Thursday, October 2, 2014

Trader Joe's Premium Pine Cat Litter



I should have known better. Once your cat likes a certain kind of litter box, its location, and the litter within it, you change any of those elements at your peril.

I bought the package above on a whim: I was in Trader Joe's in the late morning of a day when I knew I would later be doing a complete litter change and box cleaning. So I thought, "What a perfect time to try some different litter!" About the time I got it home and was taking the picture of it, I started thinking more clearly about the ramifications of this, and had my first "This may have been a bad idea" inkling. But I persisted nevertheless.

The first problem I noticed at home that I had failed to notice at the store was that this is not clumping litter. Usually that means that you have to throw out and completely replace the litter every two or three days. OK, I thought, so this will just be a short-term experiment.

But then I got to reading the instructions, and it turned out to be more complicated than that. These pellets are meant to dissolve in urine, so you know it's time to replace the litter when all the pellets are dissolved. I had never heard of a cat litter that worked that way. Again, though, I ignored the warning lights that this unusual scheme was flashing in my brain.

When I poured the litter into the freshly cleaned box, two more problems became evident. First, the pellets are large enough that I wouldn't be able to use standard slotted scoops to separate solid waste from the pellets. I didn't know how I would solve that problem, but decided to cross that bridge when I came to it.



Second, the directions say to spread a one-inch layer in the box. The manufacturers are apparently assuming they know the size of every litter box. They don't. The one I use for Lucy is much larger than average (in fact, it's a Sterilite storage box), because she refuses to use anything smaller. The result is that even the entire contents of the bag were insufficient to produce a one-inch depth.

Yet I carried on. Lord, what fools these mortals be.

By the time I went to bed, no business had been done in the new litter, which I knew was a portent of nighttime trouble.

Sure enough, when I got up this morning and checked the box, it was obvious that Lucy had scratched around in it, but left nothing behind. She couldn't possibly have held everything for the nearly 24 hours it had been, so I started a search of the apartment (stepping carefully) for what alternative she might have found.

I got lucky. She had settled on a box in my work area in which I keep package stuffing--air bags, Styrofoam peanuts, brown paper, etc.--that I get in boxes and then reuse when I have to ship stuff out. It was absolutely soaked with a huge amount of urine. Poor little girl must have held it as long as she possibly could in the vain hope that I would remove the abomination from her litter box.

Yet rather than visiting vengeance upon me with some ungodly mess, she had chosen the option that resulted in the least possible trouble for me--other, maybe, than using the bathtub (which would not be something she would consider acceptable). The packing materials had absorbed enough of the cat pee that it didn't soak through the bottom of the box into the carpet. I deserved far worse punishment. I got off easy.

I wasted no more time in calling an end to the experiment. I dumped the unused TJ's litter into the soiled box and took the whole mess out to the trash, then refilled the litter box with the stuff she is used to. Within a few minutes, we had a solid waste deposit, suggesting that she had uncomfortably been holding that in, too.

To be fair to TJ's, the package does warn that cats may not accept this stuff at first, and recommends a program of gradual transition. But that would mean buying more bags of it, since one was not even enough for the recommended starting depth--and with no guarantee that at the end of the process she would like it. And even if she did, it would leave me with the problem of separating the poops from the pellets. Not an insoluble problem, but one that I'd rather not deal with.

So the bag and its contents are gone, having lasted less than 24 hours before being soundly rejected by the only one whose opinion really matters. It was an epic fail in every possible way.

Maybe there are cats who will love this stuff. Lucy is not one of them.

Will I buy it again? 

Not even if I were being offered an unlimited lifetime supply for free. (Actual cost was $3.49, by the way.)


5 comments:

  1. It stinks that you (and your cat) had such a bad experience. My cat took to it immediately and I've never had problems. It doesn't smell chemically like other litter I've bought before, and I don't have to worry about little rocks getting stuck in between my cats toes. I have two cats and clean it once/twice a week - I usually just use a plastic grocery bag to remove each poo, but only have to change all the litter about every third week once it is no longer in pellet form.

    To train my kitten to use it, I would mix the pellets in with the clumping litter the shelter used. After a few weeks she was totally transitioned to the pellets. Hopefully others won't be discouraged by your cat's experience!

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  2. Agreed with March 12 user. It doesn't track poop rocks (grains of litter) all over the apartment. This is huge!
    It never smells like pee, ever!
    The pellets not passing through the pooper scooper isn't handy though.
    Although I disagree with your comments on this litter, reading your article was still amusing!

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  3. When a cat pees on this product, this thing pop-swell and turns into finer loose pulp. So I found a strainer that passes the urine containing pulp. Since the cat stirs the whole thing, it becomes a mixture of loose pulp and pellets. What I like about this product is that the loose pulp coats poops, like a breaded fried shrimp... I dump only the pulp coated poop and loose pulp that goes under the strainer. So I have a bottom and larger plastic container, and have cut several pieces lumbers to make a gap between the outer bin and strainer so I won't have to clean the cat toilet all the time. I raised the cat from 5 days old infant kitten, I wanted to use something natural, thinking that the kitten is often clueless and may eat litter product, not knowing. The boy cat is still only 10 weeks old so he is very curious and may eat anything, so at least I feel safe with the litter box product. He plays with the pellets and may put it in his mouth but I don't freak out if he does. When he gets older I may switch to something else that may be more convenient for me, though.

    I dump the pulp coated poop every other day and I dump the pulpy part once a week.

    Somehow, the pine eliminates odor of both poop and pee, and poop is coated with pine pulp, it's less gross to pick it up from the cat toilet.

    I like this product. But I can see how hard it can be to use it without a proper strainer.

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  4. My kittens took to it immediately. I mixed a bit of my old litter to help them along with the transition. I took to it even more since my house now smells like the fresh scent of pine trees. I didn't have to use a lot so I was able to change the litter for 2 cats large litter box twice that week. I was relieved from having to breath dust from clumping litter that's supposed to be 99% dust free. It did not turn my cats face brown as the walnut litter did. They were not interested in munching on these pellets. I would buy it again without question.

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  5. My kittens took to it immediately. I mixed a bit of my old litter to help them along with the transition. I took to it even more since my house now smells like the fresh scent of pine trees. I didn't have to use a lot so I was able to change the litter for 2 cats large litter box twice that week. I was relieved from having to breath dust from clumping litter that's supposed to be 99% dust free. It did not turn my cats face brown as the walnut litter did. They were not interested in munching on these pellets. I would buy it again without question.

    ReplyDelete