Slightly OT: Cat paw prints on my cabinets!

debrak2008January 4, 2014

The cat is 9 years old and we have been using the same Fresh Step cat litter since she was 10 months old. No issues all this time. Now for some reason the cat is obsessed with getting on the kitchen island. I think she likes the heat. I remove her immediately, but I know at night she is up there.

So now on to the paw prints. We had a bag of litter and it seemed really dusty and I would have paw prints on my dark cabinets and she jumps up. I know there is cat litter dust on my counters! It blends in so I can't see it but I can feel it and have to keep wiping.

Contacted the company and they said the litter must have been mishandled in shipping and sent me a coupon for a free bag. I got the free bag (at a different store) and its just as bad.

My question is does anyone use wood pellets for cat litter? DH thinks we need to make a change. The cat also seems to be digging a lot in the litter and flinging in out of the box even with a door. The digging and the dusty litter seems to have started at the same time so I'm guessing they are related. DH confirms that the litter is very dusty right from the bag so she is not making it dusty by all the digging.

The cat appears very healthy and active (indoor only).

Sorry for the rambling... what cat litter to use so I don't have paw prints in my kitchen?

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Sophie Wheeler

Arm and Hammer is the least dusty of the clumping litters. It's what we use at the rescue. We do have members who swear by Feline Pine, but I don't think it works as well in a mass situation as the clumping kind.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 9:03AM
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You might want to post your query on the Pet Forum - they might have some suggestions.

We purchased a Scat Mat to keep our cat off the counter. We were so worried that she might accidentally turn on the cooktop and get burned. It worked well and now we seldom use it. Every now and then we place it on the counter and let some hang over the edge so she can see it. We don't even plug it in and it's so much easier then removing all the knobs every night.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 9:34AM
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I can relate. I have two indoor-only cats and two jumbo litterboxes, albeit at the furthest part of my house from the kitchen. While they do track a bit of litter into the hallway, I don't think any of it makes it to the kitchen.

I've changed litter recently for another reason: one of my cats seems to have either asthma or allergies. The vet has seen him and he's otherwise an active, healthy 2-year-old. They suggested I might try a less dusty litter than the very dusty Petco litter which fills my containers. Although as a human I love the smell of Feline Pine, the vets says the stuff in the wood can trigger allergies. Also, most of my cats don't care for the feel underfoot and it doesn't clump. The vet suggested the one made from newspaper (Yesterday's News?). Same texture as Feline Pine but without the pleasant smell. My cats didn't like it either. Plus it neither clumps or pulverizes. Since my litter boxes are right in the house (my office) smells are a factor and I think nothing beats clumping for minimizing smells.

Now I'm using Precious Cat unscented. My internet research claims it's one of the least dusty litters out there. It's clumping and a has a slightly larger particle. The cats are cool with it. It's too early to tell if it will have a positive effect (or no further negative effect) on Zephyr's asthma, but if it creates less dust in my office, it will be worth it.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 10:41AM
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We also recently (within the last year) switched to Ultra Precious Cat Unscented. It's definitely a minimal dust producing litter. It's also entirely fragrance-free, unlike EverClean, which we'd been using forever (which is why we finally got fed-up enough to switch).

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 11:54AM
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None of them are dust free and the 99% dust free claims are ridiculously false. I don't care how they measure it, the litters are extremely dusty.

Another vote for Ultra Precious Cat. Still a mess but it's the best one I've come across for dust and odor control, no fragrance smells. Expensive but it does seem to last a long time.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 12:16PM
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Our cat just recently decided to get up on the peninsula after not going near it for the year and a half we've had her. I don't know what it is she wants. I've given up on the kitchen table because she watches the birds from there, but I wonder if there's a germ-killing product safe for wood. We have to wipe it for every meal.

We use Arm and Hammer litter. Two weeks ago we got a black kitten. I couldn't see the dust on Gracie's white mittens but I can see it on his paws. Of course he wants to sleep on our pillows.

My only suggestion is to keep your kitty in a room at night so at least there won't be the morning surprise. Cats will sleep if confined or allowed to sleep on the bed, so I don't agree they are strictly nocturnal. Gracie is usually the last one up, and the kitten is sleeping until 5:30!

