This article is a companion piece to Clumping Clay Kitty Litters: A Deadly Convenience?, an article first published in Tiger Tribe magazine in 1995.
When I first wrote the article on clumping clay kitty litters, I felt that it would best serve people if I were to not only provide information on the potential dangers of those litters, but if I could also offer information on alternative kitty litters. Hence this article.
Natural alternatives to clumping clay kitty litters, such as plant-based litters, are available at many pet, health food, and especially feed stores. Plant-based litters are usually made from some combination of wheat, alfalfa, oat hulls, corn cob, peanut hulls, or recycled newspaper.
This article includes a list of specific brands of alternative kitty litters that I have been able to find. For those litters that I have tried, I include a discussion their advantages and disadvantages.
Important! The information on this page is provided solely for educational and informational purposes; it is not to be taken as an endorsement for any particular brand, product, or manufacturer.
Although many of the comments regarding the litters on this page date back to 1995/1996, some are more recent. I have added (and continue to add) a number of new litters and have updated the information for other litters. I have also included Web site addresses, if I could find such, and I strive to keep them up-to-date.
To help you know which information is older and which is newer, I have added approximate dates for when each set of comments was last updated.
About Regular Clay
Although regular clay litters do not pose the potential health hazards that clumping clay kitty litters do, they do have their own problems:
- Mining clay is hard on the environment.
- Clay litters contribute significantly to landfills. Unlike many of the litters on this page, they cannot be composted, nor do they biodegrade.
- Most, if not all, clay litters contain silica, which is potentially harmful. From a Web page at The Andersons' Web site (manufacturers of FIELDFresh): "Crystalline Silica, once airborne, shows the ability of causing Silicosis. This can cause incurable lesions on the lungs and throat, rendering that tissue useless for transferring oxygen. Crystalline Silica is a naturally occurring element, also known as Quartz, and is found in some of the clay litters. ... According to government standards, silica is a known carcinogen and a Prop 65 material in California."
Join Cats Against Clay!
What I Recommend
I am often asked what I recommend.
If you want a non-clay, clumping, scoopable litter, there are really only a few choices that I know of:
- As of 2010, Feline Pine (wood-based product) now has a scoopable/clumping version; I haven't tried it yet, but I have been satisfied with their regular products in the past.
- SWheatScoop, which is made from wheat and is indeed a clumping and scoopable litter. The key difference between it and clumping clay litters is that the wheat clumps are said to fall apart when they get wet, therefore not posing the health hazard that an indissoluble clump would.
- WonderWheat, which I have never tried but sounds as though it is the Australian equivalent of SWheatScoop.
- The World's Best Cat Litter. I hesitate to recommend this litter, for reasons listed under the product description, but it is still one of the best alternatives available and, I have heard, works in automatic cat boxes.
I have heard that there is a clay clumping litter that does not use sodium bentonite, but I have not had a chance to test it, and my concerns for kitty litters include as well as avoiding any kind of clay because of the silica present in all clays, as well as the impact on the environment, both in mining the clay and in the piling up of the litter in landfills. In addition, there are other kinds of bentonite that aren't quite as super-absorbent as sodium bentonite, but which would still cause concern if they were in a kitty litter.
If you want an excellent product that is acceptable to cats, easy on the environment, and easy on you, and you are willing to accept that they do not clump, the following litters are all quite satisfactory:
- Chick starter (chicken feed for baby chickens). You can get this at your local feed store for a very economical price. It is very similar to The World's Best Cat Litter at a fraction of the cost.
- Yesterday's News
A Warning Against Flushing Litter
Although some of my comments below mention flushing some of the plant-based cat litters, that is not a recommended practice, especially on the West Coast. The biggest concern is that toxoplasmosis is killing sea otters, and it is possible that cat litter could be one of the sources. Most of the alternative cat litters can be composted, if you have a proper compost pile, or buried.
In addition to the information on this page, you can find the following related information on this Web site.
- A letters page, where you can read about the experiences others have had with clumping clay kitty litters.
- A brief description of how to switch your cat over to using a new kitty litter
- A veterinary article on clumping clay kitty litters
- An article on another Web site about litter box problems.
