''World's Best'' Chicken Feed - An Alternative Cat Litter

Empath

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The Long Version

For those that don't know what "Worlds Best Cat Litter" is.

I ran across a couple of references on the net claiming to have discovered an alternative to the World's Best Cat Litter. Since it seems my cat, Kiwi, gets ill every time I'd use a clumping clay litter, I was interested.

I'd tried Swheat Scoop, a litter made from wheat. In fact, it was the one I'd decided to stay with. My only complaint was that the litter seemed to stick to the bottom of the tray. By spraying the litter box with Pam before filling it with litter, the clumps were fairly easy to dislodge from the bottom.

I'd never tried World's Best, a corn-based litter. I decided to give it a try, if for no other reason than to satisfy my curiosity on the claim of it being the "World's Best". I already knew one fault with it, that being the price. It was about twice the price of Swheat Scoop, averaging a bit beyond a dollar a pound. After trying it, for my own purposes, I had to agree. It surely did seem to be superior to anything I'd used. It's a bit lighter than clay, didn't track as much, easier breathing during cleaning, absorbs odors through it's natural enzyme action, and clumps naturally due to the starches in the corn. Unlike Sweat Scoop, the clumps were not attached to the bottom of the tray. Still, the thought of spending more for litter than I spend to feed Kiwi, and twice as much as for other litter didn't appeal to me.

Now, back to the net references to an alternative. I found very limited references, but the claim was that chicken feed was functionally the same, and predominately the same content. I found a mention in a blog, and another forum. Neither followed through with whether they stayed with it. Their recommendation was for 'layer crumbles', particularly the Purina product called Layena. So, I gave it a try.

Layer crumbles only cost about $9.00 dollars for a fifty pound bag. Our nearest feed store also packaged them in ten pound bags, for $3.00 a bag. I figured a couple of those would be sufficient for test purposes. I filled the tray, just as I would with World's Best. The size of the granules were just slightly larger than the granules of World's Best. They were still excellent sized particles for use as a cat litter. Kiwi took right to it.

It didn't take long for me to figure out why there didn't seem to be any comments on the web of staying with the crumbles. It seems everything about the layer crumbles were functionally the same as World's Best, except....... it sticks to the bottom of the tray. Apparently, the chicken feed didn't absorb fast enough to keep the urine from soaking to the bottom of the tray before being fully absorbed and clumping. It clumped, but the base of the clump would still be moist at the bottom of the tray. For many purposes, it was sufficiently functional, although not ideal nor the 'World's Best'. I don't use an automatic litter box, but I assume it wouldn't be ideal for it's mechanics.

As if this thing isn't long enough, now I'm going to discuss....

A Course In The Basics Of Chicken Feed

I decided to do a little research on chicken feed and what it is.

Chicken feed, or the product that provides the fundamental nutrition for chickens begins as a predominately corn product, mixed with a few other grains, ground fine into a product called "mash", or commonly "chick starter". The size of the particles are relatively fine, but not dust-size. It's the product given to chicks. The product for older birds is created by compressing the mash into pellets. Some people feed their chickens the pellets, but some prefer something smaller. So, the third size is created by crumbling the pellets. It's no surprise then that they call that product "crumbles", or more specifically, "layer crumbles".

I decided to give "chick starter" a try. Since chick starter comes in two varieties, medicated (with antibiotics) or non-medicated, I decided to use the non-medicated. I had no idea of the risk to Kiwi from the antibiotics. Fortunately, our nearest feed store also had some ten pound bags, so I tried a ten pound bag. I was pleasantly surprised when pouring it into the litter tray to find the size of the granules was nearly identical to the size of granules used in the World's Best cat litter. My thinking was that the larger crumbles, particularly due to the less absorbent surfaces created by pelletizing was the reason for slow absorption, and thus the bottom sticking litter. Using the chick starter, before it goes through the pelletizing process, I hoped for faster absorption. Eureka! No more sticking It clumped in nice hard clumps.

I've now used it for two months. I change out any clumping type litter after a month, for sanitary purposes.

The chicken feed is called "chick starter". It comes in medicated or non-medicated. I'd recommend the non-medicated. In most feed stores it is packaged in 50 pound bags. The Purina product, which is called "Start & Grow" comes in 25 pound or 50 pound bags. Here, the 25 pound bad of Start & Grow sells for $6.50; the 50 pound bag sells for $10.00. I buy it now in 25 pound bags, since grain products are perishables. Then too, if stored in areas with a vermin problem, it could attract them.

The Short Version

"Chick starter" chicken feed seems to have the same appearance and functionality of "World's Best" cat litter.
 
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drizzle

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Interesting post Empath. I started my cat on non-clumping litter and when I tried to switch to clumping he didn't like it at all so I have just gone back to the non-clumping and throw it all out each week.

Any idea why your cat was getting sick on the clay based clumping litter? In what way did it get sick?
 
T

TedTheLed

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probably from licking up the clay dust in it's fur, from the clay litter. can cause abdominal obstructions, can be very serious, or can just cause vomiting.

don't use clay for your kitty litter.

meow.
 
