Fillers for cat litter and trays

, medical expert
Last reviewed: 19.10.2021

All iLive content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies. Note that the numbers in parentheses ([1], [2], etc.) are clickable links to these studies.

If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please select it and press Ctrl + Enter.

Tomorrow you take the cat home. You are vigorously shopping with a list that includes cat food, toys, scrap metal and many other items.

And at the head of the list - everything necessary for the toilet. You are going to the nearest pet store and come across a lot of shelves, made by this product. Pastel caking filler, good old clay filler, something made of pine or a newspaper ... What, what to choose? Regardless of whether you are an experienced host or a beginner, a variety of choices can discourage you. But it was not always so.


Before the Second World War, most cats lived in the house and on the street, and went to the toilet in the surrounding backyards and gardens. In the cellars of the houses, some families kept boxes for their cats with sand or ash from the oven. Mistresses of the 1940s did not particularly like cats, which left traces of ash and sand around the house. Therefore, a former sailor named Ed Lowe (Ed Lowe) offered his neighbor to try absorbing clay, which was a popular product for cleaning industrial emissions in wartime factories and which was produced by his father's firm. So the filler for the cat's toilet was born.

The granular clay filler retained the smell better than the ash or sand, completely absorbing the urine and restraining the smell of ammonia until the filler reaches the saturation limit, usually within a week if the catcher uses the tray. Today, most people either remove the hardening every day and completely replace the filler once a week, or pour less filler into the box and discard the filler and clean the tray daily. The granules of the traditional filler are large enough and usually do not cling to the cat's paws, so there are not a lot of traces from it outside the tray.

Cumulative or non-filling filler

Granulated clay fillers had no competition for about 40 years, only small changes in cleaning occurred, until Thomas Nelson, Ph.D., needed a way to supplement his income when he was studying at the magistracy. The biochemist began by cultivating Persian cats and eventually created a clumping filler. Dr. Nelson was quoted in an article in the journal Cat Fancy in October 1996: "I was looking for and found a clay that dried up, but did not harden. She absorbed the moisture very well and formed a lump when the cat urinated on it. Then the lump could be removed, thus getting rid of urine. I had a tray with filler, which I did not change for 10 years - I just added more filler and it absolutely had no smell. "

Cleaning almost all urine and feces really improves the smell in the tray area for weeks. In this case, do not completely throw out the old filler and fill in a new one. But we must emphasize that if more than one cat is using the tray, in 4-6 weeks usually a fairly distinct smell appears, even if the filler is removed and added. It is necessary to add about as much fresh aggregate filler as was removed, because if the volume is insufficient, urine will accumulate and dry up in the corners, and an odor will appear.

There are several options for clumping fillers in addition to traditional flavored and non-flavored granular fillers. Most cats prefer odorless filler, it is especially important to know the owners who plan to use closed trays. There are fillers designed for a large number of cats that form cement-like lumps that hold shape, even if they are constantly trampled by cats. This filler definitely should not be washed off to the sewer! There are also fillers leaving less traces, their granules are somewhat larger, and they are more likely to fall away from the cat's paws when it leaves the tray. Also, there are lumpy fillers designed specifically to be washed off. This is the quality that most clumping fillers do not possess because of their ability to expand. Every year the list of fillers increases.

A few years after the emergence of the caking filler in an article published in the Tiger Tribe magazine , which has now ceased to exist, the question was raised about the safety of swallowing caking filler, especially for newborn kittens who often eat the filler to which they are accustomed in the stage weaning. While in the scientific literature there is no evidence of the existence of the problem, the owners can not accustom the kittens to the filling filler up to 3 - 4 months. If you notice that a cat older than 3 to 4 months is eating filler, show it to a veterinarian, since this behavior often indicates anemia and other nutritional deficiencies.

