It’s a never-ending topic of debate among cat parents: what’s the best type of litter for my kitten? Can I use the same litter that my adult cat uses? What makes one different from the other?
These are all valid and reasonable questions. Not only do kitten’s have special dietary needs, they also need a type of litter that is safe for them to use. While there is no one-size-fits-all choice, there are some important things you should take into consideration when you are picking out kitty litter.
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Young kittens are very playful and inquisitive. They want to smell and touch and scratch and explore. This enthusiasm eventually fades, as it does for most other species.
Your job is to nurture this inherent curiosity and protect kitty from any of the dangers it may lead to. Believe it or not, one of these dangers could be something cats use every single day- their litter.
If you’re not careful, that very same curiosity could cause a serious health risk. Plenty of kittens have been known to nibble some litter while their owner’s back is turned. Some are made non-toxic, but others aren’t, which is why it’s crucial to pay attention to the ingredients while shopping for cat litter for your kitten.
What To Consider
Since kittens are more delicate than fully grown adult cats, there are a number of considerations to take into account when choosing the right litter. How it smells, which type works best, which ingredients can be harmful- all of these things and more come into play.
Traditional Clumping vs. Non-Clumping
A lot of cat parents swear by clumping cat litter. Typically made from clay, clumping litter will form easy-to-scoop clumps after your cat has done their business. Since scooping is usually a daily occurrence, this type of litter can save you a lot of time and help keep the litter box fresh and clean.
The drawback will clumping clay litter is that it contains sodium bentonite, which is what actually forms the clumps. When it gets wet, sodium bentonite will expand about 15 times its original volume.
While this works wonders for litter box clean-up, it’s not exactly the safest thing for your kitten. If any of the wet litter is ingested, it could expand and cause serious blockages in your kitty’s delicate digestive tract.
There are other problems with clay litters as well. Most of them contain silica, which is actually a carcinogen when inhaled. That’s the dust that swirls up when you pour in fresh litter into the box. Not good for you or your kitten.
Luckily, there are others options to choose from. Non-clumping litter is not as effective at controlling odor, but it’s certainly a safer option. You’ll also need to regularly dump out and replace all the contents of the litter box, as opposed to just focusing on the clumps. While it’s an inconvenience, most cat parents can deal with it for a few months for the sake of their kitty’s safety. This type of litter is often used with automatic litter boxes.
On the other hand, just because you’ve opted for the non-clumping solution doesn’t mean you don’t need to be attentive. Keep a sharp eye on your kitten around the litter box regardless of your choice.
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Natural Cat Litter
While natural litter tends to be a little more expensive, it’s the safest bet for your kitten.
As we said before, traditional clumping clay litter- while convenient- has its problems. Not only does it generate potentially harmful silica dust, it’s absolutely terrible for the environment. That is, it’s not very ‘green.’
Did you know that $5 billion pounds of clay is mined every year just for pet litter? That’s right. And the vast majority of that litter ends up (soiled, of course) in landfills all around the world.
But that’s not even the kicker- clay litter is completely non-biodegradable! I’m guessing our great-grandchildren aren’t going to be too thrilled with that.
But I digress.
Regardless of all that, natural kitty litter is made from harmless, bio-degradable materials such as paper, wood, grass, wheat, corn or wallet shells. While it’s obviously not advisable for a kitten to munch on this type of litter the effects are usually harmless.
There are both clumping and non-clumping natural litters out there, usually coming in the form of pellets. While the clumping kind isn’t going to be as effective as recipes containing sodium bentonite, it is a bit better at odor-control when compared to non-clumping.
To summarize, natural kitty litter is good for your kitten’s safety and for the environment. On the other hand, it’s not so good on your wallet.
Another important thing to consider is the scent of the litter. Nowadays, many cat litters on the market are made with artificial scents to mask some of the unwanted odors.
While this may seem like a good thing at first, it’s a different beast in practice. Most of the time these scents have the same effect as spraying Febreze in a stinky bathroom- the ‘good’ scent mixes with the bad to create a new (and still undesirable) smell.
