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.
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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 out more 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.
Pros and cons
- Price: This has to be the cheapest cat litter you can get.
- Eco friendly: Wood pellet cat litter is not only made from a natural material that is renewable and biodegradable – but it is also a “recycled” product, in the sense that it is made of waste from other industries.
- Less tracking: Many cat owners find that there is less tracking with wood pellets, because they are too large to get stuck in your cat’s paws.
- No synthetic chemicals: You can get wood pellets that are without any additives, like pure pine pellets.
- Less dust: It is not dust free, but there is less dust than with traditional cat litter. Especially clumping litter that contains bentonite clay.
Pellets made from wood are highly absorbant compared to clay, and can take more than 500% of their own weight (or even more in some cases). 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 cat’s urine and neutralizes its odor. Many cat owners also appreciate the natural scent from wood, such as pine.
- Not all cats like it: Some cats may not want to use it because the texture is different to what they are used to. Find out how to transition your cat to pellets here.
- Non-clumping: Wood pellets will typically not clump (with some exceptions).
- Cleaning is different: Scooping this type of cat litter is not necessarily more of a hassle than with regular litter – but it is different. This could also be a plus though. It really depends on each individual cat owners preference. See the How to scoop wood pellet litter-section for tips.
- Allergy: Some cats or cat owners could be allergic to wood.
How to use wood pellet litter
A little really goes a long way. For that reason it is important not to overfill the litterbox, as the pellets will expand and swell up when they are exposed to liquid.
When you pour the pellets into the litter box, they should end up covering the entire surface, and go about an inch deep.
Maintaining the litter box on a daily basis will consist of removing the solids and scooping out some of the sawdust, as well as adding some fresh wood pellets.
How to scoop wood pellet litter
Scooping the wood pellet litter seems puzzling at first, but luckily, it is actually pretty easy. The technique for scooping this kind of litter is a little different from what you are probably used to, but the video below and the step-by-step guide shows exactly how to do it.
In the following Wood pellet litter cleaning tips-video, you can watch the entire process, showing how one cat owner scoops the litter box.
A gentle warning: The video shows cat feces (ie. cat poop) – if this is not something you are OK with, please do not watch this video.
To summarize, these are the main steps to scoop wood pellet cat litter:
- First remove the solids.
- Collect the sawdust using the scoop.
- Shake the scoop carefully, so that the sawdust falls into the container with the feces.
- Keep the dry pellets so they can be put back into the box.
- The video does not show this, but the final step would be to add some fresh pellets.
If you are going to use the method above, and use the scoop to “sift” the litter, the size of the holes is important. The scoop needs to have holes that are large enough for the sawdust to fall through, but small enough for the fresh pellets to stay on top.
The size of the holes in the litter scoop is less important if you are only going to use it to remove feces. Larger size holes could be a benefit, if they are large enough to let some of the pellets fall through. However, if you already have a litter scoop, that should be sufficient for this purpose.
Sifting litter boxes for pine pellets
Other cat owners have opted for a litter box with a built in sifter. This can speed up the process, and some think it makes cleaning the litter box easier. Read more about sifting litter boxes for pine pellets here: What Is The Best Litter Box For Pine Pellet Cat Litter?
How often to change wood pellet cat litter
How often you should change out the wood pellet litter will depend on a few things. A good rule of thumb is, however, to empty the entire contents of the litter box abount twice a month.
Scooping out the sawdust is a major factor. If you scoop out most of the used sawdust regurarly, say whenever you remove the solids, and add more fresh pellets – the litter box will stay cleaner for longer. Instead of emptying the contents of the whole box, you might find it sufficient to tilt the pellets to one side, while giving the bottom a quick wash.
Other factors to consider are how many cats you have, and how much they use the litter box. Cats are individuals, the same as humans, and some of us simply use the toilet more than others.
How to dispose of wood pellet litter
When it comes to disposing of wood pellet cat litter, you have a couple more ways to do that compared to regular clay litter. These are also better for the environment, than simply throwing the used litter in the trash.
