Cat top view sitting in litter box on bathroom floor

You may be a cat owner — or owned by a cat; it’s hard to tell. But when it comes to cat litter, you and your cat will enjoy environmentally friendly litter more than the clay variety. Clay litter is dusty and comes with anecdotal stories about it being unhealthy for both people and cats. Although there is a lack of solid evidence to support these concerns, the dust is definitely annoying.

The environmental concern with traditional cat litter is its source. Seventy-five percent of cat litter is made of bentonite clay, and nearly all bentonite clay in the U.S. is obtained by strip mining, an extremely environmentally damaging process. With these factors in mind, here are a few eco-friendly alternatives to consider.

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Feline Pine

Using kiln-dried shavings reclaimed from lumber production, Feline Pine kitty litter is made from sawdust from Southern Yellow Pine trees. It is an excellent type of wood for absorbing moisture and eliminating odors. The company behind the product, Feline Pine, pledges that their goals are to protect the environment, respect all living things, and focus on product quality. The company offers both clumping and non-clumping varieties.

World’s Best Cat Litter

World’s Best Cat Litter company offers their own environmentally friendly litter variety made from corn. It claims to produce very little dust compared to other litters. Besides its renewable source, clumping abilities, and odor control qualities, it also is “septic safe,” meaning this cat litter can be flushed into a septic or sewer system safely. Along with the standard clumping kitty litter, it offers additional variations, such as multi-cat clumping, zero mess, scented variations, and an Attraction Action variety that used plant-based attractants that safely draw the cat to the litter box.

Yesterday’s News

Made from recycled paper — including newspapers and magazines — Yesterday’s News offers a cat litter that helps divert paper from landfills for a new purpose. Made by Purina, this paper-based cat litter is three times as absorbent as clay cat litter and gentle on the cat’s paws, according to the company. Additionally, Yesterday’s News kitty litter says it is rated the #1 recycled cat litter in the U.S. by veterinarians. Using reclaimed newspaper is good for the environment and the resulting used litter will break down in a compost pile or landfill.

sWheat Scoop

Wheat is another natural foundation for cat litter. sWheat Scoop offers another option for flushable, clumping, biodegradable kitty litter pellets made from renewable resources and treated with a nontoxic process that prevents odors. Wheat has interesting odor-reducing qualities because it contains enzymes that neutralize the smell of urine. It also clumps naturally when wet. Check out the three varieties of sWheat Scoop.

Safer Litter for a Healthier Planet

While these litter products give you a natural alternative to strip-mined bentonite clay, they do not reduce the volume of litter required. If you have more than one cat, you will need to clean your litter box several times a week. And remember, you should never flush cat waste down the toilet; it may contain a parasite that water treatment plants can’t remove.

These are just a few choices in the emerging world of environmentally responsible cat litter. Look for alternatives to clay when shopping. If we are going to bring nature into our homes, inviting cats and dogs to live with us, shouldn’t we make sure their waste is handled responsibly?

This article was originally published on March 22, 2019.

By Taylor Ratcliffe

Taylor Ratcliffe is Earth911's customer support and database manager. He is a graduate of the University of Washington.