If you've recently tried to buy cat litter only to discover your brand of choice isn't available, you can likely blame a cybersecurity attack on the company Clorox.
The attack was first discovered in mid-August and, according to a regulatory filing this week, has "caused widescale disruption of Clorox's operations," resulting in order delays and product shortages. While the company is most often 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 scarcer 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 do not yet have an estimate for how long it will take to resume fully normalized operations."
Petco spokesperson Yvonne Tarrab confirms that the chain's supplies of those particular litter brands are "currently impacted" by the breach, though she emphasizes that several other brands remain fully in stock in stores. A search Tuesday of online pet-supply retailer Chewy showed that Fresh Step, Scoop Away and Ever Clean are all out of stock, while other name brands such as Arm & Hammer and Tidy Cats are still available.
Considering that you can still buy other kinds of litter, non-cat owners may wonder why the shortage is a big deal. But cats can be quite picky and a sudden change of litter brand can lead to unpleasant behaviors - namely, peeing and pooping just outside the litter box or elsewhere in the home.
The best way to avoid this problem is to introduce a new type of litter gradually, says Kate Benjamin, author of bestsellers "Catification" and "Catify to Satisfy." So, if you still have a remaining supply of Fresh Step, Scoop Away or Ever Clean, you may want to start mixing it with a more plentifully available brand now.
Benjamin advises adding the new stuff gradually if you can, until your litter box is filled mostly with the new type of litter. "Hopefully, they will associate the new litter with the preferred litter," she says.
Try to find a new variety that is similar to your cat's usual preference, says Whitney Millner, Petco's chief veterinarian. So, if you previously used a clumping litter, find a similar product from a different brand.
If you find that your cat is still avoiding the litter box, Millner advises offering different kinds of new litter in multiple boxes (most vets say a household should have one more litter box than it has cats) to see if you can begin to detect a preference. Also, be sure to call your veterinarian just in case your cat's behavior stems from a medical problem.