There are many varieties of cat litters on the market, from the widely available and popular clay-based types to more recently introduced "alternative" varieties made from materials like paper, wheat, or corn. The latter varieties are increasingly of interest to pet owners for their biodegradable properties and in response to contended health concerns related to clay-based litters. If you are concerned about the health concerns related to the different types of litter, consult with your veterinarian.
The following lists the prevailing alternative litter materials currently available for your cat. Remember, whenever transitioning your pet to a new litter, do so gradually. For some cats, introducing a new litter is no big deal. While for others, the cat may need a little coaxing to get familiar with the new litter. For the latter type of cats, start by sprinkling some of the cat's regular litter over the new litter, eventually using less and less of the regular litter and more of the new litter, until only the new litter is used. While we may try and dictate what type of litter our cats use, ultimately the decision is up to the cat! Cats are very finicky and will refuse to use the litter box for many different reasons including the type of litter, the type of box, location of box and cleanliness of box.
Recycled Paper-Based Litters
Made from either recycled newspapers or residual pulp from the paper products-making process, these litters can be either fluffy or in pelleted form. Most paper-based litters are biodegradable, virtually dust-free, compostable, incinerable, and flushable. Paper-based litters can be somewhat messy when they get very wet (think of a newspaper left out in the rain) and generally do not neutralize the odor as well as the traditional litters. These products are great for use if your cat has had a declaw procedure as clay litter can get into the toes and cause infection.
Brands: Yesterday's News , Cell-Sorb Plus Bedding & Litter
Made from whole kernel corn, the hard granules are the size of peas or smaller. Corn litters are virtually dust-free, clump, scoop easily, have a mild corn odor, are flushable and septic safe, and last long. Corn litters are frequently the choice for use with automatic litter boxes or litter pans designed with a screen and urine-collection drain pan beneath.
Brands: World's Best Cat Litter
Made from 100% ground wheat, the starch in the wheat makes for superior clumping and the enzymes in the wheat neutralize the odor in the cat waste. Additionally, wheat-based litters are compostable and flushable (the wheat granules easily dissolve).
Pine and cedar are two of the most common woods used in wood-based litters. These litters tend to be in pellet or wood-flake form. There is a great deal of concern over the safety to your pet's health when using wood litters made from cedar. Pine litters made from 100% pine have less controversy associated with them.
Though dust-free in comparison to clay litters, wood-based litters produce more dust then other alternative litters and do not have the strongest clumping potential. In small amounts, wood-based litters are flushable, though it's not recommended for septic tanks.
Brands: CareFresh, Feline Pine, ExquisiCat Pine Cat Litter
Citrus Peel-Based Litters
Made from dried citrus ingredients (including peels, stems, and leaves) these litters are light-colored and have a light, citrus scent--providing natural deodorization. Other features include quick absorption and reduced tracking.
Brands: Citra-Max Fresh