Mr. FF passed away recently. 16-17 years old, he came in late stage renal failure, covered in maggots. He had no fur, was full of worms, under 3 pounds and had URI. Got him cleaned up, medicated and he lived his last year of life in safety and is buried next to the pond he loved to spend time by.Most agree on the problems with kitty litter. It’s messy. It smells. It doesn’t clump. The clumps fall apart when scooped. It leaves kitty litter footprints.
And these are just layman’s complaints. What about veterinary concerns? Kitties in hospitals may have wounds vulnerable to infection or irritation by contact with traditional cat litters. But what else is there?
Any given one-stop-shop or pet store has an aisle dedicated to cat litter — ranging from clumping to non-clumping, multi-cat household products to extra odor coverage, plus those with additives like activated carbon, baking soda and herbs. Manufacturers seem to have thought of it all. But what about a biodegradable or compostable litter, something gentler on the planet? There are a few, but those engineered not only for the concerns listed, but also for allergies or health risks . . . Not so much.
Connie Jo from Meow Village is declawed and labeled unsociable. She had a 3 week adjustment and is doing fine now. She is an older declawed cat and was "dumped" in a mobile home park to fend for herself.Cat litter products are made from clay, wheat, corn, pine, silica gel, and newspaper. This writer’s household has tried them all — litter you dump entirely, the scoopable and clumpable, litter boxes with activated charcoal filters in the lids, air fresheners, baking soda, exhaust fans and candles. Then there are the self-scooping boxes, domed boxes with minimized entrances, disposable trays, and cat box liners.
What won’t we try to keep kitty happily doing his business while trying to maintain our sanity — and the good smell and cleanliness of our homes?
Sissy came from Meow Village with one eye ripped out. Evan Kalik, Meow Village and Critter Folks combined finances to get the eye removed and she is doing fine.Kathy Hoxworth, innovator of Kitty’s Gone Green! Cat litter and director of Critter Folks Rescuing Critters, Inc., had a reason to solve this dilemma, and the will to make it happen. The largest handicapped cat sanctuary in America, Critter Folks works with veterinarians and other nonprofits to ensure that kitties in unique situations have a home for life. Residents include animals who’ve been injured or abused, are ill or born with defects, or who have been sentenced to death. Some are blind, others have congenital defects. Still others are missing limbs, sight or hearing. Some are young, some are old. Whatever their profile, every single fragile feline has a place to call home and the promise that never again will they be hurt, hungry, or left to fend for themselves.
“The animals that come to us are guaranteed a safe, quality life with ongoing medical care and quality food while living in safety,” says Hoxworth. “They are not adopted out to protect them from ever being randomly euthanized for someone’s convenience.”
Cats spending time around the golden goose.So how does this relate to kitty litter? Many cats and kittens with congenital birth defects are unable to use many types of litter, and a variety of health issues affecting the cats in Critter Folks’ care made finding a solution a must. Compromised immune systems made a clean product critical. Sinus deformities made a truly dust-free product imperative. Those who’d been declawed or suffered limb deformities had trouble with clumping clays and rough pellets.
In 2006, Hoxworth’s Critter Folks set out to create a litter that was cost effective, made of local ingredients, chemical free, lightweight, biodegradable, compostable, had superior odor control, and would serve all the cats in their care. Like most inventions, this one began with research, went through trial and error, and morphed through many combinations.
The first generation was diatomaceous earth with wood. Hoxworth thought the cats would prefer wood product with a clay substance. The cats quickly disproved that theory and, unsure what wood might work, Hoxworth tried several. She learned that strong smells and large pellets did not appeal to her testers.
Alfie has Cerebral Palsy. He had been abandoned and was rescued by a neighbor. He is perfectly healthy, just wobbly, and needs added calories to keep up with the energy he burns to get around. He also needs a lot of room to get around in.Four years into R&D, a light bulb moment occurred. Alfalfa stopped strong odors in horse stalls, why not litter? Pine and white fir had become the preferred wood product, and alfalfa helped stop odors. With a little help from Keni Cyr-Rumble, president of POPPA (Pet Over-Population Prevention Advocates), in refining the new blend, Kitty’s Gone Green! was born. Between Hoxworth and Cyr-Rumble, nearly 200 cats tested, and ultimately approved, the final blend.
Success was great for the kitties. Better still were the many other uses for which the product proved excellent, such as nurturing flower beds and gardens. The natural wood products procured from local resources and organic alfalfa pellets (possessing zeolites, which provide a host of benefits such as nutrient retention and absorbency), the litter also proved a worthy soil supplement, fertilizer and starting medium. Altogether, Kitty’s Gone Green! cat litter keeps giving — safely, efficiently, and in an environmentally conscious way.
Planter using Kitty's Gone Green as the potting soil.One of Hoxworth’s goals is to someday build or buy a larger facility and a pet hospital. Long-term, she says, “As we grow I want the pet hospital to become a training facility for veterinarians doing internships, vet techs, pet rehab, and the list grows from there.” She notes that affordable care is a great need. Sometimes high price tags mean pets go without care or that euthanasia becomes the only choice.
Kitty’s Gone Green! is available by mail order and through retailers. Its success in keeping cats happy is proven by its use already at many area shelters. Even now, in its youth, Kitty’s Gone Green! has a larger purpose: proceeds support the care and medical treatment of the special cats at Critter Folks, plus 10% goes into trust for other nonprofit, no-kill rescue groups.
Kennedy Morgan is a native Oregonian, customer service manager, and freelance writer who shares her home with her two sons, her Great Dane, Vegas, Pomeranian, Leo, Bearded Dragon, Godzilla, and three uber-friendly kitties. Kennedy is an active member of agility clubs and the Portland Great Dane Community. In her spare time she enjoys agility, hiking, biking, and attending her kids’ sporting events. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.