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 the fresh pellets remain on top. Sprinkle additional pellets on the surface to maintain the litter box. Feces are scooped away and removed daily. The entire contents of the litter box is changed about every 14 days, depending on number of cats and usage.
Pellets made from wood are highly absorbant compared to clay, and can take up to 500% of their own weight. This means 1 lb of wood pellet cat litter will last you longer than 1 lb 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 odour. Many cat owners also appreciate the natural scent from wood such as Pine.
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 pouring the pellets into the litter box, they should end up covering the entire surface, and go about an inch deep.
How to scoop wood pellet litter
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.
In the video below, 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:
- 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.
When dealing with pellet litter, you might prefere to use a scoop with larger holes. 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.
How often to change the entire contents of the litter box
How often you should change out the wood pellet litter will depend on a few things. A good rule of thumb is, however, 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
Since wood is a natural material that is biodegradable, so it the litter. 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.
Transitioning to pellet litter
It 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.
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, are supposed to be eliminated during the heat treatment when producing the pellets.
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.
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.
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, and has received more than 4 out of 5 stars.
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 avaliable at 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.
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 to this with more ease than with a non-clumping pellet litter.
- Recycled wood
- 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 avaliable at Chewy.com, where you can also read customer reviews, and answers to questions that people have asked.
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