Monthly Archives: October 2010

How to Save Money on Natural Cat Litter

If you’ve wanted to switch to an all natural cat litter rather than use a clay cat litter or some other generic clumping cat litter, but have hesitated because of the extra cost for a premium cat litter, learn how you can save money on eco-friendly cat litters. Even if you’re already green, read on to learn a few tips on how you might save some green.

First off, if you’re currently using a clay cat litter, I’ll be straight with you. Yes, natural cat litters cost more. How much more? Obviously it varies depending on what type of kitty litter you’re currently using and what type of litter you want to switch to, but a general ballpark would be twice as much. For example, a 20 lb bag of Fresh Step clay cat litter costs $5.99 whereas a 20 lb bag of Feline Pine is $9.99. If you were to buy Feline Pine’s uber premium clumping cat litter, Feline Pine Scoop, a 10 lb bag would set you back by $13.99.

Don’t be discouraged. There are ways to save money on eco-friendly cat litters so that they cost the same or even less than using a regular litter. Here are a few tips to on saving money so that you can switch from your clumping clay litter to a green cat litter.

1. Free Cat Litter

Like it or not, most natural cat litters are now made by huge conglomerates. The ma/pop kitty litter brands have sold out to the Purinas of the world. While the ideals of the original company founder are probably long lost, the benefit is that their products are now available at more stores making it more convenient for more people to use them.

With the big business, comes big promotions. The marketers working for these companies want you to switch cat litters, but they know that they have some huge obstacles to overcome to get you to switch to a different brand of cat litter. Thus, many premium cat litter companies regularly have special offers for free cat litter.

I’ve noticed it myself on my blog in the Google ad on my site. Every once in a while, I’ll see a link advertising free cat litter for one of the premium brands of all natural cat litter. You don’t need to visit cat blogs and scour random ads. Just search the web for free cat litter. Right now, I just ran a quick search for “free cat litter” and found rebates for free bags of World’s Best cat litter and Feline Pine.

2. Cat Litter Coupons

Searching for cat litter coupons is not nearly as productive as searching for free cat litter. However, I did find a cat litter coupon for Yesterday’s News to save $1.50, and you can currently find a printable coupon for $2 off World’s Best Cat Litter through Coupon Sherpa. You also see the occasional special offer for free cat litter before. However, many of the cat litter coupons that come up are for the un-green litters such as Fresh Step.

3. Compare Prices for Natural Cat Litters

Free cat litter and cat litter coupons will help you get started, but the savings need to continue with your regular day-to-day usage of kitty litter. This is a pretty obvious tip, but shop around to compare the prices of natural cat litters. In general, natural cat litters cost more, but how much more depends on the litter you choose, the size of the bag and where you purchase it.

Furball uses Cat Country, a cat litter made from wheatgrass. Being a wheatgrass cat litter, you might expect it to cost more, but we pay about $7 for a 20 lb bag at a local ma/pop pet supply store. That’s a dollar more than Fresh Step, but steps ahead in eco-friendliness.

4. Use Less Litter

This may seem like an oxymoron, but using less litter can actually reduce litter box odors and you’ll also save hundreds of dollars on cat litter. In the past, I always added more litter to reduce the smell from the litter box. It wasn’t until I tried toilet training Furball (enter “toilet train” in the search if you want to read how this went) that I discovered that I could significantly reduce the amount of litter we used and also cut down on litter box odors.

During the toilet training, I had to reduce the litter to less than a half inch layer on a small tray sitting on the toilet seat. Furball was just as happy doing his business on a third of an inch of litter as two inches worth.

When we stopped the toilet training experiment, I started putting a third of an inch of litter in his box. I did have to scoop every day, but I was practically scooping daily before, so it wasn’t much of a change. With less litter in the box, it was actually much easier to scoop.

During the past five months, we’ve used only one 40 lb bag of cat litter. We used to go through a 40 lb bag of litter every other month. Now, we’re down to just over two bags a year, bringing the cost of using an organic cat litter to about $30 a year, a savings of 65%. If you could reduce the cost of using a natural cat litter by 65%, that would bring it on par with clay cat litter. So, now there’s no excuse not to switch to a natural cat litter!

Natural Ways to Promote Cat Urinary Tract Health

Given Furball’s latest bout of blocked bladder, I felt it would be a good idea to summarize everything I’ve learned about natural ways to prevent urinary problems in cats.  The primary focus of this blog post is on managing crystals in cat urine, specifically struvite crystals as this Furball’s primary issue when it comes to cat urinary health.

This is the second time he’s had a completely blocked bladder, the first occurence was 7 years ago.  I attribute the second case to the water he was drinking.  Long story short, he was getting stale water that had been sitting around for months.  My fault for giving him the “emergency water” when we should have just used it for watering the garden.  Anyhow, let’s move on to the positives.

