Cat Litter – Choosing the Best Litter for Your Cat

Cat litter is cat litter, right? If only it were that easy. With almost 90 million cats living in the US alone, it’s not surprising that the annual global sales of cat litter is nearly $1 billion. It’s big business, and with the advent of more eco-friendly litter materials competing with clay, it’s going to get bigger. Trying to determine the best cat litter for your cat can be a daunting mission. Just standing in the litter isle can be overwhelming to a new cat parent, as well as cat owners that are just looking for an alternative to their current litter. There are so many questions, so many brands and so many promises. Let’s take a look back at how cat litter was discovered, get familiar with some common litter types and materials, and examine the concerns that cat parents have regarding its use and safety.

Prior to 1950, most domesticated cats used the great outdoors as their litter box. The housecats of the day were treated to a box of sand or fireplace ashes. Just imagine the mess that sooty, sandy paw prints would make across a freshly mopped floor. It was for that reason that in 1947, a woman frustrated with the untidy tracks of her cat, approached her neighbor Ed Lowe to inquire about a more penetrable type of sand. Lowes’ family owned a company that sold industrial absorbents, so Lowe knew a thing or two about the absorbency of various natural materials. He recommended to his neighbor that she use clay because of its high absorbency, and because it’s larger grain size would minimize the tracking. The clay was a hit! Realizing the potential of his finding, Lowe began packing the clay in brown paper bags, scribbling “Kitty Litter” across the front and selling it to local grocery stores. And yes, for lack of a better phrase, the rest is history.

Clay Litter

Non-clumping clay litteris made from natural clay, consisting of the minerals zeolite, diatomite, and sepiolate, and dried into tiny pellets or granules. Clay materials are highly absorbent, drawing the cat urine to the bottom of the litter box, thus reducing odor. A number of clay litters contain additives which offer additional odor control. Since traditional clay is non-clumping, the cat urine eventually mixes into the clay requiring more frequent cleaning.

Clumping clay litteris made from bentonite clay, which tends to clump together when wet. Due to the clumping property, the urine will clump into a ball rather than seep throughout the litter, making scooping much easier. While clumping litter is a little more expensive than non-clumping, you generally don’t have to replace the litter as frequently using less over time.

Clay concerns– There are some concerns regarding possible health hazards of using clumping litter. A common concern is that kittens, which typically ingest litter when they are very young, can develop an intestinal blockage, due to the swelling properties of sodium bentonite clay when it becomes wet. Therefore it is recommended that kittens not use clumping litter. However, there are numerous stories on the internet from owners who report that their adult cats, as well as kittens, have developed issues such as intestinal blockages and respiratory problems, due to the dust, when using clumping litter.

Silica Gel Litter

Made from silica dioxide, silica gel litter – also known as crystal litter – is a more common alternative to clay litters. The granules consist of tiny pores that can absorb up to forty times their weight in moisture. However, once the granules have reached maximum saturation, urine will begin to pool in the bottom of the litter box. While the dust associated with silica litter is less evident than that in clay litter, it is still a concern for some cat parents who worry about respiratory illnesses resulting from repeated exposure. Nonetheless, because of its high absorbency and good odor control, crystal litter is a favorite among many cat parents, but some cats find the granules hard and uncomfortable on their paws.

Biodegradable Litter

Until the early 1990’s, the litter decision was a relatively easy one: clumping, or non-clumping clay. The barrage of alternative litters has been steadily streaming onto shelves for almost 20 years, and thanks to the eco-friendly mindset of America, there has been a surge of biodegradable litters within the last decade. Biodegradable litters are made from a variety of plant resources, and because they completely break down in the land fields they are considered environmentally friendly. Although these litters cost more than traditional clay litter, they tend to last longer and most of them are flushable. Biodegradable litters are made from a vast array of materials including wheat grass, oat hulls, processed orange peel, cedar chips, pine sawdust; the list goes on. While generally thought to be safer than clay or silica based litters, the unusual materials can be off-putting to some cats, and some cat owners find that the odor control is lacking.

So How Do I Decide?

