Wood pellet litter is a type of natural pellet litter that is commonly produced from pine or cedarwood.
Compared to ordinary clay-based litter, it has larger granules that are composed of compressed wood fibers that disintegrate into sawdust when wet.
I switched to wood pellet litter a few years ago and haven’t looked back since! It is a viable alternative to conventional litter because it is an eco-friendly option made from natural and recycled materials. It also has the benefit of being non-tracking and dust-free! This means less time and effort is spent cleaning up after our gorgeous felines and more time spent bonding.
With so many perks, there is no reason why you should refrain from switching to this kind of natural litter. However, some owners are turned off by the fact that wood pellet litter doesn’t clump. Yet, with the right litter box and cleaning know-how, this doesn’t have to be an issue.
To help you decide whether switching to wood pellet cat litter is the right move for you, I’ve pulled together all the advantages and disadvantages. I’ve also written about how it works, how to use it effectively, and a selection of the best wood pellet litter options currently on the market.
How Does Wood Pellet Cat Litter Work?
Before we get into the pros, cons, and best products available, there is an important question that needs answering: How does wood pellet cat litter work? Well, while using wood pellet litter is a bit different from traditional clay litter as it typically doesn’t clump, it is still just as easy and convenient.
Wood pellet cat litter is a type of natural pellet litter. Pellets are granules that are made from a variety of absorbent biodegradable materials, constituting an effective option as cat litter. Unlike the traditional fine-grain clumping clay litter, pellet litters have larger and coarser pieces.
The material that makes up wood pellet litter, if you haven’t guessed already, is wood. The timber used to make this litter isn’t just any old wood though, it’s made from leftover wood from the timber industry. Therefore, this is a sustainable form of litter made from materials that would otherwise be disposed of as waste.
These super absorbent pellets made of dehydrated, compressed wood fibers expand when moist and disintegrate when soaked with liquid, in this case, urine. Once they disintegrate, they become powdered sawdust and are sifted through the intact pellets to the bottom of the litter pan.
There are two types of wood pellet litter: pellets of softwood or hardwood. Softwood pellets are more popular and are normally made from pine or cedar. This is why wood pellet litter is often referred to as pine pellets. On the other hand, hardwood pellet litters are usually produced from oak and applewood.
Does Wood Pellet Litter Require a Custom Litter Box?
Wood pellet doesn’t require a custom litter box, and you can use the one you already have. It also doesn’t matter whether the litter box is hooded or not. However, there are litter boxes custom-designed for pellet litters that can help you avoid scooping daily and make your cleaning process easier.
These litter boxes are equipped with a sifting tray that separates the sawdust from the fresh pellets. The sifting tray fits onto the regular tray at the bottom of the litter box. The sawdust falls through the holes of the sift to the bottom tray while the intact pellets stay on top for your cat’s use.
The design of the Purina Tidy Cats Breeze litter box incorporates a drawer at its base where the sawdust can collect for removal without you having to deal with the sift or dismantle the box. The Purina litter box comes with its custom pellets (which are made of zeolite and not wood) but you can use most pellet litters as long as they are compatible with the holes of the sift.
Since wood pellet litters don’t have a standard granule size, you should make sure the size of the shift’s holes matches the kind of pellet litter you use. The holes should be smaller than the pellets but large enough for sawdust to easily fall through. You also don’t need to fill the litter pan to the brim. Instead, 2-3 inches deep is enough because some pellets soak up urine and engorge, thus taking up more space than when dry.
Does Wood Pellet Cat Litter Clump?
Typical wood pellet litter does not clump – though this is in no way a drawback. Rather, it is just how pellet litters work.
Instead of clumping, the wood pellets decompose into sawdust once they are soaked with urine. This way, the powdered pieces fall to the bottom of the pan while the unsoaked, fresh pellets stay on top. To clean, all you need to do is remove the sifted sawdust at the bottom of the pan and keep the fresh pellets by reverse-scooping.
With poop, wood pellets work pretty much the same way as traditional clay-based litter. That is to say, nothing much happens to it. Although one difference may be that some clay-based litters stick to the poop and cover it up, which is not the case with most pellet litters.
While most wood pellet litters don’t clump, some brands can form clumps to a certain degree, such as the Next-Gen Pet Fresh Cypress Cat Litter. These types of clumping pellet litters are more similar to clay-based litter with regards to how they are cleaned – you scoop out the urine-soaked clumps and leave the rest for reuse.
How to Scoop Wood Pellet Litter?
You might be wondering if it’s harder to clean wood pellet litter when compared to common clay litter.
The truth is that it’s not harder, it’s just different. Since the urine-soaked wood pellets typically disintegrate instead of clump together, the scooping process is kind of the opposite of scooping standard clumping litter.
In the beginning, it can take some getting used to, but once you do, there will be no extra hassle in cleaning this kind of litter. If you have a regular litter box (not a pellet-specific one with a sift), here’s an easy step-by-step guide on how to clean it:
- Scoop out all the poop and throw it in the trash, just as you would with normal litter.
- Gather all the areas of wetted sawdust on your scoop and shake it over the wastebasket. This will get rid of the sawdust and keep the fresh, intact pellets that haven’t disintegrated on the scoop.
- Instead of throwing out what is left on the scoop, you do the opposite – put all the collected intact pellets back into the cleaned litter pan.
- Add new pellets to make up for the amount you’ve thrown out. Voilá!
