Cat Owners Who Value A Smell-Free Home Should Thank This Guy For Inventing Kitty Litter

Not the inventor of kitty litter. (cloudzilla)

Not the inventor of kitty litter. (cloudzilla)

Cat owners: There is a debt of gratitude to be paid. Every time you walk into a home with a cat that doesn’t smell like cat pee, and every night that you spend comfortably in your bed with your favorite feline friend snoozing cozily on your feet is all because of one guy, when you get right down to it. He is the guy who invented kitty litter.

Seriously — the past was terrible before kitty litter. Sandboxes didn’t mask that awful ammonia scent that is the scourge of every cat owner, thus requiring many people to put kitty out for the night to do his bathroom business.

But then a man with an idea for chicken nesting material came along and changed everything, reports Businessweek.

A Michigan man named Ed Lowe in 1947 had the idea to take fuller’s earth, a kind of clay, and sell it to farmers for chickens to nest in, calling it Chicken Litter. Farmers weren’t biting however, but someone else had a need for a pile of dirt.

A local woman dropped by his dad’s delivery businesses in need of some sand for her cat box, as it was January and time for Mr. Whiskers to come in for the cold. Inspiration struck, and he offered her the fuller’s earth instead.

As it turns out, the stuff absorbed the ammonia stench, and the woman came back for more, bringing all her cat-loving friends.

And so it began — Lowe put fuller’s earth in bags, labeling them KITTY LITTER, and started selling it at hardware stores, supermarkets and pet stores.

He kept expanding his business in the face of new competition (anyone can sell dirt in a bag with the right customers), until his Tidy Cat brand officially launched in 1954, cementing Lowe in the Cat Owners’ Hall Of Fame forever.

“We aim to stay No. 1,” he said, “in a No. 2 business.”

The next time your foot falls asleep on a cold winter’s day because Sir Fancymittens cannot be disturbed from his slumber on it, just thank Ed Lowe. Because when a cat’s gotta go, he’s gonna go and it’s not going to smell nice if there’s no kitty litter.

The Birth of Kitty Litter [Businessweek]