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Cat litter is often something we don’t think much about. But choosing the right cat litter for you and your kitty can also be healthier for you, your pet, and for the environment.
Clay-based cat litter may be the most common—and therefore the most affordable and widely available—choice on the market, but it is not considered good for the environment (see the FAQs below). In addition, clay cat litters often have added silica which generates dust. This dust can irritate asthma sufferers when inhaled by you or your cat. The dust generated during cleaning or use by your cat can get deep into the lungs and may be difficult to expel, causing respiratory problems and in rare cases, lung cancer.
So, perhaps one of the best choices you can make for your cat, the environment, and your lungs is to choose a biodegradable cat litter. Alternative litters are made from a variety of materials alone or in mixtures including paper, corn, walnuts, wheat, wood, pine, and grass.
Here are the best eco-friendly cat litters:
Best Overall:World's Best Cat Litter Multiple Cat Unscented
To earn the top overall spot, the litter must be absorbent, available, reasonably affordable, sustainably produced, and capable of preventing odors. Corn-based cat litters are made from finely-ground whole corn kernels or ground corn cobs. The cobs are more environmentally friendly because a waste product is being given a new purpose, and they biodegrade.
The magic of this brand is that it is made from whole-kernel corn compressed into tight granules that expand to absorb and clump quickly to trap odors. To accomplish that odor control the litter includes a proprietary “wood fiber” free of chemicals, additives, or preservatives.
We like that it has no dust and no obvious smell. It clumps well so it’s easy to scoop. Made in Iowa, we also love that World’s Best gives back. The company reports that it has donated more than 662,000 pounds of litter to rescue cats in need.
If you’ve never tried an alternative litter, this is a great place to start. It’s carried affordably in a lot of major stores as well as health-conscious pet stores.
"My friends and I’ve used World’s Best Multi-Cat Unscented Clumping Corn Cat Litter for a couple of years now. I switched to non-clay, non-silica cat litter because a family member suffers from mild asthma and I have a cat with just one working lung. Low dust and non-toxicity were high priorities for us all. My cats are long-haired and so they track it around more than I’d like. But a large mat under the box helps with a quick clean." ~ Author Lorraine Wilde
Best Budget:Feline Pine Original Non-Clumping Litter
View On WalmartView On AmazonView On Chewy
Non-clumping cat litters tend to be more affordable, although you’ll likely need to change them more often than the clumping kind. Non-clumping litter is absorbent and holds odors well.
Feline Pine is one of the more affordable brands: A 40-pound bag is around $15 to $20. Rescue agencies and shelters that are on tight budgets like it also for its smell-reduction without scents or perfumes. Feline Pine uses sustainable kiln-dried shavings reclaimed from lumber production so no new trees are killed to make it.
Perhaps the best part is the litter is 100% pine shavings. It has a naturally fresh pine scent while also being lightweight and gentle for cat paws. No additional ingredients also means no added toxins, allergens, or other preservatives. It can be found at most major pet retail stores and even many grocery stores.
"When I adopted my cat from the shelter, Feline Pine was the litter she was already using so we stuck with it. The pine smell is pleasant but not overpowering, and it’s easy to know when to change it because you can clearly see that all the pellets have broken down into a sawdust consistency." ~ Margaret Badore, Senior Treehugger Editor
Best Recycled:Fresh News Recycled Paper Litter
Like walnut shells, corn cobs, and some wood-based litters, this paper cat litter is made from a product that would otherwise be thrown away. Fresh News Recycled Paper cat litter is made with 100% post-consumer paper from recycling centers. In fact, the company created a community recycling program called PaperGator where non-profit organizations, primarily churches and schools, get paid for collecting paper products both internally and from their communities.
Recycled paper litter is safe for animals and can be composted so it doesn’t have to end up in the landfill, although cat waste must be composted with care so that the resulting soil is never applied to food crops.
Fresh News claims to be almost three times more absorbent than clay litters, so it lasts longer. The soft, dust- and allergen-free pellets retain their form when they get wet but they don’t clump so you’ll need to change it more often than clumping litter.
Made in Michigan, this litter has added baking soda to control odors.
Used litter can contain the parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, which causes toxoplasmosis that is especially dangerous for a developing fetus. That's why it's important not to mix cat waste with other compost.
With any cat litter, pour in a ventilated area to reduce your exposure to dust, and always wash your hands thoroughly after cleaning up.
