Let’s face it. Cat litters are required on a daily basis. But many people do not want to use commercial ones as their preference may vary.
So do we have any cat litter alternatives? Is there any substitute that would work as good as a commercial cat litter?
In this article, we are going to explore that and see what can we use instead of a cat litter.
Quick Note: Although it largely depends on your preference if you want to use the following alternatives, I highly recommend to keep at least 1 bag of extra commercial cat litter in your house. I personally had faced multiple situations where I realized it was my mistake to not have any kind of litter in my house and felt really embarrassed in front of guests. Personally I use this cat litter from Dr.Elsey’s and it’s working like a charm.
Commercial cat litter is made of clay, also known as Sodium Bentonite (1). While clay litter is the most popular choice, it also comes with a lot of problems.
Clay litter is not biodegradable, and it has environmental repercussions. As one needs to change the cat litter at least once every month, it can add up to quite a sum of money in your yearly budget.
If digested, clay litter can cause a plethora of health problems in cats. Cats can even be allergic to bentonite. So, we have curated a list of all the viable alternatives that you can use as a cat litter.
Another side note: If you have a cat with urinary problems, I suggest to use commercial cat litter. It will make sure your home is fresh as always without any future trouble. We have a complete guide featuring some of the top cat litter for cats with urinary problems. You can read it here.
What can I use instead of cat litter? 10 Alternatives & Substitute
Here are 10 clay cat litter alternatives that you should know –
- Newspaper and shredded mails
- Corn Litter
- Coconut Cat Litter
- Wood Pallets or Shavings
- Wheat Litter
- Alfalfa pellets
- Horse Bedding pellets
- Chicken feed
- Grass litter
- Artificial turf
Let’s start with the 1st one
1. Newspaper and shredded mails
One can make paper litter using shredded newspaper or mails, dish soap, and baking soda in 30-45 minutes. Put a sufficient amount of shredded paper in the litter box and mix it well with water and the dish shop.
Drain the mixture, add water, and drain it again to rinse off dish soap. Sprinkle ample amounts of baking soda and let it dry in the sun till it gets a crumbly texture. Cats can take some time to get accustomed to this kind of litter. Some of the cons are –
- This litter is biodegradable but not flush-able.
- Paper pellets do not clump as well as clay.
- It needs to be changed frequently to remove the odor.
- Cats may take some time to get accustomed to them.
2. Corn Litter
Corn litter is commercially available at various pet stores. This litter is entirely made of corn, and the pellets are large, making it the best choice for kittens.
This type of litter forms tight clumps. It is easier for cats to cover their waste, and owners find it easier to clean in comparison to clay litters.
Corn litter has a very identifiable smell, and one needs to be aware of that before purchasing corn litter. It has the following disadvantages–
- The texture may be uncomfortable for some cats
- The smell of the corn litter can be irritating for some cat owners
- This litter produces dust. So, it is not healthy for cats having asthma.
3. Coconut Cat Litter
Coconut litter, another commercially available litter, is made entirely of coconut shells. It is manufactured using a natural process, and it does not contain any harmful chemicals or allergens.
If a cat has allergies, this type of litter is the best choice. Initially, the litter is light and odorless.
Due to its natural manufacturing method, it is entirely biodegradable, and it can be used in flower pots, gardens, and produces zero waste. However, drawbacks of using this litter are–
- This type of litter tracks dusts easily
- This litter does not clump well
- It can develop an odor after using it for some time
- Coconut litter is costlier than general clay litter
4. Wood Pallets or Shavings
Wood pallets and shavings are very easy to come by in the nearest hardware stores. Also, one can easily make it if one does woodworking at home.
Make sure that the wood does not have any chemicals in them, as it is harmful to the cats. Just run some unused wood pallets through a planer, and one can have a bag full of sawdust ready for the litter box.
Use heat-treated woods to have a soft, light litter for your feline friend. This type of litter does not contribute to landfill. The cons of using this type of litter are –
- Some oils from the wood can be toxic to cats
- There might be dust outside the litter box
- Wood shavings do not clump well
5. Wheat Litter
Wheat litter is the closest alternative to clay litter due to its similarities in softness, clump quality, and tracking of dust.