The truth is, there is no definitive formula for purchasing the perfect cat litter. Cats have a reputation for being finicky; therefore you may have to try a few brands or materials before finding the best fit for you and your cat. Before heading off to the pet store, take some time and research litter online, including visiting manufacturers’ websites. Look for unbiased customer reviews, usually found on cat related blogs and forums. Talk with your veterinarian about possible health effects that he/she may have seen as a result of a specific type of litter. Approaching the litter isle with some information in hand will allow you to make an educated decision that will meet your needs and more importantly those of your cat.

The Best Tourist Attractions in Osaka, Japan

Osaka, located in the Kansai region, is the third largest city in Japan and is considered the country’s second most important city. The bustling city with 2.6 million people is one of theoldest cities in Japan and has many mountains, rivers, parks as well as numerous restaurants and shops to make it a popular tourist center in Asia. This is a brief on Osaka’s major tourist attractions.

Universal Studios Japan located at Sakurajima Konohana-ku is one of the most popular theme parks in the country and a fine destination for the whole family. This wonderful amusement park was the first Universal Studios started outside America and is filled with lots of fantastic rides. Never miss the Spiderman and ET rides, Jurassic Park, the Waterworld stunt show or the many incredible 3D cinemas.

Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium, which is considered one of the world’s largest aquariums, is another popular attraction. The aquarium, with a unique design that provides the genuine feeling of depth, has large a number of sea animals including whale sharks and king penguins.

Stroll through the Dotonbori area, Osaka’s preferred spot for nightlife and entertainment. You will see numerous clubs, bars, restaurants and arcades adorned with dazzling neon lights in this scenic neighborhood situated on the DotonboriRiver.

Osaka Castle built in 1583 is the best-known landmark in town and the grand citadel is regarded as the most glorious and best-conserved castle in the nation. Osaka Castle with its turquoise top and impressive white walls has a museum inside that features many historic artifacts. The lovely park around the fort is an ideal spot to unwind and exercise.

The famous OsakaMunicipal Museum of Fine Art that displays more than 8000 works is a must visit for the art buffs. The excellent collection includes classical Japanese arts of 12th-14th century, contemporary Japanese art, various Chinese works of art and many statues of Buddha.

The picturesque Tempozan Harbor Village is another favorite place to visit. It has tons of entertainments like the giant Ferris wheel, the Suntory Museum featuring the largest IMAX theatre in the world as well as many shops, theaters and restaurants.

The wonderful Shitennoji Temple is the oldest temple and a major religious and cultural site in Japan. The temple erected in 593 has a fantastic five-story pagoda, golden lobby and a turtle sanctuary with serene gardens.

The magnificent Umeda Sky Building with a roof garden observatory is the most famous skyscraper in Osaka. The ultramodern building over170 meters in height offers a stunning view of the city from its observation deck on the 39th floor. Also, enjoy some great sushi in the fine underground food court. The World Trade Center Cosmo Tower in the Osaka Bay area and Tsutenkaku tower in Shin- Sekai neighborhood are the other famous skyscrapers.

Tour the Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine which is renowned for its architectural beauty and design. This national treasure is one of the oldest shrines in the country. Keitakuen Garden with 19,800 sq m area, featuring alluring azaleas and chrysanthemums is city’s favorite park to relax. Founded in Meiji era, by a master gardener, Keitakuen Garden is a classic example for Japanese mode of gardening. The very huge Nagai Park and the Kema Sakuranomiya Park along the Okawa River are the other two popular recreational areas.

Osaka is known for fabulous shopping and the city has many well-known areas for shopping. Tennoji is ideal for cheap clothing and accessories while Namba, Ame-mura and Shinsaibashi have many up-market malls, stores and souvenir shops. Umeda, Chuō, Tenjinbashi-suji and Den Den Town are some other popular shopping centers.

Watch the famous sumo wrestling at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium in Namba. Osaka is famed for its food and don’t miss some of the local cuisine like okonomiyaki, takoyaki, udon and various sushi. Most of the streets have plenty of good restaurants.

Green Development – Get in on the Ground Floor!

Green Development is a relatively new concept that relies on the premise of conserving energy and utilizing it efficiently. Through improved siting, design, construction and maintenance, Green Development enhances the efficiency of materials and ensures their optimal use.

