Cat litter shortages are hitting brands like Fresh Step. What to do.

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If you recently tried to buy cat litter and found that your desired brand isn’t available, you can probably blame a cybersecurity attack on the Clorox company.

The attack was first discovered in mid-August and, according to a regulatory filing this week, “caused a large-scale disruption to Clorox’s operations,” leading to order delays and product shortages. Although the company is most commonly associated with bleach and other cleaning products, it also makes three popular brands of cat litter: Fresh Step, Scoop Away, and Ever Clean. In recent weeks, all three kinds have become rarer on store shelves and online.

In an emailed statement, a Clorox spokesperson wrote: “We expect the ramp-up to full production to occur over time, but we do not yet have an estimate of the time it will take to resume fully normalized operations. »

Petco spokeswoman Yvonne Tarrab confirms that the chain’s supplies of these particular brands of trash are “currently impacted” by the breach, although she points out that several other brands remain fully stocked in stores. A search of online pet supplies retailer Chewy on Tuesday showed that Fresh Step, Scoop Away and Ever Clean are all out of stock, while other brands such as Arm & Hammer and Tidy Cats are still available.

Since you can always buy other types of litter, non-cat owners may wonder why the shortage is so bad. But cats can be quite picky, and a sudden change in litter brand can lead to unpleasant behaviors, including peeing and pooping right outside the litter box or elsewhere in the house.

The best way to avoid this problem is to gradually introduce a new type of litter, says Kate Benjamin, author of the best-selling books “Catification” and “Catify to Satisfy.” So if you still have a supply of Fresh Step, Scoop Away, or Ever Clean left, you might want to start mixing it with a no longer available brand now.

Benjamin advises adding the new items gradually if you can, until your litter box is mostly filled with the new type of litter. “I hope they match the new litter with the favorite litter,” she says.

Try finding a new variety that’s similar to your cat’s usual preferences, says Whitney Millner, Petco’s chief veterinarian. So, if you’ve used clumping litter before, look for a similar product from a different brand.

If you find that your cat is still avoiding the litter box, Millner advises offering different types of new litter in several boxes (most veterinarians say a household should have one more litter box than cats) to see if you can start to detect a preference. Also be sure to call your veterinarian in case your cat’s behavior stems from a medical problem.

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