The Scoop on Litter
More variety is helping cat owners find solutions to issues in the litterbox.
Consumers looking to solve
age-old problems in the
litterbox now have an array
of innovative products to
BY AUDRE Y PAVIA
The days of cat owners only having a handful of litters to choose from are over. Demand for products that address
cat owners’ most grievous litter
complaints has inspired innovation in the category, which now
includes a wide range of options
from environmentally friendly
and all-natural varieties to products that solve age-old problems.
According to Joey Herrick,
president of Lucy Pet Products in
Thousand Oaks, Calif., one of the
most significant issues associated
with cat litter is the potential for
ammonia fumes that can emanate
from used litter. Litters that fail to
address issues such as fumes and
odors have left many pet owners
dissatisfied, he said.
“Many consumers are generally frustrated or unhappy with
their current litter and are looking to switch to something new,”
have responded to consumers’
concerns with a plethora of alternatives. Natural litter, for
example, continues to grow in
popularity, as many pet owners
become increasingly eco-conscious.
“Natural litter continues to grow as more and more con-
sumers are making ‘green’ choices for home and family, in-
cluding their pets,” said Leslie Ellis, consumer communica-
tion manager for Healthy Pet in Ferndale, Wash. “This trend
is growing even faster in independent pet stores, where as-
sociates have the best chance to educate the consumer on the
benefits of natural.”
According to Rachelle Rabasi, director of marketing for
OurPet’s Co. in Fairport Harbor, Ohio, the existing “natural”
product trend is spreading to cat litter.
“It is a growing area in not just the litter category, but pet
products in general,” she said. “Consumers are becoming more
aware of what materials make up the products they are giv-
ing their pets, just like they are becoming more aware of what
products they use for themselves.”
Jeff Manley, co-owner of TailsSpin Pet Stuff, which has lo-
cations in Georgia, is seeing more litters that are manufactured
using natural ingredients such as walnut and coconut.
“Nowadays, the pet industry offers many choices for all
pet owners’ needs,” he said. “We are noticing that more and
more pets are suffering from allergies, due to environment and
diets. With the internet readily offering more information, pet
owners are much more informed and aware, and are demand-
ing better-made products for their pets.”
Christine Mallar, owner of Green Dog Pet Supply in Port-
land, Ore., pointed out that as a green retailer specializing in
environmentally friendly pet supplies, she does not carry clay
“Plant- and paper-based litters are somewhat more sustainable to make, often use mill waste or other recycled ingredients, and some can be composted at home,” she said. “They’re
also safer if accidentally ingested.”
One of the recent product releases in the cat litter category reflects the all-natural trend while
also being earth-friendly.
“Our new product in the litter category is the OurPet’s Switchgrass Natural Cat Litter with
BioChar,” said Rachelle Rabasi, director of marketing for the Fairport Harbor, Ohio-based compa-
ny. “This litter is a natural, clumping cat litter made from switchgrass and biochar.”
Rabasi pointed out that switchgrass is a hardy, natural grass native to North America that
does not require fertilization or the use of chemicals during growth, making it an eco-friendly
ingredient. She also noted that biochar is made using the pyrolysis process to convert natural
wood chips to an activated, nonmarking carbon that is proven to be highly odor and moisture
“Together, switchgrass and biochar combine to make a strong clumping cat litter that is
safe, highly moisture and odor absorbent, biodegradable, lightweight and made in the USA from
sustainable ingredients,” she said.
Lucy Pet Products recently added four SKUs in two new packaging styles to its Lucy Pet
Cats Incredible litter. The litter is now available in 20-pound jugs and 35-pound plastic cube
bags, said Joey Herrick, president of the Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based company.
“These larger sizes offer value to consumers with multiple-cat households,” Herrick said.
“The jugs and cube-shaped packaging also offer a more standardized package shape, which is
helpful to space-constrained retailers.”
World’s Best Cat Litter Advanced Zero Mess and Zero Mess Pine Scented formulas are
recent introductions, and they’re available in 6- and 12-pound bags, said Jean Broders, senior
brand manager for Kent Pet Group in Muscatine, Iowa.
“They are long-lasting litters that are purpose-built to solve specific problems facing litter-
box cleanup,” she said. “These multiple-cat-strength litters guarantee fast and easy cleanup
with two-times better clumping and two-times more odor control, so you get less mess with
less wasted litter.”
Broders said that this is the only litter that combines the concentrated power of corn with
absorbent plant fibers that quickly trap liquids in tight clumps.
“Owners don’t have to chisel and scrape the box,” she said. “Scoop once and you’re done.”