How We Got Kitty Litter

Cats have been living with humans for thousands of years, and for most of that time they came and went as they pleased. Nowadays, the lives of our cats are quite different. Before the mid-1940s, indoor cat boxes were filled with dirt, sand, sawdust, paper, and even ashes and cinders. All of those materials would attract a cat to bury their waste, but it did nothing to control the smell. All that changed in 1947 with one man’s invention. Edward Lowe of Cassopolis, Mich., was part of a family whose business sold sand, sawdust and granulated clay, which were used to absorb oil and grease in factories and machine shops. When Lowe’s neighbor approached him about getting some sand from him to use as cat litter, he gave her a bag of Fuller's Earth, clay minerals capable of absorbing their weight in water. She found that it worked far better than sand or ashes, and Lowe came up with the idea to sell the clay as cat litter. He packaged it in 5-pound bags and called it “Kitty Litter,” which he sold for 65¢ a bag ($7.87 today). By the time of his death in 1995, Lowe’s company was worth $500 million ($869 million today).