A Closer Look At Biodegradable Cat Litter

Cats will go through a lot of cat litter in the course of their lives, so many pet owners may feel strongly about choosing products that won’t permanently add to the world’s landfills. Here are a few options for litter made of different biodegradable materials. Keep in mind that these ingredients can make for very different textures that your cat will need to get used to.

Wheat: Swheat Scoop makes cat litter out of wheat, which has starch enzymes that can neutralize odor and allow for clumping.

Paper: With litter composed of newspaper, Yesterday’s News offers a different take on recycling. Recycled paper is highly absorbent and dust-free. However, it doesn't clump, so owners will need to change the entire box regularly.

Walnut: Blue Buffalo's Naturally Fresh line uses walnut shells for odor control and absorption of moisture. These litters clump well.

Corn: Corn is a popular natural litter option. World’s Best makes use of whole-kernel corn. Nature’s Miracle and 8in1 offers litter made from ground up corn cob.

Pine: Pine litter comes in pellets or crushed. Many owners like the natural scent of pine, and it's also dust free and highly absorbent. Not all cats like the pine smell, though, so it's important to give this a test run.

  1. Owner Tip: If you have a cat who is accustomed to one kind of litter, but you're looking to make a switch to a natural litter, it's wise to take it slow. Every cat is different, but generally speaking, these creatures of habit won't react well to having a sudden change. If you've identified a natural cat litter you want to try, introduce it to your cat by integrating it to their current box to see how they react. Start with putting a thin layer of the new litter to the bottom and then topping it off with two inches of their usual litter. No need to mix the litters together. If your cat takes to the mixture, adjust the proportions and try a little more of the new litter next time. If things continue to go well, increase the new litter each time until your cat has fully transitioned.

    Owner dizzyweasel found a winning product with Feline Pine. Here are his tips.

    This stuff is absolutely incredible. I'm allergic to just about everything, including the dust that rises off of traditional clay and silica litter. If you have a special room for your litter, you'll notice that regular dust gets on every surface. Feline Pine has NO DUST. Pour it out, and your litter area smells pleasantly of a lumber yard (well, I find that pleasant). When cats use the box, urine breaks down the pellets and is absorbed. Solid waste sits on top. The pellets track a bit, but they're large and a litter mat will slow their progress across a room.

    Now, I will offer one caveat: this litter is terrific, but only if you use the right box. If you use a regular, non-sifting box, the pellets will break down into sawdust, and the sawdust will then just sit there. This sawdust can track further than the pellets, because it can stick to kitty feet. The solution? A sifting litter box. Either the Tidy Cat Breeze box or the Feline Pine litter box works, the latter better than the former. I have both. The Tidy Cat Breeze litter pads also work nicely with this product in the holding reservoir of a sifting-type box. Put the Feline Pine on top, shake the box or move the sawdust around with a scoop, and sawdust will fall into the reservoir under the top tray. Et voila! No sawdust on top, fresh pellets are not wasted with constant litter changes. Just make sure to shake the broken pellets into the bottom and there's no tracking. Scoop feces and flush down the toilet (yes, this litter is flushable too!). If you use the Tidy Cat Breeze pads, they will help soak up any moisture in the sawdust that falls into the reservoir, eliminating any odors.

    Also a bonus: you only need about an inch of litter in the box. A bag will stretch for quite awhile. As pellets turn to sawdust and fall into the reservoir, just add more pellets. No litter changes necessary. Just remember to empty out the litter box reservoir as it fills up.

    In terms of getting cats to use it, just mix the Feline Pine with your regular stuff for about a week, gradually increasing the Feline Pine and decreasing the regular stuff. I trained a 9-year-old cat to use the litter in a week.

    In short, this is a miracle product, especially in a multi-cat household.