ShelterSpeak: Kitty Litter
Shelter Speak: What kind of kitty litter do you use? Where do you get it, and do you mix donated litters? What kind do the cats in your shelter seem to like best, and which is the cleanest?
Christie Smith, executive director
Potter League for Animals,
Newport, Rhode Island
We purchase kitty litter but also happily accept donated litter. The biggest problem we have had with kitty litter is the clay or silica dust from most litters. Cages, floors, the ventilation system—and probably the lungs of the animals and the staff—are always covered with a fine layer of dust from the litter. This created enough extra cleaning and concern that we recently switched to Cedarific, a wood fiber litter that is easy to sweep or vacuum and has no dust that invades every corner of the shelter. This litter is a blend of hardwood and cedar chips made from reclaimed, renewable wood fiber and contains no added chemicals.
Some of our staff were concerned about the presence of cedar since it is often said that cedar shavings with aromatic oils have been shown to cause liver damage and early death in small animals. In debating the pros and cons of various litters, we decided that a small amount of cedar for cats who are only temporarily living in the shelter was better than the constant influx of silica and clay dust that permeated the shelter. Because the wood fiber litter is lightweight, some cats tend to spread it around more than clay litters, and some long-haired cats manage to “decorate” themselves with tiny wood chips! But it does brush off or sweep up easily. We always have some clay litter that has been donated, and we use that, but not exclusively.
Nicky Ratliff, executive director
Humane Society of Carroll County,
We use a product called Hi-Dri, which is an absorbent to clean up oil spills, etc. We’ve used it for at least 15 years, and the cats all use it. It’s dusty when you fill a barrel but not when the cats dig in it. We purchase it from a janitorial supplier in 40-pound bags and pay $4.80 per bag. Yes, we do sometimes mix donated litter with it, but we usually don’t ask for litter donations because we could benefit more from other types of donations since the litter is so cheap. It is made by Sud-Chemie Adsorbents, Inc., located in Meigs, Georgia. They say it’s made of “genuine fullers earth” (a kind of clay).
Jane McCall, executive director
Dubuque Humane Society,
We use the “non-clumping” kind of litter. The scoopable kind tends to stick to everything, including drains. We get all of our litter donated, and yes, we mix it together. We even ask for the non-clumping kind. Cats seem to prefer the regular clay litter. We get local brand names like “Cat Tails” or “Tidy Cat.”
Bill Garrett, executive director
Atlanta Humane Society
We use a variety but try to avoid the “clumping” type to avoid spillage in drains and subsequent clogging. Fresh Step Crystals (made by Clorox) is the cleanest and most absorbent, but the cats seem to prefer the plain and simple (attapulgite clay) type that has been around for years. We get a lot of (and use) Clorox Fresh Step. There is a large plant in the Atlanta area, and stores carry this as their major brand and seller.