- Alternative Cat Boxes and toilet-training your cat. I have often received email asking about alternative cat boxes. Here is what I know. Also, there is a flushing cat box, called LitterFree, that might be of interest to some, or you may even want to investigate toilet-training your cat. In addition, on this page you will find links to sites selling furniture for holding your cat boxes in.
- Bird, Ferret, Guinea Pig, Hamster, and Rabbit Alert. Unfortunately, clumping clay kitty litters and other litters are used for other animals and pose potential health hazards to them as well. This article provides additional information and a few links for specific pet information.
The following list of alternative litters is arranged alphabetically. Following this list is a simple index arranged by type of material. Remember to also take a look at the discussion of other options.
For those in Australia who have written asking where they can find a natural alternative there, I have great news! There is now an alternative product being produced in Australia called Breeder's Choice.
To find out where to get it, call this toll-free number in Australia: 1 800 648 617, or email Don Webb (email@example.com).
Absorption Corporation: www.absorbent.com/animal.html, 1051 Hilton Avenue, Bellingham, WA 98225, Tel: (360)734-7415 Fax: (360) 671-1588 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
CareFresh (the rodent bedding is what I used) is a fluffy wood-based product, biodegradable, dust-free, and flushable in reasonable amounts. Also incinerable and compostable, as are most plant-based litters (but remove the feces first). The company says that it is "made from virgin wood pulp, not recycled paper."
Important! CatWorks is made of oat hulls (about 60%), wheat mits (about 30%), bentonite (10%), and zinc oxide (3%). Please avoid it. Read more at the House Rabbit Society site.
I haven't tried EcoFresh, which is made from recycled newspaper.
CareFresh is highly satisfactory from the cats' point of view. And mine too. Although it isn't great at urine control or smell control, you can flush large amounts of it. I found that I would scoop whenever I went into the bathroom, which meant that the cat box got cleaned several times a day, rather than once a day. The package claims it is naturally deodorizing, and it certainly seems to be. It also lasts and lasts—I was surprised at how long one small package lasted.
Mountain Meadows Pet, Inc., http://www.mtnmeadowspet.com, P.O. Box 778, Lewistown, MT 59457 Phone: (800) 752-8864
Biodegradable. Plant-based. Dust-free. Flushable.
The pellets are too large. Cats can't do a satisfactory dig-and-bury with this product. Surprisingly, large as they are, the pellets still tend to get kicked out and (painfully) underfoot. This product is fine otherwise; naturally deodorizing and economical. Note that this litter (like all plant-based products) forms into rather large masses when wet. I find that this makes changing the cat box easier, rather than more difficult.
Oil Dri Corporation, http://www.catspride.com. Oil-Dri Corporation of America P.O. Box 11279, Chicago, IL 60611-0279, Attn: Cat Lover's Hotline (800) 645-3741 between 9 a.m. - 4:30 pm CST email@example.com
(2005) At the Oil Dri Web site, they say that this is the only national brand without sodium bentonite.
Several people have written to me recommending this litter, though I haven't tried it yet.
See the CareFresh entry.
(2005) I am not sure this product is still being made. I will leave this information here for now.
Cedrus International, Riverside, CA 92504
I didn't try this product because of concerns about cedar oils (see http://www.cavycages.com/pine.htm).
This litter is made from the kenaf plant, a native African plant that can be used to make paper substitutes as well.
I haven't tried this litter, though it sounds like an especially good choice for the environmentally conscious. From someone who used it, I heard that it is too light and fluffy.
See the CareFresh entry.
Nature's Earth Products Inc.: www.felinepine.com 2200 North Florida Mango Road, Suite 200, West Palm Beach, Florida 33409. Phone: (800) 749-PINE Fax: (561) 688-2125. Two URLs: www.felinepine.com and www.naturesearth.com
Description (updated 2010)
Feline Pine is made from wood. From their Web site: "No Odor, No Dust, No Tracking, Flushable, Biodegradable, Compostable, Earth Friendly, Recycle as Mulch, No Chemicals, No Dyes, No Fragrances."
