Although you might not consider it when scooping the litter box, the components of cat litter are essential for your cat’s health and well-being. Clay, other minerals, and natural materials like wheat, pine, corn, or artificial crystallized silica are the main components of cat litter.
The Most Popular Cat Litter is Clay.
Both clumping and non-clumping cat litters often contain a variety of clay types. But it wasn’t always the case. Before kitty litter was created, cat owners would fill their cat’s litter boxes with sand, dirt, ash, or soiled newspapers. For this reason, you may occasionally hear people refer to their cat’s toilet as the “sandbox.” Modern kitty litter was created in 1947 when Edward Lowe gave a Fuller’s Earth jar for his companion, a phrase to the extent that clay minerals can take up their weight in liquid.
Despite the forecasts of critics, cat owners were eager to pay for Fuller’s Earth since it was much more effective than the less expensive (or free!) options of sand and paper. In the United States, the cat litter market is now worth approximately $10 billion, and a huge variety of cat litter options are available online, in pet stores, and even in grocery stores.
Clay cat litter comes in various varieties, both clumping and non-clumping.
Although most cat litters modify the original Fuller’s Earth recipe, this does not imply that modern cat litters are the same as litters produced after World War II. Various absorption and odor control levels are achieved by adjusting the types of clays and other chemicals used in kitty litter formulations. Although most cat litters include the same basic elements, the type, combination, and ratios of those ingredients, as well as other additives, affect how effectively they function.
Bentonites, such as calcium or sodium bentonite, which can increase in size by up to 15 times their initial volume, are the most popular clays used in cat litter. Depending on whether the cat litter is a clumping or non-clumping composition, other typical clays added to cat litter combinations include sepiolite, kaolinite, and montmorillonite.
The clays present in cat sand are all hydrous aluminum silicates, which were created from volcanic ash millions of years ago during the Cretaceous period (you know, the time of the great extinction, probably from when a meteor struck the earth). These clays function well in cat litter because they retain moisture between clay layers, producing a negative ionic charge that pulls liquids and water to them.
The negative charge imbalance in the clay is brought on by cations, which may be acceptable given that it is utilized in cat litter (yes, cat-ions). Numerous clumping cat litters draw cations from cat urine and bind them together.
Currently, the classic clay, the non-clumping recipe, makes up around 40% of cat litter marketed in the US, with various clay-based clumping cat litter making up the remaining 60%.
Ingredients in Natural Cat Litters Without Clay
Although clay is the most typical component of cat litter, other materials, such as wheat, pine chips, corn cobs, walnut shells, paper, and sawdust, are also used to make cat litter.
These clay litter substitutes are available in clumping and non-clumping varieties. To absorb cat pee and create solid clumps that are simple to scoop, some clumping cat litter, for example, is manufactured from maize, baking soda, and plant extracts.