Biodegradable Cat Litter
(add your thoughts via tangentsradio at gmail dot com)

I recently asked in a Tangents mass email if anyone can recommend a biodegradable cat litter? And how long did it take for your cat to get accustomed to it?

The Tangents community is filled with cat lovers and the response was quick and thorough.

The replies follow.

Heidi- Jane Schwabe, The Mission, SF

I recommend contacting this guy - he knows anything and EVERYTHING

Bob Cohen

Naturally Fresh - made of walnut shells.  Cats took to it immediately.  Available at Petfood Express.

Mary Farrant

We've had luck with this litter. but can be a little on the expensive side. And this one too. But prefer unscented litter to ones like this with added scents.

Linda Lawrence

Clay isn't too healthy.   Pet Vet, great place near me here in Richmond, recommended a clumping clay and it worked for the kitties but turned into cement in the cat pan.   Another pet supply (Cordonices, on San Pablo Avenue in Albany) turned me on to a litter made of ground walnuts.   It seems lots of people are buying this, now.   My cats are OK with it and I followed the recommendation to layer the pan with a good helping (say 2"?) of the walnut mixture and then pour the clay over the top, covering the size of the pan (so the kitties will think they're getting into their regular clay litter).   Actually, this works well for me, too, because there is still some clay for substance but less of it, now.   The walnut brand is Blue Naturally Fresh.   100% biodegradable.   it calls itself a 'blue buffalo product'.

Marie Z

OK, I am going to sound like a commercial, but I am very pleased with the litter I use, for multiple reasons. BTW, Another reason for you to not use clay litter is that it contains silicones which are problematic. The cat breathes them in, and silicone particles from the clay get lodged in their lungs. This is a very common cause of upper respiratory illnesses or disease.

I've tried many litters!  Best biodegradable alternative: "World's Best Cat Litter".  Yep, that is the name of this litter!
It is corn based, made from husks, cobs, etc that they would normally throw out. It clumps very well!!  It is non toxic if kitty inhales it, or licks his fur/paws.  It tracks a little dust, but not as much as other litters. It is a bit pricey, but it is totally worth it, for all the reasons above. Because it clumps so well, you don't use as much as other litters. I never totally empty the box to change the litter. I just scoop waste out, and add more when it gets low. This is the only litter that allows me to do that because it clumps so well.  If you click on the link below, it will take you to the page with the best purchase price for it that I've found. Free shipping. The next best price is Bernal Beast in Bernal Heights. This litter is not meant to be flushed down the toilet-- NO litter should go down the toilet, it is toxic for the water supply.

In regards to transitioning to a new litter: Try mixing new litter with old litter, little by little, until you have all new litter. My cats took to it right away, so I didn't have to take much care in the change. But many cats get freaked out over any litter box changes. So probably better to err on the safe side and take it slow.

Spread the word to other cat owners. Better for you, your kitty, and the environment.

Dore: You put the clumps in the compost bin?

Marie Z:  No, you can't put the litter in the compost, no matter what litter you use, even if the litter itself is biodegradable.  The city does not allow litter in the green bin. If you have your own compost bin, of course that would be ideal, and you could toss it in there. I rely on the city for composting.  That said, I put the clumps in a biodegradable bags, or I use paper lunch bags, then it goes in the garbage, or black bin, but it will bio degrade. It is the best option I've found.

Has anyone recommended to you a nice bio degradable alternative. If there is better litter then mine, I wouldn't mind looking into it. It doesn't hurt to hear if anyone else has a nice option, particularly if it is less expensive. Many heads are a better then one, or, it takes a village to raise a cat. ;)

Another reason for you to not use clay litter is that it contains silicones which are problematic. The cat breathes them in, and silicone particles from the clay get lodged in their lungs. This is a very common cause of upper respiratory illnesses or disease. Two good biodegradeable alternatives: - Prices Drop As You Shop.