They also now offer Feline Pine Scoop, a scoopable/clumping version.
As with all pine- or wood-based litters (not counting those that are indirectly derived from wood, such as the recycled newspaper litters), I had concerns about the essential oils and the wood content. However, many people use this litter with no problems. Here is one letter of testimonial from William Caloia: "Belay your fears about oils in Feline Pine! They aren't there! Feline Pine is made from kiln-dried sawdust. All oils are removed. I have used the product since 1994. ...There simply isn't a product that is cleaner, more odor free, safer, and more economical than Feline Pine." Mr. Caloia may have a bias in that he seems to be selling the product; he has granted permission for me to tell you to feel free to write directly to him for more information.
I have used this litter several times. It comes in pellets, which gradually dissolve into sawdust as they get wet. You can scoop out the hard materials; the wet materials just seem to kind of get absorbed into the sawdust. The odor control is pretty good. My cats don't seem to like it as much as the softer litters like FieldFresh, and so I don't use it regularly, but if my local feed store is out of my current favorite litter, I buy Feline Pine.
This litter is made from corn cobs, but somehow manages to have a fine, soft, granular texture. The same concern about pesticides inheres for this litter as for The World's Best Cat Litter, though I feel better about this one because it doesn't clump. This litter is scoopable, flushable, and compostable, and it biodegrades, all good traits.
From the manufacturer: "6 times more absorbent than traditional clay, and up to 4 times more absorbent than clumping clay; cat owners can use only half as much FIELDfresh as they would clay. ... FIELDfresh is safe. It's virtually dust free and non-carcinogenic. It contains no artificial additives or scents. There's nothing to cause allergic reactions in cats or people. And FIELDfresh won't cement in cats' respiratory or digestive tracts the way clumping clay can. ... Cats' like FIELDfresh's soil-like texture. It's soft on paws and easy to paw and cover. Cat owners like FIELDfresh's light weight; it's easier to carry and pour. And waste liquids form soft, scoopable lumps that make cleaning easier."
Comments (June 2002, September 2005)
The cats and I really like this litter. It "digs" nicely, and seems to do a good job on odor control.
(2005) It is possible that this litter has been discontinued, even though the Web site still exists. I will look into this more, as we really like this litter.
(2005) Web link seems to be dead. I will leave this here in case it is just temporary.
Glamour Kitty Company, (800) WEE-CATS (800 933-2287)
Glamour Kitty makes four different kinds of litter. This entry is for Scooples, a clumping, scoopable clay litter that does not rely on sodium bentonite for its clumping abilities. (It uses guar gum instead.)
From a letter from the manufacturer: "Our company size does not allow us to battle the larger national manufacturers and their war chest of monies to launch an ad campaign to say our product is more cat friendly. We can only try to inform the consumer in ways such as our label, the Internet and correspondence with concerned consumers such as yourself. As previously mentioned, we use guar gum, the same product that is used in chewing gum, as our clumping agent. Using natural clay and guar gum produces a firm clump in the litter box and can be removed the same way as other clumping litters. Because of the smaller granules used in clumping litter, it is impossible for kittens or cats not to have this product adhere to their paws or fur. It is, therefore, ingested during their normal cleaning habits. By using guar gum in our product, if ingested by kittens or cats, it will break down. Sodium bentonite which forms a hard clump in the litter box, if ingested, will remain hard and not break down after time."
Comments (September 2002)
I have not tried this litter.
Stutzman Environmental Products: http://www.stutzman-environmental.com/goodmews.htm, 9205 S. Kraxberger Rd, Canby, OR 97013 Phone: (888) 877-7665 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Directly from the company: "Though our product is scented with a water-based fragrance, the natural forest scent contains no cedar and is non-toxic. Additionally, the pellets are made from 100% recycled paper (or cellulose fiber), making them 100% biodegradable. Our Crown Animal Bedding is an unscented version of the paper pellets and is positioned as an all purpose animal bedding." I tried this litter in early 1998, and find that it was fine. Good odor control, works fine. The pellets are a bit hard under bare feet, but the cats like it very much.
