The kind of litter you provide can make a difference to some cats.

If you experience litter problems, let your cat choose. Experiment by trying a couple of brands to see which one your cat goes to most readily. Litter matters so much because unless your cat accepts the brand you are using, she will go elsewhere to do her business.

There are two elements of litter box preparation: Using baking soda as an odour controller and using only a small amount of litter. Before putting litter in the box, sprinkle baking soda (or ready mixed odour control powder from pet shops) generously on the bottom of the box. Alternatively, you can mix it in with the litter.

Overloading the litter box with litter makes it difficult to scoop and remove the soiled litter. This means the odour will be more offensive and therefore more appealing for the cat. You need to put as little as 1,5 cm of litter, and certainly no more than 5 cm in depth into the box. This way urine doesn’t seep through all of it and there’s not one grain that isn’t contaminated with urine.

Crystal Litter

In general, cat experts are not fond of crystal cat litter, which is made out of dried silica gel. However, this type of kitty litter is popular with some cat owners for a very understandable reason: a single usage of crystal litter can last in a cat litter box for an entire month, thanks to the super-absorbency of sodium silicate, the same material that's packed into pill bottles to keep their contents dry. (Of course, this only applies to cat urine; you still have to scoop out your cat's solid waste every day).

Because they don't have to be changed as often as clay or biodegradable litters, crystal cat litters come in more manageable bag sizes (as small as 4 pounds), a big plus for cat owners who are unable to do heavy lifting.

However, as convenient as crystal litters can be for people, cats are likely to see things from a different perspective. The tiny, jagged crystalline particles can be very hard on a cat's sensitive paws. Even if your cat consents to using a crystal litter, it may not be very happy about it. There's also a downside from the human perspective: once a portion of crystal litter has reached its absorbency limit, you'll end up with a pool of urine in the bottom of the cat litter box. Also the white crystal will change its colour with time of usage into a rather off-putting yellow.

Clay Litter

In litter boxes previously sand was used. Clay litter is much more absorbent than sand and is manufactured into large grains or clumps of clay to make it less likely to be tracked from the litter box. Today, cat litter can be obtained quite economically at a variety of retail stores. Conventional clay litter is indistinguishable from clay-based oil absorbent (used to clean oil spills); as the latter is far less expensive, it is often used as a substitute. Non-clumping cat litter is often made of zeolite, diatomite and sepiolite.

Another version of clay litter is clumping litter. Most are made from granulated bentonite clay which clumps together when wet and forms a solid mass separate from the other litter in the box. This solid clumped material can be scooped out and disposed of without changing the entire contents of the litter box.

Clumping litter usually also contains quartz or diatomaceous earth (sometimes called diatomaceous silica, which causes it to be mistakenly confused with silica gel litter). Because of the clumping effect, the manufacturers usually instruct not to flush clumping litters down the toilet, because it could clog it.

Clumping clay cat litters are natural products. Nevertheless, they may also contain naturally occurring crystalline silica, or silica dust. Clay litter is also criticized by the more expensive manufacturers of non-clay litter as being commonly produced in a strip mine in an environmentally degrading process.