November 2009 Issue

Choosing an Alternative Litter

Step aside, clay and clumping! Today’s choices include products made of paper, grain and even wood.

Over the past decade, numerous products have entered the cat litter market as "alternative" litters. The chief claim of many of these litters is that they are made from plant-based or recycled materials, as opposed to clay, the basis of "traditional" kitty litters. Potential Benefits. As with most products or groups of products, there are both advantages and disadvantages to using alternative cat litters. One advantage that makers of these specialty litters feel appeals to cat owners with environmental concerns is that alternative litters — because they are made of biodegradable substances — present less strain on landfills. Some brands are even marketed as being "compostable" and/or burnable. Additionally, alternative litters are made of materials that often give off little to no dust — which can be a benefit to a cat with upper respiratory issues. "Our general advice to owners of asthmatic cats is to limit environmental exposure to potential irritants of all kinds," says Carolyn McDaniel, VMD, a consultant with the Cornell Feline Health Center. "This includes aerosol cleaning agents, perfumes, cigarette smoke … and dusty cat litter."

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