Empath

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Clumping clay litter has sodium bentonite added to it. It causes the clay to lump into hard balls. The hazards are debated extensively, with producers of the litter usually being most vocal in their claims of safety. Kiwi would develop a diarrhea, and the final time it was bloody. As Ted said, it adheres to their fur and they lick it off, which could cause obstructions in their intestines. In addition, I can see breathing difficulties developing in breathing the dust. It's also environmentally unfriendly.
 
atm

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We used layer pellets for all the cat litter trays at a domestic animal shelter I used to manage, it was the most effective and practical product for the price.

In another lifetime/place we used bentonite to treat pigs/hogs with scours by simply spreading it around on the floor and letting them ingest some throughout the day. Some anti-diarrhoea medications also include it (for animal and human use). It's very effective in this role and as has already been stated certainly isn't something you'd want blocking up an otherwise healthy digestive tract. In powdered form it tends to be a bit messy too.

Andrew
 
powernoodle

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We've been using "Yesterday's News", which is pellets made from recycled newpaper. I like it better than the clumping stuff, which gets tracked out of the litter box. Started using it after we recently had our cat's front fingers chopped off at the vet.

I'll investigate the chicken feed, as I'm certainly into saving money.

cheers
 
ACMarina

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That has got to be one of the coolest things I've heard on here in a while!! Thanks Empath!!
 
Eric_M

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Looks like I'm heading to Farm & Fleet tomorrow.
 
bfg9000

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That is a fantastic discovery! Of course, except during a brief stint in an apartment, my cats have for decades preferred to use my neighbor's garden after letting themselves out through the doggy door. Nothing's more natural than dirt, no mess to clean, and her roses look spectacular every year!

Of course if she ever moved I'd probably have to rototill a small patch for 'em to use, but that'd sure beat changing kitty litter.
 
2

2dim

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Any opinions on silica litter, which absorbs and dries instead of clumping?
 
Empath

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I've never used the silica gel type litters, and don't know what hazards may be involved. I had a friend that tried it, and made the mistake of getting the little ball shaped kind. The cat would chase them around when he knocked it out of the box. She gave it up because she said it looked disgusting after a few days of taking on the color of the urine. She said before the month's use was finished, she couldn't stand to look at it, and switched to a different type.
 
Wits' End

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Have you [or anybody else here] tried a non-Purina chick starter? Of course I was at the feed store [Widdes, Esko, MN] today. I have 300# Laying Mash, !00# Goat, 100# Duck and 50# of Rabbit Feed in my van to haul home yet. But no chick starter of any kind :(
 
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Lightmeup

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I have had people tell me that rabbit pellets (food) make great cat litter. Might want to look into it also.
 
Empath

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Herb, my first trial was with a non-Purina brand. I don't know the brand, since it was the repackaged 10 lb. bag. Since that feed store's only other option is 50 lb. bags, it's the reason I went to a Purina store, since Purina's Start & Grow can be bought in a 25 lb. bag.

I don't think the brand will matter much. According to the man at the feed store, they're all basically the same thing.
 
SilverFox

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Hello Empath,

After much discussion with my wife, we have decided to give this a try. I went to the local feed store and got Nutrena chick starter.

So far... so good.

Tom
 
Trashman

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Very interesting! You want to know what else is interesting (or just coincidental)? My cat's name is Kiwi, too!
 
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TorchMan

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I might have to give this a try. Only thing is I line my box with an outdoor lawn bag, then put newpaper on the bottom of it before filling with non-clumping litter. Throw the entire thing out not long after. In short, I don't scoop clumps. I wash the box out with a garden hose and a small amount of bleach every other time. I'm guessing if it clumps, one must scoop?

Depending on the price here, it might still be more cost effective than the way I do it now. And if it works better, well eureka to that too!
 
turbodog

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Hmmm.

This must not be the chick feed I am used to. It contains ground-up dead chicken parts mixed with corn/etc. Feathers, bones, guts, etc.

But it is the type they feed to the 20,000 chickens living in one building.
 
Empath

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The layer crumbles and pellets and chick starter are all 100% grain, with the exception of the medicated chick starter. It has an antibiotic in it.

Purina's page regarding the content of their chick starter and layer crumbles.

Torchman, whether you use a clumping litter, or on you just toss in a few days, is just a matter of preference. There are a lot of good products available that will serve the need. Powernoodle mentioned one, Yesterday's News. It's recycled newspaper in sort of a pellet form. In our part of the country we also have a similar product called Good Mews. There's Paw Purr, which is made from the unusable paper slag after paper manufacturing. It's processed to appear and act like clay litter, except it's more absorbent. One that has become quite popular is compressed pine sawdust pellets called Feline Pine. As the cat uses that, and they get wet, they break down into regular sawdust.

An alternative to the pine pellets is wood stove pellets. It's identically the same if you get pine, except the pellets are slightly larger.

My own preference is for clumping, with the ability to restore the box to a relatively clean condition a couple of times a day. There's a lot of different litters, which is good since what works for one person isn't necessarily what another would like.
 
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Tooner

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I would try this stuff but I'm afraid with it being a feed, that my dog who will eat almost anything might develope a taste for it (ugh). That would really gross me out if I caught her chowing down on the litter box contents.
eek.gif
icon15.gif


To be honest, I'm actually kind of surprised that this isn't already a problem.
 
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