Traditional clay-based cat litter has been the go-to choice for many cat owners, partly because it is readily available and does the job. However, new and innovative options are now widely available that offer improved performance, and ingredients that are healthier for felines and their humans.
Many of the newer kinds of cat litter are made with renewable products derived from plants. These materials are not only absorbent once processed, but are also more environmentally friendly and do not contain other chemicals.
If you are looking for a healthier alternative to clay or clumping cat litter, a litter made from organic materials can be a great option, while still being affordable.
Quick Look : Best Biodegradable Litter in 2019
What is Biodegradable Cat Litter?
Biodegradable cat litter is a litter that is made from organic materials that are typically plant sources such as pine, corn, walnut shells, grass, and wheat. Since the litter is made from plant sources it can be composted, and often flushed, making disposal a breeze.
The companies that make biodegradable cat litter have made great efforts to improve their products, which now have comparable, or better, performance to the conventional clay and clumping litter that has been so widely used in the past.
Many cats and their owners are also sensitive to dust, chemicals, fragrances, and other substances commonly found in clay and clumping litters. Biodegradable litter is almost always without chemicals and fragrance and is also designed to be low dust.
Why Avoid Traditional Clay and Clumping Cat Litter?
Traditional clay litters generally look like sand and have been commercially available since the 1940’s. They are a low-cost option in the realm of cat litters but are often dusty, heavy, and easily tracked around by cat paws.
Clay litter is usually not long lasting, which has sparked many cat owners to look for a better solution that is easier to dispose of, and more environmentally friendly.
Clumping cat litters composed of clay may also have potentially unhealthy and dangerous ingredients such as silica dust, which when inhaled is a known carcinogen. The bentonite clay used in clumping litter can also expand to absorb 15 times its weight, which can pose a hazard when a cat inhales it.
Both traditional clay and clumping cat litter typically include perfumes or scents designed to cover up and trap any smells from the litter box. Clay and other ingredients that are part of clay and clumping litter are often obtained through the process of strip mining.
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How is Biodegradable Cat Litter Better for My Cat?
Natural litter is made from sustainable materials, and certain kinds are even resistant to bacteria and mold without any harsh chemicals being added. Dust from this kind of cat litter is also possible, but the organic material is harmless when inhaled.
Cats may be finicky and have strong preferences about their litter box, but many biodegradable cat litters come in a wide range of textures that resemble clay litter without the potentially harmful clay or chemicals. The organic material is also often grown without sprays, fertilizers, or pesticides.
The companies that manufacture these biodegradable and natural litters also typically offer greater transparency about their products than many other brands.
What are the Benefits of Biodegradable Cat Litter?
Natural cat litter is biodegradable and typically made from environmentally friendly, organic materials that are processed into pellets or crumbles suitable for cat litter. They are relatively dust free, and what little dust is produced is considered to be harmless to cats and humans.
Pellets of natural cat litter do not track as easily as clay-based litter does, however, there is still the crumbled bits that may find their way out of the box. The pelleted, organic material is often compostable, and able to be flushed on its own.
Cat litter made from organic materials is typically lighter than clay litter, and with proper daily care can last almost twice as long. Granular biodegradable cat litter can be easily tracked much like clay litter and may require more frequent cleaning of the litter box, but its dust is benign to both humans and cats that come in contact with it.
Litter made from organic material will come with its own natural aroma and doesn’t include added perfumes and scents like clay litter does. Some people enjoy the smell of the natural litter, while others find it bothersome.
Can I Use Biodegradable Cat Litter If I Have Multiple Cats?
If your household has multiple cats you can absolutely still use a natural and biodegradable cat litter that is made from organic materials. There are also several types of biodegradable cat litter that are specifically designed for multi-cat households.
Current recommendations advise having one more litter box than your total number of cats in the home, which allows you to experiment with different kinds of litter. By observing which litter box and litter is used most by your cats, you can determine which kind they prefer, and pick the best one to suit your needs.
Some cats prefer the pellets, while others will look for granular litter. If you are worried about multiple cats tracking litter all around your house, start with pellets before exploring granular litter.
Will Biodegradable Cat Litter Control Odor and Clump Together Like Clay Litter?
Biodegradable litter is typically free of perfumes and other chemicals that lend scent to the product. Instead, there is the natural scent of the organic material that was processed to create the litter, which is often simple, transparent ingredients.
Litter made from biodegradable materials can often be better at controlling odor, as it acts more like a filter to remove the odor while clay is designed to trap it inside a clump.
With new innovations in materials and process, biodegradable cat litter can offer better performance than clay. Some natural cat litters that are composed of organic materials now outperform their clay-based competition and are improving all the time.
Newer biodegradable cat litters will often clump better than clay litter and don’t have the same harmful dust that clay harbors. In addition to having more options, biodegradable litter can also be flushed, which makes it easier to dispose of than clay.
What is the Best Natural and Biodegradable Cat Litter Available?
The best biodegradable cat litter will depend on your cat and their preferences, and what works in your home. Many owners prefer the pelleted litter for less tracking while others may need to try different kinds of granular litter until they reach a texture that pleases their cat.
The organic material that makes up the litter is key as well. Some cats prefer grass or wheat, but there are other materials such as walnut shells that many have great success using. There are several factors to consider when choosing a cat litter such as dust, the plant source, odor control and clumping ability.
