When it comes to choosing a natural cat litter, it can be all too easy to choose the name brands; however, these aren’t always the highest quality or healthiest options.
For those who care about the environment as well as their cat’s health, choosing a natural cat litter is the obvious choice.
Top Picks For The Best Natural Cat Litter
For those exploring natural cat litter, here are some of the top picks among consumers who have made the switch from “traditional litters”.
Best Overall (Recommended)
- 26 lb bag
- Because Naturally Fresh is so absorbent,...
- Unlike clay litters which throw off...
- AN ODOR-FREE HOME STARTS...
- OUTSTANDING ODOR ELIMINATION WITH...
- HIGHLY ABSORBENT, ABSORBS 2X AS MUCH...
Best All Natural
- One (1) 12 lb. Bag - Purina Tidy Cats...
- Outstanding odor control for a...
- Naturally clumping design for easy...
What Is Natural Cat Litter?
Natural cat litter is made from completely natural substances and therefore is usually biodegradable and sustainable. By utilizing naturally growing plants and food byproducts, litter can be disposed of in a more ecological manner.
Alternatively, litter made out of materials like clay swells up after use and cannot break down naturally. Because of this, they take up space in landfills and are littering our planet.
Since natural cat litter is made from eco-friendly ingredients, they’re also much healthier for your cat. It’s not uncommon for cats to ingest some of their litter as they groom themselves, so by purchasing solely natural litter, you are ensuring your cat isn’t eating any processed or unhealthy ingredients.
Types Of Natural Cat Litter
For those looking for an alternative to typical clay litter, there are several different natural varieties to consider.
Wheat litter is made up of processed wheat and is a very affordable option for those looking to make the switch to natural litter. As a well-clumping natural material, wheat has many benefits to consider.
One of the best parts of using wheat litter is the ability to flush it down the toilet without destroying your plumbing. This is a great option for those who want to reduce their waste and dispose of cat litter without plastic bags going to landfill.
Unlike synthetic scented cat litter, a wheat-based litter has a smell more in line with nature. This is preferred by cats and won’t leave your home smelling like artificial fragrances. Remember that a cat’s sense of smell is 14 times stronger than ours. If you’re feeling bothered by the artificial smell of litter, your cat is too!
Furthermore, wheat litter has very low dust levels, making it an ideal choice for allergy sufferers or people with sensitive respiratory systems.
This, paired with the natural starches in wheat that allow for optimal moisture absorption, makes it a great option for any cat owner. The enzymes in the wheat litter will eliminate odors, ensuring you never miss your old synthetic cat litter.
Unfortunately, even with all the benefits to using wheat litter, there’s one downfall that may deter you from ever buying it and that is aflatoxins. It’s critical to understand how each product is used in litter breaks down and with wheat, as it gets dehydrated then sits in the damp humid environment that is your cat’s litter box, it can grow mycotoxins.
This is a fungus that can be fatal to cats if ingested in large doses. This is most dangerous for young or sick animals as they’re less able to fight the toxins. If your cat is exposed to aflatoxins, here are some of the first signs to look for:
- Reduced ability to reproduce
- Gastrointestinal issues, including abnormal bowel movements
- Reduced appetite
If your cat is a strong adult, it may not die from the intake of aflatoxins; however, one strain of the fungus is carcinogenic.
Since your cat will track their litter around the house on their paws and even eat some of it when grooming themselves, you must know the potentially harmful side effects. With aflatoxins being incredibly common in dried grains used for litter, it’s not worth the potential health issues.
If this isn’t an issue for you, the last thing to look into before purchasing wheat litter is if your cat has any wheat allergies. This can be very common in house cats and if they do have an allergy, this could cause illness and further issues in your cat’s health.
- 99.9% dust free
- Fast-clumping formula made with natural...
- Guaranteed to work or your money back
Corn is another extremely common material used for cat litter as it’s a cheap and easy to come by crop. With a decent amount of corn waste each year, using the plant as litter makes for less food waste and more environmentally friendly pet care.
You will find that corn-based litter is very similar in a lot of ways to wheat-based litter. Corn has the natural ability to trap ammonia which is the element in cat urine that causes the foul smell, making corn litter a great option for those who are struggling to get control over the litter box smell.
Corn litter for the most part is 99% dust free, creating better air quality inside the home and reducing irritation in the respiratory tract. And just like wheat litter, you can flush your corn-based litter down the toilet for easy clean-up and a reduction of waste!
Just like wheat-based cat litter, the potential for aflatoxins is high in a corn-based litter. It’s incredibly easy for the fungus to grow on dampened corn which can cause toxicity to cats as well as humans. Although each batch of corn-based litter is tested before being sent out for sale, cat owners can’t know if the litter has aflatoxins growing once they open the bag and their cat begins going to the bathroom on it.
You can reduce the risk by storing the corn-based litter in a cold and dry environment where there’s no humidity or moisture to cause mold; however, this is still a huge risk and not one that just anybody would be willing to take.