You can also give your litter box a few shakes daily so that the disintegrated sawdust falls to the bottom of the pan, leaving fresh pellets at the top.
Can I Flush Wood Pellet Litter Down the Toilet?
Disposing of pellet litter is very easy and you even have some options to choose from: flushing the litter down the toilet or composting it.
While clay-based litter should never be flushed down the toilet, pellet litter made of biodegradable materials like wood can be flushed if it claims to be flush-safe. However, not all wood pellet cat litter is the same. The product will make its disposal options clear by stating if it is “flushable” or not on its packaging. If it doesn’t say anything, it is probably not flush-safe.
While urine clumps of flushable cat litter are safe to flush, cat feces should never be flushed down the toilet. Cat feces could be carrying toxoplasmosis, a bacterial disease that spreads from eating wild animals or contact with other infected cat feces – which is not uncommon. Infected cats discard the bacteria through their feces, so flushing cat poop down the toilet carries the risk of toxoplasma contamination of water and soil.
Toxoplasma contamination can be a large threat to human health, especially to pregnant women. Besides, it can also be damaging to the local wildlife and natural environment. For this same reason, you also shouldn’t use cat feces as compost.
On the other hand, urine clumps from pellet litter are okay because they do not carry the bacteria. However, even if your brand of litter is flushable, make sure you do so in small amounts just to be safe. Moisture initially engorges pellets and causes them to swell, so flushing them down in large amounts may result in clogged bathroom pipes.
Another option for disposal if the litter is labeled as “biodegradable” or “compostable” is to bury the used pellets in a garden area and utilize them as compost. This will again be indicated on the product packaging, so check with the specific brand of litter you’re using.
It is also important to note that you shouldn’t use litter compost to grow any edible plants such as fruits, vegetables, or spices. Although urine does not carry toxoplasma, it’s still not safe to use as compost for edible things as there is still a risk that it has come into contact with the contaminated feces.
To summarize: You can flush pellet litter down the toilet if the product claims to be flush-safe, but make sure you throw the feces into the wastebin beforehand. You can also use the soiled litter as compost if it claims to be compostable, but never for edible plants. Other than the options of flushing, burying, or composting, you can always throw it away as regular trash. That’s it!
Does Wood Pellet Cat Litter Reduce Odor?
Yes – wood pellet litter has a pine scent that naturally represses unpleasant odors. This is not an added fragrance, it is the natural scent of the wood. You should never use a litter that has an add-on scent that can cause headaches both for people and cats.
Wood pellets are also extremely absorbent of liquid. Therefore, they trap urine and keep the litter dry, which blocks unpleasant odors from escaping into the air and around your home.
Do Cats Prefer Wood Pellet Cat Litter?
Most cats seem to prefer the usual fine-grain litter as opposed to pellet litter.
This may be because fine-grain litter feels smoother on their paws. There’s also a theory that claims cats are biologically inclined to prefer finer-grained litter because it resembles desert sand that their ancestors are used to.
This doesn’t mean that they can’t use pellet litters though. Some cats even like pellets over normal litter because it doesn’t get stuck in their paws and feels soft and spongy. There are so many benefits to using wood pellet litter and with time, your cat may even grow to love it!
Will It Be Easy to Switch From Clay Litter to Wood Pellet Litter?
Changing your cat’s litter, even if it’s from one clay-based brand to another, can be somewhat challenging because cats don’t like change, especially in something as essential as their litter. This is why it can be difficult for cats to switch to pellet litter from the conventional clay-based one that they are used to. The texture and size of the granules of the two types of litter are immensely different, which will not go unnoticed by your cat.
However, difficult does not mean impossible (not to mention that it’s not bound to be difficult – after all, each cat is different). You shouldn’t refrain from switching to wood pellet litter because it’s nothing that your cat can’t handle. If you have the right approach, there is no reason why your cat shouldn’t get accustomed to using wood pellet litter.
How to Switch From Traditional Litter to Pellet Litter?
As you do with any other new product you introduce to your cat, take it step by step. Don’t change your cat’s litter overnight and expect her not to notice or react to this sudden switch.
The formula is to gradually invert the ratio of new litter to the old one over about a week. Start by replacing roughly a quarter of your cat’s usual litter with pellet litter (1-inch deep pellet litter : 3 inches deep old litter). Each time you change the litter, add less of the old one and more of the new one and do it over 4-5 steps.
Is Wood Pellet Cat Litter Safe for My Cat?
Perhaps the most important thing to consider when choosing a suitable litter for your cat is if it poses any health threats for her. Unfortunately, cats regularly ingest their litter in small amounts because:
- Most litters create dust when disturbed – i.e when your cat digs it up to bury her feces. Your cat inhales these dust particles. This dust also settles on her coat and is ingested when she licks herself clean.
- Most fine-grain litters stick to your cat’s paws. When she licks her paws to clean them, the litter granules inevitably end up in her system.
When ingesting cat litter accidentally, it can cause health issues. Traditional clay-based clumping litter contains sodium bentonite, which threatens the well-being of your cat’s digestive tract when ingested excessively. Not to mention that your cat is much more likely to ingest clay-based litter because it has fine-grains that create more dust and stick a lot more to your cat’s paws when compared to pellet litter.
However, you can rest assured that wood pellet litter is one of the safest options among all types of litter. Pellet litter in general produces little to no dust. Low dust makes your cat less prone to developing respiratory problems. Wood pellet litter also doesn’t stick to your cat’s paws, which diminishes your cat’s chances of ingesting the particles by licking her paws.