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 12:35PM
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may_flowers, vinegar and water will safely disinfect your counters. A few sprays of it might also persuade Gracie and Debrak2008's kitty to stay off of them, too!

I have one cat that accepted Feline Pine, the other did not. Neither of them will use World's Best (corn). They both prefer clay litter to Yesterday's News but they will use it.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 2:07PM
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Thank you all for the posts. I did post on the pets forum too. I love this forum and know many of you have cats so that is why I started here first.

The cat used to sleep most of the night on the couch. My kids used to be up coming and going at all times of the night and she would always be sound asleep snoring on the couch. The last two weeks she is very active at night. I don't know why but I'm finding paw prints everywhere. She also will jump up on the island right in front of me. My DH said its because the cat wants to be near me (eyes rolling) and I'm a usually at the island. I know its because of the heat. The granite is heated and my laptop (another heat source) is on the island. Its been very cold outside and her usual window sill spot is chilly.

I have used arm and hammer before as I grapped the wrong bag by accident. I found it did not clump as well as fresh step.

Precious cat I have never heard of be will keep it as an option to try. Feline Pine I need to check out. They have a clumping kind that we may like.

I keep a vinegar and water mix that I spray on my hardwood. I could try wiping the counters down with it.

DH wants to set up another litter box with something new and see which box she uses. Is this a good idea? Feline pine suggests putting 3/4 of feline pine and then the usual litter on top.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 3:35PM
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"My question is does anyone use wood pellets for cat litter? "

We use pellet fuel for litter. It's made in the state from what would be discarded bits in the sawmills.

We have it in a mesh-bottom litter pan so sawdust filters down, and the pans are inside cut-down plastic storage bins for concealment and to minimize litter spreading.

Locally produced and inexpensive ($6-7 for a 40lb bag)
Smells like whatever they were harvesting that week - pine, juniper or fir
Breaks up into sawdust when it gets wet, soaking up the urine well.
Controls odor fairly well, unlike that horrible perfumed "odor control" stuff with the perfumy stench

The pellets can track or get kicked onto the floor and it HURTS to step on them.

The sawdust can track a bit, but it's larger pieces, and not as obnoxious as the clay litter.

We dump the used litter (minus feces) onto the compost heaps. Wonderful source of nitrogen :)

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 3:36PM
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lazygardens. So you get some tracking but is it just when the litter needs to be changed or all the time? Do you get dust?

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 3:41PM
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(1) Precious cat ultra, yes. It's as nearly dust free as you'll get, and not as pricey as it first seems. Weighs a ton but clumps super hard. Love it.

(2) Feline pine works well, but some vets question the exposure to pine oil. I will say our asthma cat coughed more with it. That said, it is excellent at odor control and does not track far. It is not gritty, and won't scar your hardwoods like that glassy stuff. Ugh.

(3) If your cat is not overweight, not arthritic or joint-compromised in any way, you could try the Clever Cat top entry litter box. I have three of them. Really reduces tracking. Also the Petmate Litter catcher mats outside the box. But you cannot use a cheap litter in the Clever Cat, or you risk too much dust inhalation.

(4) Amazing new thing to cut down on litter throwing is the side-entry litter box called the NRV Miss. Cats tend to scratch and throw backward, and to do that they like to stretch lengthwise through the box. If the door is on the long side, they go in, turn sidelong to the door, then scratch. This box was designed for back-sprayers who can get it over the lip of the box but the walls were not tall enough for our big feral boys. I have made my own by cutting narrow side doors in the Clever Cat, or you can use a rubbermaid tub.

(5) If the cat is getting older and craving more heat, you might lure her from the island with a plug-in kitty hutch. K&H Thermo Kitty has at least 2 kinds on Amazon.

Yeah. Don't even get me started on cat stuff. I pride myself on a meticulous, odorless, cat-hair-free house, but I love my four cats. It is a constant battle.

Here is a link that might be useful: NVR Miss

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 4:14PM
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Squirt bottle. Hilarious while you train them.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 4:42PM
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I don't have a cat right now, but I used to use Feline Pine and it worked pretty well for my cats in terms of not a lot of dust. But, there was some sawdust tracking.

