Please recommend me some kitty litter
April 23, 2012 6:37 PM   Subscribe

Seeking kitty litter recommendations of the non-dusty kind. I think the dust from our scoopable litter might be causing / contributing to cat coughing issues.

My lovely Kittymeow has an ongoing coughing issue, and I wonder if it might be the scoopable (dusty) litter we are using, or the litter may at least be contributing to / aggravating it. She also tends to poop just outside her box which leads me to think she may be doing that to minimize her exposure to the dust. I don't know for sure though. Vet took an x-ray and charged me a lot of money to say they aren't sure if it's asthma or not. I am going to try the dust-elimination (minimization anyway) theory and see if it helps my kitty.

At any rate, I would like to try something that is NOT dusty, so I am asking for recommendations. I have never used anything other than the clumping scoopable litter, so I'm a little hazy on the details of exactly how to use other litters, like: do you just throw the entire litter box of stuff out every couple of days or something? Do you have to disinfect the litter box before you add more litter? I feel pretty stupid about this, please give me some clues as to how to proceed.

I haven't got any specific brand or type in mind - I am posting this so that hopefully y'all can give me some ideas of what to look for, what has worked for you, pluses and minuses of various sorts, etc.

So, what would you recommend?

Note: I generally have been buying whatever major brand type of scoopable litter I come across in my various shopping excursions, I think Scoop Away was the last one I got, but the scoopable ones all seem equally super-dusty to me.
posted by marble to Pets & Animals (22 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I originally switched to the recycled newspaper pellets (can't remember the brand name) for the same reason. They were fine, but then I went to Feline Pine. Feline Pine controls odor much better that the newspaper pellets.

A crazy-cat-lady friend then told me that woodstove pellets are the same product as Feline Pine. She called the company to confirm, and they told her that yes, it was the same stuff. Wood pellets are much cheaper than cat litter. I bought two 40-lb bags in October for $5 each at Tractor Supply and haven't had to buy cat litter since.
posted by mudpuppie at 6:45 PM on April 23, 2012 [8 favorites]

We use Swheat Scoop, which is clumpable/scoopable but made of wheat. It still has a bit of dust, but far far less than traditional litters. Also we find that it contains smells quite well.
posted by barnoley at 6:53 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

We use the wood pellets too, and also just divert some from the supply to our pellet stove. The only difference you might run into though is that some wood pellets are from hard woods or a hard wood mix, and they don't have that 'fresh wood' smell that people associate with pine. So just buy soft wood pellets. Anyway.

You put in shallow layer and when the pellets get wet, they disintegrate. So when there's mostly powder in the box, you toss the whole box. You can kind of shimmy the box now and then, which will bring the un-disintegrated pellets as well as solid waste toward the top. You can then remove the solid waste, if the smell is bothersome. Our cat doesn't seem to care and we are kind of lazy so we don't do this as often as we should.

Besides the pine pellets, there are also silica crystals. They are basically just salt that absorbs liquid waste and beneath which your kitty will hide the solid waste. WHen the crystals are overwhelmed by the liquid waste they will smell, so you'll know to get rid of them. You can remove the solid waste as necessary.

I've tried the swheat scoop stuff too. It made such sticky goo when it got wet though (like if the cat tracked it on the bathroom floor and water from the shower dripped) that we gave it up...
posted by Tandem Affinity at 7:38 PM on April 23, 2012

Yeah, I'm using Feline Pine and I toss the whole lot about every 5 days. (Would that I had a tractor supply nearby.) The pee disintegrates the pellets into sawdust (not very dusty sawdust, mind), and the poo just sort of gets buried under it all. I augment it's natural odor-killing tendencies with Arm & Hammer Litter Deodorizing powder.
posted by carsonb at 7:38 PM on April 23, 2012

We use "Yesterday's News" which is made of recycled newspaper. Not dusty at all, and we love it.
posted by arcticwoman at 7:42 PM on April 23, 2012

