Idea for Alternative Cat Litter

With this idea for using alternative cat litters, you can save money and avoid the unpleasant smells that many traditional cat litters emit.

| February/March 2015

Alternative Cat Litter

Avoid cat litters that contain chemicals and other unwanted substances by opting for a more organic spread.

Photo by Fotolia/borzywoj

I didn’t like the artificial perfumes in my cats’ litter, nor the waste that the litter created. Even the “eco” litters were lacking — they smelled bad, didn’t clump and were expensive. So I spent months experimenting with materials to use for an alternative cat litter, and I eventually found that straw or pine pellets, which are usually sold as horse bedding, worked best.

I used the straw pellets until my local Agway stopped carrying them. Now I use the pine pellets, which work just as well. These pine pellets have a number of benefits. They’re cheap — one 40-pound bag costs $6 and will last my two cats close to a month and a half. And they don’t smell bad — if anything, they smell kind of woody or grassy. Plus, liquid causes the pine pellets to immediately disintegrate into sawdust, so it’s easy to spot and remove urine.

Hannah Dobbz
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

12/5/2015 1:39:44 PM

It's a great way to handle cat elimination probs, but using just one pan creates a mess that the cat has to wade thru to use. I've been using a special litter box that's just made for pellets (same as stove pellets, by the way). It uses 2 pans that are easy to keep clean. Here's the link:

10/26/2015 12:58:42 PM

I did a lot of research on kitty litter types when I adopted my first cat. Pine works pretty well but I question it's sustainability. While it is a by product of the milling industry and at least the by product is being used, it still provides a demand to the logging companies, in my opinion. I currently use Swheat Step, which has a lower impact even though it's more expensive. I have read, often, that chicken feed is the best form of litter both in application and price. I did try making the switch but bought a bag of chicken scratch by accident instead with bad results :P

10/23/2015 10:19:27 AM

It doesn't exactly clump, but as noted the pellets swell and disintegrate into sawdust when wet, so you can see where the wet places are and remove them. I use the pelleted bedding for my horses, so it seemed like the ideal solution for kitty litter (could go directly onto the manure pile). However, our cat did not approve at all, and began relieving herself elsewhere until we went back to standard cat litter. Oh well. At least I can dump the used cat litter down a woodchuck hole to discourage them...

10/23/2015 9:21:13 AM

Does the sawdust clump, or is it a case that the whole box must be emptied to get rid of the peed-on degraded pine pellets?

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