The History Of Everyone's Favorite Thing...Kitty Litter!

The History Of Everyone's Favorite Thing...Kitty Litter!

We humans have been interacting, coexisting, and cohabitating with cats for centuries, dating back to ancient Egypt even. For the majority of the time cats primarily wandered about on their own, hunting their own food and defecating where they wanted to when they wanted to. However by the time they were beginning to become our pets by the mid-1940s people began providing them with boxes that usually contained ripped up bits of paper, ashes, or dirt. Although it was discovered that none of these fillers did anything to decrease the odor associated with the litter box and really only spread ash around the house by the cat. Thus, people began to look for other solutions to address their stinky kitty bathroom issues. 

 The Amazing Discovery of Absorbent Clay Kitty Litter

A family-owned business that typically sold ice, coal, sand, sawdust and granulated, kiln-dried clay in Michigan in the late 1940s are responsible for the accidental discovery that led to the cat litter we know today. Edward Lowe was the owner and operator of this small business and unveiled that clay was as good for absorbing cat urine as it was for absorbing the greasy spills they originally produced it for. 

When a neighbor asked to borrow sand for their litter box and Lowe discovered his supply was frozen, he supplied her with granulated clay to try instead. She reported that the clay worked perfectly for helping contain the odors and then she and her friends began asking for it routinely. Mr. Lowe then named the product Kitty Litter and eventually sold it to pet retail locations. He later developed the Tidy Cat brand of kitty litter. 


The Development of Clumping Clay Cat Litter

Some years later in 1984, another wonderful, accidental discovery resulted in clumping clay cat litter. Thomas Nelson, a biochemist who was studying clay microscopically made the discovery that some types, such as bentonite, prevented urine from actually breaking down. This means that the resulting ammonia smell from the urine could be completely avoided. He also learned that when bentonite was dried rather than put in a kiln and fired, it clumped together when it was wet. 

Finding Biodegradable, Absorbent, Non-Clay Based Cat Litter

The more common trend right now is people moving away from the traditional clumping clay litter because it can be dusty and still cause a mess. It also contains silica dust that might be harmful to the lungs of pets and people, especially if they suffer from allergies. Clay-based kitty litter also usually uses environmentally destructive strip mining to produce it and isn't biodegradable. Most cats do like using clumping clay litter and more people are keeping their cat indoors so finding good, absorbent, safe, and biodegradable litter that cats like to use can be tricky.

Luckily you do have some choices available that fit that description. Some brands use cornmeal that doesn't require mining and is completely biodegradable so you can feel more green about your purchase. This formula also clumps nicely which your cat will enjoy and doesn't leave any traces of irritating dust or smell in the air after your cat uses it, or after you pour it into the litter box. A lot of cats like this kind especially because it has the feeling of soft, fine-grain sand that they naturally gravitated toward. 


Do you have a particular kitty litter you like to use and that your cat enjoys? Shoot us a line, we love to hear about what works for you and your cat! 

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