I use Yesterday's News (and off brands) too, and it's the most awesome litter ever. It never sticks to the pan.
posted by royalsong at 7:44 PM on April 23, 2012

We use Ultra Micro Crystal Litter which is pretty fantastic. We go through about two bags a month ( cat's secretly a princess, so you might be fine with one) and it's awesome.
posted by spunweb at 7:46 PM on April 23, 2012

It's probably easier to change to a totally different material, but the World's Best Cat Litter seems to be minimally dusty. Or on a similar order to Swheat Scoop, anyway. It's made of corn.

I've actually forgotten why I moved away from Swheat Scoop (I switched from World's Best to have a litter that Target stocked in case I couldn't get to a pet store). My mother abandoned it because the smell reminded her too much of bread and it was putting her off baking. But, anyway, switched to the horribly dusty Fresh Step. Decided the dust wasn't doing me or Edmund any good and switched back to World's Best, which Target now stocks. The one downside is that the kernels are quite light, so rather than get tracked around, they go flying in the vicinity of the litter box.
posted by hoyland at 7:48 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was using crystal type litter recently, but it was also dusty (although not as bad as clay.) I've tried the feline pine, but my cats didn't like pellets. I've just started using a pine litter that's not pellets, Fresh Step Natural Scoop. It's more like sawdust, and it has carbon for odor. So far, no dust and all five of us (4 cats and me) are pleased. It works just like clay in terms of scooping.

I've used the wheat litter in the past, and didn't like it at all. It got tracked everywhere, it got funky quickly, and it aggravated my wheat allergy.
posted by MexicanYenta at 8:04 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

So are you using the clay litter? I think it's clay litter in general that causes the respiratory problems. I'm using Swheat Scoop, it's a wheat or grain based litter (don't remember) that's clumping and not dusty and my kitties have no issues with coughing at all. I've tried a bunch of different litters including World's Best, Feline Pine, Yesterday's News . . . World's Best is awesome, but Swheat Scoop is a bit cheaper and works just as nicely.
posted by schroedinger at 8:10 PM on April 23, 2012

We're using the Trader Joe's version of feline pine and I think it is still both somewhat trackable and also slightly dust producing when the pellets disintegrate. Anecdatum: one of my friends' cats had an ongoing cough that was vet diagnosed as cat version of asthma (it turns out that there are actually cat inhalers like the human ones), and I think the coughing resolved when they changed the kitty's diet...
posted by tangaroo at 8:18 PM on April 23, 2012

My cats had major wheezing/coughing/sneezing problems with almost every scoopable cat litter we found, and the stuff tracked everywhere. So gross! We finally switched to the unscented litter that Petco sells in bulk (as in, you go buy a tub and fill it up at a huge bin yourself and pay like $6 for it) and it has been amazing. No respiratory issues and the cats don't track it all around my apartment anymore.

I have seen this litter recommended by vets and crazy cat ladies alike (including the kinds who otherwise swear by the natural stuff that DOES NOT WORK). It's good. It's one of the few scoopable litters left that truly doesn't have any scent at all, which I think makes a huge difference.
posted by joan_holloway at 8:19 PM on April 23, 2012

We use Swheat Scoop for our cat and it's given us the best result of the various brands that we have tried. Not too dusty and our cat seems to like it.
posted by arcticseal at 8:48 PM on April 23, 2012

as a cat breeder, I wonder what kind of Cat you have, and if you purchased it as a kitten? Some cats have respiratory problems in general. There is a medicatation for that called clavamax. As far as the litter is concerned, a kitten is use to whatever the breeder initially used, so if your going to change litters, it's best to buy the litter of your choice, and slowely introduce it to the cat box. Yes you should sanitize your cat box once a week, BTW. Cats are realy picky about their cat box! It must be clean, and by clean, I mean REALY clean. There is a corn litter on the market, but i have tried it and it's so messy, i had to put the litter box in the extra bathrooms bathtub. Not so handy. I use tidy cat, with my cats and kittens, with no problem. Yes, it is a little dusty, but it beats picking up poo and whiping pee away from around the cat box. My cats also have respiratory problems, and seem to fair well with this litter. It surely should resolve your problem. :)
posted by brittaincrowe at 9:42 PM on April 23, 2012