With all these considered, it becomes very clear that wood pellet litter is less likely to end up in your cat’s system. Even if your cat eats a few pellets by accident, there is no need to worry. Wood pellet litter production doesn’t involve chemical treatment and the litter typically doesn’t have any added ingredients.
If you are worried about the potential of pellets being a choking hazard, you are safe on that front too. Clumping litter is more of a choking hazard than pellet litter because it can form clumps in your kitty’s system, whereas wooden pellets will simply turn to sawdust.
With this all being said, the one thing to watch out for with wood pellet litter is an allergic reaction to the wood. Although not common, cats can have allergies to certain natural materials like wood. If that is the case with your cat, you should consider switching to other options of natural litter.
Yet, with the possibility of allergies aside, wood pellet litter is entirely safe for your cat. However, like all types of litters, not all wood pellet litters are top quality. When choosing amongst wood pellet litters, make sure you pick a fragrance-free and 100% natural product with as few added ingredients as possible. This will further ensure the product is safe for your feline.
Pros and Cons of Wood Pellet Cat Litter
To help you weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of wood pellet cat litter, here is a quick list of the pros and cons.
Wood Pellet Cat Litter: Pros
- It doesn’t stick to your cat’s paws, so there is no tracking and your cat doesn’t experience the discomfort of having things stuck in her paws.
- It produces very little to no dust.
- It is biodegradable and sustainable.
- It is 100% natural: typical wood pellet litter doesn’t have any added scents or chemicals.
- Its disposal options are varied, useful, and easy: You can flush down most types or use them as compost.
- Wood pellet litters weigh lighter than standard clay litter.
- They are entirely safe for your cat. The chances of ingesting pellets are very low, but even if she does, your cat will be fine.
- Many wood pellet litters are flush-safe.
- It has a naturally fresh, earthy scent because of its material, which also helps with odor control.
Wood Pellet Cat Litter: Cons
- Wood pellet litters are a bit more pricey in general when compared to usual clay-based litters.
- It may be hard to switch to pellet litter because most cats prefer fine-grained texture as litter.
- The fact that wood pellet litters don’t clump can be considered a drawback for people that are used to scooping clumping litter.
- Some cats may not like the scent of pine or they may be allergic to the material.
Wood Pellet Cat Litter Options
Below is a selection of wood pellet litters that are quite varied in terms of their clumping abilities, wood source, additional ingredients, and prices.
Hopefully, this will offer you a comprehensive idea about the different kinds of wood pellet litter that you can choose from.
1. Next-Gen Pet Fresh Cypress Cat Litter With Green Tea (Best Wood Pellet Clumping Litter)
One of the best wood pellet cat litters available is the Next-Gen Pet Green Tea Cat Litter. It is a little pricier than other options, but I believe it’s worth every penny!
Made from a combination of recycled wood and green tea, this litter is fantastic at controlling odors. The wood pellets will rapidly absorb all urine to prevent smells, while the green tea and woody scents help to cover any lingering odors. Besides, the natural fragrance of green tea comes from actual green tea in the formula, it hasn’t been added artificially.
This is also a clumping wood pellet cat litter. While non-clumping options are great once you get the hang of the new cleaning method, a clumping alternative is preferable among many cat owners. If you’re reluctant to switch to wood pellet litter because of the new clean-up process, this cat litter provides the perfect compromise. You get all the benefits of wood pellet litter and can still easily scoop the waste away as usual. Disposal is also easy thanks to the litter being flushable, and compostable.
The particles in this cat litter are also small and lightweight. For cats who are used to clumping litter, this may make the transition to their new litter a little smoother. It will feel more like clay litter on their paws when compared to larger wooden pellets. If you have a fussy feline, this is a huge perk!
Unfortunately, the small and lightweight pellets also get stuck to your cat’s paws more easily. This means litter tracking is more likely and there’s a chance the litter can get carried around your home. Some cats may also be deterred from using the litter for this reason as it can feel uncomfortable being stuck to their paws.
- It has a slight natural wood and green tea scent which provides effective odor control. (The green tea scent comes from actual green tea in the formula, it hasn’t been added artificially.)
- Clumping litter for easy cleaning
- Composable and flushable for easy disposal
- Small pellets which many cats transitioning from clay litter prefer
- It may stick to your cat’s paws and cause tracking
- It may stick to the bottom of the litter pan a bit
- Your cat may not love the green tea smell as much as you do
- It is on the pricey side
2. Feline Pine Original Unscented Non-clumping Wood Cat Litter (Best Non-Clumping Wood Pellet Litter)
If you’re happy to try a non-clumping pellet litter, why not try the Feline Pine Original Unscented Wood Cat Litter? As the name suggests, this is a conventional non-clumping pellet litter made from pine fibers. All the wood is reclaimed from lumber production, making it a great eco-friendly option.
Each of the wooden pellets acts like a tiny sponge, absorbing all urine rapidly. This ensures nasty ammonia smells are captured before it is too late, providing effective odor prevention. With the natural pine scent that many people love, this further ensures your home stays smelling fresh.
Alongside relying only on natural fragrances, you’ll also be pleased to know there are no added chemicals or synthetic substances. This means you can have confidence in the litter you use, knowing that it is 100% safe for your cat. Being dust-free, it also won’t cause any respiratory issues while also helping to keep litter tracking to a minimum.
