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Cat Litter Expert Here... Ask Me Anything.

Discussion in 'Grooming & General Cat Care' started by b4bis91, Jan 16, 2018.

  1. b4bis91

    b4bis91 Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

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    Jan 13, 2018
    If anyone here wants to know more about cat litter, or has any questions, just letting you know I am here!

    I've worked for over half a year as a lab technician at a bentonite plant. Although the majority of my tests are not for cat litter, I have done enough to know a lot about it. I can tell you about the tests we perform on it (moisture, granulometry, absorption, efficiency, strength, density, color, etc.), as well as the composition (more about the clay, where it comes from, etc.). I can tell you about the steps involved in making cat litter in an industrial setting (and I have also "made" cat litter from the raw clay in the lab).

    Just let me know if you have any questions.
     
    Brian007 purraised this.

  2. MeganLLB

    MeganLLB Accidental Ailurophile Top Cat

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    I've always wondered what makes sone brands if litter better than others. It's all clay litter buy why does some aborb better, smell better, less dusty. Do you do something different in the process of making it or are there other things added to it?
     
    mwallace056 purraised this.

  3. maggiedemi

    maggiedemi TCS Member Top Cat

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    I want to know, why can't they make a clumping litter that isn't dusty? That's the only part I hate, the dust on everything. Clumping litter is a great invention though, I like it so much better than non-clumping.
     
    mwallace056, Tagrendy and artiemom purraised this.

  4. oonawingedwolf

    oonawingedwolf TCS Member Young Cat

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    I use Tidy Cat 24 hour protection, is this a good litter? There aren't many choices where I live.
     

  5. b4bis91

    b4bis91 Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

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    Jan 13, 2018
    @MeganLLB
    There are a number of factors that make some brands of cat litter better than others. I'm going to limit this discussion to clumping cat litter, as non-clumping is unfamiliar territory to me. Bentonite is a mineral, mined from dirt (typically surface mined, at depths up to 20 ft). One of bentonite's main characteristics is that it can absorb water (up to 15 times its weight depending on the quality of the clay). Cat litter typically absorbs about 3x its weight in water.

    Two main factors affect the behavior of your cat litter: absorption and granulometry. Absorption is how much water it can take in, measured as a percentage. Again, this is what they look for when they mine it; a high presence of bentonite within the clay. The second factor is granulometry, which is not dependent of the clay, but by how it is processed in the plant. In the plant, they have a system of screens in place to ensure the proper particle size distribution is achieved. Different percentages of mid-size particles vs. coarse or fine, will drastically affect how it will clump.

    If the sample is too high in fines, the fluid (cat pee) will not sink very fast but rather spread out into a very thin layer, which is very undesirable. Conversely, if it is too high in coarse particles, the fluid will sink all the way to the bottom of the litter box. So, it is desirable to have the right spectrum of different particle sizes; a happy medium.

    As for dust: basically, it is desirable to have a little bit present to hold everything together, but not too much to allow it to still be permeable to water. Every company has different spec's they shoot for, which may be why you see a bigger variable it absorption, dust, etc. If the screens are not functioning properly at the plant, these distributions can come out differently. Also, if the cat litter has had time to settle in a train car, super sac, etc., the fines will all settle to the bottom, and the coarse on top. So, if it is not mixed prior to bagging, you could see a big variance.

    I don't feel that the dust is very necessary, though; not in that fine of a range as to be airborne. It mainly is there because if it's not included, it'll be discarded as waste, and at least the plant I am at, does not a the equipment in place to do that. The dust is hard to get rid of totally in an industrial setting; so, you may see it more in some of the lower end products.

    As far as smell goes, we are too far upstream in the process to deal with that end of it. But I know you can get it plain, and add whatever you want to fine tune the smell yourself. You can mix sodium bicarbonate (baking soda\) in to absorb the smell. Some cats don't like the scents, but those scent pellets can be purchased separately and you can fine turn it with them to your / your cat's preferences.

    @oonawingedwolf
    As I am not yet a cat owner, I really don't know a whole lot about the different lines of products, our competitors, etc. What is the most important things about the cat litter to you? How it clumps? How dusty it is? It's really a matter of personal preference between you and your cat.
     
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  6. oonawingedwolf

    oonawingedwolf TCS Member Young Cat

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    Clumping is number one for me as we clean our boxes twice a day, once in the am and once before bed. So odor doesn't get much chance to build. At least not to us. I am guessing then that we probably have a good one as it scoops quite well and doesn't allow for sticking to the bottom unless we need to add more. At that point we just empty and clean the box and start fresh. One large bin of litter lasts us a month.
     
    maggiedemi purraised this.

  7. Kat0121

    Kat0121 Advisor Staff Member Advisor

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    For me the number one thing is how does it clump? Number two is how well does it control odor? Number three is how dusty is it? Number four is what type of container does it come in? That may sound silly but to me, trying to move around a large amount of litter in a plastic bag is a huge pain in the hindquarters. Yeah Dr. Elsey's- I'm looking at you! :nono:

    My top 3?

