The 73rd Most Disruptive Idea In History Is … Kitty Litter?

Paul Ford makes a compelling case:

Ed Lowe was working at his father’s delivery business in southern Michigan when he had a brilliant idea: take some fuller’s earth (a type of clay) and sell it to local farmers for chickens litter-heartto nest. He called it Chicken Litter. It was 1947. The farmers weren’t interested—which is why Lowe had a big pile of it when a local woman came by. She’d brought her cat in from the January cold and needed some sand for her cat box. On an impulse, Lowe offered her some fuller’s earth instead.  The stuff turned out to absorb the ammonia smell of cat pee. The woman soon came back for more. So did her friends. After enough requests, Lowe put some fuller’s earth in bags, wrote KITTY LITTER on them, and dropped them off at a hardware store. The product sold, and it sold in supermarkets and pet stores. The market grew ever outward, from southern Michigan to the world.

The introduction of Kitty Litter meant that after millennia of scratching at the door cats could come indoors and stay there. They had long been visitors in American homes; now they were residents. In some ways it has been a hostile takeover: There are millions more cats than dogs in the U.S. This also means that Lowe is the indirect father of countless Internet cat memes. Anyone who sells recreational laser pointers, fuzzy mice, scratching posts, cat furniture, or electric-fountain cat water dishes should thank him, too.

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