The concept of Green Development should be inculcated with sustainable development to ensure benefits like increased productivity, reduced operating costs, improved indoor air quality, as well as lesser water runoff and heat island effect. The practice of Green Development does not imply that the resulting structure will lack in appearance and style. Green Developments can be equally elegant structures having the desirable ecological benefits. This sort of a construction concept is necessary for environmental conversation and is regulated by standards created by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Green Development aims to construct structures with minimal impact to the environment. The key is to ensure that the materials used in the construction are green indicating that they are local, non-toxic and naturally renewable. Examples include bamboo, oak, straw, stone etc. Other Green Development construction techniques entail the inclusion of large windows for ample sunshine to enter thus, reducing the dependence on electricity; thermal mass that can heat and cool the building during different seasons; energy efficient machinery like refrigerators, stoves and ground source heat pumps; and insulation to prevent energy loss. It is also important to ensure proper waste disposal mechanism. A major factor that can significantly benefit the environment is the use of renewable energy sources like wind energy, hydro energy and solar energy.

The increasing popularity of the Green Development concept has led many countries to establish standards. The pioneers are the U.S. Green Building Council; other bodies include U.K’s Code for Sustainable Homes, Canada’s EnerGuide for Houses, Switzerland’s Minergie, Australia’s House Energy Rating and others. These countries are actively pursuing environmental friendly Green Development techniques to promise environmental health and sustenance. Some of the renowned Green Builders are Walter Segal, Steve Baer, Rocky Mountain Institute, Ken Yeang and James Wines.

San Jose, California has presented an excellent example which reflects Green Development concepts. Due to the unprecedented growth and economic development of San Jose in 1960s and 1970s, there arose a need to meet the growing urban demands. The answer was Santana Row which is a San Jose shopping centre consisting of several chic brand retailers like Gucci, Brooks Brothers, Burberry, Crate and Barrel, Borders etc. Santana Row is the formulation of the shopping, dining and living dream; it boasts of 680,000 square feet of retail space; 1,200 luxury rental units including town houses, lofts, and flats; a 214- room hotel; a 12-screen entertainment cinema; 5,200 parking spaces; a pedestrian-friendly main street; public open space; plazas and courtyards. State-of-the-art facilities equipped with modern construction and amenities make Santana Row a much desirable spot for people from all walks of life. Santana Row efficiently utilized the available resources at hand to create a unique, successful and popular structure.
Santana Row has evolved as an outstanding creation that entails all facets of life within 43 acres of land. This very fact proves the competent use of limited land. Whatever the need may be, Santana Row provides the answer; it is the epitome of the one-stop concept to meet all needs.

Mixed use development is the name given to similar structures that are intended for many purposes like shopping, dining and living. Street Works is a team of professional developers, architects and planners who initiate concepts in urban locales and passionately take steps to materialize their concepts.

Street Works excels in identifying potential locations for a business opportunity and then taking appropriate steps to analyze, design and create a plan that would work with the requirements of the area. This gives birth to construction and development ideas that are relatively new. These include mixed use, residential, commercial as well as urban revitalization projects.

Street Works has been successful in identifying a few projects that can be potentially lucrative opportunities for the involved businesses. These include 620 Avenue of the Americas in New York City, Quincy in Massachusetts, Blue Black Square in Connecticut, Reston Town Centre in Virginia and a few more. Street Works aspires to create the Santana Row phenomenon in each of these areas where retailers, restaurants, cinemas and builders will collectively provide an array of services and facilities to the residents and customers. Street works has arrived at these locations by conducting extensive market research and analysis. The importance of market research cannot be stressed enough before the launch of any project. Potential impacts of the project should be carefully assessed before the idea starts taking shape. In this manner, one can be prepared to handle the various difficulties, challenges and situations a project may present.

The increasing population and development presents an opportunity to take up similar projects and explore the possibilities. Land and other limited resources should be put to proficient use and thus create an environmental friendly and convenient experience for all. Although a mixed use development project is a risky proposition, adequate research and study will help to choose areas that have the best chances of thriving with mixed use developmental structures. The most popular choice for a mixed use development considering all elements tends to be the downtown area of a city. Planners and developers have made several observations and predictions about the success and benefits of such structures; but despite all noted pros and cons, mixed use developments have immense potential and promise to be the most visited and acclaimed places provided the areas they are built in are easily accessible and acceptable to the residents of the city.