Since kitty is going for the extra heat from the counter (who knew that you were building such an expensive kitty bed?), I would try to find one of the little heated cat blankets or hutch and persuade your cat that those items are preferable to the counter. Heat + softness + kitty treats should = kitty finding a new favorite area to hang out. Hopefully. :)

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 4:44PM
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Self-indulgent post disclaimer:
All this talk of kitties and litter and tracking makes me very sad as we lost our last 17 y/o cat right before Christmas; his sister died in August. And no more cats for us as DH is allergic (although we've had cats our entire 25 years of marriage . . .)

I think we were lucky that our cats were maybe too old to do their gymnastics on our new soapstone counters when we remodeled 3 years ago. I think the ''patina'' they might have created could have upset me a little.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 7:00PM
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And, Google, being ever helpful, has now decided that I want cat litter and came up with this ad for me to check out. Disclaimer: I know nothing about it other than Google thought it should suggest it to me as one of my Gmail ads:

Here is a link that might be useful: Blue Buffalo Cat Litter

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 8:53PM
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Having used probably every brand of cat litter (volunteering at a cat shelter), I think Fresh Step is one of the most dusty.

Arm & Hammer Essentials (the one in a bag, not the box) seems much less dusty.

Please use caution when switching litter brands, esp. in a cat that has used the same litter for 8+ years. Switching litter can lead to inappropriate elimination (not using litter box).

The good thing about the dust is - at least you know kitty has been there and should wipe the area before any food prep.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 10:05PM
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Update: My DH purchased Cat's pride cat litter based on a store clerks recommendation (eye rolling). The dust is dramatically reduced (yea), crumps great but does not stay in the box. It is worse than Fresh step. It is everywhere! The paw prints are very much reduced but this litter is not going to work.

I told DH that the next litter is precious cat.

Getting on the counter is a little less now. She has found a hot spot in the downstairs bathroom. The floor is heated and she sits on a fuzzy rug in front of the heater vent. This spot has to be the hottest spot in the house. So people using that bathroom have company or shoo her out, LOL.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 11:05AM
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Holly- Kay

Debra, I use wood pellets for my pupster's litter box. It works great because any liquid is absorbed into the litter and becomes saw dust. The saw dust is not fine and easily scooped out. The solids are easy to pick up with toilet paper and flushed in the toilet.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 11:32AM
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robo (z6a)

Speaking of the NVR miss, I also cut down totes for my kitties. I have three and continued purchasing of XL litterboxes (when they got too scratched and couldn't clean properly) was getting expensive! This is a smaller one.

I cut them down, sand the edges, and get a very high sided XXL litterbox for $10. Very happy with them. I put oversized cheap utility mats outside the box and they trap a lot of litter and dust.

I need the XXL for my senior monster. He's getting too lazy to chase his mouse around all day.

This post was edited by robotropolis on Mon, Jan 27, 14 at 11:46

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 11:39AM
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holly-kay, DH is still considering the wood pellets.

Qs - Do you have one of those trays with little holes in the bottom that you shake and the saw dust falls through?

If we scoop out solids everyday, could we just dump the whole thing out each week? Wood pellets are cheap enough we could afford to do that.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 11:39AM
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Robotropolis, Cute kitties! DH was considering cutting down a large card board box and putting the litter box in it. A plastic tote would work too. Right now we have one of those plastic mats for outside litter boxes. With the little nubbies. It does collect some litter but not all.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 11:52AM
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robo (z6a)

If you have the space I definitely recommend a big mat. So cheap and easy to pick up and shake off. The rubber nubby ones are ok for litter itself but the carpet traps the dust, plus the rubber ones I find are usually quite small. And you will not believe the difference if you go to a big tote from a regular sized litter box. Your cleaning will go down like 75%.

Just for fairness here's the last one. She looks like that fake cat from Sabrina the Teenage Witch. She has a kick like a jackrabbit when it comes to litter. The other two have a real hard time kicking and scratching inside the box and are usually busy trying to drag the drywall or floor into the box.

This post was edited by robotropolis on Mon, Jan 27, 14 at 12:37

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 12:32PM
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I started using one of the large but shallow underbed tote boxes (that a neighbor was throwing out) thinking that my elderly kitty was having a hard time with the traditional box sides (she was going just outside the box). Both cats love this box and have been ignoring the other two boxes since I set this one up. They aren't vigorous diggers so I don't end up with litter spray.