Apart from this, corn-based litter can be painful on your cat’s feet as the hard pellets. This is especially true for kittens as their pads are more sensitive; however, with all age cats, you want to be careful about giving them litter that’s too hard as it can create a negative association with their litter box, causing them to stop using it.
As with wheat litter, before buying corn-based litter be sure to double check with your veterinarian that there are no allergies to be aware of. This can help you to avoid any potential health issues down the line.
- No Harsh Chemicals – just Natural Pine...
- Highly Absorbent pine pellets to keep...
- Low Dust and Lightweight (Less than half...
Wood based cat litters are formed into pellets that are made up of compressed wood fibers. When moistened the pellets will turn into sawdust to make for easier removal of used litter. Because of the wood used, the litter doesn’t clump which some cat owners don’t prefer for cleaning purposes.
However, as a natural material, this litter will reduce the waste you are creating and will more easily break down and reintegrate back into the earth after being used.
Disposing of your wood pellet litter can be done by either flushing it down the toilet or using it for compost. By using your wood litter for compost, you can create some high-quality soil that can be used for both indoor or outdoor plants and gardening. This can help you to create a more sustainable household.
Keep in mind that since not all wood pellets are manufactured the same if you’ve purchased one that is safe to flush it will clearly say so on the packaging of the litter. If you don’t see a “flushable” sticker on the package, then you should opt for composting your cat’s litter.
Another huge benefit of wood litter is that it has a natural pine smell which overshadows any cat waste smell. With no added fragrance, you are simply benefiting from the natural smell of wood.
Once your cat is used to the way the pellets feel on their feet, you will see huge benefits in the fact that they don’t get stuck to your cat’s feet and therefore won’t get tracked through the house. This also reduced the amount of litter your cat could accidentally consume when grooming themselves.
While this is slightly dependent on the individual cat, it seems that the majority of cats prefer finer-grain litter to pellet litter as it’s smoother and feels more like sand. If your cat has sensitive paws or tends to be picky with its preferences, you may have some trouble getting your cat used to walking on the pellets.
Another complaint that users have about wood litter is the differences in cleaning. While it’s not more difficult to clean and doesn’t require a specific type of litter box, it’s different from cleaning litter that naturally clumps. This may be seen as a con when you first start using it, however, you are likely to get used to the cleaning process rather quickly.
Keep in mind that when compared to corn or wheat-based litter, wood is more expensive making it a bit more of an investment. As with any other natural material, before making the switch, consult your veterinarian to make sure your cat doesn’t have allergies to that material.
- [100% Biodegradable. Healthy and safe...
- [Flushable & Dust Free] - Fast dissolve...
- [Instant clumping and easy to scoop] -...
Similar to the pellet wood litter, tofu is made from beans and formed into pellets to dissolve into a similar sawdust material when moistened. This doesn’t require a special litter box and is easy to clean with the right tools.
In comparison to the classic synthetic litter, you will find that tofu-based litter lasts much longer before having to clean out the whole litter box and replace all of the litter. When scooped daily, you can keep the same litter for up to a month due to the absorption and odor elimination from the tofu.
When put to the test, tofu litter absorbed four times more water than traditional clay clumping litter!
Tofu litter is also the safest to ingest for your cat out of all of the natural litters since it’s made from beans. Unless your cat has an allergy, they won’t have any adverse effects from ingesting some of the litter while cleaning themselves.
This litter is also completely dust free and since it’s pelletized, won’t get stuck to your cat and track around the house. It’s biodegradable and can be composted or flushed down the toilet.
While this litter is generally the most expensive among competitors, you’ll find that since it lasts longer, you are still getting your money’s worth. However, this remains a major complaint among users as it’s a huge deterrent for the initial purchase of the tofu-based product.
The tofu products are pelleted and because of this, it may take a while for your cat to get used to. Cleaning won’t more difficult than clumping litter but will require some getting used to as well as potentially a new shovel type that isn’t slated as the shredded tofu material could fall through the cracks.
- One, 5-lb bag of CatSpot, has the same...
- CatSpot is an all-natural, non-clumping...
- Zero Chemicals: All-natural with no...
For those who prefer something completely natural, coconut litter is a great option as it has no additives at all. With most coconut litter brands being 100% coconut husks, they are a healthy and safe option. Because of its simplicity, it has many differences from other leading natural litter varieties.
One of the best things about coconut litter is how pure it is. This is great for cats who are sensitive to new smells or have allergies to common litter ingredients. Since coconut husks have no scent, they won’t deter your cat in any way. The husks can absorb urine quite well so while they don’t clump, it’s easy to see where your cat has urinated.
Coconut litter is also incredibly sustainable and environmentally friendly since it’s made from the natural waste created by the coconut industry.
This litter is also dust free and will reduce the amount of dust you and your cat are inhaling.
Coconut husk litter is soft and a bit sponge like making a very inviting texture for cats. Because of this, cats enjoy walking on the substance and are more likely to use the litter.
