One of the first commercially available cat litters was Kitty Litter, available in 1948 and marketed by Ed Lowe.

One day in 1947, Ed was approached by a neighbor who was tired of using ashes in her cat's box and dealing with sooty paw prints.
She asked for some sand, and Ed suggested clay instead. Soon the neighbor would use nothing else, noting that the clay was much more absorbent than sand and didn't track all over the house. Ed had a hunch that other cat owners would love his new cat box filler, too, so he filled 10 brown bags with clay, wrote the name "Kitty Litter" on them, and called on the local pet store. With sand available for next-to-nothing, the shop owner doubted anyone would pay 65 cents for a five-pound bag of Kitty Litter Brand. "So give it away," Ed told him. Soon customers were asking for more–and were quite willing to pay for it. The rest, as they say, is history.

This was the first large scale use of clay (in the form of Fuller's earth - a usually highly plastic, sedimentary clays or clay-like earthy material), in litter boxes. Clay litter is much more absorbent than sand also, and its larger grain makes it less likely to be tracked from the litter box.

The Many Uses Of Cat Litter:

  • As a Bonsai soil substitute, you can use kitty litter to plant those awesome bonsai trees into, instead of those costly, (inorganic) soil components which can be difficult to source.

  • An inexpensive clay mask can be made out of cat litter. Purchase an all-natural, 100-percent clay cat litter that is scent-free. Mix three tablespoons of cat litter with about three tablespoons of water, then mix with a mortar and pestle. It's perfect for detoxifying the skin.
  • For traction or weight, keep a bag (or 2), in the trunk of your car. Use it to add traction when you're stuck in ice or snow by adding weight (for rear-wheel drive cars, or sprinkling it around the tires).  Use it also on sidewalks, steps and driveways. (We suggest using the non-scoopable type for best results.)
  • If you have a problem with dampness and mildew in the bottom of your trash cans, sprinkle a thin layer of fresh cat box filler; change the litter every week or whenever it is damp.
  • Prevent Grease Fires by pouring a layer of cat litter into the bottom of your grill for worry-free outdoor cooking. (Non-fragrant cat litter is recommended).  The filler will absorb drippings and keep the grill clean. It provides better draft for proper cooking, and it will direct heat upwards because of its insulating nature. Since cat box filler soaks up drippings, danger of flare-ups is virtually eliminated. Do not use water to extinguish fire. Cover charcoal with the cat box filler. When the cat box filler becomes saturated with drippings, simply empty and replace with fresh.
  • Use cat litter to anchor dried or silk flower stems.
  • Preserve flowers The fragrance and beauty of freshly cut flowers is such a fleeting thing. You can’t save the smell, but you can preserve their beauty by drying your flowers on a bed of cat litter in an airtight container for 7-10 days.
  • Grow healthy plants by mixing equal parts of soil with litter. The litter will absorb the water for more even distribution and better root growth. 
  • For safe smoking outdoors,  use cat litter as an ash-tray filler.  Fill a container with cat litter then use it to butt out cigarettes. This will not only reduce the chances of fires and create less odour, but it will also make it easier to clean out butts by using a scooper!
  • Repel moles.  Moles may hate the smell of soiled cat litter even more than you do. Pour some down their tunnels to send them scurrying to find new homes.
  • Cat litter may be used to get rid of spray paint (graffiti) on sidewalks. Sprinkle the cat box filler over the letters. Do not use any water - the drier the better. Put on a pair of old sneakers and grind the litter into the sidewalk. The paint should come out, and it is great aerobic exercise!
  • For cleaning up unwanted and/or unpleasant spills such as puke, urine etc., pour some cat litter on the spill then scoop up and toss away!  Mechanics are aware that you can use litter to clean up oil in the garage. A 10-pound sack, (4.5 kilos), of litter will absorb more than a gallon of liquid, (3.78 ltrs), including paint and gasoline. As mentioned, cat litter gets rid of the awful odours too which leads us to the next set of useful uses:

Cat Litter works great as a deodorizer and can be used in many places...

Did You Know...

  • In racing, a gravel trap or a run-off area (an alternative to catch fences), is often and informally called a 'kitty litter' - due to resemblance.  A run-off area is an area on a racetrack for racer safety. 
  • You can buy cat litter in 10 varieties:
  1. Antimicrobial/Antibacterial Litter. Natural additives that minimize the growth of odor causing bacteria present in cat feces. 
  2. Clumping/Scooping Litter. Urine forms hard clumps to be scooped out regularly. Depending on the number of cats, clumping litter does not need to be changed weekly. Scooping results in fewer odors, since the source of odor is removed. Clumping litter has smaller granules (compared to non-clumping) and is easier on cats' paws. Since only the scooped litter clumps are discarded weekly, clumping litter is often a better value than non-clumping litter.
  3. Crystals/Silica Litter. Made from silica dioxide sand, oxygen and water. Silica contains millions of tiny pores that can absorb up to 40 times their weight in moisture. It is initially more expensive than other types of litter, but is it more cost-effective because the same litter can be used up to a month for one cat. 
  4. Crystal Blend Litter. Usually refers to clumping/scooping litters that have silica "crystals" added to enhance the ability to absorb urine and control odor more effectively. Some Non- Scoop litters also offer a blend version as well. 
  5. Flush able Litter. Can be flushed down a toilet (in small amounts) and is biodegradable. 
  6. No-Track/Lo-Track Litter. A finer grain of litter that keeps cats from tracking litter all over the house. 
  7. Paper Litter. Made from recycled paper and comes in pellet form. It is biodegradable, flushable, and burnable, 99% dust-free, and doesn't track. Veterinarians often recommend paper litters for use with Post-Op cats. 
  8. Plant-Based Litter. Usually refers to litters made from a plant source: Pine, Corn, Wheat, Citrus Peel, etc. These are biodegradable and recyclable. Many consumers like these litters because they can be buried in the backyard and are considered "earth friendly." 
  9. Scented Litter. Fragrance is used to cover up odors and make the living area more pleasant.
  10. Unscented Litter. No fragrance added to the clay. Some unscented litters add charcoal to virtually eliminate odors without using a fragrance. 
  • While clumping litter seems unnatural by the way it almost magically clumps the urine into a neat ball that can be scooped out of the box, it isn't a special additive or chemical that makes that happen. In fact the base ingredient of clumping litter, sodium bentonite, is a highly absorbent material that naturally has special clumping properties. And sodium bentonite is a very natural ingredient... the clay from volcanic ash. 

Related Videos
(From homemade cat litter box and cat litter itself to making a cat litter cake....)

Source(s): wikipedia, ideafinder.com/wisebread.com/rd.com/, user.xmision.com/, bonsai4me.com/, petco.com/, ehow.com/,
Main-Photo(s) credit: jon_a_rossmilletre