Many cats with struvite crystals and feline urinary tract problems tend to have recurrences and according to the technician at the vet, it happens much more frequently than every 7 years.  In light of this, I’ll keep Furball on his current plan to promote cat urinary tract health.  The problem was we deviated from the plan and I’ll make sure this never happens again.

So, here are six natural ways to prevent cat urinary problems if the cat has struvite crystals in their urine.

  1. Feed your cat wet cat food instead of dry to promote a healthy urinary tract. This advice was from Furball’s holistic vet.  She explained that the prescription diets usually add ammonium chloride to the food to increase the acidity (decrease the pH level) of the cat’s urine, which helps to control struvite crystals. I found a study published by the American Veterinary Medical Association in 2003 that concluded, “Our results indicate that compared with dietary supplementation with NH4Cl, the high-protein diet is preferable as a urine acidifier for the prevention of struvite crystal formation in clinically normal cats.”  The regular vet also recommended wet cat food over dry cat food and said that studies have proven that this reduces the struvite crystals in the cat’s urine.
  2. Ensure your cat is a healthy weight. Being overweight increases a cat’s odds of getting a recurrent blocked bladder.
  3. Give your cat lots of water. This advice was given to me by Furball’s first holistic vet. She said that increasing his water intake kept things flowing through his system to help reduce the concentration of struvite crystals in his urine. I added water to Furball’s food as he wouldn’t drink it normally. A caveat to this advice is that Furballs second holistic vet said that cats should get their moisture from their food as opposed to drinking water, otherwise it would cause a strain on their kidneys. Talk to your vet about what’s best for your cat.4
  4. Feed your cat a low grain, high protein diet. The second holistic vet we took Furball to explained  that a high protein diet would increase the acidity (decrease the pH level) of the cat’s urine. This contradicts some common advice out there which suggests that high protein diets (especially fish) will increase the level of magnesium in the cat’s urine, thus increasing their risk for struvite crystals. Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine has an article which states, “Previously, the ash content-and more recently, the magnesium content-of the diet was thought to be a primary cause of struvite formation in the urine. However, researchers have found that urine pH is a more important contributing factor”.
  5. Feed your cat several smaller meals a day as opposed to one or two large meals. Cats fed this way tend to produce a more acidic urine.
  6. Minimize stress in your cat’s life. Stress affects cat urinary tract health just like it does human health. If there’s a stressful event, be sure to give your cat extra attention and reassurance for several days.

If you’re looking for suggestions for high protein, low grain cat food, here’s a list that was recommended by our holistic vet:

Please Send Positive Energy to Furball – He Had a Blocked Bladder Again

It’s been 7 years since Furball had a blocked bladder. Unfortunately, it happened again just a few days ago. I noticed the signs early (straining, constant walking in and out of his box trying to pee, but nothing coming out, trying to pee on the floor, etc.) and got him to a vet straightaway. This is one of those times where the allopathic vet is definitely preferred over the holistic vet. A blocked bladder can be life-threatening, so this is not the time to be fussing around with acupuncture points and herbs. It’s time for western medical intervention.

The vet inserted a catheter in Furball and gave him subcutaneous fluids as well as some medications to help relax the smooth muscle of his urethra. That seemed to do the trick, but when I went to pick Furball up, he had blocked up again. This resulted in round 2 of sedation and catheter insertion. Fortunately, he unblocked again and I was able to take him home the next day, but mainly because it was Saturday and the vet was closing for the weekend. They quite happily showed me a small vial of what looked like white powder, but was actually the struvite crystals that they had expressed from his bladder.

Today, Furball looked like he was straining again so I whisked him to the emergency clinic. They examined him and said that his bladder was empty and told me to just take him home and watch him. I’ve been watching him closely and do see small dribbles of urine in his box, but he visits his box every few hours without being able to urinate. As long as I keep seeing some urine, I’ll hold off on taking him to the emergency clinic and will wait until tomorrow morning to take him to the regular vet.

If the problem persists, the recommended treatment is surgery. I won’t get into the details here, but the abbreviation for the surgery is PU, which sounds a lot like pee-ewww (like the sound you make when something stinks). This would be an appropriate description.

I’m hoping Furball continues peeing even if it is in small dribbles. I’ve been rubbing his Back Shu points for the kidney and bladder and even have tried to guess where the reflexology point for the urethra is on a cat.

Please wish him well. Thank you.

Furball, happy and playing in this pic
Furball, happy and playing in this pic
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Green Little Cat is the only blog that's all about eco-friendly ideas for cats and cat lovers. This blog is a labor of love, created by Holly Tse, author of Make Your Own Cat Toys.