The Advantages of Coconut Coir Litter Material for Cats and Small Animals
A large variety of materials are available in the market today for use as pet litter or bedding substrate. The most commonly known types are Clay Litter, Wood Pellets, Absorbent Crystals, Shredded paper pellets, and Corn based material. In this article, let’s see how Coconut Coir litter can be a very effective and convenient litter material not just for cats but also as a bedding material for small pets like Rabbits, Ferrets, Gerbils, Rodents like Mice and Hamsters, Amphibians like Frogs as well as Reptiles like Snakes and Lizards.
Factors that need to be considered when choosing a litter material for your cat or other small animal pets are:
- The pet’s natural toilet habits
- Health and Safety of the pet
- Liquid absorbency
- Odor absorbency
- Ease of litter change
The Pet’s Natural Toilet Habits and Habitat Preferences
Cats have a natural instinct to bury their excreta. So the litter material should have a sand-like structure that the cat can find easier to dig with the swipe of their back paws and then bury their ‘output’. The litter material should have good absorbency for liquid as well as odor.
Rabbits can be trained to use a litter pan but they do not bury their poop. They tend to poop when they eat. It helps to have the litter pan in such a way that the rabbit has to get on the litter box to reach the hay. Rabbits tend to eat or nibble at the litter material.
Guinea pigs poop and pee very often. They do not bury their excreta but prefer isolated, dark areas in the cage where they feel safe. They also tend to poop when they eat which means they will be pooping a lot where their hay is kept. Therefore it is best to locate their toilet areas in the isolated, dark and quiet part of the cage. This can be done by placing a covered box with an opening in a corner of the cage or you can place a pan right under where they eat hay.
Hamsters tend to pee in the same corner of their cage again and again. So it is a good idea to place the litter pan in that corner. But they poop all over the place. A good bedding material that has good absorbency and is easy to clean is needed to handle this.
Snakes present some unique problems in choosing the right bedding material. Except water-dwelling snakes, most other snake species prefer a drier environment. Therefore the bedding material used should have good water absorbency. The bedding material must be easier to clean or change. As the snakes slither on the surface for movement, the bedding material should be comfortable for them to move on, some ability for the material to be burrowed into when required will be advantageous for the snakes.
Health and Safety of your pet
You don’t want your pet to become sick because of the litter material. It could be due to allergens in the litter material and scents used in them. Some pets do tend to nibble at the litter material. The material should not cause serious health issues when ingested in small amounts. And, of course, the ability of the litter material to absorb liquids and odor become very important for indoor pets. Better absorption also means the litter material needs to be changed less frequently. If the material is dusty, it can cause allergies and breathing difficulties in your pets. And when the pet steps in and out of the litter box, the dust sticks to their fur leading to tracking all over the house.
What is Coconut Coir Litter?
Coconut Coir is a misnomer for the non-fibrous, spongy, light weight, corky material that holds together the coir fiber in coconut husk. (The word ‘coir’ actually refers to the fibrous material in the husk. But somehow people have started using it also to mean the non-fibrous stuff found). It is a 100% organic and natural substance. It is obtained as a byproduct of the process of extracting Coconut Fiber from the husk. Coconut Coir is also known in the US by other names such as Coco Coir, Coir Pith, Coco Pith, Coco Soil, Coco Peat etc.,
This material can be processed and formulated in a certain way to make it a great fit as a litter and bedding material for small animals.
The individual particles of this material is made up of capillary structures that can absorb and hold amounts of liquids many times their own weight. Litter material derived from this, when correctly formulated and processed, can meet all the characteristics desired in a cat litter or small animal bedding product.
Advantages of Coconut Coir as Litter of Bedding Substrate
It comes with the following advantages.
The pet’s natural toilet habits
Coconut Coir material can be processed with different particle sizes as well as different proportions of husk chips of various sizes to work as a cat litter material or reptile substrate.
Health and Safety of the pet
This material is hypo-allergenic. When ingested or nibbled at, it does not cause any serious health issues for the pet.
Capillary structure of coconut husk pith absorbs liquids instantly. Weight for weight, Coir Wonder absorbs many times more liquid than clay
The materials ability to retain the absorbed liquids in the capillaries and to not let them leach out helps keep the odor down.
Dustiness & Tracking
Can be formulated and processed to be free of dust and tracking issues.
Ease of litter change
Coconut coir is extremely light and easy to carry and use. A 20 Liter bag typically only weighs 5 Lb.
In addition to all the above listed advantages, this material is also 100% Natural being completely plant based.
Thus, Coconut coir based litter material has a great potential to be a very convenient alternative to currently available litter and bedding materials for pets.