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Best Wood:Ökocat Super Soft Clumping Wood Unscented Cat Litter
Wood litters consist of cedar, spruce, or fir in lightweight chip or pellet form. For cats recovering from surgery or an injury, wood cat litters work well to keep wounds and incisions clean.
Ökocat Super Soft Clumping Wood Unscented cat litter is a great choice because its softness will appeal to your sore kitty and their delicate feet. Made from sustainably sourced, natural wood fiber that has been responsibly rescued, its texture is similar to clay.
Ökocat removes excess dust so you and your cat can breathe easily. The natural wood fibers absorb urine and prevent the formation of ammonia, the substance that causes the strongest odor in your cat box.
Best Walnut:Naturally Fresh Cat Litter
Walnut cat litter is made from crushed walnut shells and fibers, but not the nut meat. If the shells are sustainably sourced, they will come as a byproduct from walnut growers or packagers that would otherwise throw the shells away. So, it’s a win-win. It has a pleasant smell when it first comes out of the bag, but the scent doesn’t remain for long afterward to scent the room.
Naturally Fresh Quick-Clumping cat litter is made from 100% annually renewable, organically-grown, non-GMO walnut shells from California. It forms tight scoopable clumps within 15 minutes. The manufacturer claims that this litter is so absorbent, one bag will last as long as three bags of clay-based litter. Naturally Fresh is dust-free and doesn’t stick to kitty paws so it's low tracking.
An added bonus is that Naturally Fresh is manufactured in a 100% solar-powered plant. Because walnut litters are not as common as clay-based litters, you may not find them in all stores.
This Quick-Clumping variation is a fine ground recommended for one or two cats. This brand also comes in Multi-Cat Unscented, Multi-Cat Ultra Odor Control, Non-Clumping Unscented Pellet, and Scented Clumping cat litter in Alpine Meadow and Herbal Attraction fragrances.
Best for Odor Control:Pioneer Pet All Natural Clumping Litter
For some, the choice of which litter to use is all about odor control—especially if you have multiple cats and litter boxes at home. We recommend Pioneer Pet brand SmartCat All Natural Grass cat litter. We found there are no negative smells even when deposits have been made. It also clumps well—the bag claims it clumps better than clay—so it’s easy to scoop. This litter is also great for multi-cat households because it doesn’t track, saving you from the extra cleanup.
SmartCat is made from 100% organic non-GMO grass seed that is chemical-free and 99% dust-free. That also means it’s a renewable resource. The moisture is removed from the seed leaving behind a high-starch, lightweight, and fine-grained litter that is quite absorbent and locking in odors. Containing no fragrance, this litter is biodegradable.
Grass cat litter is a newer concept so you won’t find it everywhere. That means it can cost more than some of the other non-clay/non-silica litters. Rarely, cats can be allergic to grass, so keep that in mind as you try it out.
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If you’re just venturing into non-clay and non-sand cat litters, World’s Best Multi-Cat Unscented Clumping Corn Cat Litter (view at Walmart) is an excellent place to start. Its price, performance, and clumping ability have made it a favorite.
What to Look for in Cat Litter
As with any cat litter you buy, consider whether you prefer clumping or non-clumping types. Clumping is easier to scoop, but finicky cats tend to prefer the less expensive non-clumping litter that holds greater volumes of urine and odor but must be changed more often (usually once per week if you scoop daily).
Most cat litters will mention whether or not they are flushable. But the truth is, if you can avoid it, it’s better if you don’t flush your cat litter. Flushable cat litters don’t expand as much as non-flushable types. Both kinds are capable of clogging your pipes if you ignore their specific flushing directions.
But even without the risk of plumbing problems, it’s still a negative for your municipal sewage treatment facility or your septic system. For your city’s system to treat what you flush, they’ll need to separate the cat litter solids and send them to the landfill anyway. By skipping the flush, you’re saving them the trouble and reducing the sediments sent to the treatment plant.
If you are on a home septic system, flushing your cat litter is just adding excess organic solids to your system. That forces it to work harder to process your waste. That can upset the balance in your system and result in an increased need for service. Instead, find out if your local compost facility can accept cat litter, or if you want to compost at home, set up a dedicated kitty compost pile.
If you must flush, check the bag to ensure the litter is flushable. Those that are will include recommendations and flushing limitations that are worth following. You’ll want to avoid anything that expands when it gets wet.
Pellet size is also something to consider. If you have a long-haired cat, litter with a small pellet size is discouraged. It can stick and mat in their fur. Many litters will indicate on the bag whether or not it is recommended for long-haired cats.