I just switched to the Dr. Elsey's brand. There's more than one kind. I used Perfect Cat at first, and then Cat Attract when Petsmart was out of the first - both are clay litters. I haven't noticed much difference between them. They both advertise as being 99% dust free, and I have noticed a big difference in the amount of dust. (Cat Attract additionally advertises that it will solve your litter box issues - I'm skeptical!)

Pellets are probably better for dust but if you want to stick to clay then I'd try Dr. Elsey's.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 10:49 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've been using Swheat Scoop Multi-Cat since my kittens were tiny and have generally been very happy with it. I have tried the regular (non-multi-cat) version and found that it doesn't clump nearly as well -- no clue what the difference is in the "multi-cat" version but it's very worth the extra dollar or whatever it is per bag. The amount of dust varies, and sometimes at the very bottom of the bag I find what seems to be a ton of dust...but even with that, the Swheat Scoop is far less dusty than *any* clay litter I've encountered. Now when I visit other people's houses who use clay litter I am shocked at the amount of dust it seems to produce, so if you've never tried anything other than clay then I would definitely recommend branching out.

Also, if your litter box has a cover on it, I would *highly* recommend removing it and/or replacing the litterbox with a large plastic storage container (with a dip cut into one side with a hacksaw to make it easier for the cat to enter and exit). Cat pooping outside box + cat having coughing issues says to me that this is a kitty that should NOT be using a covered box. (I know a lot of humans prefer covers but if your cat is crapping on the floor anyway, I'd say that sort of negates the aesthetic benefits!)
posted by aecorwin at 11:01 PM on April 23, 2012

I use the Breeze system for my two cats and I love it. The only downside it you really have to scoop every day or the poo smell is overwhelming. I have two litter boxes and change the pads about once every 5-7 days. There is NO dust at all and no tracking of litter out of the box. Petco and Amazon both carry the Breeze system.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 3:13 AM on April 24, 2012

I've tried them all -- the clay, the pine, the wheat, the corn, the crystal. All were way too dusty. Have recently tried Blue Walnut-based litter and the stuff works -- it clumps and controls odor -- and is truly dust free.
posted by shw at 5:08 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

We also use the Feline Pine litter (but I'm headed to Tractor Supply as soon as we run out!) and it works great. Our cats are... not the cleanest, so we do have to frequently clean up sawdust from the area in front of the litterbox, but it's better than dust. Plus, my house doesn't smell like we have cats.

What I actually came on here to say is that if you switch litters (which it sounds like you must do), try to make it a gradual change. The pine pellets are a completely different feel for kitty's feet, and they might need an adjustment period. The bottom of this page describes the recommended transition steps.
posted by purpletangerine at 5:37 AM on April 24, 2012

The Breeze is the only 100 % dust free system I've ever used, and I've used 'em all. On the down side the pee pads for it are kind of expensive and you must scoop poo every day(but I do that anyway). Crystals are my runner up; they cause dust only when you're filling the box.
posted by thelastcamel at 7:09 AM on April 24, 2012

I switched to Cat's Pride Fresh & Light last year and haven't heard any wheezing from the cat since then.
posted by healthytext at 7:57 AM on May 22, 2012

We've tried the Worlds' Best Cat Litter this month as we'd just landed in a new town and couldn't find Swheat Scoop. He adapted automatically and it seems to clump a little better than the Swheat Scoop. Worth a try if you haven't already.
posted by arcticseal at 11:22 AM on May 22, 2012

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