ISO best cat litter for senior, long-haired cat
January 21, 2021 8:42 AM   Subscribe

Our cat litter needs an upgrade! Can you recommend a good product for a senior, long haired cat?

As Nosy gets older he's peeing a lot more [we've taken him to the vet and are managing this with his diet].

We had to stop using Arm & Hammer clump & seal because it doesn't keep up with the volume of urine he produces. His paws and the long hair on his belly get wet, then the litter cakes and hardens on his paws and fur. It was working great before this and I'm having trouble finding a good replacement.

Most clay litter is dusty and leaves dry pawprints everywhere. Crystal litter doesn't stick to his paws, but the odor control is lacking and the roomba just chases loose crystals around the house.

What works for you and your fluffy cat?
posted by Space Kitty to Pets & Animals (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Swheat Scoop clumps well, has little smell, and soaks up urine well. The dust is not bad and no pawprints. A few fragments do get stuck between their toes and end up scattered on the floor but are not as hard and scratchy as clay litter. I use the multicat kind. The only odor when it's urine soaked smells like a yeasty bread mix. Never noticed any clumps clinging to the undercarriage of my long haired cat.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 9:05 AM on January 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

I started using Dr Elsey's Senior Litter a few months ago after my long haired, 12 year old, mildly arthritic cat had some urinary issues. He seems to like it (hasn't peed outside the box since, only poops in front of the litterbox like every two weeks now), and it has great absorption properties b/c it's silica based instead of clay. It's also shockingly low odor. It isn't a clumping litter, which is different than what I used to use, but neither of my cats seem to care about that. I haven't noticed any pieces of it sticking to his fur, and I think the lack of clumping might be why.
posted by nevernines at 9:15 AM on January 21, 2021

Another tip for especially long-haired cats - make sure the fur around their toe beans are trimmed short. That helps a lot as it will attract less litter to cling to the hair of their paws as they step in and out of their box.
posted by HeyAllie at 9:30 AM on January 21, 2021

I’ve heard good things about Pretty Litter. Its silica based, like those little moisture absorbing packets you find in new shoes etc.
posted by fancyoats at 9:35 AM on January 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

I highly recommend the Smart Cat Box for cats that urinate a lot. The urine collects in a separate container below the box, and it’s easy to empty. The pellets don’t stick to cat fur, and it’s less messy overall compared to clumping litter.
posted by macska at 9:53 AM on January 21, 2021

Pine litter and a two-level box (that you shake every time you walk past to send the sawdust to the lower level, away from cat feet) was a good choice for our elderly cat.
posted by eotvos at 9:55 AM on January 21, 2021 [4 favorites]

Younger but large and very fluffy cat here. My human uses Dr Elsey's Ultra, and seems happy with it. I am uh quite productive and it seems to cope. Low odor as long as the box is emptied regularly.
posted by carter at 9:59 AM on January 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

I use Naturally Fresh's walnut-based litter. No personal experience with longhair cats using it, but I will say my cat sitters have raved about it and at least one switched to it from clay-based.

(That the one thing they choose to praise in my house is my cat litter is a little humiliating TBH.)
posted by mark k at 10:15 AM on January 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

I use those wooden pine pellets, with paper litter over the top. The pine pellets do a great job containing pee odour when it soaks through, and the paper litter over the top greatly reduces travelling sawdust and is softer on kitty paws. Its not 100% mess free, small bits of paper and sawdust still travel, but its by far the best compromise I've found for my two elderly, chubby fluffballs.
posted by stillnocturnal at 10:35 AM on January 21, 2021

Another vote for Swheat. A few years ago, I switched from regular clumping litters (primarily Arm & Hammer), in an attempt to remediate my cat's major constipation issues. I went through trials of various 'premium' litters and my cats both took to Swheat instantly. It clumps without degenerating into a soggy, stinky, mess (unlike some others) and is not as sticky on the floor, for the bits that he kicks out. While I had 2 cats, I did not notice any particular difference between the various Swheat formulations, so I rotate with whichever is cheapest. I clean it out at least once a day and the scent is very light. Back in the early 2000's I used silica litter (and loved it) with my first cat But when I got Tor (2007), he refused to even step into the box and somehow convinced Jame to also stop using it. The Arm & Hammer worked to satisfy both cats and the switch was made due to the issue mentioned above.

Re-reading a bit - could there be a space issue? Tor is a very long/tall cat and drinks at least a quart every 2 days. He uses 3 boxes, the first 2 were setup while I had 2 cats (1) a 22x16x11 inch container (rubbermaid or sterilite) as a litter box because... well, he used to aim over the side - this is the box he pees in. He is as long as this box.* (2) For #2, he uses either a 'regular' single tray litter box or (3) the plastic shoe box he stole that I'd originally used as a planter before it became his favorite #2 box (it is amusing to see a long/tall cat contorting to fit).

Not saying that your cat may need as many boxes - but maybe 1 larger box?

*This is iteration 2 of the large box. Iteration 1 was slightly taller and I cut down a section of the side for easier access for my other, much smaller, cat. When she passed, I updated the box.
I know I keep alternating between 1 & 2 cats. Jame died in 2016 at age 16 RIP - 6 pound 'american longhair'
Tor - 15 pound maine-coon wannabe. He still has constipation issues, but they have not needed vet intervention since 2017.
posted by gardenkatz at 10:46 AM on January 21, 2021

The wooden pine pellets mentioned by stillnocturnal can be gotten at feed-and-seed places as "Stall Bedding" for really cheap. I pay something like $6 for a 40lb bag.

Another tip: World's Best Cat Litter (if you go that way) is very likely just chicken feed (crumble style). You can also get that at places like Tractor Supply.

But yes - bit of sawdust still get brought out by our shorthaired nitwit. Our litterbox is in my office (so it's guaranteed to stay clean) with a concrete floor, so it's not much of a hassle to clean. YMMV on carpet or anything else.
posted by jquinby at 11:24 AM on January 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

I use Dr. Elsey's Classic litter for my younger but floofy and large cat. It's clumping clay unlike the senior variety, but it clumps really well, really fast and doesn't track around the house. It is more expensive than any Arm & Hammer variety, though, but it actually does what litter is supposed to do (unlike pretty much Arm & Hammer product) so it's worth the expense.
posted by blerghamot at 11:28 AM on January 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

I recently switched to Pretty Litter and have been extremely happy with it. We've got two cats and two boxes, and they tend to pee in one and poop in the other. As long as it's thoroughly stirred daily, the pee box has practically no odor by the end of the month when it's time to swap out the litter. And my long-haired kitten (who has a tendency to pee on his own feet sometimes) no longer gets litter clumps stuck to his feet. The granules are very small, and seem to vacuum up easily. For a senior cat, the color-change for urinary issues seems like it would be especially valuable. It'll let you know if the cat has developed kidney problems or a bladder infection, which both become more common with age. Also, I believe they'll refund your first month of litter if you're not happy with it, so not much to lose.
posted by duien at 1:13 PM on January 21, 2021 [2 favorites]

Here's another vote for Pretty Litter. I have two cats and use three litter boxes. My subscription is three bags at the beginning of the month, and one more a little later in the month, which isn't cheap, but the scent control is the best I've ever known in my cats' 13+ years. (I also somewhat get the impression my guys drink and urinate a bit more than average.)
posted by kimota at 1:42 PM on January 21, 2021

I vote for not changing the litter and trimming the cat. I have an old fluffy cat and when we try to change the litter she stops peeing in the box and gets a bladder infection and/or pees on the bed. Once she passes we will change the litter as all the younger cats don't seem to care much.
posted by meepmeow at 4:34 PM on January 21, 2021

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