Tim Olson, Redwood City

I used the pine cat litter. It looks like pine pellets. My cat got used to it quite quickly.
I think they like the smell. After removing the solid waste I dumped  it in the green compost bin that sets picked up each week.

Robert Weiner, Bernal Heights, SF

We’ve been using World’s Best Cat Litter for years. It’s made from corn. It’s been ages since we had to transition a cat from clay to World’s Best, but it went fine. It’s technically flushable, but should not be flushed in CA since cat urine in it kills otters.

Chula Camp, SF

Klimey is a little luv bug and seconds the motion regarding the litter !!!

My buddy Dave uses corn litter, He's been using it for years. I don't recall an issue with Mr.Charlie adjusting to it. So many new options now. What I do know is that even though it is biodegradable, cats that ingest it can get ill as it is not digestible. So you need to keep on eye on that. Also it is not suggested to dispose of in the toilet in California. Landfill (black bin) is still the preferred. Cat feces is thought to cause toxoplasmosis in our West Coast otters. So that's my two cents worth.

David Bryant

The ones we use are Exquisite Cat Naturals Pine Cat Litter and Integrity Natural Pine Cat Litter.

It's basically little wood pellets that turn to [dry] sawdust when urine hits them, and then when you shake the litter box all the sawdust part goes to the bottom so you have fresh pellets on top. Once you can't get enough fresh stuff on top, you change the whole thing, although I use a scooper to save some of the remaining pellets and put them on the bottom of the next batch (saves about 1/3 recycling in that way).

Our cat is 20, so I don't remember much from when we switched from clay litter, but I seem to remember just putting a thin layer of the old litter on top of the new litter until she got used to it. It wasn't a big issue.

I also had a vet tell me long ago (and have since read other places) that she didn't recommend clumping litter because cats will sometimes ingest small amounts of litter when licking their paws, and that the clumping litter can essentially clump inside the cat's belly. Not good.

One other thing about the Pine litter is that they say in ads that cats won't track it. Well, ours does track it to some extent, and every once in a while you'll step on one of those little pine chips, and they can really hurt if it's right on your heel! Something to keep in mind if you like to walk around the house barefoot without your glasses on.

Juliana Graffagna

My kittens like Smart Cat. In fact, they often eat it...

Susan St. Aubin

We've used feline pine for years with several cats. The pine scent hides that cat box smell and the cats accept it. Our garden loves it, too.  They suggest you gradually mix it with your old litter, but we've never had to do that.

Harry Weller

I used "Litter Green" which turned out to be expensively re-marketed alfafa pellets, aka rabbit food.  Some people are allergic to the smell of alfalfa, but for us, it worked perfectly - absorbs & breaks down cat pee, flushable, cheap from pet supply place (who routinely sell it as cat litter).  "less than $15 for a 50-lb bag of the brand I buy, Manna Pro"

Ruriko & Damien Raffa

We've had a good eco-friendly run with pine pellets (technically billed as horse bedding!) which can be ordered on-line through Ace Hardware for about 9 bucks (40 lb. bag!) with free delivery to your local Ace Hardware store. (Trader Joe's sells a small bag of the same product if you want to test a smaller quantity). The pellets are made from pine sawdust, and since our cats are indoors only we flush all of it.

Pat Moran

I’m a relatively new cat person, as of about a year ago.  Stella’s a rescue kitty from a local organization.  The two women there recommended “World’s Best Cat Litter,” which is what I’ve been using, and Stella seems happy with.  The multi-cat version (red bag) costs a little more, but it has less dust, so I use it even though I just have the one kitty. And it’s biodegradable. I can flush it down the toilet, no problem.

Karen McCabe

best bio-degradable cat litter. Swheat Scoop.

Terence Groeper, Diamond Heights, SF

Wonder why "cat litter made from clay" (and other natural ingredients) would need to "decompose."  Other than the natural biological and potentially infectious additions (by the cat), aren't clay, limestone, minerals and even ammonia already earth-like and earth-friendly?