The manufacturer has notified me that this product has changed since I tested it, so I have removed my older comments until I can test it again.
(2005) Web link no longer leads to anything useful. I will leave this here in case it is just temporary.
Integrated Pet Foods, Inc.: www.integratedpet.com/main.cfm, 610 Jeffers Circle, Exton, PA 19341. Phone: (800) 542-4677 Email: email@example.com
Description, Comments (2002)
I haven't tried this litter. It is a clumping clay kitty litter that doesn't use sodium bentonite, the culprit in normal clumping clay kitty litters.
(2005) I think this company is no longer making cat litter, though it looks as though they make cat food.
Triumph Pet Industries,Triumph Pet Industries, 160 Lake Station Road, Warwick, NY 10990 Phone: (914) 469-5125 and (800) 331-5144
Made from recycled newspaper that has been processed and formed into pellets. Biodegradable. Dust free.
The cats liked this product. The pellet size is small enough to let them get in a good, satisfying dig, and to bury the results afterward. I liked it because it tracked far less than other litters, and because it is made from recycled newspapers. The cost is quite reasonable, since a little of this went a surprisingly long way. Deodorizing capabilities are on par with Care Fresh, for which Hi-Tor is a good alternative, depending on your preference.
KittyKoir (added 2010)
Made from coconut coir, diatomaceous earth, mint, lavender, and barley sprouts. "Organic, natural, non-toxic, feline, human and earth-friendly."
I haven't tried this, but it sounds like an excellent alternative.
These hard little pellets are made of silica that absorbs cat urine. Their claim: "One bag, one cat, one month."
I would not use this litter. I hesitated about even including this item in this list, as I have no definite idea of its safety or environmental soundness. However, enough people have written to me telling me about the existence of the various “pearl” products that I felt I should include the information here and allow people to make their own decisions. Also, I have heard (but have not confirmed) that you can buy the identical pellets in craft stores for a fraction of the cost you pay for this product.
Others, however, have written sounding a cautionary note concerning possible hazards with this product; for example, “The ... balls absorb liquid so rapidly you can actually hear them fizzle as they get wet. This also means that they instantly stick to anything moist and begin to “suck” the liquid from it. My experience with my kitten is that the ... balls would stick to her paws. When she would lick them or bite them off of her paws they would stick to the inside of her mouth! I can't imagine what ingesting them might do.” And another reader reports that Litter Pearls are “VERY DANGEROUS FOR KITTENS! Killed 3 in one litter in Rancho Cucamonga. (Dehydration).”
Also, silica presents an inhalation hazard to humans and pets.
Earthsafe Inc.: www.luvlitters.com/kitty.htm, 24 Misty Mills Rd, P.O. Box 424 Lavonia,GA 30553 Voice: (800) 200-0140 or (706) 356-1515 Fax (706) 356-5199
I haven't tried this litter. However, their Web site has a useful (if potentially biased) litter comparison chart: http://www.luvlitters.com/kittycom.htm
Description and Comments (2002)
A clumping litter made from organic materials. I haven't tried it, nor have I found out much about it. A reader sent in the following information:
"I have been using Smart Litter "Organic 'n' Safe." It is the best organic clumping kitty litter I have ever had (and I have had cats for the past 24 years!)! It clumps like clay, and with NO silica dust. All of it is biodegradable so it can be flushed even if you have a septic tank. It doesn't stink like ammonia. It is a bit dusty; however it's actually a lot less [dusty] than any clay litter. I highly recommend that you at least try this brand. Smart Litter makes different types of kitty litter which might accomodate you best but I find that The Organic 'n' Safe is the best for my cats. It is pricey ($16-18 for 17lbs.), but it's not as expensive as The Worlds Best - or at least where I shop. So try it out if you get the chance. Thanks for the great site." —S.N., Oakland, California
Kadant Grantek: http://www.grantekinc.com/papurr_main.html, 6910 North Main Street, Unit 13, Suite 26-A, Granger, Indiana 46530 (574) 272-5303 Email address: Steve Sloan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Recycled paper. The manufacturer assures me that there is no bentonite in this product.
