Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Georgia Is Cat's Meow State Leader in Making Material for Litter Box

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Georgia Is Cat's Meow State Leader in Making Material for Litter Box

Article excerpt

MEIGS -- Every time Don Fennell sees a cat saunter over to a

litter box, he smiles.

He knows it gives him job security.

A cat owner himself, Fennell wants every American to own at

least one cat.

"I tell all my friends, `Please, please buy a cat,' " Fennell

said recently.

Fennell is the mine manager for Waverly Mineral Products Co.,

one of eight Georgia companies that mine fuller's earth, the

main ingredient of most cat box litters.

Georgia is home to the nation's largest geological

storehouse of fuller's earth. Each year, mining companies in

Georgia scrape about 645,000 tons of the soft, gray, claylike

mineral out of mines mainly in the southwestern part of the

state. Florida produces the second largest annual load of about

420,000 tons from mines located mostly in the Panhandle.

Known to chemists as hydrated magnesium aluminum silicate,

fuller's earth has highly absorbent and porous properties that

make it an ideal filtering or drying agent. Once processed, it

has scores of uses, including as a cement additive and as

fillers in cosmetics and pills.

"If you look at some of this under the microscope, it looks

just like a sponge," said G. Wayne Lawson, a spokesman for

Waverly Mineral.

But the most common, albeit less glamorous, use for fuller's

earth is to cover up, or clump up, cat waste in litter boxes

throughout the world.

Georgia tourism officials don't expect anyone to visit the

state based on its production of fuller's earth, and they're

somewhat humbled that Georgia can be referred to as the "Cat Box

Litter Capital of America."

"Can't you just see a picture in a brochure of a farmer with

cats standing all around him," said Robert R. King, president of

the Georgia Hospitality and Travel Association. "I never thought

about it, but if it would work, what the heck."

The name fuller's earth came about centuries ago when

clothiers who worked with wool, known as fullers, used the

mineral to degrease the wool.

Legend has it fuller's earth was discovered in Georgia when

automobile production began in earnest. …

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