Q. What ingredients are in Scoop Away litter? (Dore - Klimey's current litter.)

Most Scoop Away® Scoopable Litter contains odor-eliminating Ammonia Shield, high quality clay, limestone and fragrance (except in unscented formulas). Scoop Away® Plus Crystals combines scoopable clay with zeolite crystals, an odor-locking mineral and a fragrance. And Scoop Away Complete Performance contains — in addition to the scoopable litter — two natural plant extracts to enhance odor control.
Read more

According to the blog
Modern Cat: " scientific studies have been done to clearly show why it is bad.”

Other than the ethical and moral issue of the first-world devoting billions in limited resources to pampering pets and not to saving starving and ill third-world humans, what's the problem?  I'm not advocating anything here, just puzzled by this need for "biodegradability" of something seeming to be already natural.  For "sustainability," do all products have to be 100% edible by microbes?  What's the scoop?  (Pun intended.)

Anyway, on your original question on products, you may find some answers in this
link  (including the comments sections):


I recommend 'Cat Country' organic wheatgrass cat litter by Mountain Meadows Pets (Montana)! They are pellets and are completely biodegradable - no perfumes or chemicals - compostable, flushable too. The winter grass is renewable and good for the earth. Our cats used this litter from when they were just a few weeks old and took to it straight away as it's 100% grass!

Sadly, it was unavailable for a while as the production facility burned down - but its back on the market now. Whilst it was unavailable we switched to 'Natural Pine Pellets" by Integrity (Washington), made from reclaimed sustainable wood and biodegradable, as we needed to replicate a similar type not to confuse our 14+ year old kitties - they transitioned to that litter seamlessly!

Rosie who will be 17 in April and her late brother George who died aged 15&1/2 have never had an issue with using the litter box in all their long years - so I reckon these litters are pretty damn good! But we, just like our cats are fastidious about litter box cleanliness - so that helps!

Sorry in a hurry to add links - but google both products and y'all get the web sites and both litters are sold in SF pet stores.

Good luck!

Crazy cat lady & cat litter queen

Elinor Levine

From PetFood Express their Smart Litter. There is one kind that is made of corn, but nice small grains. Doesn't track much either. Unscented.

Jeanne ("Jan") Pimentel and Ginger

I have a secret solution - well not secret, but no one else I know does it​.  I use pure redwood sawdust that I get from a local EB lumber mill ($5 a big garbage bag).​ My cat Ginger loves it.
It's soft and absorbs the urine and the smell, and coats the poop so it's easy to just sieve the solids out.  (You can even leave the used stuff in the sun and it will dry out and be usable again!) Only needs attention every week or even less often.  I haven't checked it out with safety people, partly because I'm sure the litter manufacturers will have plenty of arguments against it as it would reduce their business.  But I've been using it for over a year with no ill effects. And it seems so natural.

Jan Elise Sells

I don't know if you've ever watched Shark Tank on TV, but there was a woman who presented her idea/product/can't remember the details, but it's how to train a cat to poop in your toilet! You might be able to Google it or find it at Pet Smart or a place like that. Apparently it's really successful and she's made a million dollars on it already!!

John Payne

I had the same concern a while back.

My then four-year old cat went without a hitch from the generic sand/clay (?) combo sold in bulk at PetCo to Blue Buffalo's clay, chemical, corn and grain-free walnut-based litter.

I get it from Chewy, which has customer service that makes Amazon look indifferent! If I try something my cat doesn't like, they credit my $$$ without a hitch and ask me to pass it on to a cat shelter.

Jennifer Collins

America's Best Cat Litter is biodegradable. And even flushable.

Usually it's recommended that the new cat litter gets gradually mixed with the old litter, so the cat gets used to it. Some are very finicky about their litter.
(Dore note: after researching this it appears that flushing litter is never a good idea despite what the manufacturer says.)

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