The main downside of this litter is that it is not flushable or compostable, and instead has to be disposed of in the trash. For a litter that is trying so hard to be environmentally conscious, this could be an issue for the more eco-friendly owner. With that being said, the litter is biodegradable and the manufacturer still claims that one bag of this litter is equivalent to 114lbs of clay!
The pellets that make up this litter are also small. This is great news for your cat as they are soft and gentle on their paws. However, it does make cleaning more challenging. To separate the sawdust from the intact pellets, you’ll need to use the litter scoop or a sifting litter box. As the wood pellets are small, you need to be careful when choosing a sieve – holes that are too large will allow both the pellets and the sawdust through!
- It is fragrance-free but has a natural and fresh pine smell
- It has no added ingredients, just 100% pine
- It doesn’t track or produce dust
- It is pocket-friendly
- Highly absorbent and effectively locks away odors
- Soft and gentle on your kitty’s paws
- It is not flushable.
- The disintegrated sawdust may not all fall properly through the sift in a sifted litter box system
- Pieces scattered from the litter box can be painful to step on – a customer has even described them as “legos on the floor”!
3. Purina Tidy Cats Pure Nature Clumping Cat Litter (Combination of Cedar, Pine, and Corn!)
Another great wood cat litter is the Purina Tidy Cats Pure Nature Clumping Cat Litter. This product is not a conventional pellet litter, but rather a semi-pellet litter that has a clumping formula made from cedar, pine, and corn. The benefit of this combination of materials? You get a versatile litter that is great at everything!
Corn is known for its super absorbent properties. The corncob quickly absorbs all liquid as soon as your cat urinates in their litter box, trapping the urine before it can release nasty odors into the room. Both pine and cedar shavings also help with odors in particular, with their natural woody scent delicately hiding any smells that do escape. In fact, the manufacturer of this kitty litter promises 10-day odor control!
All of these materials are also natural, so this is another cat litter that is great for the planet. Besides, the natural ingredients also make it a healthier option for your cat if accidentally ingested. Being a dust-free formula, there’s also a lesser risk of any respiratory problems for both you and your feline, and a reduction in litter tracking.
This litter also forms tight clumps thanks to yet another natural ingredient – guar gum. Tightly holding all soiled litter together, you can easily dispose of all waste. However, this cat litter isn’t completely natural, and within the list of ingredients, you’ll see a chemical called glycerin. For this reason, the litter isn’t flushable nor compostable and has to be disposed of in the trash.
- It clumps well
- Switching to this litter from clay-based litter will be easier for your cat because it has finer granules
- The corncob in its formula makes for effective odor control
- It is reasonably priced
- It doesn’t track or produce dust
- 10-day odor control thanks to the corn, pine, and cedar combination
- Made from 99.9% natural ingredients
- It has an artificial fragrance and glycerin in its formula
- It is not flush-safe
- It is not compostable because of its added ingredients
- Not a true wood pellet cat litter
4. Small Pet Select Premium Pine Pelleted Cat Litter (100% Natural Ingredients)
Another fantastic choice is the Small Pet Select Premium Pine Pelleted Cat Litter. As the name suggests, this kitty litter is made from 100% pine pellets with no additional additives or harmful chemicals. This is not only great for the environment as it is biodegradable but also makes it one of the safest cat litters there is on the market.
The all-natural pine pellets also have a wonderfully natural, woody scent. This effectively covers any odors and helps to ensure your home smells lovely. Besides, being an extremely absorbent material, the wood pellets will quickly soak up any urine before it has a chance to stink out your home.
This is also a non-clumping pellet litter, and so the pellets turn to sawdust when soaked in urine. As the pellets are large, separating the fine dust from the intact pellets is easy. Using any generic litter scoop or sifting litter box should be all you need to sort the two, so cleaning is simple! Besides, with heavier and larger particles, and with this being a low dust litter, tracking around your home is also minimal.
Unfortunately, these larger pellets do make it slightly uncomfortable on your cat’s paws. Most cats will get used to the change over time, but when transitioning from a clay litter it may take cats a little longer than usual. Also, be careful not to step on any pellets that end up scattered on the floor, as you may hurt your feet too!
The only other complaint customers seem to have is that the packaging is not recyclable. One of the main benefits of switching to wood pellet litter is that it is better for the environment. For this reason, you may prefer to choose a product with recyclable packaging to lessen your impact on the environment even further.
- It doesn’t track or produce dust
- It is compostable
- It doesn’t have any added ingredients
- It is fragrance-free but has a natural pine smell
- Works with most litter scoops and sifting litter boxes
- It is not flush-safe
- It is pricey
- Packaging is non-recyclable
- Medium-sized pellets can take some adjusting to
5. Okocat Natural Wood Cat Litter (Best for Long-Hair Breeds)
If you have a long-haired cat breed such as a Main Coon or Persian, try the Okocat Natural Wood Cat Litter. Designed specifically for long-haired breeds, this cat litter has larger pine pellets that won’t get stuck in your cat’s luscious coat as easily and tracks much less than regular cat litter.
The one downside of these larger pellets is that they can feel a little uncomfortable for cats to walk on. For that reason, kittens or an injured cat who has sensitive paws are better suited for a softer and more gentle litter. It may also take a little longer for your cat to adjust to using wood litter as the pine pellets are a lot bigger than regular clay litter granules.
With that being said, another huge bonus of this product is that it is a low-dust litter. While this helps to reduce tracking, it is also better for your cat’s respiratory health. Moreover, this is a clumping wood litter and so the pellets won’t crumble to sawdust when they come into contact with liquid, further reducing the mess.