Comments (July 2002)
I haven't tried this litter; I've only just heard about it. If I have a chance to try it, I'll post the results here.
Lone Star Bedding, http://www.pinecatlitter.com, Clifton, Texas
From the company's Web site: "a multi-use product made from all natural pine...an excellent bedding and litter material for small animals, birds and reptiles. ... environmentally friendly, contains no silica dust and will compost quickly. Lone Star Pine Pellets are safe for pets. The product is made from kiln dried pine and heat treated in production, which eliminates phenols (aromatic chemicals)."
I just added this litter after finding their Web site. I haven't tried it yet. If you have, please write and let me know what you think. Thanks!
Pinnacle Pellet Inc.: www.pinnaclepellet.com/classicweb.html, RR#1, Box 35, Durrell Site, Quesnel, B.C., Canada, V2J-3H5
Natural pine shavings compressed into wood pellets, from Northern Mountain Pine, in the Cariboo area of Western Canada.
I haven't tried this one; I have only heard about it, but thought it would be useful to list here.
Pet Care Systems, Inc.: www.swheatscoop.com, Box 1529, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501 Phone: 1 (800) SWHEATS (794-3287) or (218) 846-9610 FAX: (218) 846-9612
Compostable, biodegradable litter made from 100% ground wheat. The starch in the wheat makes the product clump and the enzymes in the wheat neutralize the odor in the cat waste. The company does not add chemicals or fragrances.
We used SWheatScoop for over a year. It clumps very well—if you are looking for a substitute for a clumping litter, here is one excellent choice. I have had many people write to tell me they love either SWheatScoop or Wheat 'n Easy. In 1995, SWheatScoop was used and liked by Tiger Tribe staff (the cats, not the people).
The biggest problem with the older forumlation of SWheatScoop was that it formed very sticky lumps in the bottom of the cat box if you didn't keep the litter adequately deep. The editors of Tiger Tribe recommended you change and scoop more often than recommended on the packaging. Some people reported using vegetable spray on their cat boxes to prevent the litter from sticking to the box. We used it in combination with The Eliminator (mentioned above) and with regular boxes. It didn't work well with The Eliminator, but only because of the stickiness. With the regular boxes, we used a heavy-duty scraper purchased at a restaurant supply house.
The newer formulation of SWheatScoop does not seem to have the stickiness problems, so I do recommend the new formulation.
WonderWheat Australia: www.wonderwheat.com.au, P.O. Box 1375, Bibra Lake, 6965, Western Australia Phone: (08) 9494 1575 International Callers: +61 8 9494 1575
According to their Web site, this is a compostable, biodegradable litter made from 100% wheat. The starch in the wheat makes the product clump and the enzymes in the wheat neutralize the odor in the cat waste. The company does not add chemicals, deodorants, or fragrances.
I haven't used this litter, but I imagine it is very similar to SWheatScoop.
World's Best Cat Litter: www.worldsbestcatlitter.com, 1600 Oregon Street, Muscatine, IA 52761 (877) 367-9225
Clumping litter made from corn. No clay, no silica, no perfumes, no synthetic chemicals.
Many people have written to me saying they love this litter. So we started testing it in December 2000. It truly clumps, but doesn't present the potential health problems that clay clumping litters offer. Because the fine sand-like texture is very similar to SWheatScoop, our cats had no problems making the transition to this litter. Another big plus is that it doesn't have the stickiness problems that the older forumulation of SWheatScoop had. And it truly lasts a long time, so although it may seem expensive, it isn't.
However, I have also heard that the corn is not organic in the sense that most of us understand that term. Although technically, one can call something organic if it contains carbon, that's the scientific definition. For something to be organic in the generally understood way, it must meet organic standards, including not having been exposed to pesticides and herbicides and not be a genetically modified plant product. According to one source, this litter is made from genetically modified corn that has been exposed to herbicides and pesticides, both of which types of materials are toxic, remain as residue in any plants that are exposed to them, and pose cancer and other health hazards to humans and animals.
