Litter vs Liners Debate


Litter vs Liners Debate

Today, while answering emails from readers, I came across one that I have seen come up quite a bit on the forums I am a member of and thought I would share.

Erin of New Orleans writes:

Hey there! We are adopting some fur friends this weekend and I’ve been using your blog as a resource getting ready for them. Thank you for that!
I have a question for you. I’ve been reading about your cage cleaning routines, and your methods resonate with me. I’m one who only scrubs the bathrooms every 3 weeks or so but wipes down the potty and sink with a baby wipe or Lysol wipe once or twice a day when I’m in there. The small upkeep all the time and less frequent major cleaning is how I like to do things.

SO, my question: I was planning on doing the fabric cage liners, since I can sew, they look cute, etc. But I think your point about fabric cage liners harboring stink makes sense. I’m happy to drop that plan for ease of cleaning. Do you find that your guys and gals are able to discern between their litter box(es) and the litter in the bottom of the cage reasonably well? I figured that would be confusing. I see that you use two different kinds, though. Is that enough of a difference for them to cooperate with using the litter box? Thanks for any feedback on this!

In my experience, having two separate types of litter has worked wonderfully. I use a paper pellet, like Yesterday’s News, for the bottom of the cage and Kaytee Soft Granules, made from wood fibers, for the litter boxes. Both smell way different to me so I assume the rats are able to differentiate the two as well. Also the texture is different too- the paper pellet being long and pellet formed where as the granules are all rounded and much smaller. My males seem to pee everywhere but use the litter boxes very well for poo. My females, well they aren’t consistent- some days they seem to get it and use the litter boxes as intended, other days its a much different story!

I absolutely LOVE the Kaytee Soft Granules! It’s my #1 choice. They are made from wood fibers that are not suitable for paper production. Rather than be discarded, the fiber is converted into a soft, highly absorbent form that provides a great litter for ratties. I chose to use it in the rats’ litter boxes as I think its the most odor absorbing litter I have used so it only made sense to use it in the litter boxes where the rats (hopefully) do the majority of their business. It’s soft and comfortable, Earth friendly and made from reclaimed resources, great for nesting material, has no aromatic oils or inks, helps control ammonia, is sanitized to aid in bacteria control, safe to flush. I also found its very low in dust, which I have to be extra careful with, having a hairless rat (no eyelashes means even the tiniest bit of dust can seriously irritate her eyes- a major issue with hairless rats).

My fave paper pellet litter
Lately I have been using whatever paper pellet litter is cheapiest. My go-to brands are Yesterdays News and Planet Petco, but the catch is that I always buy the cat version of these products as they tend to be quite a bit cheapier- more litter for less money. My latest find is ExquisiCat from Petsmart. I can get a 25 pound bag for about $12 and it’s AWESOME!

There are SOOOOO many types of litter out there and I hope to have reviews with all the different kinds eventually so bare with me!

But quite a lot of rat owners swear by flannel and fleece liners. I have to admit- they are super cute and come in just about every color and pattern and can make any cage look cheerful and fun. They are soft to walk and sleep on. They protect little ratties feet from the hard plastic and metal floors of their cages.
But for ME…it just didn’t work out.

You could try a liner or two out and see how your rats do with them. My problem was my males pee CONSTANTLY and EVERYWHERE so their liners were getting too stinky too fast, and my girls are chewers- if they didn’t stink up their liners, they were tearing them into shreds. I just couldn’t win! So I went back to regular ol’ litter…its only a bit more expensive to have to keep replacing the litter and dumping it weekly, but at least I wasn’t having to do laundry daily. I am sure the difference in what I pay for disposable litter is cheaper than what I was paying for fleece, water and electricity to have to run the washer and dryer daily. I even tried letting the laundry go, keeping a special dirty clothes hamper just for soiled liners to wash every couple of days like I do our family’s laundry…. and OMG!!!!… that idea stunk….literally! Plus I think it could possibly be better for the environment, conserving water and electricity and the paper pellets are made from recycled newspapers. You could even dump the soiled litter in a compost pile and reuse the compost as fertilizer for your plants.

So I asked my Facebook friends what they use in poll question- Litter vs Liners, which do they prefer? It seemed pretty clear that even those who use liners also have trained their rats to use a litter box, of which is filled with litter of some type. Liners themselves got the most votes. You be the judge…which do YOU prefer?

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