This is made from the secondary wheat, which is not ideal for consumption. Wheat granules are best for cats as the size of the litter is very appropriate.
If one is grounding the wheat into a coarse powder, one can add oats to make the texture better. This type of litter makes soft clumps like the traditional clay ones. It can hold the smell of waste decently but needs to be changed often. It has the following drawbacks –
- Clumps consisting of wheat litter can be soft
- This litter can track dust
- Litter has to be changed too frequently
- Soft litter sticks to the litter box.
6. Alfalfa pellets
Alfalfa pellets are easy to come by when one has a rabbit in the household. Many cat owners try rabbit food palettes as cat litter because of the clump quality and odorless nature.
This type of litter absorbs well and forms clumps. It has a good quality of not producing odor over time. Alfalfa pellets do not create a mess around the litter box because of the dust-less nature. However, the disadvantages of using this litter are –
- It is an expensive alternative
- The palettes can get damp easily. So, needs to be removed frequently
- Overfilling the litter box can cause tracking of dust
7. Horse Bedding pellets
Horse bedding pellets can be an unusual choice for a cat litter, but the easy making process makes it a viable option.
One can find equine bedding pellets online or at some pet stores at a very affordable price. This litter can be made by mixing sawdust, baking soda, and a little water. The procedure makes the pallets very absorbent. But, the cons of using this type of litter are –
- The pallets can disintegrate into sawdust when wet
- It can easily overflow
- Litter can get scattered across the floor
8. Chicken feed
Chicken feed is one of the least used cat litter alternatives. It can be made easily at home by mixing equal parts of chicken feed, baking soda, and cedar shavings.
This absorbs waste well and forms clumps. Often chicken feed comes with added preservatives, which can be harmful to cats.
So, one needs to make sure that it is a natural chicken feed. Due to its biodegradable nature, it is best for the environment-conscious pet owners. But it has the following undesirable properties –
- Corn-based chicken feed can make cats ill if ingested
- It can attract rodents.
9. Grass litter
Grass litter is one of the most expensive commercially available cat litters out there. It costs in the range from $21 to $32. This type of litter clumps is very tight, thereby making it easier for cat owners.
One has the option of choosing from scented and unscented grass litter. Cats prefer grass to other litter materials. Grass litter is entirely Eco-friendly. Cons of using grass litter are –
- This is one of the costliest cat litters in market
- Big cats might find it too lightweight
- Grass litter makes the surrounding dusty
- This kind of litter tends to track
- If moisture is not appropriate, clumps can fall apart easily.
10. Artificial turf
Artificial turf is an unusual but effective solution to the problems of using clay litter. Artificial turf is not just aesthetically pleasing, but it is easy to maintain.
One needs to buy soft turfs from any sports store, cut it into small pieces, and place those inside the litter box.
The maintenance of artificial turf is also very easy. One just has to shake the excrement’s into the trash can and wash it properly using a hose. The basic drawbacks of using it are –
- Some cats can be appalled by the idea of artificial turfs
- Cats cannot scratch or hide faeces
- Excessive scratching can damage the turf
While it is crucial to know all the alternative litter options, one should also be careful about the type of materials that shouldn’t be used as cat litter.
Potting soil should be avoided while choosing a litter for cats. It does not clump well and is easily tracked outside the litter box.
It does not hold the odor of the cat as well. If any kind of wood shavings or pellets is used as cat litter, one needs to make sure that it is free of chemicals.
Some chemicals used in woodworking can be harmful to the cats. Also, avoid using litters which produce dust, if the cat is suffering from asthma or has a wound.
Sometimes cats do not react to a change well. So, change must happen slowly. While changing the litter type, first introduce the new litter in a separate litter box and keep it next to the existing one.
Observe the behavior of the cat to understand whether the cat likes the new litter or not. If it prefers the litter, one is good to go. If none of the alternatives works, you can always train your cat to use a human toilet.
Resources & Citations:
Hi There, AK Oren here. I am the founder of this amazing pet blog & a passionate writer who love helping pet owners to learn more about their pets through my articles. I am also content manager of this blog. I have experience in pet training and behavior, sheltering, and currently working for a veterinary clinic.