For those with more than one kitty, consider litters designated as “multi-cat.” They tend to contain more odor neutralizers like baking soda to prevent odors on contact. Clumping litters are often better for multiple cats because they can be quickly scooped each day and need to be changed less often. Most experts also recommend one box for each cat plus at least one additional litter box.
Can I make my own cat litter?
Yes! There is a wide range of materials that can be used to make Do-It-Yourself (DIY) cat litter. Be aware that each material has different properties so, for example, some may be quite absorbent but not contain odors and vice versa. Be sure to look at the pros and cons of each type so you can pick the one that’s right for you. Most recipes rely on baking soda as an ingredient to help control odors, but you can also try green tea.
Newspaper cat litter is a great option if you’re still getting your local paper because you’re repurposing something you’ve already purchased. But you can also find simple recipes online that incorporate one or more of these biodegradable materials:
- Dried wood chips, shavings, sawdust, or animal bedding (cedar, pine, etc.), but avoid fresh cedar as it contains natural phenol oils that are toxic for cats
- Whole corn kernels
- Steel-cut oats
- Ground wheat berries
- Chicken feed
- Rabbit food (alfalfa or Timothy grass) pellets
- Coconut or walnut shells
- Wood pellets (stove fuel or livestock bedding)
Is clay cat litter biodegradable?
The clay used in cat litter is a natural soil component made of minerals—either calcium montmorillonite or the clumping sodium bentonite. Neither type breaks down further in a landfill or your compost pile. So although both are naturally occurring, they are not technically biodegradable.
Is clay cat litter eco-friendly?
Clay cat litter is not considered good for the environment because it is often not sustainably sourced. Although clays are naturally occurring soil minerals, and therefore better than synthetics, they must be mined. The process commonly used—strip mining—involves the removal of all trees, plants, and topsoil which then results in erosion into nearby waterways. Most strip mines are so destructive that they cannot and are not repaired or remediated.
Often, these clays are strip-mined from the Southern United States, Montana, Wyoming, or South Dakota. Some clays may also be strip-mined from foreign countries like China and the Ukraine.
Are silica cat litters eco-friendly?
Many clay cat litters have added silica, which generates silica dust.Silica is a type of sand. It is also known as silica sand, silica gel, or crystal cat litter. Silica is made from mined quartz (silicon dioxide). Like clay, it is made from naturally occurring elements that weather slowly and will not technically biodegrade.
Some companies are marketing it as a better alternative to clay cat litters because it is non-toxic, technically reusable and it doesn’t generate harmful dust the way clay does. It also is better at neutralizing odors and lasts longer than clay cat litter. Although the silica mining process is less damaging than clay strip mining, the process still causes damage to the environment. It also requires a lot of processing and energy to produce. The litter will still sit in the landfill on a geologic time scale and is not sustainable long-term.
What is the best way to dispose of biodegradable cat litter?
So glad you asked! There are many ways to dispose of the litter, each with advantages and disadvantages. Check out this Treehugger article for the pros and cons of the greenest options.
Why Trust Treehugger?
Lorraine Wilde has had at least one cat companion in her home for the past 35 years. Two of her cats lived into their early twenties. She has only the highest of standards for her best friends. Lorraine also holds a Master’s degree in environmental science and is a firm believer that consumers can make healthy, informed, and environmentally conscious choices to protect their families, their pets, and our planet.
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Which cat litter is the healthiest? ›
- New. Only Natural Pet. Non-GMO Grass Seed Cat Litter.
- Weruva. Tea Potty Cat Litter.
- Feline Fresh. Natural Clumping Pine Cat Litter.
- World's Best. Corn Based Cat Litter.
- Dr. Elsey's. Cat Attract Cat Litter.
Wood-based cat litter shortage
The nation's cat owners are being affected by a shortage of wood-based cat litter caused by rising energy costs and the Ukraine crisis.
- Compost your cat's litter safely. You can't compost clay litter, but most other kinds break down beautifully. ...
- Bag it in a biodegradable container. Scoop up your litter into a biodegradable bag and toss it into your garbage.
