Cat Litter Myths

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Cat in a litter box picture

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When considering life's great mysteries, many folks wouldn't include cat litter. But they'd be wrong. Misinformation -- or even total ignorance -- abounds when it comes to just what constitutes a clean, comfy, and problem-free litter box. "Quite simply, nobody has ever fully funded any sort of research to determine what litters are healthy for cats or preferable to cats," says Dusty Rainbolt, author of Kittens for Dummies. To help us do away with litter myths once and for all, we looked to three of our favorite feline experts: Rainbolt; Celia Kutcher, a Brooklyn-based holistic health counselor; and Animal Behaviorist Dr. Peter Borchelt.

1. Myth: A quality cat litter eliminates odor so well that you can go days without cleaning the litter box.

Fact:
Litter boxes really should be cleaned out daily, regardless what kind of litter you use. Infrequent cleaning isn't fair to the cat, says Kutcher. It also limits your chances of finding your pet's perfect brand of litter. You could sacrifice other important factors, like the cat's comfort or the litter's digestibility, if you're overly concerned about odor control.

"You shouldn't have to use an odor-controlling product if you keep your box clean enough," Rainbolt seconds. "When it smells, clean it. Scoop once or twice a day, minimum."

2. Myth: Cats that are picky about their litter are just extra-finicky.

Fact:
Felines are known for their fussy nature, but that probably isn't why your cat rejects one kind of litter over another. It could be their toe tufts. Persians, for example, have extra-sensitive ones. "When they pee, the litter might form clumps beneath their paws that then get stuck in there," explains Rainbolt. "You've got these painful mud clumps stuck to your pads, and your choice is peeing on the carpet or being in pain."

Kutcher recommends finding a pet-store owner or employee who really knows different breeds. "If they hand you a bag of litter without asking you 10 questions about your cat, they don't know what they're talking about."

3. Myth: You should scrub the litter box vigorously with your toughest household cleanser, like Pine Sol.

Fact
: Pine scent is a cat repellent, so do not wash the box with Pine Sol. Rainbolt says all you need to do is rinse it well with warm water. Another trick: If you use a clumping litter, spray the bottom of the box with Pam before filling it. No more sticky litters!

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