Since coconut litter is fairly lightweight it’s more prone to stick to your cat’s fur. Because of this, you may find pieces of coconut husk around your house. So although dust isn’t a problem, tracking whole litter pieces may be, especially if your cat has longer fur.
While the coconut litter itself is completely odorless, that also means that it has no odor to mask that of your cat. It’s highly recommended to clean coconut litter at least once a day to avoid any ammonia smell buildup from your cat’s urine.
For those who like to shovel out clumps of litter, coconut husk litter may take a while to get used to since it doesn’t have any clumping agent. This will require some getting used to for those who have never used a non-clumping litter.
Should You Buy Natural Cat Litter?
Although natural litters are more expensive per pound of litter, they’re generally much lighter than synthetic litter which evens out the price to be more comparable. With natural litter still being more expensive, they make up for this price point in other ways, such as being significantly more environmentally friendly.
Overall it’s highly recommended to make the switch to natural cat litter to both improve the health of your cat and the planet.
The ability to flush natural cat litters down the toilet is a major upside for easy cleaning. As well as the ability to compost if you’re looking to make some of your own nutrient rich soil. Further pros to using natural cat litter include:
- The litter is generally lighter
- Healthier in case your cat ingests any
- Less likely to get tracked around the home
- Will last longer between cleanings
- No synthetic fragrances to deter your cat
- Better for the environment
On top of the potential growth of toxic fungus in the corn and wheat based litters, further cons include:
- Cats disliking the feel of the pellets on their feet
- Generally more expensive
- More likely to aggravate any existing allergies your cat may have
- Certain materials (like wood and tofu) may be more difficult to scoop
With the general pros outweighing the cons of natural cat litter the consensus among consumers seems to be that it’s worth the switch but may take some time to find the exact right material to suit you and your cat’s needs.
Natural Cat Litter Buying Guide
In finding the right natural litter for your cat, there are a few considerations depending on you and your cat’s preferences.
It’s important to take into account how your cat reacts to different surfaces that they walk on. If they have sensitive pads and don’t like walking on uneven or harder surfaces, using pelleted cat litter likely won’t be the best option for them. In this case, opt for wheat or corn.
Due to the possibility of fungus, if your cat constantly licks its feet after using its litter box, it is not recommended that you use a wheat-based or corn-based litter.
When living in a hot and humid climate, you should consider how you will store wheat and corn litter to ensure whether or not fungus will grow inside and cause potential health problems.
Litter Box Habits
Since cats are drawn to certain smells, trying litters that have natural earthy smells like wheat can greatly improve the frequency your cat chooses to use the box.
While natural litter doesn’t need to be changed as frequently, certain materials like tofu are more expensive which may not be sustainable for your budget.
How To Use Natural Cat Litter
The most important thing to note is when you’re making the switch from clay litter to natural litter, don’t clean the litter box and replace the entirety of the litter with the new product right away. This will be too fast of a change for your cat and can increase the chances of them rejecting the litter box.
Making The Switch
Start first by replacing about a quarter of your cat’s litter box with the new product. This will be about 1-inch deep of the new litter to 3 inches of the old litter. You’ll continue increasing the amount of new litter with each chance until the old one has completely been phased out after about four or five times of cleaning.
Be sure you are still cleaning the box every day and either flushing the litter down the toilet or placing it in a compost area. If you’re keeping it clean every day you won’t need to replace the entire box for a few weeks.
When you do a full clean of the box, you can throw all of the current litter in the garbage, toilet, or compost bin. Wash out the litter box to get rid of any additional urine or fecal matter left over that can cause odor. Replace about 4 inches thick of litter into the box and go back to daily cleanings.
Best Natural Cat Litter
The overall best litter based on consumer feedback and recommendations is the Naturally Fresh Cat Litter. This litter is made of walnut shells and clumps as clay litter making for easy cleanup.
Best Overall (Recommended)
- 26 lb bag
- Because Naturally Fresh is so absorbent,...
- Unlike clay litters which throw off...
Conclusion On The Best Natural Cat Litters
While there are several pros and cons to using natural litter over traditional clay litter, the overwhelming majority of cat owners prefer using natural cat litter for their ability to reduce dust, synthetic materials, and waste. If you aren’t having good luck with your natural cat litter, try a different material until you find one that works for both you and your cat!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can breathing in cat litter harm you?
While the dust itself of the litter won’t harm you unless you have asthma or allergies, with a build up of feces or urine, the ammonia could cause health issues in both you and your cat. This is why it’s recommended to clean your cat’s litter every day and buy natural litter as they don’t have as much dust as clay litter.
If I flush my litter, can I flush my cat’s feces?
It’s not recommended to flush cat feces as their fecal matter contains parasites called Toxoplasma Gondii which can have major impacts on human health. If this builds up in the sewage system it can have human health impacts. However, you can flush clumps of litter with cat urine.
Which cat litter is most like sand?
If you’re looking to mimic sand as best you can, using the Arm & Hammer Naturals is a great option. Since it combines several natural ingredients, it won’t be as rough on your cat’s paws as some other natural litter.
Last update on 2021-07-27 at 08:23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API