How Wood Pellet Cat Litter Works
Wood pellets may seem like a strange material to use as cat litter, but it has proven to work really well for many environmentally conscious cat owners. If you are looking for a natural and cost effective alternative to clay litter, this might just hit the spot.
Wood pellets work as cat litter by absorbing the liquid along with the smell and then crumble into sawdust. The sawdust ends up at the bottom of the litter box, while fresh pellets remain on top.
To clean the litter box, you scoop the feces, and some of the sawdust, on a daily basis. You can also opt for a special sifting litter box, that removes the sawdust automatically. Find outmore about the best sifting litter box for pine pellets here. Or read about the scooping method further down in this article.
Change the entire contents of the litter box about every 14 days, depending on number of cats and usage.
Pellets made from wood are highly absorbant compared to clay, and can take more than 500% of their own weight . This means 1lb of wood pellet cat litter will last you longer than 1lb of clay litter, since the amount you will need to use is far less.
The high absorbancy of wood also helps with smell, because the pellets quickly soaks up the cats urine and neutralizes its odor. Many cat owners also appreciate the natural scent from wood, such as pine.
What Can You Do
Switch your litter!
Marina Michaels from TheLightHouseOnline.com has a list she recommends as alternatives for you to get instead. Looks like it was last updated around the mid-2000s.
Were all going for a clumping, non-clay litter thats scoopable Now understand, these options dont control odors 110% either even though thats what it might state.
Also, understand that I will mention types of litter that doesnt clump but are still great for your cats.
But for a quick recap for what she recommends: Clump and Non-Clump
1.CareFresh Its soft bedding that will definitely soak up the urine and states #1 in order control.
2. FelineFresh These are the pine pellets that are biodegradable/flushable. (Although, I would still just throw them out.
You dont want to run the risk of clogging your plumbing or septic tank.
This litter doesnt clump but will turn into like a sawdust form that you can carefully remove.
- Absorbs 4X more odor-causing liquid
- No dust and no tracking
- Flushable and biodegradable
- Pine neutralizes odor on contact
- Longer lasting than clay litters
- Environmentally friendly
- Feline Fresh cat litter is clean, sterile and safe for pets
3. sWheat Scoop This is the litter I personally use for my 4 cats but in the process of changing to Feline Pine.
I switched to this while doing the research for this article. The cost is more but Im ok with it for my peace of mind.
Overview Of Wood Pellets:
Wood pellet cat litter is just like it sounds. It is made from pellets of wood, most commonly pine. Other types of wood can be used too, but pine wood has a natural scent that it brings to the litter. That means that chemical fragrances dont have to be used in order to mask odors.
This type of cat litter has become more common to use as pet owners seek to make more eco-conscious decisions. Being made from a natural product means that this cat litter is biodegradable and often made from recycled materials. Wood pellets can also last a lot longer than traditional clay litter, and you dont have to change it as often.
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Safety & Peace Of Mind
Im not going to list any litter that I dont think is safe so really this is more about peace of mind than anything else. Not everyone is comfortable repurposing products for litter and even with the science supporting the safety some may still want to only use products that are specifically made for cats.
This is completely understandable and something to consider as you review your options.
Keep The Wood Pellet Box Super Clean
Cats like a clean place to do their business. so to make the new wood pellet litter more appealing make sure youre scooping or even replacing the litter as quickly as possible. Not to be gross but youll also want to leave the non-wood pellet boxes just a little bit dirtier.
But that doesnt mean you stop scooping altogether! It just means that you keep the wood pellet box a little bit cleaner to encourage your cat to use the new pellets. They might be a little hesitant about trying something new, but if one option is cleaner than the other then theyre likely to give it a try.
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Kaytee Wood Pellets For Pets
Switching to healthy cat litter can be intimidating for some cat owners based on price. So I want to show you that safe pine pellet cat litter can be affordable with this good budget pick.
Kaytee Wood Pellets is actually an all-purpose pellet that can be used for a wide variety of smaller pets. For cats though, they work as expected. These pine pellets expand when wet to hold moisture in.
Once expanded, the pellets are scooped away very easily without any concerns about sticking. If you let it sit, they degrade into saw dust.
Overall Kaytee Wood Pellets for Pets provide a great low-cost pine pellet litter to some of the fancier organic choices without any diminished performance. They even have surprisingly good odor control.