On the balance, this is certainly a far safer alternative than clumping clay kitty litters, but perhaps another alternative would be safer. Still, if you must have a clumping litter, this one or SWheatScoop are the only two non-clay choices I know of.
I like this litter. Good odor control, works fine. The pellets are a smaller, softer texture than before and therefore are more satisfying to the cats. An excellent alternative to CareFresh. Especially recommended for cats after surgery.
This section provides an index to the the list of alternative litters by the type of material the alternative litter is made from.
Recycled newspaper as a kitty litter comes in two basic forms: fluffy and pellets. Generally, all of them are biodegradable, more or less dust-free, flushable, and incinerable. The fluffy loose kind is, in my opinion, the best. They are easier on the paws and underfoot (when you accidentally step on the pellets, it hurts). The pellets are fine too, though. Both forms tend to get kicked out of the box, even with one of those boxes that have a slight overhang, though of course if you have an enclosed box this isn't a concern.
Advantages and disadvantages of recycled newspaper kitty litters
- Because these products are made from recycled newspaper and are flushable, compostable, and incinerable (rather than having to go to a landfill), they are environmentally friendly.
- The cost is quite reasonable and they last a long time.
- They are messy, but easy to sweep up.
- Some readers have expressed concern over the use of newsprint in recycled newsprint litters because of a concern for toxic inks used in printing. A little research shows that toxic inks have not been legal to use for many years, and many (if not all) of the litter manufacturers de-ink the newsprint as part of the manufacturing process.
Newspaper-based litters include
Cedar- and wood-based litters have some amount of cedar in them; the chief advantage being natural odor control. These litters tend to be in pellet or wood-flake form.
Advantages and disadvantages of cedar- and wood-based litters
- I have some concerns about the safety of using anything with cedar oils in it. I have heard that cedar oils can be harmful to cats. Also, be aware that cedar oils will antidote homeopathic remedies.
- The wood flakes seem a little harsh for cats' paws. The pellet forms tend to fall apart into a dusty mass when the cat uses the litter; some may find this an advantage, others may find this a disadvantage.
- Most wood-based litters are not very good at deodorizing, though Feline Pine is an exception.
FYI: A link sent in by a reader regarding toxic woods: http://www.mimf.com/archives/toxic.htm, and another page describing the definite problems with some woods, and some alternatives you can use: http://www.petfoodexpress.com/search/article_detailpe.asp?contentid=1163.
Also, bales of softwood shavings might make a good, inexpensive alternative to pine-based litters. For more information, see Leslie's Story.
Wood-based litters include
- Cedar Lite
- Feline Pine
- Kind to Kitty
- Luv My Kitty
- Pine Pellet Bedding and Litter
- Pinnacle Pine Cat Litter
Clumping Clay (no sodium bentonite)
However, there are other kinds of bentonite that could be used. I would avoid them all.
- Cat's Pride
- Glamour Kitty's Scooples (no longer being manufactured?)
- Here's The Scoop! (no longer being manufactured?)
Other Plant-Based Litters
Plant-based litters are usually made from some combination of alfalfa, oat hulls, corn cob, peanut hulls, or other plants. Technically, wood-based and newspaper-based litters would fall into this caterogory as well, but I have separated them out.
- Cat Country (unspecified)
- Dr. Kenaf's Amazing Cat Litter (kenaf)
- FIELDFresh (corn cobs)
- KittyKoir (coconut coir, diatomaceous earth, mint, lavender, and barley sprouts)
- SWheat Scoop and Wheat 'n Easy. Two wheat-based clumping litters from the same company.
- WonderWheat. A wheat-based clumping litter made in Australia.
- The World's Best Cat Litter. A corn-based clumping litter.
- Alfalfa (avoid?)
- Cat's Pride (unknown composition; haven't seen it yet)
- CatWorks (avoid)
- Chick starter (feed for baby chickens)
- Corn cob (avoid)
- Here's the Scoop! (formerly Lick Your Chops) (Clumping clay, non-sodium bentonite? There are other bentonites, but I would avoid any cat litter using any kind of bentonite.)
- Litter Pearls (silica; beware!)