Composting wood litter
Wood pellets are biodegradable, and can be composted according to Energy Pellets Of America. You can compost it once it has served its initial purpose, and later use it for fertilizer in the garden or for indoor plants!
Please note that composted wood pellet cat litter should never be used as fertilizer for vegetables or other edible plants, as the produce will not be safe for consumption. This is because of a parasite that may be present in your cat’s feces – not because of the wood pellets themselves.
Tip: Read the article Cat Litter Composting Guide – How To Compost Cat Litter for more information.
Can you flush pellet litter made from wood?
According to one brand, it is OK to flush wood pellets in small amounts. However, it might not be worth the risk. The risk being clogged pipes. Not a pleasant or cheap potential outcome.
This could happen because the pellets expand when they are exposed to moisture.
There is also the risk of spreading a parasite found in cat poop, which poses a health risk to wildlife. Read more about this issue here.
Transitioning to pellet litter
If you are switching from a different kind of litter, you should do so gradually. One way is to simply use two litter boxes for a while. Allowing your cat to choose which one to use. Once your cat is used to the pellets, you can remove the other one.
Another option is to mix the two litters in the same litter box. Gradually increase the amount of pellets, while using less and less of the old litter. Eventually you can stop using the old litter completely.
Should you use wood pellet cat litter for your cat?
Cats can have allergies or even asthma, the same as humans. Some cat owners have noticed that their cats have reacted to pellet litter made from wood, others have seen improvements in these areas after switching to wood pellets.
It really depends on the health of each cat individually. Different cats will react differently to different materials. If your cat is allergic to clay litter, but not wood, the allergy should disappear when switching to wood pellets.
What to look out for when switching to a new litter
It is important to pay a bit closer attention to kitty whenever you change to a new litter. Look out for skin irritations and unusual licking or grooming habits, as well as wheezing sounds or other indications of respiratory problems.
With this said, the potential allergen found in tree types such as Pine and Cedar, is supposed to be eliminated during the heat treatment when producing the pellets. You can read more about the effect heat treatment has on wood pellets in this study: Development of a Heat Treatment to Enhance The Antimicrobial Properties of Wood Based Mulches and Animal Bedding Materials
Alternative for sensitive cats
If your cat has issues with several allergies, paper based pellets may be the way to go. Yesterday’s News from Purina is an example of this. The cat litter is made from recycled newspapers, so it will still be a win for the environment. The paper pellet litter is also biodegradable and can be composted.
Cheap pine pellets for cat litter
Cheap cat litter is on the wish list for many cat owers. Inexpensive wood pellets made from pine can grant this wish! Read on to find out how to get the cheapest cat litter out there.
Nobody really wants to spend money on a temporary toilet for their cat. Dealing with cat poop and other deposits simply comes with the territory of being a cat parent.
Price is also a major factor for many people when they are considering a more eco friendly cat litter. Many of the natural options are more expensive than the cheap ones that are clay based. Although the natural ones may last longer, the initial cost can have a deterring effect.
So, what does this cheap wood based alternative actually cost? That will depend a little on which of the two following alternatives you choose: Wood pellets that are made to be used as cat litter, or wood pellets that are ment to be used as animal bedding.
Cat litter pine pellets: One 40 lb bag of Feline Pine Original Cat Litter is about $16 on Chewy.com.
Ment to be used as cat litter by cats, so you know it is a safe product for your kitty.
- Cheaper than clay
- Made from all natural pine
- Safe to use as cat litter
- Crumbles well (turns into sawdust easily)
Equine bedding pine pellets: One 40 lb bag of Tractor Supply Pine Pellet Stall Bedding is $5.99. If you want to save money on cat litter, that price is pretty hard to beat.
These pine pellets are mainly marketed as horse bedding, but it also says on the packaging that it can be used for small animals. Compared to a horse, your cat would certainly qualify as a “small animal” – although with a larger than life personality!