This is not a flushable option like our other wood pellet cat litter brands.
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Non Gmo Fast Clumping Grass Seed Organic Cat Litter
We dont know what kind of grass seed they are using but the litter looks promising enough.
This ones supposed to be good for both single and multi-cat households , with good clumping properties and odor control. Being GMO free is a further guarantee of safety.
As far as we know of grass seeds, they cannot possibly be dusty well, maybe a little bit. Most litters track, so we wouldnt be too sure this one doesnt.
At the time of writing this article, there were no reviews available for this one but since they have a 100% guarantee policy, it probably wouldnt hurt to give it a try, more so since it was on sale.
Are Hardwood Or Softwood Pellets Better For Cat Litter
The softwood/pine pellets are not suitable for cat litter, but the HARDWOOD pellets are. I buy 40lb bags of HARDWOOD pellets from Canadian Tire, which are made from hard wood trees, such as pine, and they last a long time. I also buy softwood pellets from Canadian Tire, which are made from soft wood trees, such as pine.
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What About Other Non
There are hundreds of choices when it comes to litter. The options go well beyond pellet vs traditional and you can find litter made of wheat, corn, and even grass.
However, the big difference is that many of these litters dont come in a pellet form. Instead, they have a ground-up texture thats more similar to traditional litter than pellets. That means that they will track a bit more in the house but you still get many of the eco-friendly benefits that you get with wood pellet litter.
Before we wrap up this article, lets just take a quick look at a few of the options.
Contact The Manufacturer To Be Sure
Wood pellets labeled specifically for use as cat litter are okay. But before using a wood stove or horse bedding pellet as litter, youll have to do some research.
Though almost all pine litters are kiln dried, dont assume that a certain brand of pellet will be safe for your cat. Some contain other potentially harmful additives, like those intended to increase burning efficiency. Never use old, potentially outdated information found online to draw your conclusions.
Things can and will change.
To verify that a specific wood pellet is safe, youll need to contact the manufacturer directly and verify that:
Be sure to explain that you intend to use their pellets as cat litter, and are inquiring because of potential health concerns. It will help to clarify your question and may encourage a more accurate, helpful answer.
While the answer will almost always be yes, our pellets are kiln dried, we strongly recommend a better safe than sorry approach.
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What About Carbon Monoxide And Wood Pellets
Wood pellets can emit carbon monoxide and this has been documented in several studies.
However, these studies are looking at the industrial use of wood pellets where theyve often been used as a fuel source in industrial applications. They arent looking at the 40-pound bag that you can pick up for your cat from Amazon. Instead, were talking about thousands and thousands of pounds of wood pellets all stored in one location.
Again, Ive worked in shelters where we had hundreds of pounds of wood pellets but because the space was large and ventilated we never had an issue. Even that is nothing compared to the literal tons of wood pellets that are used for industrial applications.
Thats not to say the risk doesnt exist. But the risk for the average cat parent is extremely low unless youre storing a large number of wood pellets in a very small space.
Wood Pellets Vs Clumping Cat Litter: Whats Best For My Cat
Owning a cat means accepting the fact that you have to clean up after them. And while no one loves to clean the litter box, we do love our whiskered, four-legged friends. An essential part of keeping a litter box in your home is choosing the right litter, which actually can make a difference in how your cat uses the litter box as well as how having a litter box affects your home.
We want our cats to feel comfortable and have a place to use the bathroom that feels natural. But with so many different types of cat litter, it can be frustrating to find one that works for both your cat and you. After all, you dont want your cat to reject using the litter box, giving you a bigger mess to have to clean up.
Two of the all-around best types of cat litter seem to be wood pellets and clumping cat litter. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages. If youre trying to decide between the two, well look at both of them in this article so that you can choose one that works for your cat.
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Additional Concerns About Clumping Clay Litter
Other concerns regarding clumping cat litter include:
- Dogs eating litter and having the same health problems as cats
- Litter dust causing respiratory problems in people and pets since it contains crystalline silica particles
- Environmental concerns about the volume of clumping clay litter being discarded since it is not biodegradable
- Environmental concerns about clay strip mining
Pelleted Biodegradable Cat Litter
Made from either wood or recycled newspaper, pelleted litter has an incredible ability to absorb liquids, and in doing so will crumble into an easily removable form. Sawdust that is a by-product of wood processing industries or recycled newsprint is formed under very high pressure into pellets, which are then thoroughly dried. Wood pellets absorb urine so well that they are used extensively as bedding in horse stalls. Feces must be scooped from the cat litter box regularly, along with the pellets that become urine soaked and crumbly, leaving the remaining pellets behind. Pelleted biodegradable litters are about 25% of sales at A Pets Life.