Cutting down a tall sided box is a great idea -- I will keep my eyes peeled for one.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 12:42PM
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I posted this in the thread about training children, but it's actually designed to train animals. It won't solve the scattering through the rest of the house, but it might work for the island.

For the scattering issue, I buy car floor mats designed for the back of an SUV. They grab the excess.

Here is a link that might be useful: Scat Mat

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 12:49PM
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I have been using wood pellets for cat litter for 10 years and love it! It absorbs smells great, and is so easy to clean up. I can't stand clumping litter. It so sticky and gets everywhere. The wood pellets just turn to sawdust. I even use the vacuum around the litter box because it picks up so easily. Lastly, don't buy wood pellets from the pet store. It is super expensive. Go to a tack store and buy a bag they use for horse stables. Same exact thing and super cheap. I get a 40# bag for $6!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 1:38PM
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Precious Cat is definitely less dusty and my cats are cool with it. I can't say for sure if it's my imagination or not, but I think Zephyr's asthma symptoms have decreased.

For years I used to buy litter box liners and tape them down so they'd stay put. Eventually my deep diggers would break through the liner and bits of plastic would float to the top and generally the boxes were a mess. I discovered that everything works better with no liners at all. The litter actually keeps the boxes cleaner. I do a quick scrub between litter changes, but everybody, cats and I, are so much happier now that the liners are gone.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 1:44PM
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Elraes Miller

Arm and Hammer has a new litter out. Have been using it for 2 weeks and so far it is great. No dust, absolutely no smell of anything and not seeing tracking. This may be due to habit of seeing large tracks.

Right now there are $3 coupons off, Walmart/Pet Smart has it. Both are the same price. It claims no changing for a week and follows through. But I'm trying to figure out if it can be used more than once after the week.

I did head back and got 3 more boxes with coupons while they are available, cost a bit less than other A&R with the coupon. Worth trying out.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 2:01PM
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Holly- Kay

We have a regular doggie litter box that has low sides and a scooped opening. I use an old, solid spoon that is kept with the wood pellets to scoop out the saw dust areas and I pick the solid out with toilet paper or tissue. The wood pellets are super cheap and definitely absorb odor. It is also very easy to clean. You will save a small fortune not buying clumping kitty litter. Our dear Tommy kitty that had kidney failure before Christmas also used the doggy litter pan when he was upstairs too without a problem.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 2:24PM
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Holly- Kay

Seeing all the pretty kitties makes me sad. Our precious Tommy kitty who adopted us in October of 2012 had chronic cystitis. He was in and out of the vets constantly. He was only two years old as he was a young cat when he found us. Right before Christmas after another bout of cystitis he was diagnosed with non reversible kidney failure. I cried like a baby for many days as Tommy was such a love. DH told me we should adopt another but right now my heart just can't take it.

He must have been dumped and was cold and hungry when he found his way into our garage. Long story short he found a loving home with us and breaks my heart that he died so young. The up side is that had he not found us he would have died in great pain and with no one to love him for his short life.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 2:52PM
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holly-kay-I'm so sorry about your Tommy kitty. It is terrible to lose a pet, no matter how long they've been with you. As I said upthread we lost our last 17 y/o cat right before Christmas. We don't really even know what was wrong with him as his blood work was all normal, and about a month before he died our vet said he looked pretty good for his age. But he just slowly failed after that. I really think he just missed his ''sister'', who died in August, too much.

Back on topic-I wish I'd known about wood pellets for litter-that sounds like a great way to go.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 7:21PM
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Holly- Kay

Thank you Leela, hugs to you. It is hard to lose a pet. They take a piece of our heart each time.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 7:48PM
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I used A&H for years, and decided it was too expensive for the barn kitties, so I bought Cat's Pride. I just switched the house cats over to it, and I am VERY pleased with it. It clumps better, has less odor, and less dust.

Now if I could get the boy cats to quit using the calico's private litter box(her words, not mine!!), then everyone would be happy.

So sorry about Tommy kitty, holly-kay. I know when our Little Gal in Calico got out and disappeared, even DH (converted cat lover) was devastated! she came back and got back in the house, but not without a LOT of drama and a hospital bill.....