Caking filler remains a hot topic on the Internet, some claim that it is toxic and causes respiratory problems in cats. Many clumping fillers contain bentonite clay, it is a naturally occurring clay mineral that is considered biologically inert if swallowed and / or silicon. Silicon is also a physically and chemically inert substance, it is the main component contained in ordinary sand. Silicon is also used as a moisture absorbing substance in small bags that are placed in shoe boxes, medicines and some products. According to experts from the Center for the Control of Animal Toxic Substances in the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, animals that ingested a small amount of silicon gel can develop only mild gastrointestinal upset if there are any symptoms at all.

Cats can swallow a small amount of filler, washing after visiting the tray, and this amount easily passes through the digestive tract. However, if the animal consumes a very large amount of filler (this can happen when the dog is cleaning the tray), gastrointestinal upset, constipation, or, in rare cases, an intestinal obstruction can occur.

Alternative filler

Fillers for cat litter come not only from granulated or clumping clay. The shelves in the pet store also contain a number of fillers made from environmentally friendly materials, including processed newspapers, corncobs, peanut husks, processed orange peel, wheat, pine sawdust and chips, and chips of hardwood and cedar. All promise to perfectly control the smell, to serve for a long time and not to harm the environment. What, what to choose ...?

In 1990, Dr. Peter Borchelt, a practical animal behaviorist, conducted three ten-day studies to determine which filler cat prefer. He compared 14 types of commercial filler, as well as the topsoil mixed with clay filler and sand. Each cat had a choice of 6 trays. In the middle of the study, the trays were moved so that the preference for the location of the tray did not outweigh the preference for the filler type. Investigation of the study, fine-grained clumping filler was used twice as often as the nearest competitor, and trays filled with wood sawdust, grain and recycled paper were not used at all. Borcheelt concluded that "These data support the clinical observation that the important factor in the preference of the cat for the filler material is its texture, granulation and size. The filler Everclean, a clay with a shallow texture, preferred a clay with a large particle size. But sand, which also had a fine texture, was not given more preference than coarse-grained clay, perhaps because of the weight of the particles.

What to choose? You are guided by the price, but the final choice is for your pet. After all, if he does not like the smell and texture of the filler, he can do his thing elsewhere.

Did you know?

Many crammed fillings for cat litter are processed in such a way as to remove as much fine dust as possible. If you find that you or your cat is particularly sensitive to particles of dust in the air, you can try using a modified form of filler.

Past the tray

One of ten cats goes to the toilet by the side of the tray during life. Here are 20 most common reasons:

  • The cat suffers from a disease associated with the urinary tract.
  • The cat has periods of constipation of senile age.
  • The owner does not remove the tray, as the cat would like.
  • The owner changes the brand or type of filler.
  • The owner changes the location of the tray.
  • The owner switched to a deodorized or flavored filler.
  • The owner bought a new tray and threw out the old one.
  • The owner cleans the tray with a sharp detergent.
  • The tray location is too noisy or not enough for the cat.
  • The house is too big to have only one tray.
  • The cat can not get to the tray.
  • The cat is not allowed to use the tray another animal in the house.
  • Too many cats and not enough trays.
  • Too many cats and not enough space.
  • A cat on its territory sees or hears the smell of foreign cats.
  • An uncastrated male ripens and marks the territory.
  • The unsterilized female has estrus and she warns cats about it.
  • Over time, the cat developed an aversion to the texture of the filler.
  • In the old place, the cat was not taught how to properly use the tray.
  • The cat has stress due to changes in the routine or its surroundings, including a newborn child, new furniture, changes in the working schedule, leave, night guests or relocation.
Translation Disclaimer: The original language of this article is Russian. For the convenience of users of the iLive portal who do not speak Russian, this article has been translated into the current language, but has not yet been verified by a native speaker who has the necessary qualifications for this. In this regard, we warn you that the translation of this article may be incorrect, may contain lexical, syntactic and grammatical errors.

You are reporting a typo in the following text:
Simply click the "Send typo report" button to complete the report. You can also include a comment.