- Peanut hulls
- Smart Litter Organic 'n' Safe (unknown composition; haven't seen it yet)
- Bales of softwood shavings might make a good, inexpensive alternative to pine-based litters. For more information, see Leslie's Story.
I am often asked where to purchase alternative litters.
First, check your local feed store, if you have one. Many of them carry good alternatives. Even some grocery stores carry alternative litters now.
Next, check the Web sites of the manufacturers of the products you are interested in. You can order directly from many of them; others might be able to tell you where to find a distributer.
If you have no luck with either of those options, without me making any recommendations or endorsements, here is a shop that will ship products:
All About Animals, La Jolla, California. (858) 459-4583, fax (858) 459-4738; email email@example.com.
In the spirit of experimentation, I went to a feed store and purchased plain alfalfa pellets (the kind you feed to rabbits). I could only find large-sized pellets, which were about the same size as the pellets in Cat Country. In fact, they worked just about the same as Cat Country, with perhaps slightly better deodorizing power. I paid US$6.25 (in 1995) for a 50-pound bag, which makes it the most economical alternative.
However, I have since received a warning from someone who visited the following Web site: The Backyard Predator: A Guide to Nutrition for Companion Cats, which warns against feeding alfalfa to cats. It is possible that the pellets are okay, but use with caution.
Chick starter is chicken feed for baby chickens. You can get it at your local feed store for a very economical price. It is very similar to The World's Best Cat Litter at a fraction of the cost. Be sure to get the chick starter and not chicken scratch.
I used to use corn cob in bulk from my local feed store for the bottom of my bird cage. It came in small round pellets. It made the very best cage-liner I had ever used, until I discovered CareFresh, which is far superior and safer as a cage liner. (Note: I used this for very small birds—Zebra Finches—and they showed no problems with it. I would not recommend it for larger birds.)
However, as a cat litter, I suspect corn cob wouldn't be as good. The pellets are small enough (barely), but they are quite rough and I wouldn't think that cats would enjoy scratching about in them. Also, corn cob isn't at all good at deodorizing. And I have heard that corn cob is so highly dehydrated that it enlarges when ingested, which might cause the same sorts of problems that clumping clay litters do. It isn't very digestible, either. All in all, I wouldn't recommend it.
A few citrus-based litters have come and gone on the market. Made out of dried citrus peels, they are fluffy, light-colored, and very faintly scented.
Advantages and disadvantages of citrus-based litters
- They solve an environmental problem for citrus growers—what to do with the citrus peels.
- They are biodegradable.
- They do a good job of deodorizing naturally.
- They aren't necessarily a good texture for kitty litter.
- Most cats dislike citrus smells, so it is possible cats won't like them.
Yes, the ones you receive at your door every morning. Gigi has written to share her experiences. She says she will "line the bottom of the litter box with a sheet of newspaper, then fill the box with hand-shredded newspaper. I empty it out every morning, there's no scooping involved, just roll up the newspaper liner with shredded paper on top of it, and replace it. I am spending less time lining and hand-shredding than I was before with scooping, replacing litter, sweeping and dust-busting."
Her method could be even less work if you purchase a cross-cut paper shredder.
If your compost heap is hot enough, you can safely compost what you remove from the box.
Note: I strongly recommend that you use pages that only have black ink on them; avoid anything with color.
I also tried a peanut-hull-based litter and found that it worked quite well, except when it came to controlling odors.
Peanut-hull-based litters are made from peanut shells. They are generally formed into large, hard pellets that nonetheless get kicked out of the box readily and that, like all pellets, hurt underfoot. This litter (like all plant-based products) forms into rather large masses when wet. I find that this makes changing the cat box easier, rather than more difficult.
Advantages and disadvantages of peanut-hull-based litters
- The pellets in most of these products are far too large. Cats can't do a satisfactory dig-and-bury.
- Peanuts are a highly sprayed crop. That means a high amount of pesticides; I worry that those pesticides are still in the product, and I wouldn't want my kitties to be anywhere near them.
- Because the pellets disintegrate when wet, the box is easier to clean than if the pellets stayed hard.