New Cat Litter and the Return of an Old Problem

Recently I heard about the possible health risks of clumping cat litter. After doing some research, I learned that the controversy started in 1995 after Marina Michaels wrote an article for Tiger Tribe Magazine titled Clumping Clay Kitty Litters: A Deadly Convenience? In it she described several litters of kittens dying of an unknown cause until she determined it was the clumping clay litter that was causing the problem.

Upon further research, I found that all other articles about the subject pointed back to Michael’s’ original article and it seems that no research has been done to prove, or disprove, her claim. It also seems that if there is a problem, kittens are affected considerably more than adult cats.

Proof or not, I thought it would not hurt to take away a potential danger and replace it with a healthier alternative. I also thought it would be lighter and better for the environment. My only concern was that Chris’s pooping problem might come back if I stopped doing what worked.

In case you haven’t read my older posts, we struggled with Chris pooping on the floor for over three years. Sometimes he would use the box and sometimes he wouldn’t. We reduced the problem when we started using Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Clumping Cat Litter along with Precious Cat Litter Attractant and the problem stopped two years ago when we moved to our last home and put the litter boxes in the same room. I think having a second box nearby if the first one wasn’t perfect was helpful. Once the problem got better, I stopped buying the Cat attract but continued to buy the Precious Cat litter.

I thought the proximity of the boxes was the most important factor and I was hoping Chris’s new habit of always pooping in the box might be permanent so, before me moved, I bought a litter called Tidy Cats Pure Nature. It is made from cedar, corn, and pine, natural, renewable resources, and it is much lighter than conventional litter and easy to transport. 

Tidy cats pure nature cat litter

On moving day I emptied and cleaned one of the boxes but left other box. When I moved the cats to the new house I brought the litter pan with the old litter and put it in the new house next to the box with the new litter.

cat litter

I then monitored both for almost three weeks. The new litter was used only about ten times and every time, except once, it was for pee. That is about once every two days for three cats, not very good.

I know the test was a little unfair because they still had their old litter as an option but it was a good way to prove what they prefer, especially since their old litter was…, well… old. I wanted to get rid of the new litter after the first week but waited to see if they would get use to it and use it more. They didn’t, and I didn’t want to force a litter on them that might reignite Chris’s pooping problem.

By week three I started seeing an occasional, small piece of poop on the floor. I assumed someone was having a problem with poop sticking to their butt, since it was so small, but as a precaution I bought more of their old litter and changed both boxes two days ago.

This morning I rolled out on exercise mat because I wanted to start doing stretches to relieve the back pain that I have been feeling for the last week or two. Chris found the mat interesting and lied on it while I looked for a good video to follow on YouTube. When I found one, I heard Chris clawing at the mat and turned to see him trying to bury a big poop that he left there.

I waited too long and now I now I have to buy more Cat Attract and start over. As far as a healthy alternative to the clumping cat litter…? I don’t have a good option with Chris living here.

If anyone is interested, some say that a good, cheap and healthy alternative to the alternative cat litters is  Chick Starter. It is food for young chicks and is said to be very similar to World’s Best Cat Litter at a fraction of the cost. Just make sure you get the non-medicated crumbles. I used an Amazon link so you could see what it is but you should look for it at a local feed store where you can get it much cheaper. I would love to save money and get a healthy cat litter but Chris won’t let me.

Do you use an alternative to standard litter? Please share your experience.

Related links:

Tub Pooper C

The Continuing Saga of Poop

Another Story About Poop

More Problems With Poop

Falling Off the Poop Wagon

Puck Takes a Dust Bath

Litter Boxes are for Cats

Review of Cat’s Pride Cat Litter


22 thoughts on “New Cat Litter and the Return of an Old Problem

  1. Carole

    Sounds like you did everything you could to try to get the cats onto the new litter. We were told not to use a clumping litter with kittens by the breeder and the vet so we’re on a standard light-weight one. Both kitties seem ok with it and we’ve had no problems thankfully.

  2. pilch92

    I am sorry, but this gave me a chuckle- it is so Chris. I am sorry you are having pain and he used your mat. I use Walmart clay litter because I don’t like the smell of the clumping kinds. Someone told me they use wood pellets and i have been wanting to try that because we still have some bags left from this winter, but I haven’t tried it yet.

    1. Charles Huss Post author

      We tried the Feline Pine pellets years ago before we had Chris. There was a special litter box that went with it. The poop was scooped out and the pee broke apart the pellets and, with a little sifting, fell through small holes to another level. I loved the idea but the cats were not happy with it.

  3. The Island Cats

    We use Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat and we love it. We’ve tried some of the other alternative litters but we didn’t like them. The mom says why mess with a good thing so we’ll continue using Dr. Elsey’s. We think the concern about clumping litters is a bit overblown.

    1. Tammy Paige

      I started to use Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat litter about 3 years ago. I was a die hard Tidy Cats user until I started noticing that the clumps were breaking up when I scooped the litter leaving dirty litter in the box. I researched best cat litter reviews and this was #1 so I tried it. The litter clumps hard and there is virtually no dust. I have not tried anything else since the cats seem to like it. I only wish he made a light weight formula as I have broken vertebrae.

  4. catfromhell

    Ah! The dreaded poop outside the litter box! Every time we try to move away from clumping litter, we get THAT problem. And its not just Nellie…So we stick to clumping, and 2 litter boxes.

  5. Summer

    We use World’s Best and another little made of fine sandy-type crystals called Almost Invisible Cat Litter, which is supposed to be eco-friendly. But then, we are not terribly picky about our litter. In fact, I think my human is pickier! She doesn’t use clay because it’s not environmentally friendly – and it is heavier than the litters we do use.

  6. onespoiledcat

    We’ve tried Sam on several litters but he just would never adjust to anything other than what appears to be his “litter of choice/favorite” which is good old Arm and Hammer Clumping Litter with no Scent. At almost 16, I do believe he’s pretty well SET in his ways!


  7. The Swiss Cats

    We use CatSense clumping organic litter (made in Canada), and we’re very happy with it. Mum wants to try to switch to pellet, as Zorro loves to poop in the wooden shavings which cover the flower beds in the garden. We’re sorry poop problems are back at your home. Purrs


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