The Overall Best Cat Litter For Odor Control: Fresh Step Advanced Simply Unscented Clumping Cat Litter. A Clumping Clay Litter Designed To Reduce Bacterial Odors: Cat's Pride Max Power Bacterial Odor Control Scented Clumping Clay Cat Litter.What brand of cat food is being recalled? ›
|April 4, 2019||Thogersen Family Farm||Ground pet food|
|March 29, 2019||Purina Muse||Natural Chicken recipe in gravy|
|Jan. 28, 2019||Woody's Pet Food Deli||Raw Free Range Turkey|
|Jan. 23, 2019*||Hare Today||Hare Today gone tomorrow ground chicken with bones|
Horse pellets for cat litter are relatively safe for your feline friend as long as you ensure the wood doesn't contain phenols or other chemical additives. They're also an excellent choice for multicast households since they're cheap and last a while. And you can dispose of it very easily.Why is there no cat food in stores? ›
Why are there cat food shortages in 2022? There are two main factors that are affecting the current availability of cat food, especially canned food: aluminum shortages and ingredient shortages.What is a good substitute for cat litter? ›
- PAPER LITTER – Paper litter is formed in pellets, and often are recommended by veterinarians if your cat has allergies or is healing from an infection. ...
- CORN LITTER – ...
- WHEAT LITTER – ...
- COCONUT LITTER – ...
- WOOD SHAVINGS – ...
- OTHER DIY LITTERS –
Yes, you can use oatmeal as cat litter. However, you should grind it into powder first and add a layer or two of baking soda to control bad odors.Can I use rice as cat litter? ›
Can I use rice instead of cat litter? If you have rice on hand, it's a much better idea to eat it rather than using it in your cat litter box. But, rice will absorb urine in a way that paper and wood shavings will not. It won't do anything to hide the smell of ammonia.
How often should litter box be cleaned? ›
If you clean the litter box daily, you might only need to change clumping litter every two to three weeks. If you notice an odor or if much of the litter is wet or clumped, it's time for a change. Scrub the box every time you change the litter.How often should you completely change cat litter? ›
How Often Should You Change the Cat Litter? If you use a clumping litter, it's best to scoop the box daily and change it out completely at least monthly. If you have more than one cat, it may be best to change the cat litter more often, every 2-3 weeks.What is the best cat litter to use for multiple cats? ›
Dr. Elsey's Premium clumping cat litter is our top pick for the best cat litter for multiple cats. It is absorbent and relatively easy to scoop, and you can use it in mechanical litter boxes. It also consists of the best natural ingredients for single or multi-cat homes.Is it OK to flush cat poop down the toilet? ›
Even though it may seem like a good idea, you should not be flushing your cat's litter or feces down the toilet. It can cause havoc on your plumbing, clog pipes, and damage your septic system.What can I use in place of cat litter instead of plastic bags? ›
- Compost It. ...
- Bury It. ...
- Biodegradable Bags. ...
- Paper And Newspaper. ...
- Flush It. ...
- Repurpose Non-Recyclable Plastic Bags. ...
- Collect It.
Whatever litter you use, to avoid spreading Toxoplasma and other dangerous organisms, never dump it outside. Place it in a plastic bag, tie it shut, and put it in your regular garbage. A biodegradable bag will give it a better chance to break down in the dump.How do I keep my house from smelling like cat? ›
- Use the right cat litter. There are dozens of brands of kitty litter for sale today. ...
- Clean the litter box frequently. ...
- Use a covered box. ...
- Change diets.
Add baking soda to the litter: Surprisingly, baking soda is a great all-natural deodorizer that is both safe for cats and can help manage the litter box smell. By mixing a little bit of baking soda with the litter, you can help absorb any urine odors also.Is Felix making cats ill? ›
These samples were analysed for the most common heavy metal and mycotoxin contaminants that could trigger the types of illness being reported. As we expected, the results showed that Felix was completely safe for cats to eat with no quality or food safety issues.Is there a problem with Fancy Feast cat food? ›
In fact, many Fancy Feast cat food products contain fish that may carry high levels of mercury. These products can cause the effects of mercury poisoning over a long period of time, and it can result in severe health problems. One common effect of mercury poisoning is kidney damage.
What's better cat litter or pellets? ›
Comparing cat pellets vs clay litter, pellets are better for your cat's health, they're better for the environment, and can be cheaper in the long run. Moreover, non-clumping brands have a better odor-control ability and are made of natural materials, so your cat won't get exposed to toxic chemicals.Are wood chips good for cat litter? ›
The answer is a simple yes. Many people have found that wood pellets make a great substitute for traditional clay cat litter.Can cats eat dog food? ›
No, cats cannot be maintained on a dog food diet. If a cat is only fed dog food for a long period of time, then detrimental, if not deadly, consequences can occur. This is because dog food and cat food formulas have different nutritional components in order to meet the different nutritional needs of these two species.What foods will be in short supply in 2022? ›
Eggs and Meat
According to Business Insider, nearly half of Americans in a survey reported seeing a shortage of meat and eggs in the beginning of 2022.