The powerful clumping action also effectively captures and eliminates odors. Your cat will be happy their toilet doesn’t stink, and you’ll be glad your home doesn’t! This also makes for easy scooping, and you can easily clean your cat’s waste away like normal. It’s also flushable and compostable for easy and environmentally-friendly disposal.
- Designed with long-haired breeds in mind
- Made from 100% pine pellets
- Large pellets and low litter tracking
- Almost dust-free and better for your cat’s respiratory health
- Clumps rapidly for easy scooping and cleaning
- Larger pellets can be uncomfortable on your cat’s paws
- May take your cat longer to adjust as less similar to regular clay litters
6. Catalyst Pet Healthy Formula Cat Litter (Best Odor-Eliminating Pine Litter)
My final wood pellet cat litter recommendation is the Catalyst Pet Healthy Formula Cat Litter. If you’re mostly worried about the smell of your cat’s litter box, this could be the product for you!
The pine pellets absorb all liquid extremely quickly, rapidly trapping any unpleasant smells. This litter also contains zeolite, which is another extremely absorbent compound, absorbing up to 320% of its original volume. Together, these two ingredients work to ensure your cat’s litter box and your home never smells foul again.
Of course, you will still need to scoop the litter tray daily. Thankfully, this is a clumping cat litter and so you can easily scoop up all waste as with regular clay litter. When cleaning and changing the entire tray, the litter’s lightweight formula also makes it easy to lift and pour.
Unfortunately, despite being dust-free, the lightweight formula also makes it stick to your cat’s paws and coat much more easily. This means it can get tracked around your home and end up making a fair bit of a mess. With this in mind, I wouldn’t recommend this litter for long-haired breeds, but any owners of short-haired cats should seriously consider this as an option.
- A super-soft formula that’s gentle on your cat’s paws
- Natural clumping action for straightforward disposal
- Zeolite effectively blocks and absorbs unpleasant odors
- Lightweight and easy to lift and pour
- Dust-free to help keep surfaces clean
- Lovely natural pine scent
- Lightweight and so does track a little
- Not recommended for long-haired breeds
Other Natural Cat Litters
Our topic at hand, wood pellet cat litter, is a proud member of the natural cat litter family. As the name suggests, natural cat litter is produced from natural, biodegradable materials, meaning it’s a great option for the environment. However, wood isn’t the only option!
There are also several other natural litters you can choose that are made from different sustainable materials, such as:
- Recycled paper
- Walnut shells
Although these litters are all made from natural materials, their other features differ. This all depends on the material and the way they are made. For instance, while wood pellet litter comes in the form of pellets, other natural cat litter may vary in its granule size from larger pellets to finer grains. The same material can produce a litter with varying granule texture, size, and clumping abilities too.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these natural litter options and some more alternate product recommendations.
Recycled Paper Cat Litter
Recycled paper litter is usually made from recycled newspaper fibers that are compressed to form pellets.
Recycled paper litter is one of the best litter alternatives out there. It is sustainable, eco-friendly, non-tracking, no-dust, typically flush-safe, and hypo-allergenic. It is also completely safe for your cat and will not harm her digestive system if ingested.
Recycled paper is very similar to wood pellet litter because both have coarse pellets that are highly absorbent, which prevents dust and tracking. However, whereas wood pellet litter can still track a bit as its pellets crumble into sawdust when soaked, paper litter doesn’t track at all because instead of disintegrating, its pellets just absorb the urine as much as they can.
However, one disadvantage of paper cat litter is that it is relatively hard to clean. Soiled pellets are darker in color and have engorged to 2-3 times the size of their clean pellets. Effective cleaning requires a scoop with holes that are suitable to separate the soiled pellets from the clean ones.
Top Paper Litter Recommendation: PURINA Yesterday’s News Odor Control Paper Cat Litter
Of all the paper pellet cat litters, my top recommended product has to be the PURINA Yesterday’s News Odor Control Paper Cat Litter. Coming in both clumping and non-clumping varieties, there’s a great option for all owners, no matter their preference. Even vets recommend this product as one of the best natural cat litters – so if you don’t trust me, trust the professionals!
When compared to regular clumping litter, PURINA claim this product absorbs 3x as much moisture. This not only helps when cleaning the litter tray as all the urine will have been absorbed but also keeps odors to a minimum. By rapidly absorbing all liquids before they have a chance to release nasty smells into your home, you can easily keep it smelling fresh.
The pellets used are also made from recycled paper with no added chemicals. This is great for our planet, while also being a safer option for you and your cat. Plus, paper pellets have extremely low dust, being 99.7% dust-free. This reduces the risk of the litter getting stuck to your kitty’s paws and her accidentally ingesting some, besides preventing litter tracking.
Paper litter is also extremely gentle on your cat’s paws. However, the pellets are lightweight and can be kicked out of the litter box easily if you have a messy cat. Unlike clay litter, these pellets also roll effortlessly across the floor, meaning the mess can spread a litter further than usual.
The other downside is that this paper pellet litter isn’t flushable. However, it is still eco-friendly and fully compostable, so I recommend disposing of waste in the garden. I also love that the packaging is also recyclable – a fully eco-friendly product for an eco-friendly owner!
- Absorbs 3x more moisture than clay litters
- Unscented with no artificial fragrances
- Minimal litter tracking
- Effectively controls odors thanks to rapid absorption
- Recommended by vets in the US
- Paper pellets are gentle on your cat’s paws
- Made from 100% recycled paper and has recyclable packaging
- Pellets can travel further when outside the litter box
- Not flushable and must be composted or thrown in the trash
Walnut Shell Cat Litter
Like paper and wood, walnut shell litter is also made from recycled products.
In fact, these shells would be thrown away if they weren’t repurposed as litter, making it a great eco-friendly option. The walnut shells are crushed and compressed to make a highly absorbent, clumping litter that is slightly darker in color than clay litter.
Walnut shell litter is usually very fine-grained, almost like clay-based litter. It can cause some tracking because of these fine-grain and lightweight qualities. This also means that walnut shell litter can produce some dust. However, its dust is not harmful like that of clay-based litter, which contains sodium bentonite.
Walnut shell litter is a great option for those looking for a natural alternative to clumping clay-based litter because it clumps quite well and its texture is quite similar to clay litter. Additionally, most walnut shell litters are flush-safe and compostable.
Top Walnut Litter Recommendation: Naturally Fresh Walnut Cat Litter
For anyone wanting to try walnut litter, the Naturally Fresh Walnut Cat Litter is a great option that is currently on the market. Being highly absorbent, made from all-natural materials, and fully biodegradable, there’s so much to love about this product.
The walnut pellets absorb three times as much liquid as the clay litter equivalent. This makes the litter last much longer, saving you money. By needing to replace the litter less frequently, there is also less environmental impact, and cleaning is made that bit easier. Plus, the rapid absorption means odors are quickly captured and eliminated before spreading around your home.
Also helping with the cleaning aspect is the fact that this litter is flushable. As it is made from 100% natural ingredients and is biodegradable, there are no issues with flushing the clumps down the toilet for disposal. When using this litter, you also won’t run the risk of clogging your bathroom pipes.
Another perk is that this litter has a dust-free formula. This helps to reduce any tracking around your home as the larger particles are less likely to get stuck to your cat’s fur and paws. Plus, with less dust, it is also better for the respiratory health of you and your cat. However, according to some reviews, the litter isn’t actually as dust-free as it claims to be.
Unfortunately, the dark color of walnut litter can also be problematic. If any damp or wet litter touches the floor in your home, this dark color can stain it. The litter box itself may also become stained, but this is less of a problem for the owner – after all, the stains will not be visible when the tray is full of litter.
- Forms tight clumps for easy cleaning and scooping
- Made from 100% natural ingredients
- Last longer with 3x more absorption than clay litters
- Dust-free formula for better respiratory health
- Low litter tracking and makes less mess
- Manufactured in a 100% solar-powered plant
- Flushable litter for easy disposal
- Reports of the litter not being as dust-free as suggested
- Dark in color and so can stain your floors or litter box when wet
Corn & Wheat Cat Litter
Corn and wheat litter usually comes in the form of pellets but they are both clumping litters because they contain starch, which is a natural binding element.
Wheat and corn are sometimes even added to other natural litter formulas like wood pellets to give them clumping abilities. These two grains are also often used together in one litter formula.
With corn and wheat, it can become a problem if your cat ingests too much of these grains regularly – which is a possibility when it’s in their litter – because grains upset your cat’s digestive tract. Another thing to watch out for with these grain-based litters is possible insect infestations if they are not stored properly. Make sure you seal their packaging perfectly, and you’ll be fine.
Other than that, corn and wheat litters are a great natural, flush-safe, and compostable litter option!
Top Corn Litter Recommendation: World’s Best Clumping Cat Litter
We’ve already reviewed the Purina Tidy Cats Pure Nature Clumping Cat Litter, which is made of a combination of corn, cedar, and pine. However, if you want a litter made solely from corn kernels, then the World’s Best Cat Litter should be your first point of call. Although the name sounds a little over the top, it actually isn’t far from the truth!
Firstly, the litter has outstanding odor control. The litter is made from whole-kernel corn which is extremely absorbent and soaks up all urine within seconds. This not only keeps your cat happy and makes them more likely to use their litter box, but also keeps nasty kitty litter odors at bay.
As a clumping litter, the deposits of urine can also be scooped away and disposed of quickly and easily. Its rapid action means the days of chiseling or scraping litter clumps that have dried onto the sides of the litter box are also long gone! Plus, it’s flushable and septic-safe for straightforward disposal.
You and your cat can both also breathe easily thanks to this being a dust-free cat litter. The low dust levels also mean less litter is tracked around your home, keeping mess to a minimum. With no added fragrances, chemicals, or additives, it’s also extremely safe for your cat.
If I had to choose a disadvantage of this corn cat litter, it would be the price. It is much more expensive than other products, but you are receiving a whole host of benefits. In my opinion, and according to many other pet owners, these advantages are worth the added cost.
- Outstanding odor control and extremely absorbent
- Clumps rapidly for easy cleaning
- Flushable and septic-safe for easy disposal
- Dust-free formula so you and your cat can breathe easy
- Minimal litter tracking around your home
- Free from added chemicals, fragrances, and additives
- Made from corn and completely safe for cats
- One of the more expensive cat litters on the market
Top Wheat Litter Recommendation: sWheat Scoop Fast-Clumping All-Natural Cat Litter
For those of you that prefer wheat over corn, the sWheat Scoop All-Natural Fast-Clumping Cat Litter is another wonderful alternative.
In this litter, it is the wheat enzymes and starches found naturally in the pellets that enhance the clumping. The fast-clumping action helps to trap and eliminate odors, as well as making cleaning as straightforward as possible. Being made from wheat, there is also a pleasant natural smell that masks any lingering odors without the need for artificial fragrances.
It’s not only a lack of perfumes in this litter though – it is also free from dyes, chemicals, and other additives. This is enough for me to say with confidence that it’s extremely safe for pets, further proven by the fact that it’s recommended by vets.
Being made from wheat, there is also essentially no dust. This is another huge benefit for your cat’s health, as high-dust litters are more likely to cause respiratory problems or trigger allergies in pets and humans. The low dust also means more mess is contained in the tray as less will stick to your kitty’s paws or fur and be trodden around your home.
For any environmentally conscious owner, you’ll also be pleased to hear that the wheat used to make the product is farmed sustainably. It is also 100% biodegradable, flushable, and compostable. In fact, the only downside side is that as the litter clumps so rapidly it is best suited for single cats only. However, for any multi-cat household, the sWheat brand does sell a specific litter designed for 2 or more felines.
- Powerful and long-lasting odor control
- No added dyes, fragrances, or perfumes
- Made from 100% natural and biodegradable wheat
- Recommended by veterinarians
- Low dust litter with minimal tracking
- Best suited for single cats only
Grass Cat Litter
Grass litter is made from grass seeds, which are completely biodegradable.
This type of litter clumps very well and has a soft and fine-grained texture, which makes it a great natural alternative to clumping clay litter.
Like other natural litters, it is completely natural and compostable. The only thing to watch out for is if your cat has a grass allergy. If not, it is an entirely safe option among natural cat litters.
Top Grass Litter Recommendation: SmartCat All Natural Clumping Litter
As my final natural pellet cat litter product review, I give you the SmartCat All Natural Clumping Litter. This is made from 100% grass seed that is farmed in the USA and has a sand-like texture that most cats take to immediately.
The grass seed is also extremely soft and gentle on your kitty’s paws. While all cats will be thankful for this, it is even more appreciated by younger kittens who have more delicate paws, or injured cats that are struggling to walk on their usual litter. However, the litter granules are lightweight and can get stuck to their feet more easily, making litter tracking slightly more likely.
With that being said, this kitty litter is virtually dust-free. Therefore, it is still a much cleaner option when compared to clay or silica litter that can easily spread dust around your home. High-dust litters are also linked closely to respiratory problems and allergies, so opting for a dust-free alternative is better for your cat’s health.
Being made from 100% natural materials with no added chemicals or fragrances, this further boasts health benefits. If your cat was to accidentally ingest any of the litter, it won’t do them any harm whatsoever.
Finally, this product is another clumping litter. This makes daily scooping straightforward, and thanks to it being made from natural materials it is compostable and great for the planet. The clumps form quickly, absorbing all the urine and trapping any unpleasant odors right away. With all these added benefits, this cat litter is slightly more expensive than other brands but arguably worth the extra cost!
- Made from 100% grass seed farmed in the USA
- Extremely gentle on your cat’s paws
- No added chemicals or fragrances
- Virtually dust-free, reducing respiratory-related issues
- Has a sand-like texture that most cats love
- Clumping litter for easy scooping and cleaning
- Effectively eliminates nasty litter odors
- Lightweight and more prone to tracking
- More expensive than other cat litters
Clay and Silica Litter vs. Natural Litter
Now that we’ve explored the world of natural litters, let’s take a look at how they compare to other popular options of cat litter, which are clay-based and silica gel crystals.
Clay-based litter is the most widely used type of litter out there. It has two types: clumping and non-clumping.
Non-clumping clay litter is made from Fuller’s earth, meaning that it is a clay material that is very absorbent of liquid. This kind of litter absorbs urine and odors very well, but it needs to be thrown out completely when cleaning.
Clumping clay litter is the most popular type out of all litters because it is extremely practical to clean. This litter forms hard clumps when in contact with urine and is easily separated from the fresh litter around it. Not only does this make scooping very easy, but it also saves you money as you end up using the litter very effectively.
Unfortunately, there is a huge problem with clumping clay litters because they have sodium bentonite as their main ingredient. Bentonite is potentially harmful to your cat as it builds up in their system through breathing it in as dust and ingesting it when licking their paws.
To make matters worse, the making of clumping clay litter is extremely damaging to the environment because bentonite clay is obtained by strip-mining the land. Clay litter disposal is also problematic because, unlike natural litters, it is not compostable or biodegradable. Clay litter is your toilet’s worst enemy too. If you make the mistake of flushing it down, the hardened clumps will clog your pipes!
When compared to wood pellet litter, clay litter can be more practical to use, more economical, and has a fine texture that most cats seem to love. However, considering its health risks and damages to the environment, natural litters like wood pellets make for an indisputable alternative to cat litter.
Silica Gel Crystal Litter
Silica gels are made from a chemical compound called sodium silicate.
In the production of silica gel litter, this substance is treated with water and oxygen which yields super absorbent, porous crystals. These crystals can absorb up to 40 times their weight!
Silica litter doesn’t form clumps when in contact with liquid. Instead, you need to replace it with a fresh batch once every two weeks or so. Due to its clever engineering, silica litter can go a long time before it starts to smell of urine. All you need to do is scoop out the solid waste daily and give it a little stir so that excess moisture can evaporate from the beads at the bottom of the pan.