    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 7:57PM
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holly-kay and leela, (((hugs))) for you both.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 10:53PM
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"vinegar and water will safely disinfect your counters."

Uh, speaking as a bacteriologist, no it won't kill what needs to be killed. The standard lab counter cleaner is a 1/4 cup of cheap bleach to a liter of water, flooded on and left for several minutes, then wiped off. That will kill norovirus and most other pathogens.

We have cats and counters ... I use dishwasher-safe plastic cutting mats for all food prep and avoid the issue.

Another advantage of the pellet fuel as litter is that it composts easily. We dump the feces-free sawdust into the compost bins - high nitrogen additive.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 8:39AM
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We got the new Arm and Hammer Clump and Seal at Target yesterday, thanks to technicolor's post. We just filled the boxes and no dust. It's guaranteed to control odors too. It wasn't any more expensive than the other litters, plus a coupon on the box.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 4:50PM
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Tidy Cat has a new litter system called the Breeze. We have been using it for a year and it has absolutely NO dust. It uses pellets. Both of our cats accepted it immediately. I also use a litter genie. Less odor and no dust. makes Cats nicer to have.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 6:24PM
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I don't know how I missed this topic...
Cat litter rules my life :(

All litter here has to be clumping, due to the sheer volume of animals. As with many of you, my biggest concern is the dust factor. Not only for the cats and house, but also for me! I cough & cough after cleaning boxes (and I'm NOT asthmatic). Have tried just about brand out there. Currently I'm using Purina Max Scoop and it appears to be the least dusty of all the available brands, but at $16 per 14kg, I need a 2nd job...

We live in the country and seem to be the local drop off center for all unwanted kitties. Just cannot turn a hungry mouth away....

We have *several* old girls in the house, as well as *cough* a few, in DH's heated man cabin :) Makes for a lot of boxes....

The really feral ones live under a heat lamp in the horse barn. And yes, they are all spayed/neutered, as they show up. $$$$

****I'd love to hear more about the wood pellets. Are you using wood stove pellets? Or the horse barn pellets? (never heard about those - we all use straw here)

Dawn, who spends her day cleaning boxes, bowls, blankets and window smudges...

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 7:42PM
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That breeze system looks interesting. DH (the main person in charge of cleaning the litter) doesn't think he wants to have to pick up a cat urine soaked pad once a week. Alternatives? Could you actually put cat litter in that pan? Could you use wood pellets instead of the tidy cat product?

We are working on getting a large tub to put the litter box inside of, like what was posted a few posts above.

Our concern with wood pellets it that they turn to saw dust when wet. Is that going to be tracked all over the house?

If she just didn't dig so much. I'm trying to get a photo of our cat to post.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 7:48PM
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Dawn, you are liven' my dream. I would love to have that many cats, and room for outdoor cats. But I know it's a lot of work. Our four keep us slammed, and we insist on no cat smell in the house so that's constant box cleaning.

Regarding pellets, you can use the commercial bagged kind like Feline Pine or you can use stove pellets. Some shelters have 'em dropped off half a ton at a time. My vet assures me there is nothing bad in the stove pellets; they are pure sawdust. I have not used them, but have used Feline Pine and liked it.

There is another bargain option not mentioned here, which is chicken feed, or what the industry calls "layer crumbles." They are extremely safe and work like wood pellets in that the urine soaks the pellets and they fall to bits go to the bottom. Poop stays on top for scooping. Because they are cheap and safe, I keep them on hand, and use them routinely in my porch box. Indoors, they give off a sort of vitamin-supplement smell that I don't care for. The scent does not travel, however, and the feed does contain the urine odor. I would not call this a clumping litter, though some do. And you can, theoretically, flush it.

Pros of using layer crumbs are -- very little dust, safe for your cats, safe for the dump, and as environmentally benign, I guess, as any litter. I don't live in an area where you can compost, but I guess with the poop scooped, they would be compostable? Look for them in 20 and 50 pound bags at places like Southern States or Tractor Supply. My last 50 pound bag ran around $15, IIRC, so that is an awesome bargain.

For anyone interested in this, I will post a good link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Link from Cats Adored

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 10:57AM
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