Those who regularly read this blog know that formal “reviews” don’t happen very often. But lately I’ve received some invitations and free products to try, and they somehow all seem of a common aromatic theme (ahem!) and so today the blog offers a litter-ary assortment for kitty potty products. I was sent free samples from the manufacturers, and all opinions expressed are my own…and Seren’s.
Last November at the Cat Writers Association conference, those in attendance received thumb drives from Tidy Cats (a longtime conference sponsor) that included some quite clever promotions of the new “natural” product Tidy Cats Pure Nature. They also provided each attendee a coupon for a free bag of the litter product for us to try.
Full disclosure, my cat Seren is a longtime fan of the Tidy Cats clay/clumping product so I wasn’t sure how she’d appreciate a change. At 16, she’s a bit of a fuss-budget old lady cat, too. I stuck the coupon in my purse, and each time litter box re-fill rolled around I shopped for the new litter.
I’m sure the nice folks at Tidy Cats expected a mention much earlier but it was nearly six months before Pure Nature appeared in our local stores. I only recently had the chance to give Seren the opportunity to weigh in.
As a result of attending the recent BlogPaws conference, I met with lots of paw-some products companies and got an invitation to review the Litter One kit, a self-contained fully disposable and biodegradable litter box system using pine pellets. The kit lasts 4 to 6 weeks and costs $24.95. I was sent a free kit to test with Seren, her Cranky-ness.
About the same time, I received an invitation to review the Litter Genie (above). How convenient! It’s designed along the same lines as the diaper pail product for babies only works as an odor/crappiocca container for litter box creativity. I’ve been using the Litter Locker for many years, ever since I won one as part of a Cat Writers Association awards (do you see a trend here? 🙂 ) With the new cat box substrates to test, it was a no brainer to accept a free Litter Genie to see how well it compared to my previous containment system.
I recently blogged about how litter evolved, and what cats tend to prefer. I always tell my consulting clients, “don’t mess with success!” and if you have a cat loyal to the box and substrate, don’t change it. Seren has never had an out-of-body(box) experience, though, and is a very confident roll-with-the-punches sort of feline. Heck, she’s got the Magical-Dawg totally buffaloed. Even so, I very carefully introduced her to both of these new litters. I added about half an inch of her favorite clumping-clay litter over the top of the new varieties. And I set the boxes side by side.
SEREN’S REVIEW: LITTER ONE
Seren totally ignored the Litter One. I suspect she didn’t recognize the pine pellets as appropriate substrate for digging. Cats tend to like very soft textures as their paw pads are quite sensitive, and since Seren is quite arthritic, this may also have been an issue. Granted, if that had been ALL that I offered (she had no other choice) she may have transitioned more willingly to give this a try.
Personally, I very much like the “environmentally friendly” design, and the pellets smell fresh and do offer odor containment. Litter One was awarded the Becker’s Best Award at the 2013 Global Pet Expo as the best new product–(that’s my buddy and one-time co-author Dr. Marty Becker!) and the innovation is clever and appeals to pet parents. For cats already accustomed to pelleted substrate, this would be a terrific option. I would caution that the size of the Litter One box may be an issue with large cats. Although it is a standard commercial box size, those tend to run small which is why I often recommend purchasing a much larger plastic storage bin-type box instead. For a multi-cat household, remember the 1+1 rule (one box per cat, plus one) may impact the cost factor as well.
Litter One offers a variety of Partner Programs for veterinarians, humane societies, rescue centers and other cat service agencies–kudos to the company. I’m all for owner convenience and preference. But cat vote trumps humans paws down.
SEREN’S REVIEW: PURE NATURE
Seren immediately accepted the Pure Nature without hesitation.
It’s lighter weight than clumping clay, has a fresh scent, and feels (to me) very similar in texture but smoother. It clumps in a similar fashion to clay products, too. The clumps are not quite as solid, though, and may break apart if you scoop too soon after the…uh…deposit…but I didn’t find issues with them breaking apart. With multiple cats that tromp over top of waste before you have a chance to scoop, that could be a problem. This product has much less dust than the clay clumping Tidy Cats I used before, too.
The scent is a bit too strong for my tastes but didn’t seem to bother Seren–that could be an issue with some cats. Kitty doesn’t mind her own smell but harsh perfumes can really make her avoid the facilities. But where I really noticed a difference was tracking–there was almost no tracking compared to the clay. What did spill from the box vaccumed up completely while the clay clumping is so heavy it always leaves some behind. Seren’s primary box is in my office on carpet, in my walk-in-closet-aka-audio-recording-studio, so keeping it clean and fresh is important.
Will I purchase another bag when it’s time to refurbish the kitty potty? Absolutely–if I can find it locally again. That could be a deal breaker, although online suppliers do offer the product (click the picture for a link).
AMY’S REVIEW: LITTER GENIE & LITTER LOCKER
Now we come to the Litter Genie. It costs about $14.99 ($7.99 for refill) at Target, and requires disposable plastic baggy liners that come in cartridge inserts, about $24 for a 3-pack, each said to last up to two months per cat. I’ve not used it yet for two months so can’t speak to this. Once loaded into the plastic container, the lid opens for you to dump scooped waste into the top opening, which is contained inside the plastic sleeve liner. A spring-loaded internal plastic divider ‘pinches’ closed the neck of the bag to block the reservoir of waste below and contain odor. The system comes with a litter box scoop.