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Safe Cat Litter: The Clumping Clay Cat Litter Controversy
For many years, there has been an ongoing debate over the safety of clumping clay cat litters that use sodium bentonite as their clumping ingredient. The controversy began with an article written by Marina McInnis in 1994 and still goes on today. To read the article in its entirety, scroll down on the Berner.org website.
Sodium bentonite is natural clay that swells to 15 times its size when liquid is added, similar to expandable cement. The concern of many cat caretakers is the health dangers posed when the clay particles are ingested as a cat licks its paws and fur while cleaning itself. There’s also concern that cats might breath in the dust when scratching in the litter box. Young kittens are often curious and may taste the litter when they are first introduced to the litter box. Those who are opposed to this type of litter claim it expands inside the cat or kitten and turns into a gummy, clay mass that can harden in the gastrointestinal tract causing illness and even death.
The Risk Is Low With The Right Brands
As Ive already pointed out, products like the Tractor Supply Cos brand of pine pellets are specifically labeled as safe for rabbits, cats, and horses. There are also thousand of happy cat owners using that product every day.
With trusted brands, the risk of phenol and pine is extremely low and its generally safe to say that the high heat kiln processing removes these compounds.
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How Do I Clean A Wood Pellet Litter Box
Wood pellets are not that much different than clay litter except it looks different. You will need to scoop out the solid waste as your cat leaves it, and after the pellets absorb their fill of urine, they usually break down into sawdust that you can scoop out. The downside to using wood is that you will need a special scooper to remove the sawdust and another scooper to remove the solid waste. Some sifting litter boxes may work too. The pellets are much larger than clay litter, so your regular scooper wont work. You will need to use something with bigger holes.
Will Wood Pellets Work With Sifting Litterboxes
Sifting litterboxes are typically designed for small litter that clumps. The idea is that you can shake out the good litter and leave the clumps of urine or stool in the shifter to be tossed out.
The problem is that wood pellets are too large to move through most sifters and so the clean ones cant get separated from the rest.
However, sifting isnt a total waste. When cats pee on the wood pellets, the urine is absorbed and the pellets start to break apart. A shifting litter box can help pull out some of these pellets that have broken apart and improve the cleanliness of the box. Youll still need to scoop, of course, but by sifting you can get more mileage out of your clean pellets.
This might be a little hard to imagine if youve never seen wood pellet litter break apart after it gets wet so check out this video for how this works:
What about sifting litterboxes specifically made for wood pellet litter?
Those are few and far between. The main reason is that the litter doesnt clump so the sifting is just different. Instead of sifting the good litter to the bottom tray, as you would in a traditional sifting box, in the case of pellets you actually want to push the broken-up pellets to the bottom.
Again, if thats making sense check out the video above which gives you a quick and clear illustration of this.
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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. Dont change your cats 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 cats usual litter with pellet 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.
Can I Flush Wood Pellet Litter
Yes, you can but its typically not the best practice. While the wood pellets will break up enough to make it through most pipes, its not exactly easy on your plumbing and large amounts may cause problems. But the bigger issue comes from the risk of toxoplasmosis which is a disease that can be spread through the feces of cats.
Toxoplasmosis is one of the worlds most common diseases and can cause a wide range of symptoms in humans depending on your age and overall health status. When cat poop is flushed down the toilet, along with wood pellets, it can push toxoplasmosis into nearby bodies of water or even the human water supply in some cases.
When you consider that one study found a prevalence as high as 74% in adult cats, it becomes clear that flushing wood pellets with poop on them is a bad idea. Not only for the risk it presents to humans but also other animals.
Researchers believe that flushing kitty litter could have contributed to the death of hundreds of California otters. Autopsy results showed the presence of the toxoplasmosis parasite in the brain of the sea otters, which is unusual for sea creatures. While it could be related to runoff from cats and other animals, theres a strong case to be made that kitty litter was the culprit.
So even though wood pellets on their own are safe enough to be flushed down the toilet, its still not a good practice if theyre being used for kitty litter.
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