensive, some brands of scoopable litter can be pricey. The added expense is mitigated somewhat since less scoopable litter is needed to keep the litter pan clean. Still, there are some cat owners who are concerned about the chemicals used to in the production of scoopable cat litter.

In response to some of those concerns, a market has sprung up for scoopable cat litter that uses natural enzymes to control odor. New brands of natural litter stress the low dust and absence of strong chemical deodorizers. Clay is a very rugged substance and will not break down.

Without clay as a base, producers of natural cat litter advertise their products as biodegradable and even flushable. While filling the local sewer system with used cat litter would not be my first disposal choice, it is nice to know that it will breakdown naturally.

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