For a single cat, the Litter Genie may work effectively. I found that the light weight of the Pure Nature litter meant I had to shake the container to ensure the waste dropped completely through. I also had to juggle to pull out the divider so that it would pass through to the bottom of the bin, a somewhat awkward design. Therefore, I had to fill up the top bin to capacity, stop, pull out the divider and agitate the pail to make it drop through, and then release the spring loaded pinch-divider. Also, the scoop (which fits in the side) is tiny and pretty much worthless as a scooper unless you have a kitten. Once the bin becomes full, there’s a “child safe cutter” to cut off the bag but I couldn’t get that to work and used scissors. With Seren (a tiny single cat) the bin filled up pretty quickly and I can’t imagine how often a multi-cat household would need to do this. The Litter Genie worked well and effectively and is an economic option for single cat households. 9.5 x 8.5 x 17 inches ; 3.3 pounds
Once I’ve run out of the insert cartridges for the Litter Genie I’ll go back to using the Litter Locker (above). It costs more than double but has a much larger capacity to hold waste, and is much simpler to use without having to juggle pulling out/holding the canister itself. It also came with a (pretty worthless tiny) litter scooper, and I suspect this design “feature” is more for looks than functionality. It also uses plastic sleeves in cartridges inserted in the top. Waste also is dropped through the top opening–so far, very similar to the Litter Genie, but there the comparisons change.
There’s no spring-loaded pull-out smell-container to manage. Instead, simply close the lid, and then turn the side carousel a half turn. That wraps the waste-filled sleeve around the internal spindle. To empty, open the hinged middle, scissor off one end and knot, and toss the bagged waste away. Because of the larger capacity, it’s better able to manage multiple cats’ waste, and with my one tiny kitty, it doesn’t need to be emptied very often at all. The Litter Locker is 14″ long, 8.8″ wide and 15.4″ high.
How do you handle getting rid of your cats’ creativity? Do you prefer “natural” litter? How do you choose what kind of litter products to use with your cats–ever try something new and how did your cats vote?
I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!
Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!
I use Mimi’s Litter… and like it far more than any other product out there. I’ve tried a lot of different litters. And with two cats, Mimi’s “stinks up the place” far less than anything else. 🙂
Hi Tiffany, I hadn’t heard of this product, will look for it. Thanks for the comment!
Hi Dawn, I think that the Litter One pelleted system overcomes the issue of broken down pellets and tracking. The box has a sifting floor that is supposed to capture the dust as it dissolves and contain it away from the cat’s paws.
Then again, it might be a bit pricy with 6 cats. But it could be the perfect choice for your ferrets!
As for the “bugs” issue, a colleague and friend of mine also mentioned she’d had issues with some of the “natural/wheat/corn” litter products in warmer weather when it stays in a container too long. Weevils can hatch, if the substrate has been contaminated with the eggs. And I suspect it’s difficult to avoid that. *shrug*
Our cats are gone, sadly, though they lived to 18 years as indoor/outdoor cats, both in town and in the country. The only time we used litter boxes was when someone was ill, and needed to be kept inside for a while. The products you have reviewed would have made life much easier for all of us!
Wow, that’s wonderful they had long and healthy lives as indoor/outdoor kitties. I’d love to be able to offer that to my cats but sadly, coyotes make it too dangerous for them. Yes, the new products do make litter-ary duty much more pleasant for both the cats and the human. 🙂
I still say if I ever get a house I want to get one of those kitty enclosures that keeps them in and predators out. 🙂 (Though they’d still only get outside when we can watch them)
Karyl, as far as I know, the kitty enclosures do a good job of keeping cats inside…but nearly any industrious predator probably could manage to get in. So good idea to keep eyeballs in them!
I like the idea of Pure Nature but with, ahem, 12 cats, it could get very expensive. I presently use Tidy Cats clumping in most pans, newspaper laid flat in three boxes and World’s Best in one box. I’ve tried other types over the years, such as store brands, newspaper-based, corn based, etc.
I found that my cats each have their preferences. Twygal and Question used the World’s Best but now that they are gone someone is still using it so I keep it. As an Iowan, of course, I prefer World’s Best because it keeps our farmers employed 🙂 Several of the cats prefer the newspaper for urine and litter for – the other stuff. And then some actually use the Tidy Cat exclusively.
I can’t imagine what life would be like with only one cat to cater to.
Andrea, that was my thought, too. I’m sure the partnerships with shelters would be more economical but catteries and those with multiples in a home setting likely couldn’t afford it.
I used the Swheat Scoop stuff for a while, but sadly that got expensive. It worked decently. Right now we’re actually using Pet Supplies Plus store brand – we were buying bulk litter before to cut costs, then they stopped carrying that and started selling their own brand for cheaper than we got the bulk stuff. They have one that’s unscented with baking soda, and I was somewhat surprised to find that it’s better than the brands we’d been buying before. Lowest dust of any clumping litter I’ve used (I don’t have to cover my face to refill the box like I had to with Tidy Cats and the bulk stuff), and of course the baking soda helps keep the odors down without perfumes.
Hi Karyl, some of the “ecological” products can be more pricy. Great that you’ve found a more economical choice!
After using a popular brand advertised regularly on TV, I tried Pet Supplies Plus’s fragrance-free clumping litter with baking soda and, too, observed that it was far less dusty (despite the baking soda) and clumped very well, making it easier to get almost all the urine out of the litter box, which allows the litter to last longer and stink less. Despite the fact that the litter box isn’t very far from the front door and that I scoop every 2 or 3 days—not daily and certainly not twice daily—nobody ever walks into my apartment and says they smell cat. I love the stuff and will probably never switch, unless they stop selling it.
Hi Tom, so glad you found something effective that the kitties accept, too. Thanks so much for adding to the conversation!