Evaluating Cat Litter

In this series, we will review current brands of litter on the market as I hunt for the perfect one to appease my polyuric fastidious indoor cat. This article will look at Smart Cat Wood based litter and CatSan’s Smart Pack Litter System.

I am a sucker for sick cats that no one in their right mind would adopt. Therefore, it was no surprise that the latest edition to my household is a diabetic cat. To give you a bit of background on one of the challenges of diabetic cat ownership, often the diabetic cat will demonstrate an increased thirst and subsequent increased volume of urination as part of his condition. This can manifest both as an increased volume at each urination, as well as an increased frequency. The latter, termed polyuria, is especially an issue in our cat’s case.

While this symptom can be an issue in many diabetic cats lives, it has resulted in significant trial and tribulation when it comes to my cat. The reason being that even before being a diabetic, Mu happens to be the most fastidious cat when it comes to litter box hygiene that I have ever met. He refuses to share a litter box with any other cat and will not reuse a litter box once soiled. While this is a challenge for a ‘normal’ cat, it has been the trigger for many a headache with this polyuric cat. Short of quitting my job and manning his litter box full time, I wasn’t sure how I would appease him and keep my carpets dry simultaneously.

Therefore, in my frustration, I have endeavoured to initiate a little experiment to see which litter can best support my cat’s special needs. This has included experimentation with a range of litter types and systems, and a fussy cat who has given me a lot of thumbs down and a few thumbs up.

While the average cat might not subject you to the advanced level of challenge that my cat has put me thorough, I suspect that this information will be of use to other diabetic cat owners as well as owners of fussy urinators (which is the primary reason for feline relinquishment to shelters). Just consider my cat the ‘big spill’ challenge that paper towel commercials always show.

Remember the key is perseverance and patience with your cat. Well, that or a crash course in cat speak.

I. Smart Cat

“Smart Cat” cat litter is a wood-based litter that is marketed as an environmentally friendly alternative to the usual litter types. It is also advertised that it is free from chemical additives, organic and biodegradable. Performance-wise, Smart Cat claims to possess ‘”ultra high absorbency properties” that allow it to retain “its natural woodland pine fragrance for 10 days and beyond, verified by independent tests against competing cat litters”.

This has been our baseline litter for comparison, as it is the one we have used the longest with our cats. While we have been examining alternatives, it wouldn’t be fair to overlook the positive characteristics of this litter. This wood based litter is very absorbent and it was rare that we’d see any urine not soaked into the wood pellets. As well, I can’t say the odor control was infallible, but it did control the odor adequately.

The downside of the wood-pellets high absorbency is the resultant by product. When urine met pellet, the material would lose its shape and break down. The by-product was a powder reminiscent of saw dust. When living in a house with carpets, we didn’t recognize the sawdust as a huge problem beyond the room the litter box resided in. Unfortunately, in our current house, the cats are able to track the saw dust over the hardwood floors and all the way to their final destinations, usually the sofa or even duvet. Needless to say, it was dire and disgusting. And if we managed to escape the paw print escapades, there was always the joy of our polyuric cat’s immense urinations on sawdust leading to a litter box full of paste. All these issues coupled with Mu’s inappropriate urination after a few pees in the litter box that finally sent me around the bend. He wasn’t happy with the wood litter and neither was I.

Absorbency: Good

Odor Control: Average

Problem: Sawdust by-product mess

II.CatSan: Smart Pack (2)

My partner picked this one out since he was curious about what was marketed as an odor controlling, long lasting, super absorbent litter package. On the label, it does sound like a modern miracle waiting to happen. So we made the outlandishly expensive purchase and gave it a go.

Unrolling the item, we were a bit disappointed. The super technologically advanced ground breaking litter system appeared to be nothing more then an incontinence pad with a lot of non-absorbing cat litter. But here it was at home, so we’d give it a try and hope that cats thought it was amazing.

Unfortunately, Mu didn’t. He wouldn’t even get in the box, despite placing the Smart Pack system into his preferred litter box. He avoided it like the plague, and even urinated next to the box and a few times around its bathroom location. He obviously knew it was there but wasn’t going to grace it with his presence. To be honest, it actually had him urinating inappropriately more then ever before. In regards to finding him the right litter, the Smart Pack was a complete failure.

I suppose luckily for the sake of the review the other cat thought it was fine. She used the Smart Pack litter and liner without complaint. Initially, it seemed to control odor well and absorbency was good. It kept a clean litter box appearance for the week, but then the amount of substrate was significant compared to the volume we usually use and this could have contributed. While its nice that the company included a significant amount of litter in their product, it was extreme and actually lead to a lot of litter being displaced from the box and spread over the bathroom.

Another significant issue for the Smart Pack, is the blue liner itself became a problem as the cat continually removed it from the sides when in the litter box. Often we’d find the box unusable and inaccessible because the liner had been torn off the sides and stuffed into the middle of the box. So, while you are able to keep the same litter for a longer period of time between changes, you will have your hands in the box fixing the liner on a daily basis. And for the price and the complete rejection by the cat who really needs extra absorbency, this will not be a repeat purchase for our household.

Absorbency: Good

Odor Control: Good

Problem: Cat rejection. Liner issues. Litter strewn across the floor.

Tune in next time as we evaluate paper-based, clumping and non-absorbable litters.

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