NOTE: This is a follow-up to the original post, What’s In Your Litter Box? which outlined the dangers of clay and silica cat litters. If you haven’t already, please read the original post to learn more about this important topic.
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My natural litter comparison real-world tests have not been going so well — changing so many variables all at once has caused some protesting and a lot of spot-botting. So, in order to really compare apples to apples, I conducted some controlled tests using clean samples and water. Here are my findings:
Arm & Hammer High Performance
The package says that this litter uses “natural clumping ingredients instead of clay,” but it does not specify what it is made from. I did find a mention of the litter in a news release that says it is corn-based. This litter contains Arm & Hammer baking soda to help control odor.
Swheat Scoop is made from naturally processed wheat, which has both natural enzymes for odor control and natural starches for clumping.
World’s Best Cat Litter
World’s Best Cat Litter, or WBCL, is another corn-based litter made from whole kernel corn.
Nature’s Miracle is also corn-based, however it is made from corn cob granules instead of kernels.
As I poured clean samples into the bowls, I checked each litter for it’s natural scent. The Arm & Hammer litter has a very strong, perfume-y scent that I can’t quite identify. It might be cedar. I find the scent to be a bit overpowering. Swheat Scoop has a very light scent of wheat or wheat flour, as you would expect. WBCL smells like a farm to me. The package says that “the extra strength formula contains a plant derived, natural scent that helps keep litter fresh for multiple cat use,” but I can’t stand the smell and it gets even stronger when wet. Nature’s Miracle has a light pine scent that is not too offensive.
Texture & Dust
Two other important characteristics are the texture of the litter and the amount of dust that it creates. The texture affects whether or not the cats will like it and how much it will track out of the box and onto the floor. The dust factor affects how much airborne dust is created when pouring fresh litter into the box and when cats dig around in it. Arm & Hammer and Nature’s Miracle have almost exactly the same texture. Both can be described as light and fluffy, meaning that they are more likely to stick to paws and be tracked around. This does also mean that the bag is much lighter to carry, which is a benefit, however if your cats are used to a heavy clay litter, they may need some transition time to get used to this lighter texture. Both of these litters produce very little dust. WBCL is very coarse with large granules, similar in size to many clay litters. It produces a fair amount of dust. Swheat Scoop has a variable mixture of coarse granules with some lighter pieces. Unfortunately, Swheat Scoop produces a ton of dust. I found this to be the worst by far, which worries me since I am gluten intolerant, although I have not been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, but I have read that some people with this problem can get sick if they inhale airborne flour particles, and I imagine that Swheat Scoop dust is similar. I have no concrete information about this, so if you know anything about it, please leave a comment.
Clumping is one of the most important factors in a good litter. You want solid clumps to make scooping easier. If the clumps break apart, you wind-up changing the entire contents of the box more often and scooping is just a pain. Arm & Hammer and Nature’s Miracle performed similarly, with only semi-hard clumping. You can see in the images above that both fell apart when scooped. WBCL had the best clumping ability, with solid, easily scoopable clumps. Swheat Scoop had the worst performance with clumps that fell apart into small pieces, making it very difficult to scoop. Note: I performed these tests with the regular Swheat Scoop. There is a multi-cat strength formula that claims to clump faster and firmer. It may have better results.
Environmental Concerns & Flushing
All of these litters are made of renewable, natural materials that do not require strip mining like clay litters. Also, all of them are completely biodegradable, meaning if they go into the landfill in a paper bag (not plastic), they will eventually breakdown, unlike clay litters that will stay in the landfills forever. Swheat Scoop and WBCL both say that they are flushable, but please be aware, flushing cat waste is strongly discouraged in order to maintain water quality and protect wildlife.
After looking closely at these four litters, it is clear that there is no perfect litter. In terms of clumping, it appears that Swheat Scoop has the worst performance and WBCL has the best. However, I dislike the farm smell of WBCL. The light and fluffy litters are very low dust, but their clumping is poor. I’m not exactly sure what to do. Perhaps try WBCL with some baking soda or other natural odor control product? Maybe try mixing some of these litters? In addition to these natural litters, there are also several pellet-type litters like Feline Pine and Yesterday’s News, but I have tried these before and they were immediately rejected by my crew. Many people swear by them, though, so I encourage you to try them for yourself. Also, you may feel quite differently about some of the litters tested here, so please feel free to share your comments. There are already quite a few comments on the original post, so be sure to check them out as you decide which litter is best for you.
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For more information, please see our Natural Litter Comparison – Part 2.
Please read the following posts to learn more about flushing cat litter: