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What Can I Use Instead of Cat Litter?

Clay cat litter made from bentonite is the most popular option available in pet stores today. Bentonite is great at absorbing liquids, and it clumps once it’s been saturated. This makes it easy for cat parents to scoop the used kitty litter.

While clay cat litter has its pros, it also has its downsides. Bentonite cat litter can be expensive, especially if you have more than one cat, and it’s also not biodegradable. In addition, there are a variety of health issues that may make clay litter not a viable option for your cat.

Other types of cat litter such as crystal cat litter, wheat litter, and corn litter provide alternative solutions. However, these commercial cat litters still have their downsides as well.

Instead of traditional cat litter, there are many great natural – and often more cost-effective – options you can use. Read on to learn about ten homemade cat litter alternatives to consider.

1) Shredded Paper or Paper Pellets

Paper is a great cat litter substitute because it uses recycled materials, making it a better environmental option. You can choose to shred paper yourself using newspaper and junk mail that you have lying around the house, or you can purchase litter made from paper pellets.

Paper pellets are a great option for cats that have allergies because the paper produces no dust. It’s also often recommended by veterinarians for cats that have just undergone surgery because the paper is soft and won’t contaminate a cat’s stitches.

The one downside to paper litter is that it doesn’t clump and has no natural deodorizing properties, so you’ll need to change the litter more often.

2) Wood Shavings or Sawdust

Wood shavings and sawdust can be a convenient option for those who do a lot of woodworking or construction at home, as you can use waste materials that would’ve otherwise been thrown away. Even if you’re not a woodworker, you can find wood shavings at many hardware or landscaping shops.

If you plan to use wood shavings, you need to pay close attention to what type of wood the shavings come from, as some wood is toxic to cats. Aspen and woods that have been stamped with heat treatments are okay to use, but woods like pine and cedar that haven’t been heat-treated are off-limits.

3) Sand

Many cats naturally love sand litter, plus it has a similar texture to traditional clay litter, so it makes for an easy transition. Bags of sand are also easy to find in most hardware stores, and you can buy in bulk to save even more money.

While sand doesn’t naturally offer any odor protection, you can mix the sand with baking soda to deodorize any cat urine smells. Sand doesn’t clump, however, so you’ll still need to change your cat’s litter more regularly if you use sand.

4) Artificial Turf

Like dogs, cats can also use artificial grass for their potty breaks, though it will take a little more getting used to than other litter alternatives.

You can purchase a roll of artificial grass at your local home improvement store and cut it to size for a litter box. After a little while of your cat using the turf, simply remove the section from the litter box, throw it away, and add a new section.

Unlike clay litter or sand, grass doesn’t offer the same natural texture that allows them to scratch and bury their waste. Because of this, using the artificial turf can feel unnatural to your cat at first, and they’ll need some time to adjust.

5) Soil

While potting soil may not be your first choice as a cat litter alternative, it can work great in emergency situations or if you have leftover soil from your garden.

Cats naturally gravitate towards soil as a litter alternative because of its texture and its association with the outdoors. If you’ve ever had a large potted plant inside, chances are that you’ve had to chase your cat away from using the plant as a second litter box!

The downside to using soil as litter is that it’s messy and hard to scoop. Soil doesn’t clump, and it has no natural deodorizing properties, so the litter box needs to be changed frequently.

6) Puppy Pads

Puppy pads may be designed for dogs, but they work great for cats as well. They’re highly absorbent and easy to use, making them a convenient option for many cat parents – especially if your cat has trouble getting in and out of a litter box.

Puppy pads are also useful for putting under litter boxes to absorb any mess that your cat makes outside of the box. The downside to puppy pads, however, is that they can get expensive if you need to buy them regularly.

7) Coconut Shell Shavings

Coconut litter is made from 100% coconut shells that have been ground to a fine dust. Though made from coconuts, this litter is scent-free, and it’s also hypoallergenic, making a great choice for cats with allergies.

Coconut litter is also one of the best environmentally friendly options because it produces zero waste. Gardeners can dispose of coconut litter in their flower beds or around the yard, and it can also be put into compost bins.

8) Pine Pellets

While wood shavings from non-heat-treated pine aren’t safe for cats, specially made pine pellets are a great litter alternative.

These wood pellets have a natural pine scent that smells fantastic, and they absorb odors well. When your cat uses the pellets, they will turn to sawdust when they absorb moisture, making clean up simple as well. You can find pine pellets at home improvement stores, and you’re able to buy in bulk for a more cost-effective option.

9) Chicken Feed

Chicken feed is made from corn, wheat, and other grain pellets that are a convenient size and texture to use as a litter alternative. Like wood shavings, chicken feed pellets will crumble when they absorb moisture, making cleaning the litter box easier.

Chicken feed is also easy to buy in bulk from any farm supply store. The one downside is that, if left in the litter box too long, moist chicken feed can attract pests, so it’s best to clean the litter box regularly to keep the feed dry.

10) Small Animal Bedding

Bedding for small animals like hamsters and mice is easy to find in your local pet store and can work as cat litter in a pinch. While the bedding isn’t designed with cats in mind, it’s designed to be absorbent and to fight off odors.

If you choose to use small animal bedding, look for bedding that’s made from all-natural materials like wood debris and is free from artificial coloring.

What Type of Litter Alternative is Right for Your Cat?

Whether you’re looking for cheap cat litter alternatives or your cat struggles with traditional litter for medical reasons, there are many great cat litter substitutes for you to choose from. That’s why some cat parents prefer to make their own cat litter instead of using commercial cat litter.

Just make sure to look for changes in your cat’s behavior when you transition litter to learn how they feel about the new litter option. It’s also important to always transition slowly to give your kitty time to adjust.