Thursday, July 2, 2009 5:14 PM

Keeping the Kitty Box Clean and Fresh

Like many cat owners, I tried many different litter brands and types in an ongoing effort to make maintaining the cat boxes less of a chore. First, I tried mixing baking soda in with the clay litter. This worked all right for a few uses, but didn't really last very long. Then I tried the paper pellets, which didn't work well at all. The pine pellets smelled better, but didn't clump; also, the cats didn't really care for them. When I finally stumbled upon Cedarific, I knew I was on to something.

Cedarific is made by Northeastern Products Corp., a NY company that manufactures and distributes animal bedding and litter. It is a mix of cedar and other hardwoods, milled into flakes. It is lightweight and has a natural cedar scent. Like the other natural litter products, it claims to be biodegradable, low dust and low tracking. The only problem I had with it was that it didn't really clump as well as I had hoped. To resolve that issue, I mixed a bit of clay litter with it, which helped quite a bit. But now it wasn't compostable, something that I really wanted. So the research continued.

Finally, I came upon a tip in my reading: Chicken feed. More specifically, layer mash and/or fine cracked corn, the kind fed to chickens. It took a little experimenting, but I came up with a perfect mix. I now use this formula exclusively: One part layer mash, one part fine cracked corn and three to four parts Cedarific. I have three separate containers, and mix it all together in a clean litter box. I use old yogurt containers as scoops, which helps keep the dust down. The mash causes the urine to clump for easy scooping and, along with the cracked corn, dehydrates the stool in short order. This creates a very lightweight litter that is completely compostable (we don't put this into our regular compost bins; we have a special set-up just for the litter).

For this to work really well, here are a few tips. First, only put about 2 inches of litter in the cat pan. This enables you to tip the box so that you can easily scoop the clumped urine out completely, without mixing it with the clean litter. Make sure that you clean the box with soap and water and dry completely before filling the box with new litter. We have two boxes at all times for three cats, and I never have to throw away any litter that hasn't actually been used. That's how well this system works!

Additionally, you really need to clean out the boxes at least twice a day, particularly if you have indoor cats (which I hope you do!). Expect some tracking; there is no such thing as non-tracking litter, no matter what they say. Remember, too, that diet is important. Since I have been feeding our cats a homemade diet, their stool is much smaller, and never smells anymore. Plus, since the food has such a high water content, the urine is dilute, so I never notice an ammonia smell. Yet another advantage of a high-quality diet!

One last tip: It helps to have the boxes away from your main living area. This is why we have never considered buying a house without a cellar!

Cost: We pay $13 for a bag of Cedarific that weighs about 25 lbs. (50 liters). A 50 lb. bag of either style of corn feed costs $11-12. Not only does this formula work great, it is also cost-effective.


Anonymous Says:
August 13, 2009 at 12:32 AM

good posts - thanks for these. we use a litter that i havent seen mentioned - crystal cat litter. (more specifically fresh step crystal litter). We got turned onto it when we started using our automatic litter box - love it! (Both the box and the litter). In regards to your subject "keeping litter box clean and fresh," both of these sure do the trick. It keeps our box pretty clean AND fresh, with minimal intervention by me (yay!) Would encourage you to check it out, and heck, maybe even blog about them too. (

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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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