When you have a cat living in your home — I don’t mean the cutest cat in the hat kind of cat, but rather the sort that stares at you right in the eye and tends to ignore what you are trying to tell him or her — one of the things with which you will contend on a daily basis is the litter box. If your cat is not trained to use the toilet the litter box is something that your cat is going to be using every day — several times a day, it sometimes seems.

The difference between a litter box that people barely notice and a litter box that makes people run for cover is the litter that goes into the box. Good quality litter will not cover the smell of the cat’s daily deposits but will rather absorb it and make it so you don’t even notice that there is something to be removed unless you take the time to look at the box.

Up until a few months ago, we used a generic kitty litter that we bought at a low price from Pet Smart in Manhattan. We started discussing the possibility of using something that was, so to speak, more ‘Earth Friendly’ and investigated. Our investigations led us to Arm & Hammer Essentials Natural Clumping Litter. The following comes right from the Arm & Hammer web site :

ARM & HAMMER® Essentials® Natural Clumping Litter is formulated with a proprietary blend of natural biodegradable corn fibers that combine with ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda to effectively absorb urine and eliminate odors instantly. Essentials® Natural Clumping Litter absorbs 2x as much liquid as clumping clay litter, and has a softer footing for cat’s comfort.

I loved the idea of a combination of baking soda and corn fibers from multiple perspectives. The idea that they are using something that is an offshoot of a product (corn) that would have been otherwise not good for much is a positive thing in my mind.

Of course, the green nature of the product would do us no good if it didn’t work as stated. There’s a strongly worded negative review about the litter that has nothing good to say about it.

This stuff is awful, in my view. First, it doesn’t eliminate odor at all. In fact, my house now stinks of cat pee. Which is not a very welcoming smell to come home to, I’ve got to say. Second, it doesn’t clump well. Wait, I should rephrase that – it clumps fine enough when the cat pees on it, but when you go to actually scoop up the clump, it falls instantly apart, breaking back into a powdery mess without any hint of clumpage remaining. Except now the powdery mess stinks, which doesn’t please me OR the cat, and as I can’t manage to scoop all of it up, it just adds to the ammoniacal whiff that is constantly coming off the box.

I am here to tell you that I have had a diametrically different experience with this kitty litter. With our old litter, we knew the instant that Abby was “taking care of business” — the whole apartment would stink and we would immediately get it. With the Arm & Hammer litter, the only smell we get is the refreshingly pleasant smell of the litter — even after multiple uses.

The clumping issue is also not there — the clumps that are formed in our litter box are solid and do not break apart. It takes considerably less time to clean the litter and, more importantly, we don’t have to pinch our noses while doing it five or six times a day. I would say if you are looking into trying something different in the kitty litter market, this could be a good way to go!


  1. Thanks for the review, Gordon!

    Our Veterinarian is against using any sort of clumping litter because it is bad for the cat. The clumping litter tends to glue the hair between their paw pads together when they enter and exit after doing their “bidnis” — and when it dries, the cement-like “clumps” becomes impossible to remove from the cat.

    We were told to get a litter box, line it with a plastic trash bag, dump one box of Arm and Hammer baking soda in the bottom and then use a granular kitty litter like Fresh Step Crystals. Clean the box every day. Start a whole new “litter box” with that set up every week. It worked really well. No smell. You do have to be vigilant, though, and mix up the granules so they can absorb the urine during the week. The granules tend to get everywhere and they hurt when you step on them barefoot when they inevitably make their way outside the box, but that’s the price you pay for having a healthy cat and the right litter.

    Oh, and learn to love that terrible ammonia urine smell because its a sign of health. When Jack was starting to get sick, his urine tuned clear and had no smell. We wrongly thought that was a good thing when it was really the first of many indicators we missed that his kidneys were begging to fail him.

    I think we need a whole article — with images — celebrating your cat! I had no idea you had a fur baby in your life! SMILE!

  2. I too love this litter! I also read the review that you cited, and I couldn’t believe that they were talking about the same litter.

    Cleaning the litter box isn’t so unpleasant anymore!

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