Not only that, most cats actually don’t like these unnatural smells and will sometimes even be repelled by them. Using smells cats hate is not a great way to encourage use of the litter box.
If you do opt for scented cat litter, try and find one that is more subtle for kitty’s sake.
Naturally, kittens have very sensitive paws. Since they’ll be walking on the litter between 3 and 6 times per day, the texture of said litter is another important factor to consider.
Finding the right litter for your kitten in particular can be somewhat of a chore. It may require some trial and error as well. However, all the suggestions made in this article will get you started in the right direction.
With that being said, try to avoid crystal cat litter. While it’s known for its low-tracking and low-dust qualities, the tiny crystals can easily irritate the fragile footsies of a kitty. Plus it generates a fair amount of silica dust and is entirely synthetic. Obviously not something you want your young kitten spending too much time around.
The Best Litter For Kittens
World’s Best Multi-Cat Unscented Clumping Corn Cat Litter is a great choice if you’re concerned about the safety of your kitten and still want a litter that clumps well. While it won’t be as effective as clay litter, it’s just about the best you can do with all-natural ingredients. The clumps will still be good enough to contain most of the odors and make it easier to scoop out the used litter.
On the other hand, since it’s made with a natural corn formula, there’s no silica dust swirling around your house after pouring. Plus, this formula is totally environmentally friendly, so you can feel completely safe flushing your soiled litter on both septic and sewer systems.
- All-natural corn material
- 99% Dust-free
- May not clump as well as clay
Our second overall pick for kitten litter is sWheat Scoop Multi-Cat Unscented Clumping Wheat Cat Litter. Being free of sodium bentonite and other chemicals makes this formula a great choice for kittens and post-surgical cats.
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Another benefit of wheat-based cat litter is that it tends to absorb moisture faster than most other clumping litter brands. This translates into more time between litter box changes, saving you significant time and money.
- All-natural wheat material
- Eco-friendly & biodegradable
- Wheat starches clump fast and firm
- No added dyes or perfumes
- Clumps won’t be as tight as clay
Yesterday’s News Softer Texture Unscented Non-Clumping Paper Cat Litter is another all-natural formula that’s made of softer-texture recycled paper that goes easy on the delicate paws of a kitten.
On top of being soft, the pellets actually feel like clay too; perfect for cats trying to transition off of clay-based litter. This eco-friendly product is actually three times more absorbent than clay and 99.7% dust-free for easy breathing. Not only is this a cleaner solution for you and your kitten, it’s the cleaner solution for the environment.
- Made with softer-texture pellets of recycled paper
- 3x more absorbent than clay
- 99.7% dust-free
- Harder to clean litter box without clumps
Pioneer Pet SmartCat Unscented Clumping Grass Cat Litter is the best natural grass-based cat litter out there. Cats are very finicky and will sometimes refuse to use their litter box if the litter inside is not to their nose’s liking. You won’t have that problem with this formula, since there are no added perfumes or fragrances that may be offensive to cats.
Additionally, the quick clumping action makes odors disappear by trapping the bacteria almost immediately. The clumps will continue to harden and dry until all the liquid is absorbed.
- Excellent odor control
- Sand-like texture to limit traffic
- Fast clumping
- Virtually dust-free
- May not clump as well as clay
Last but not least is Naturally Fresh Kitten Training Unscented Clumping Walnut Cat Litter. Made specifically for kittens, this walnut- based litter makes litter box training a breeze.
The clumping litter features a blend of naturally scented herbs that attract kitties to their bathroom. It also neutralize unwanted odors better than clay, corn, wheat or pine-based litters. Being natural and biodegradable, there is no silica dust that could potentially exacerbate respiratory problems.
- Natural walnut-based material
- Neutralizes odor more effectively
- Natural smells attract kittens
- Dust-free formula reduces tracking
- Not as expensive as other natural solutions
- May be difficult to transition off of
- May not clump as well as clay