Clare's Guide to Buying Cat Products

Cat playing in box

From Litter trays to cat carriers there is a plethora of products available to suit the discerning eye of every cat owner. But is it us owners that the makers of these products should be trying to satisfy?! What we like to buy for our cats is usually based on our own human perceptions of their behaviour, as well as our own tastes! As you know, you can buy a deluxe furry cat bed in a beautiful and very tasteful print, only for your cat to choose the box it came in.

What this guide aims to do is to give you some buying tips based on your cat’s species specific behaviour. This will hopefully make the product more attractive than the box – though this can never be guaranteed!

Cat Litter Trays

From hooded trays to corner trays to self-cleaning trays - the choice of litter tray available today is enormous and can be confusing! However, it's important to get this right because the key to preventing and resolving house-soiling behaviours usually lies with the toilet facilities. The type of litter tray; the number of trays, their size and location all need to be right to entice your cat to use them.

I would personally avoid all the fancy self-cleaning trays. It’s not a pleasant job, but the only way to keep the tray pristine is to do it yourself. Instead I would opt for a standard litter tray, the biggest you can buy for the space you have chosen. Hooded trays can be a good option for single cat households where the tray is in an obtrusive position such as a bedroom, kitchen or living room. If you do choose a hooded tray, it’s always a good idea to remove the door so that your cat can poke his head out and see what’s going on whilst doing his business. However, for multi-cat households I would always recommend an open tray. I’ve seen lots of cases where cats that don’t get on with their feline housemates sit in wait behind or even on top of the tray, ready to ambush the poor unsuspecting cat inside. An open tray gives the litter tray-user a 360 degree view from which to look out for potential threats.

Do remember to buy enough trays for the number of cats you have. The ideal is one per cat plus one in different locations.

Did You Know... When it comes to litter trays big is beautiful! In fact, a litter tray should ideally be 1.5 times the length of your cat from the tip of its nose to the base of its tail. I usually recommend those described as ‘jumbo’ to my clients!

Cat Litter

There are many types available, but which is the best? Most of the homes I’ve visited have litter trays containing Catsan White or a wood-based litter. Unfortunately, in both cases urine deposits spread over the surface of the litter making it impossible to remove, nor are they particularly comfortable on the cats sensitive paw pads.

Being desert dwellers, the ancestors of our domestic cat the African Wild Cat toileted in sand, which is why our cats today instinctively gravitate towards a sand-like material for their toileting, as anyone with a sandpit in their garden will know! If it were up to them, cats would choose a fine sand-like litter which they can easily dig and rake. I would also advise a non-scented litter. Those with fragrances might smell baby-talc-fresh to us but can be too strong for our cat’s noses!

Most supermarkets now sell a range that include fine, clumping litters. These usually include ‘ultra’ in the name. Clumping litters are great because the clumps make removal of all urine particles much easier, Another reason why I advocate clumping cat litters is because they allow you to keep an eye on your cat’s urine output. If your cat usually passes urine twice a day which forms one or two medium sized clumps in the litter and suddenly you notice lots of tiny clumps, this is a sign that all is not well with your cat’s urinary tract and a visit to the vet may be needed. For cats that produce normal amounts of urine several times daily, you need only fill the tray with litter to a depth of 3-4cm. If you have more than one cat or your cat urinates in larger volumes, you may need to add a further 1-2cms.

My current cat litter recommendation is Almo Nature Cat Litter. It’s one of the more expensive litters, but it’s extremely soft, clumps and can be flushed down the toilet.