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How Cat Litter is Made

Your kitty spends a lot of time digging around in his litter — and as his caring cat parent, you spend a lot of time scooping it. But how much do you actually know about your cat's litter? There's a good chance you've never stopped and asked, "How is cat litter made?"

There are three main types of litter on the market: clay, silica, and plant-based. Knowing how each kind is made will help you decide which is best for you and your kitty.

From the ingredients to the manufacturing process, we've got all the info on how cat litter is made.

Clay Litters

Clay litter was invented in the 1940s. It's since become a popular choice for filling litter boxes around the world. As its name suggests, clay litter is made of clay – a soft material known for its absorbency.
The clay used in kitty litter comes from across the United States. After being mined from large pits, it gets shipped to production facilities where it's crushed up, dried in a kiln, then crushed again.
Next, the dried clay shakes down through a series of screens to sort the various sizes of granules. When clay litter contains only one size of granules, it's less absorbent. Sorting the clay allows a good mix of sizes to be blended back together.

Finally, some litters may use bentonite clay as a clumping agent. Bentonite expands up to 15 times its original size once it gets wet so if Fluffy ingests these granules, they may cause internal blockages.

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Special de-dusting agents are added to cut down on the dust that dried clay notoriously creates when jostled around. Deodorizers like baking soda are also often added. These keep your cat's litter box from smelling like, well, a litter box.
Some cat parents might have issues with clay litter. It tracks easily and the dust may irritate your cat's lungs. Mining for clay can harm the earth, in some cases. Also, soiled clay also piles up in landfills after you toss it away.
Still, most cats will readily do their business in a box filled with clay litter, which makes it an option for people who want to please their finicky feline friends.

Silica Litters

The absorptive powers of silica cat litters might seem like a miracle of modern science. To make these amazing little beads, sodium silicate (a synthetic form of silicon dioxide — a.k.a. sand) is mixed with water and oxygen.


When sodium silicate, water, and oxygen combine, the resulting beads are filled with tiny pores that make them incredibly absorbent. Silica litters suck up liquids and trap bad odors, making them a great choice for your cat's litter box.
PrettyLitter is a silica gel litter that takes cat care one step further. Its special formula changes color based on the acidity and alkalinity of your kitty's urine. This gives you insight into your pet's health so you can know if there is a problem, even if there are no outward signs of illness.
PrettyLitter is made in one of the largest and most trusted facilities in the world, using carefully sourced minerals and the highest quality control standards.
It's also virtually dust-free, which is good news for asthma-prone kitties as veterinarians do not generally recommend even the lowest-dust clay litters for cats with asthma or who've just undergone surgery.

Plant-Based Litters

For the Earth-conscious cat parent, biodegradable litter options exist. These litters use recycled or sustainable materials like newspapers, nutshells, and corn.
To make eco-friendly litters, materials can be ground down and then formed into pellets. These materials are chosen for their absorbency and do a decent job of controlling odors. They also break down naturally, so you don't have to worry about them winding up in the landfill.
Biodegradable litters can be dusty and not all cats will easily take to using them. They also often cost more than traditional litters. But many people consider it a small price to pay for doing their part to save the planet.
Some people make their own cat litter. Newspapers can be shredded, soaked in soapy water, and drained. The paper is then sprinkled with baking soda to remove moisture, crumbled, and left to dry. If you have enough time and newspapers, making your own litter is a cost-effective and eco-friendly way to fill your cat's litter box.

How Do You Choose?

Cat litters are not created equal. Each type requires special ingredients and production methods.
Now that you know how cat litter is made, you can make an informed decision about what to put in your kitty's litter box. Just don't be surprised if your cat has other preferences. As a cat parent, you know first-hand how finicky our feline friends can be.

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