Anyway, having the company describing this “bedding” as suitable for cats is a nice assurance that it is safe to use as cat litter, without any unwanted additives.
Note that these pellets will not crumble as easily as the ones ment for cat litter, since the pellets for bedding are supposed to withstand more pressure.
- Cheapest – the price is pretty amazing at only $5.99!
- Made from all natural pine
- Safe for small animals (such as cats)
- Does not crumble as well
As you can see, both options are very inexpensive. Especially when you keep in mind that some wood pellets can up to 500% of their own weight, so they will last you longer than a clay based litter. A win for the environment and your wallet.
How wood pellets are made
The source of the pellets’ high absorbancy stems from wood itself being a highly absorbant material, and the processing of it further elevates its ability to hold liquid.
The raw wood is finely ground, heat treated and compressed into pellet form.
What the pellets are made from
The pellets are most often made from excess wood from the timber industry, or recycled materials.
Common types of wood that is used are Pine and Cedar. You can however find different types as well, though these are less common. Some wood pellets will also be made of mixed types of wood.
Pellets intended to be used as cat litter, may even have plant based ingredients added to the mixture for clumping ability. The binding agent from the plants, causes the pellets to form clumps when they are exposed to fluids (such as cat urine). Corn and wheat are examples of such plants, since they contain starch – a common binding agent.
Softwood pellets used for cat litter
These are some of the types of softwood that pellets are made from:
Hardwood pellets for cat litter
These are some of the types of hardwood that pellets are made from:
- Apple wood
Best wood pellet cat litter
So what is the best wood pellet cat litter out there? From all the different options and brands to choose from, we have selected two different cat litters based on customer reviews. The first is a traditional wood pellet cat litter from Feline Pine, and the second one is a newer formula with clumping abilities from Next Gen. Spoiler: The last one is our top pick!
Feline Pine Original Cat Litter
Simply wood pellet cat litter made from 100% pure pine.
Feline Pine is a well known brand, that has been around since 1992. Their cat litter has been tried and tested by thousands of cat owners – they must be doing something right? It has more than a thousand reviews on the product page on Chewy.com alone. It has been rated 4 out of 5 stars, with over 50% of customers giving it a full 5 stars rating.
The pellets are made from recycled wood, more specifically Southern Yellow Pine, due to its ability to absorb moisture and neutralize odors.
“We believe in sustainability. So no new trees are cut down in the production of our litter. Instead, we use kiln-dried shavings reclaimed from lumber production.” Source: Felinepine.com
- 100% pure pine
- Recycled wood
- Tried and tested since 1992
- Low price
Where to buy
Feline Pine Original Cat Litter is available on Chewy.com, where you can also read customer reviews, and answers to questions that people have asked.
Our top pick: Cypress Fresh Cat Litter with Green Tea
Made from recycled Japanese Hinoki wood (a species of cypress), and green tea leaves.
Cypress Fresh Cat Litter from Next Gen Pet Products ” … combines the power of Japanese Hinoki wood and green tea leaves to fight bacterial growth that causes litter box odor” according to their website.
This litter is flushable – but be sure to read the Can you flush cat litter? section in our other article, before considering if you should flush your cat’s waste. As mentioned before, flushing too much of the wood litter could also cause your pipes to clog.
The smaller pellets are softer on your cat’s paws comared to traditional pellet litter made from wood.
This wood pellet litter actually clumps – although the clumps are not very firm, according to some of the product reviews on Chewy’s product page. Still, if you prefere to be able to scoop up and remove your cat’s deposits as they are made, you should be able to do this with more ease than with a non-clumping pellet litter.
- Has some clumping abilities
- Softer on paws
- Newer formula
- Green tea for extra odor control
- Flushable (read this first)
Where to buy
Cypress Fresh Cat Litter with Green Tea is available on Chewy.com, where you can also read customer reviews, and answers to questions that people have asked.
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