The Scoop on Feline Pine Clumping Litter
The Straight Poop on Environmentally Friendly Cat Litter...
I'm still not entirely sure how cleaning the cat's litter box became my responsibility. When my then-fiancee (now my wife) and I moved into our first apartment in the late 1990s her big, furry, lovable cat "Lester" naturally joined us in our new adventure, and as we slowly figured out the division of labor around the apartment during those first few weeks of co-habitation, somehow it was decided that the odious chore of litter box maintenance fell under my jurisdiction. "How did I wind up with this gig? He's YOUR cat!" I protested, to which my significant other would reply, "Yeah, but the cat poo goes in the garbage, and taking out the garbage is YOUR job." I couldn't argue with that logic, but on the other hand, I still think I got hosed. (Is there an appeal process for this sort of thing?)
Either way, fifteen years (and one additional cat) later, the cat box chore still remains part of my regular "to-do" list. Over the course of those fifteen years, we've tried just about every type and brand of cat litter under the sun: clumping, non-clumping, name brand, store brand, litter in a bag, litter in a box, litter from a jug, you name it. Some of these litters, of course, performed better than others in terms of cleanliness, ease of use, and funkiness control. We had been using a supermarket brand's "clumping" litter over the past several years because it was fairly cheap and seemed to work well enough, unless the box wasn't scooped out at least once per day (and let's be honest, cat lovers: we've all "forgotten" to "scoop the poop" once in a while, haven't we?). If even one "scoop" session was missed, the cat box odor would quickly become overpowering, to the point where you could smell the litter box in the upstairs bathroom even if you were downstairs!! *GACK* Obviously, a change was needed.
Enter the Pine!
Most litter box fillers are made of granulated clay mixed with some baking soda and other fragrances to cover up odors, but over the past several years pet store shelves have become clogged with so called "green" or "natural" cat litter products. These litters are usually made from shredded wood, recycled newspapers, or other organic material and have cutesy names like "Purr and Simple," "S'Wheat Scoop," "Cedar-ific," etc. Till recently I had only been familiar with such products from their TV commercials, and I was always skeptical that they would truly be up to the task of controlling those sometimes-demonic Litter Box odors. Besides, it seemed kind of silly to spend good money on something that looked like nothing more than a simple bag of sawdust. (I figured someone at a lumberyard or saw mill was getting rich simply by sweeping their floors at the end of the day and bagging up the results.)
That changed about a month ago when my wife returned from the supermarket toting a box of "Feline Pine" clumping litter, which we'd never tried before. "Since when do we use this stuff?" I asked, and her response was "Since it was on sale, and I had a coupon." (There's that unassailable wife logic again.) Thus began our Feline Pine Experience.
So What's the Scoop?
Feline Pine is composed of -- well, shredded pine, obviously, plus "natural guar bean gum," which, according to the back of the box, is an "all natural fiber" that helps the pine particles clump tightly together around cat waste. The pine itself, we're told, naturally neutralizes ammonia (which is a major ingredient in kitty wee-wee and a main culprit in litter box odor), as well as the odors caused by - ahem - The Old Number Two. The Feline Pine package promises that if you "simply scoop and discard waste daily, you'll enjoy a fresher, healthier home." Of course, my inner cynic responded "Yeah, well, we'll just see about that. You may think you're tough, but you've never met MY kitty" (whom we affectionately call "Doctor Funken-Cat" behind her back).
Lo and behold, however -- within a day or so of our litter box being filled with Feline Pine's woody goodness, I noticed that our upstairs no longer seemed to have that slight air of kitty funkiness about it that I'd grown used to over the years and had chalked up to the price of cat ownership. Wow, this stuff is good . Scooping the box does take a bit more time than it used to with the old clay-based litters - the sawdust's larger "grain" takes longer to sift through the narrow spaces in a standard sized cat-box scoop (Feline Pine does offer its own scoop which features larger gaps) and I've noticed that rather than forming a "clump," cat wee-wee tends to collect at the bottom of the box, combining with the pine in what can only be described as an extremely sticky "pancake" formation which takes a few extra minutes to scoop out and remove. You'll also have to put up with the occasional pile of sawdust on the floor around the box, but those are easily taken care of with your DustBuster (assuming you have one). On the other hand, unlike clay litters, Feline Pine doesn't make clouds of dust when you pour more of it into the cat box, which is a definite plus if you've ever experienced a coughing fit caused by cheap, dusty bargain-brand cat litter.
Another major "pro" for Feline Pine is how lightweight it is - no more back breaking trips up the stairs with a big, heavy container of the "other" litters, which at my age is perhaps the best thing about this product.
The Kitty Conclusion...
As you can see from the experience of this former cynic, Feline Pine has many "pro's" and no "cons" that I have come across yet. Cat lovers who are trying to "go green" are probably already well aware of the benefits of the product, as it's made from all natural ingredients and without any harmful chemicals. Whether or not your kitty takes to it, of course, is a whole 'nother matter. Fortunately my cat doesn't really seem to care one way or the other what's in her litter box (as long as there is a litter box) and nowadays when she sits in our laps while we watch TV in the evenings, it's nice not to smell that "funky litter box" aura about her anymore. It's certainly better for your home, better for your kitty, and better for anyone else who might be within smelling distance of the dreaded Litter Box. Feline Pine doesn't make scooping the cat box more fun, but at least it makes the experience just a little bit more pleasant, and that's all you can really ask for with such a chore, isn't it??
© 2011 Keith Abt