Prior to the invention of kitty litter, cat owners used ashes in letterboxes, but this created a mess because of the cat’s sooty paws upon exiting the litterbox. In 1947, Ed Lowe, came up with the idea to use clay rather than ashes or sand in litterboxes. The clay was much more absorbent than either ashes or sand and made less mess. Thus the clay litter was born.
Lowe continued to refine his product, and in the 1990’s, his company’s Kitty Litter Brand was virtually dust free and included a sanitizer called Healthguard to keep odors in check.
Another big change in kitty litter occurred in 1984, with the introduction of clumping litter. Dr. Thomas Nelson, an organic chemist, discovered clumping litter when he realized dried clay tended to form into nuggets or clumps when cats urinated on it.
In the last few years, there has been controversy surrounding the safety of clay litter for cats. As a result, many new natural products, such as pine, walnut, and corn are being used as the base now in cat litter.
Litter was a great invention, but over the years litter disposal became a problem. Litter disposal has evolved from throwing trash bags of litter in the trash to products like the Litter Genie. With emphasis now on minimizing environmental impacts, many of the new natural litters are ecologically friendly and flushable.
To keep up with the changes in litter, the litterbox itself has undergone some major changes since being introduced after World War II. Prior to this, cats lived outside and took care of potty business in flower beds or anyplace they could cover there tracks (literally) to keep them safe from predators. Cat lovers observed this behavior, and wanting to keep their feline friends safe, looked for ways to give cats the option to relieve themselves inside.
The first litter boxes were actually litter pans. Over the years litter boxes have evolved, with the majority now being made of plastic derivatives. From the first litter pans we’ve seen hooded litter boxes, automatic cleaning boxes like the PetSafe Simply Clean Continuous-Clean Litter Box. litter robots like the Litter Robot LRII Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Box, and even a cat toilet training system, the CitiKitty Cat Toilet Training Kit.
There have been many changes to litter and litter boxes in the last 50 years. I wonder what cats think of some of the changes, good, bad or just strange?
What do you think kitty litter and litter boxes will look like in the next 50 years? Leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts, we’d love to hear from you!