Silica gel litter is virtually dust-free, meaning litter tracking is kept to a minimum. With this being said, the ingestion of silica dust can lead to a lung disease called silicosis in both humans and cats. Besides, even though silica litter produces very little dust, it can build up over time in your cat’s system. Plus, there is a possibility that your cat might accidentally ingest beads when licking her paws.
Silica litter production is also damaging to the environment as it is sand-mined. In terms of disposal, there are a few biodegradable silica litters, but the majority of them are not.
When you consider the health risks of ingesting silica and clay litters and the environmental implications of their production and disposal, it seems wise to opt for natural alternatives like wood pellets.
Wood pellet cat litter has so many advantages that the question “should I switch to wood pellet litter?” becomes a cry of “why haven’t I already?!”. Not only is it an eco-conscious option, but also extremely practical to use and much safer for your cat than clay-based or silica litter. These are all extremely compelling reasons to switch from clay-based litter to wood pellets or any other natural litter.
However, there are still some drawbacks. Cats that are used to using clay litter may not appreciate you changing their litter. For non-clumping varieties, the cleaning process is also essentially the opposite of what most owners are used to – you throw the fine sawdust away while keeping the larger pellets behind ready for reuse.
With all that being said, once you and your cat have adapted, you won’t look back! My recommended products should easily point you in the right direction and help you find a high-quality wood pellet cat litter. If your cat really doesn’t get on with this, try the other natural cat litters listed instead for a pet-safe and eco-friendly solution.
The only problem I found out the hard way with using the pine pellets is it doesn’t show if your male cat is blocked. When using the clumping cat litter you can tell by the very small clumps that your cat has a problem sometimes even before the other signs of blockage occur.
I saw some studies indicating that wood pellets emit carbon monoxide. I’m not sure how dangerous this is for cat and cat owner.
Jen, there is some truth to what you’ve read, but like most things you read on facebook that aren’t written by educated individuals, you can disregard them.
Wood pelets can and do offgass CO (carbon monoxide) when stored in large quanities. Let me repeat that, VERY LARGE quanities. The amount that would cause concern woul be found at a production factory where the pellets are stored in giant silos the size of houses or in warehouses where they are stored several feet deep (not in bags) where front end loaders scoop up bucket fulls.
The reason you’ve heard bout the CO (carbon monoxide) was that back in 2002 an ocean shipping freighter transported a shipment of wood pellets from Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada to the Neatherlands. The pellets, like everything else is stored blow deck in the sealed cargo hold. We’re not talking an open top barge exposed to the elements which would ruin them. Upon arrival at port, crewmen went down into the hold to get the cargo ready to be unloaded and the man passed out. Fire, EMS, and a medical doctor (this was the Netherlands, not the USA, so protocals are different) arrived and they became ill before they knew what was happening. The crewman died.
What you need to know is that large volumes of pellets stored in UNventilated spaces are the concern. Pellets are sold in 40 pound bags & when it comes to cat litter use, most people aren’t buying more than a few bags at a time even though they cost less than $5/bag at Tractor Supply Company & you get an addditional discount if you buy more than 20. You and your pets don’t have to worry. If it were an issue, horses would be dropping dead because pellets have been use for bedding long before pet owners found pellets as an inexpensive litter medium. If you smoke tobacco or marajuana, you’re directly inhaling more CO than a litter box full of wood pellets could subject you over the life of your cat.
I switched 2 years ago and haven’t looked back. Hope this helps.
Here in Florida, we go to the local Tractor Supply stores and buy 40 lb bags of pine pellets, $6.49. Works just like the expensive litter!
Is this sold as a cat litter? I found a 40-pound bag of wood pellets for $6.48 at Home Depot but it’s meant for BBQs or fireplaces. Also, the tractor supply here (California) has a pelletized 40 lb/7.29 but it’s sold as bedding. It certainly is cheaper than using commercial litter products. I’m just wondering if it’s safe for my cat. I’m sure Home Depot or Tractor Supply would say “sure it’s safe”. hmmmmm….
I switched to wood pellets about two years ago to help manage three cats because I was spending $26 a month for the biggest, cheapest clay litter I could get. In my initial research, I found that compressed sawdust is compressed sawdust. I’ve seen it packaged differently for different uses, woodstoves, horse stall bedding, cat litter, but it was all the exact same product. Just compressed sawdust. When I started comparing volume per price some of the cat marketed wood pellets were even pricier than the clay litter I used to use. So I just went with the cheapest option of woodstove pellets, usually $6-$7 Canadian for a 40 lbs bag. Packaged as horse bedding at the local Farmer’s Co-Op (which I’ve done in a pinch) its just a buck or two more.
And after 2 years I’ve found one 40 lbs bag does two large litter trays (one converted from my standard litter tray and one homemade from large shallow storage bins, both converted to sift sawdust) about 4 months. I spent about $30 for cat litter my first year! This from $26 a month.
And I can attest to some of what was said above. It’s not harder to clean, just different techniques. You do have to (and should) remove solid waste every day. I’m on a skeptic tank so I don’t flush mine, but I also no longer strain my back taking litter to the curb on garbage day.
And so far none of the cats have had health issues related to the pellets.
I honestly cannot recommend making the switch enough!
Thanks so much! I’m going to try it. Now I’m hoping when I do my darling cat will not turn her nose up at it!!
Diane Reid-Lapointe says
Thank you so much you have made an old woman happy! Wish I would have known this 40 years ago. Wood pellets are great, my older cats dont like them but my two kittens do.