No More Gritty Kitty

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it's probably something you've got lying around the house already. and assuming you're not a hoarder, you were going to throw it out anyway: the newspaper.

shredded newspaper makes a great cat litter. it's the ultimate in recycling.

not buying one box of litter a week can save you more than $600 a year. that would pay for cleaning a lot of cat teeth or other vet bills, maybe cleaning your own teeth, too.

other benefits include no cat litter on the floor, carpet, under your feet, between your toes and tracked under your sheets, and no dust on the shelves in the bathroom or wherever you keep the litter box.

it's surprisingly simple to make the change. start by putting several-enough to be absorbent-large pages of newspaper in the bottom of the litter box to act as a liner. then put a couple of handfuls of shredded paper on top (if you don't already have a paper shredder, you can get a really inexpensive one at target). then pour some of the litter your cat is used to on top of the shredded paper. you can even sprinkle a little baking soda for extra odor control. at the end of the day, just lift the ends of the newspaper at the bottom of the box and toss the whole thing out.

put new paper in every day, gradually using a bit less cat litter until your cat is used to just the paper. it should take less than two weeks.

shelters often use shredded paper in litter boxes for cats that have had surgery so the litter doesn't get into their stitches and cause irritation or infection.

dr. louise murray, chief veterinarian for the aspca in new york city, confirms the practice.

"vets use litters like yesterday's news after surgery because there is a feeling it will stick less to incisions and perhaps be softer and less traumatic than clay," she said.

but you don't have to buy yesterday's news, which can cost around $9 per 15-pound bag. you've probably already got yesterday's times, post or daily news.

i have three cats ranging in ages from 2 to 9. they all made the transition easily. even cats that i've fostered for various rescue groups accepted the shredded paper-from day one.

in other words, you don't have to have a kitten for this to work. nobody ever said, "you can't teach an old cat new tricks."

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