    1) Tidy Cats. Clumps like a champ. Odor control? A+. Minimal dust. Comes in an easy to move 35 pound pail that can be repurposed once it is empty.

    2) Fresh Step Extreme. Also clumps like a champ. Also minimal dust. Odor control also an A+. Comes in a cardboard box with a flimsy plastic handle. Would have tied for #1 but this knocked it down a notch.

    3) Dr. Elsey's. Clumps fantastically. Little to no dust. Odor control is excellent. Gets the #3 spot because of that blasted plastic bag. I have to hide it because the cats like to rip it open and watch the litter spill all over the place and it's a pain to carry.

    My never will I buy it again litter?

    Paws & Claws from Tractor Supply Company. It was SO DUSTY that it was forming clouds. Clouds that made me think that the Weather Channel was going to issue a fog warning for my living room. That alone was enough to put it on my wall of shame. :headshake:
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2018
    Ms.Lovemycats purraised this.

  8. oonawingedwolf

    oonawingedwolf TCS Member Young Cat

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    Thanks kat0121, you made me feel better about our choice of cat litter. I know the cats like it and we don't smell it so, that's two big pluses from us!
     

  9. Kat0121

    Kat0121 Advisor Staff Member Advisor

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    My cats (fortunately) are not picky about litter. I am. :lol:

    Which kind do you use?
     
    oonawingedwolf purraised this.

  10. MeganLLB

    MeganLLB Accidental Ailurophile Top Cat

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    I don't really think it's that dusty unless you pour it out of the bag really fast. I buy that litter all the time. The #1 thing for me is price and with paws & claws you can't beat it. I just bought 80 lbs of litter for $18 of the paws&claws odor control. I've def had litter that is less dusty and clumps better, but I've paid more for it, and this works fine for me and I just cant beat the price.

    I like the Tidy Cats container too, so I just kept it and fill it up with the litter I like to make for easier storage.

    Besides when you pour it out of the bag, I don't really understand the "dusty litter" thing. No litter I've had is dusty when you scoop it, so what are you doing with the litter besides that? I don't really get it.
     

  11. saleri

    saleri TCS Member Super Cat

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    Thoughts on this one?



    Heard a lot of people used Dr. Elsey but switched to smart cat. Can't really find any faults with it, minimal dust, smell free, clumps crazy well, and it's just grass.
     

  12. Ardina

    Ardina TCS Member Super Cat

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    I've used Dr. Elsey's for a while. I tried out Smartcat, but my kitten tried to eat it, and it's so lightweight that it sticks to everything due to static and tracks everywhere. Which is a shame because it's a fairly good litter otherwise. It just smells like oatmeal every time they used it.

    But the eating the litter part was a deal breaker, so I stuck with Dr. Elsey's.
     

  13. oonawingedwolf

    oonawingedwolf TCS Member Young Cat

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    We use Tidy Cat 24 hour protection. The cats don't touch regular litter, I think it hurts their little feet. The finer the litter the better they use it. We tried a few kinds and the ones that are like pellets like the recycled paper kind they hated so much they went next to the box instead of in it.
     

  14. Neo_23

    Neo_23 TCS Member Top Cat

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    I’m not sure if you can answer this but I’m just curious about how they make wood litter clump.
     

  15. saleri

    saleri TCS Member Super Cat

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    Yeah I had to put some special pads outside of the litterbox to prevent them from going anywhere, my kitten use to eat it, but doesn't anymore.
     

  16. mgk65

    mgk65 TCS Member Kitten

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    Which Tidy Cat? They have like 22 different kinds!

    I've been using Cat's Pride Fresh & Light and really like it for low dust and moderate clumping, however, they may be having a problem supplying the local WalMart. The F&L Extreme was too clumping and stuck too much to box and set up like concrete.

    thanks!
     

  17. basscat

    basscat TCS Member Top Cat

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    I have never used anything but Tidy Cats. Worked great and you get that bonus plastic bucket that has thousands of other uses.
    Up until a few months ago. Thought something was wrong with our cats. Litter just not clumping and a making huge messes.
    Switched to something else and it was the litter, not the cat. Either they changed something, or we got three bad buckets of Tidy Cat over the course of several months.
     
    CThom17 purraised this.

  18. oonawingedwolf

    oonawingedwolf TCS Member Young Cat

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    @basscat, which formula? I prefer the 24 hour protection over the instant action as the instant seemed to smell and clumped in a bad way, like messy and easily falling apart. The 24 hour protection clumps nicely and is easy to scoop if done on a good schedule.
     

  19. basscat

    basscat TCS Member Top Cat

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    Blue Lid.
    I get the Red Lid stuff for my cat at the shop, and haven't noticed any problems with it. But, It's been a long time since I've had to re-stock it.
    The blue lid stuff is at the house and it used to work fine, but not the last three buckets.
    We use those silly buckets for everything! :lol:
     

  20. oonawingedwolf

    oonawingedwolf TCS Member Young Cat

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    Ah, I get the red lid. Didn't like the blue lid myself.
     

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