The 2022 cat-food shortage (and what you should do about it) - YouTubeCan I use flour as cat litter? ›
Whether you have wheat berries or finely ground wheat, you can use either of these options like an emergency cat litter option. You may notice that the grains around blended smoothly, the better it will clump while wet. Your pet may have less of an aversion to a fine consistency as well.How do you make natural cat litter? ›
How to Make Your Own Kitty Litter - YouTubeCan I use sand instead of cat litter? ›
Sand can certainly work as a litter substitute whether you're facing an emergency or just looking for an alternative to traditional cat litter. It's great because it's natural, safe, and clumps.Can you use Epsom salt for cat litter? ›
According to Authentica Pets, the answer is actually a yes, they are pet safe when they are used properly and carefully. Specifically, they say that, External use only and if used correctly, Epsom salts is safe.Can I use shredded newspaper as cat litter? ›
In order to use newspaper for homemade cat litter, you will need to shred it. A shredder can make this a quick and easy job. Shredded paper works best if it is shredded in long, thin strips and a generous amount is added to the litterbox.
Can you use chicken feed for cat litter? ›
Chicken feed (available in feed stores) is made of ground-up corn, soybeans, and other grains. It is a food source for chickens and can also be used as cat litter.What is the cheapest cat litter? ›
The cheapest cat litter is from Blain's Farm & Fleet at $0.19/lb. The most affordable cat litter is always non-clumping, which means it won't naturally clump around your cat's, um, presents. And the best price I've seen is at Blain's Farm & Fleet, where they sell a 40-lb bag of non-clumping cat litter (reg.Do big cats bury their poop? ›
Dominant cats like lions, tigers, and leopards do not always cover their feces, instead leaving it uncovered to mark their territory. Other cats further down the food chain usually do bury their waste in order to not appear as a threat to more dominant cats.Is Kitty Litter bad for the environment? ›
From its invention in the mid 20th Century, cat litter has been produced using methods that can be damaging to the environment, and the resulting clay litter is non-biodegradable, so will get thrown away, including sitting on landfill for thousands of years.Is bentonite clay eco-friendly? ›
Bentonite clay is mined from the earth while silica gel is made from sand. Both sound “natural” enough but neither is renewable and extraction of both impacts their environment.Is World's Best cat litter compostable? ›
World's Best's specialty blend of quick-absorbing, eco-friendly cat litter is made of lumps of compressed and fully compostable corn kernels. According to the website, these kernels create minimal dust and prevent odors, so long as the litter box is cleaned often.What kind of litter doesn't stick to paws? ›
Elsey's Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter is a premium litter full of qualities that make it a top choice. It's 99.9% dust-free and is unscented, so it won't irritate sensitive respiratory systems. This low-tracking formula won't stick to paws, so more of the litter stays in the box instead of on your floor.Can I mix two different cat litters? ›
You can mix two different types of litter, including clumping and non-clumping but it isn't something you should do long term. Cats prefer routine without a lot of surprises, especially when it comes to bathroom breaks, and you wouldn't want your litter to always be just a little bit different.Can you flush cat poop down the toilet? ›
Even though it may seem like a good idea, you should not be flushing your cat's litter or feces down the toilet. It can cause havoc on your plumbing, clog pipes, and damage your septic system.Can I use soil as cat litter? ›
Yes, you can use dirt, sand, or soil as cat litter although there are some major downsides to this approach and it's rarely the best long term choice.
Can I use sawdust instead of cat litter? ›
Plain sawdust makes great cat litter, but doesn't control odor as well as other substrates and might be hard to find in urban areas.How long does it take for clay cat litter to decompose? ›
How long does it take for cat litter to decompose and turn into compost? Using cold composting process for the used cat litter, you should expect it to take at least a year. Hot composting could take only a few months, but you will have to put a little more effort into the process.Is silicone cat litter safe? ›
Our silica litters are made from amorphous silica gel, it is safe if inhaled or ingested and does not cause silicosis because it has no crystalline silica. Newborn kittens can breathe or ingest the litter without harm.How often should you change Worlds Best cat litter? ›
World's Best Cat Litter has a chart that suggests that a 7 lb bag will last about 30 days with only one cat using it. From personal experience, I start to notice a funny odor after about a week.Does World's Best cat litter contain sodium bentonite? ›
World's Best Cat Litter contains no chemicals, perfumes, clays, silicas, bentonite, or any synthetic substances whatsoever.