Here’s our list of the best biodegradable cat litters, that come highly reviewed by cat owners all over.
Pioneer Pet SmartCat All-Natural Cat Litter Check Price
The Pioneer Pet SmartCat Litter is 99% dust free and is made from grasses that were grown in the USA. It claims to clump better than clay litter and its “creamy, sand-like texture” makes it less trackable than other litters.
SmartCat Litter is also free of perfumes and chemicals that cats and owners may find offensive. The company has a “No smell-can’t tell” slogan, and “out clumps clay every day” motto which shows their confidence in their product’s ability to immediately absorb liquid, and trap odors extremely quickly.
Odor absorption and liquid absorption is a definitive perk for cat owners, and many report this litter to be the best at accomplishing both.
- 99% Dust free means you and your cat won’t inhale unnecessary dust
- Chemical, clay, and fragrance-free
- Made from sustainable and renewable grass, farmed in the USA
- Advanced odor control and clumping designed to outperform clay
- Very lightweight and tracks easily
- Some cats find it tasty enough to eat
- Not the most economical, price-wise
Blue Buffalo Naturally Fresh Walnut-Based Quick-Clumping Cat Litter Check Price
Blue Buffalo Naturally Fresh cat litter is made from a blend of walnut shells that were grown in the US. It claims to be 3x more absorbent than the leading clay litter, and better able to neutralize odors than clay, pine, and wheat based litters.
This litter has an interesting texture that is paw safe but is also a mix of granules and pellets that many cats find to be the best of both worlds. Owners like that it tracks less, and less of it ends up sticking to their cat’s fur as well.
The walnut based litter is also very dust free, and low tracking since it doesn’t stick to cat paws like smaller granular litter. With the Naturally Fresh litter, clean up should be simple as it also claims to clump harder than pine, corn, or wheat-based litter.
Another interesting feature is that while other cat litters suggest 3”-4” of litter be placed in the bottom of the litter box, Blue Buffalo Naturally Fresh litter only requires 2”. This suggests that even with regular cleaning and maintenance, this litter will last longer than other types of biodegradable litter.
Blue Buffalo Naturally Fresh litter is 100% natural, eco-friendly, and does not contain chemicals, toxins, corn, grains, or clay so it is safe for cats of all ages. Since it is made with organic and renewable sources, this litter can also be composted or similarly disposed of without harming the environment.
Cats do not generally find this litter tasty enough to eat, which is a relief for many owners who have cats that will eat other plant-based litters. Here are some other things we found noteworthy about this litter:
- Quick clumping and 3x as absorbent as clay litter
- Made from walnut shells in the USA
- Unscented, superior odor control compared to clay, wheat, and pine
- Biodegradable, eco-friendly, and compostable
- Virtually dust free, and low tracking
- Slight tracking of brown dust due to the natural color of the walnut shells
- Can take some time to form truly hard clumps
- May stain light fur and white flooring with repeated exposure
- Recommended for households with only one cat
Frisco All-Natural Grass Clumping Cat Litter Check Price
Frisco All-Natural Grass litter is made from “100% natural grass ingredients” and contains no added fragrances, chemicals, or dyes of any kind. Many cats prefer the natural smell of the grass, and the texture of the litter as well. Frisco All-Natural Grass Clumping Litter is also low dust and the clumping features are as good or better than clay litter.
This grass-based litter is also suitable for multi-cat households due to its ability to quickly absorb odors, liquids, and strong ammonia smells that often plague the area surrounding a busy litter box. The granular texture is designed for easier sifting and to be just the right amount of softness for discerning cat paws.
Cleaning the litter box should also be easier as this litter creates fast forming clumps that can easily be scooped without using up too much litter.
- Ultra-absorbent and fast clumping
- Made from 100% Biodegradable grass
- No added fragrances, dyes, or chemicals
- Excellent control and absorbance of odors
- Low dust and cat paw friendly
- Not flushable or recommended for disposal outdoors
- Can stick to the bottom of the litter box
- Mild tracking, depending on the cat
sWheat Scoop Natural Fast-Clumping Wheat Cat Litter Check Price
Made from wheat and other grains, the sWheat Scoop Natural Cat Litter has been improved to better eliminate odors, clump faster, and outlast other litters. It does not contain chemicals, silica dust, or sodium bentonite (clay).
sWheat Scoop is unique in that it is farmer-owned, and the ingredients are also farmer-grown. This kind involvement is what makes this company unique, and their commitment to improving their product through technology has helped them stand out.
Their proprietary Noble Ion® Technology means they use wheat enzymes and starches to create a litter that uses positive ions in order to eliminate the negative ions that can be found in pet odors. In short, by eliminating the bad ions, you eliminate the odors as well.
The granular texture of the litter makes it highly absorbent, and easy to sift. sWheat Scoop is also flushable and compostable with minimal dust.
- Made from 100% renewable resources (all-natural wheat enzymes and starches)
- Noble Ion® technology for odor absorption
- No dyes, perfumes, or dust
- Flushable and compostable
- Minimal dust and tracking
- Some cats can’t resist eating it
- Litter boxes may need to be cleaned more often than with clay litter
- Some people do not care for the smell
- Clumping is less strong than with clay litter