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.)