There are close to a hundred million cats in the USA alone. Tens of millions of them are indoor cats. Two things make this huge population of indoor cats possible. One is the ready availability of veterinarians to neuter cats. The other is kitty litter.
People have kept pets indoors for centuries, and this has meant dealing with cats pooping and peeing. Owners tried boxes of sand, dirt, ashes, wood shavings and other materials to cope with an indoor cat’s needs, but none were really satisfactory.
Then a man named Ed Lowe (1920-1995) had a neighbor with a cat. In 1947, the neighbor asked Lowe for some clay for her cat to use, and Lowe provided her with a bag of a kind that absorbs a lot of water. The Lowe family business included selling absorbent clay to deal with industrial spills.
It worked well and Lowe realized he had the idea for a business. He started marketing it in 1947, giving it the name “Kitty Litter.” The product name eventually became a noun describing the product, rather than a brand. Kitty litter is an industrial product, mined in several places in the U.S.
Contemporary kitty litter primarily uses bentonite, which absorbs water and helps control odor. Ed Lowe retired a rich man, and what he started with kitty litter is now a $4 billion industry.
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