Saturday, January 12, 2013

Cat litter revisited

Some of you may remember how, back in November, I posted about our decision to switch from Swheat Scoop cat litter, to which we had been loyal to many years, to World's Best Cat Litter. I cited this as an example of a (rare) case in which it's worth it to us to spend more for a superior product. The World's Best litter clumped so much better than the Swheat Scoop that we decided not to bother trying the Swheat Scoop Multi-Cat, which cost 40 cents less per pound. Without even testing the other alternatives, we decided that it was worth paying more for a product we really liked.

Or was it?

As it turns out, just a couple of days after that post, I found that the cat box was developing a noticeable odor—only about a week after we'd first filled it up with World's Best. This was a very disturbing development, because the main reason we'd switched from Swheat Scoop in the first place was that its new formula no longer seemed to control odors very well. This seemed to be happening because the litter wasn't clumping tightly enough, so waste-soaked fragments were slipping through the scoop. But although the new litter was forming nice, tight clumps, it was still allowing odor to build up—even faster than it had with the old Swheat Scoop. We tried changing out the litter and refilling the box, but it  didn't help; within a week, the odor was back, and more noticeable than ever.

So it was back to the old drawing board. Or rather, back to the cat section at PetSmart, where we perused the various products to see whether we could find any other natural litter that was scoopable, flushable, and nontoxic. We considered trying the scoopable Feline Pine, for which I had a buy-one-bag-get-the-next-free coupon, but on the shelf next to it we noticed a product we hadn't spotted before: ExquisiCat Naturals wheat litter. This stuff looked much like our trusty old Swheat Scoop, and we figured there was a good chance it would perform like it (or rather, like it used to before they changed it). So, long story short, we tried it, and we found that actually performed even better than our old Swheat Scoop, and definitely better than World's Best. It clumps nearly as well as the World's Best, yet it controls odor much better. And best of all, it not only costs less per pound than the World's Best, it's even less per pound than the Swheat Scoop that was no longer performing up to snuff.

So I guess the moral of this story is to avoid jumping to conclusions. After just three days of using World's Best, we were convinced that it really lived up to its name and was therefore worth paying more for. But if we had actually taken the trouble to check out all the options, we would have discovered that the ExquisiCat was both better and cheaper, and we wouldn't have wasted our money on the big bag of corn litter. (We did get our rebate from the original small bag, so we weren't out of pocket for that, except for the postage to process the form.) So from now on, before I decide that I'm willing to pay more for the product I think is the best, I'm going to make a point of trying the cheaper alternatives, to make sure that one of those isn't actually better.
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