When And How To Switch To A New Type Of Litter

Cat Care

Cat litter preference can be as unique as your cat’s predilection for specific food flavors or type of scratching surface. Switching to a new type or brand of kitty litter can hugely affect your cat’s life, so make sure you only do it if you have to, and then do it right.

Take Your Time Making the Decision

Your cat isn’t looking for an adventure. Most cats are set in their ways and prefer not to try new stuff, whether it’s new food or new litter. For cats and humans alike, change often means stress. You can read more about stress in our article Is Your Cat Stressed Out? and assess your own cat’s stress level using our Potential Stressors in Cats – The Ultimate Checklist.

If your cat is happily using her litter-box with the existing type of litter, you shouldn’t tempt fate by trying to switch litter unless you have a very good reason. Make an undesired change too fast and you could end up with litter-box avoidance, a situation that can quickly turn into a habit that’s hard to break, even if you go back to the old type of litter.

Why Switch to a New Brand of Cat Litter?

Reasons for making the switch could include –

  • Existing litterbox problems, especially if your cat seemed uncomfortable digging in the box before starting to go elsewhere.
  • Switching from non-clumping to clumping litter which many feel is easier to clean.
  • Your existing brand becomes unavailable (if possible, stock up before that happens, to help you make the switch properly).

Do not switch to a new brand of litter simply because you feel like it. A nice commercial or cute packaging may appeal to you, but probably not to your cat. Also, do not switch to scented litter just because the box smells bad. Deal with the problem by increasing the frequency of scooping and by looking into possible changes in your cat’s diet.

Get It Right the First Time

Once you’ve made your mind up to switch to a different brand of litter, take the time to learn about the various types and see what you think would be the best choice for your cat. Read our article about Choosing the Right Kind of Litter, check our Cat Litter Reviews section, and by all means, start a thread in the Cat Care forum, asking for advice. You want to make the best possible decision, so that you won’t have to switch yet again a few months down the road.

How to Switch to a New Brand of Cat Litter

So, you’ve made up your mind and it’s time to switch Kitty to a new type of litter. You’ve researched everything and decided on which kind of new litter to try. What’s next?

Keep Stress In Mind

Remember, change is stress. Depending on your cat’s temperament and sensitivity to stressors, this could be a stressful process for her. In order to reduce stress and avoid the associated repercussions –

  1. Make the process as gradual and gentle as possible (see methods detailed below).
  2. Try to reduce stress in other areas of your cat’s life, or at least to make sure there are no additional big changes taking place at the same time. Consult our Potential Stressors in Cats – The Ultimate Checklist to try and assess if there might be other causes of stress and which could be alleviated.

Change the litter gradually

The last thing you want to do is simply dump the old litter, fill up the box with the new brand, and voila! Kitty has a new brand of cat litter!

While some cats may actually manage such an abrupt shift, most will be stressed out and some will avoid the new kind of litter altogether, choosing other spots in your home for their bathroom business.

Instead, make it a gradual change. Gradually add some of the new litter to your litter box every day, replacing the amount you scooped out. Watch your cat’s reactions without making a huge deal of her litterbox habits. Don’t “ooh and aah” over her using the new litter, just keep things relaxed and as normal as possible.

If you think your cat seems distressed or suspicious of the new litter, slow things down a bit. If the cat seems oblivious to the change, continue to add more of the new type of litter until the box contains only the new brand of litter.

Offer alternatives

Another way to make this a gradual, non-threatening, change is by offering more than one type of litter. Keep the old box with the brand she’s used to, but alongside it offer a separate litter box with the new type of litter. You will still carry out the process of switching over the litter in the old box gradually and patiently, but offering your cat the new litter as an alternative may just tempt her to try it out on its own. If you find her using the new litter exclusively for a few days in a row, you can consider the switch complete and congratulate yourself on a successful change of litter.

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