History of Pet Litter

Pet Litter, animal litter, cat litter, kitty litter….no matter what you call it one has to admit it’s not that exciting a topic…. so why would anyone get motivated by it, let alone write about it?

Well, believe it or not, although pet litter began as a fairly simple and unprocessed product, now science and technology are involved as owners increasingly keep pets indoors and become both more discerning and demanding consumers. 

Today we want more from our pet litter.  It must please a fickle end-user, the cat (who, after all, rules the house), but also be easy to use (without the need for a fork lift), whilst being toxin free, and is both produced and able to be disposed of in an environmentally friendly way.

In the beginning … there was no cat litter. Cats lived outdoors and whenever necessary to be indoor, sand, dirt, ashes, were used in a crude box.

In the late 1940’s … US clay miner Ed Lowe had an ‘ah hah’ moment and bagged some dried clay chips offering it in the local grocer free to cat owners.  Use of pet litter appealed to the market, so he started selling it, needing to build a plant to meet demand.  (By the way, becoming exceedingly wealthy!)

By 1980 … a volcanic rock with the mineral zeolite became available, and as zeolite is an amazing natural odour absorber which can deal with cat urine smells, zeolite rock litters became popular.

In the 1990’s … synthetic silica litters emerged with high absorbencies and matching prices, science and technology were increasingly applied to product development.

In NZ … we imported all our litter until in 1991 when some enterprising geologists including the Dr Ray Merchant sought and found a zeolite resource near Rotorua, setting up production of New Zealand’s first home grown animal litter marketed by Yates.

Early 2000’s saw … clumping litters dominated the market; these are special clays that coagulate into lumps when hit by urine and can removed thereby prolonging the life of the litter. But clay based litters are heavy to handle, have limited absorbency, do not break down when disposed of, and are mined in a way that is harmful to the environment.

Now … 

As society moves towards higher density living where outdoor cat playgrounds and toileting options are more limited, and where cat owners might chose to keep their pets indoors, the market demands are changing.  Ease of use for pet owners, along with the comfort and safety for cats and kittens are becoming choice priorities with litter purchasers.  There is also more awareness around products that have been responsibly manufactured, and environmentally friendly options for pet litter are becoming more popular.

We made PAWS Pet Litter to tick those boxes with an emphasis on safety and comfort to the user (the cat) whilst behaving in harmony with our environment, incorporating the best of all litters: natural zeolite to take up the bad smell, suck in any toxins and rattle the cages of common bacteria, combined with fibre; an impressive natural absorbent here drawn from a waste stream of newspaper and reused, and lavender for it’s pleasant aroma, natural fungicidal and antibacterial properties.

New Zealand Made. Naturally.