I’ve tried a lot of litter options over the years.
Not only with my own cats but I’ve also fostered hundreds of feline friends over the years and have rotated through just about every type of litter you could think of. As if that wasn’t enough, I’ve also worked in several shelters where we tried many types of litter to find what worked best.
But after all that, there’s one type of cat litter that I prefer over all others and that’s wood pellet litter.
When compared to clay litter, there’s really no contest. Wood pellet litter is easier on the environment, more cost-effective, smells better and my absolute favorite is that it doesn’t track! That means no more picking litter off your feet anytime you step within 20 feet of your cat’s litter box.
Even better, no more finding litter in places like your bed!
The goal of this article is to give you everything you need to know about wood pellet litter for your cat. I’ve also added in a few of my favorite brands if you’re interested in picking some up for your own cat.
But when I say everything, I really mean it. So I highly suggest that you the table of contents below to see what’s inside and track down what you’re looking for.
Okay, What Exactly Is Wood Pellet Cat Litter?
Wood pellet litter is usually made from pine, and occasionally cedarwood. The pellets are made by first dehydrating the wood under high heat and then compressing them into small pellets. The pellets are surprisingly absorbent and that’s part of why they work so well as cat litter. In most cases, they can absorb between 4 and 7 times their weight in liquid.
While there’s a lot to love about wood pellet litter, the fact that there are no additives or chemicals required is a major plus. The pellets are made from natural ingredients and simply compressed under high pressure- no chemicals required.
Wood pellets come in a variety of forms and there are several options on the market that are specifically made to be used as cat litter. But some folks will also use wood fuel pellets for their cats.
As long as you do your research, this can work just fine as well as saving you quite a bit of money. Regardless of what wood pellet brand you use, you want to make sure that it’s kiln-dried which will remove unwanted compounds from the wood.
You use the wood pellets just like you would with any other litter and most cats are happy to dig around and do their business.
Where Does The Wood Come From?
In most cases, scrap wood is used. While that can sound a little discouraging to some folks it’s actually a good thing.
Remember, we’re not trying to craft a perfect kitchen table with this wood- instead, we’re asking our cat to poop on it. So it would be a bit of a shame to use a higher quality wood with the end goal of having our feline friend use it as a toilet.
It’s also great to know that wood that would otherwise be thrown away is being put to good use.
Finally, by using scrap wood, manufacturers are able to keep the cost of wood pellet litter under control and extremely competitive with other options.
What Type Of Wood Is Used?
When it comes to wood pellets that are specifically made for cats, pine is by far the most popular. That’s why you’ll often hear wood pellet cat litter simply referred to as pine pellet litter.
Then there are wood pellets that are made to be used as fuel but can also work for cats. These are usually softwood or hardwood. Softwood pellets most often contain pine along with other woods like spruce, cedar, and juniper.
Hardwood pellets are usually made from oak, ash, or beech. There typically isn’t a price difference between the two types but the exact composition can vary a lot between manufacturers or even batches in some cases.
Does Wood Pellet Litter Clump?
Wood pellet litter doesn’t clump. Instead, when urine (or any other liquid) comes in contact with the wood pellets they break apart and start to form sawdust. You can clearly see where the urine is inside the box and can still scoop it but you won’t see the large clumps as you’d expect in a traditional litter.
For some folks, this is a downside because over time the broken-up pellets will move the bottom and accumulate. But if you’re already regularly emptying your entire litterbox (like me) then it shouldn’t be much of a problem.
But if you really love clumping litter but still want to dump the clay then you could check out something like OKOCAT litter which you can see here on Amazon. We’ve got a full review of them towards the end of the article, but they’re one of the brands that offer clumping wood pellets.
Do I Need A Special Scooper?
Nope! In the majority of cases, your existing scooper is actually going to be perfect for wood pellets! But you’re just going to use it a little differently than you might expect.
How Do I Scoop Wood Pellet Litter?
Remember, when cats pee on the wood pellets they start to break up into sawdust-like clumps. Most scoopers have narrow holes that are too large for the wood pellets to pass through but small enough for the sawdust bits to fall through. When you scoop, you’ll want to place a trash bag under the scooper to collect the peed-on pellets and dump the clean ones back into the box.
With clumping litter, you let the dirty clumps stay in the scoop while the clean litter falls back in the box. But with wood pellets, we’re doing just the opposite and letting the dirty and broken-up pellets fall into a trash bag while the clean pellets stay on the scoop.
Not making sense?
Check out this video to see exactly how this is done:
You can see that she’s using a regular old scooper which works because the pellets are too large to fall through.
But what about the poops?
In the video above, you can see that she’s using a bag to just pick up the poops. I actually use doggy bags and it’s admittedly a little gross and certainly not for everyone. However, the pick-up-a-poop method works really well for wood pellet litter since the clean pellets aren’t going to fall through the scoop like they would with traditional litter.
You can also just use your existing scooper to remove the poops and consider the surrounding clean pellets collateral damage.
But if you want to be as conservative as possible, you can check out a scooper with large holes in it that will let pellets pass through. This simple scooper on Amazon has openings large enough for pellets and will work perfectly. Check out the reviews to hear from other pellet litter users, too.
Do I Need A Special Litter Box for Wood Pellets?
Nope, most litterboxes will work just fine with wood pellets, and while there are litterboxes that are specially designed to be used with wood pellets they aren’t required. If you’re already using a standard open box or even an enclosed litterbox then that’s all you need for wood pellets.
Will Wood Pellets Work With Sifting Litterboxes?
Sifting litterboxes are typically designed for small litter that clumps. The idea is that you can shake out the good litter and leave the clumps of urine or stool in the shifter to be tossed out.
The problem is that wood pellets are too large to move through most sifters and so the clean ones can’t get separated from the rest.
However, sifting isn’t a total waste. When cats pee on the wood pellets, the urine is absorbed and the pellets start to break apart. A shifting litter box can help pull out some of these pellets that have broken apart and improve the cleanliness of the box. You’ll still need to scoop, of course, but by sifting you can get more mileage out of your clean pellets.
This might be a little hard to imagine if you’ve never seen wood pellet litter break apart after it gets wet so check out this video (which also features a very cool DIY box) for how this works:
What about sifting litterboxes specifically made for wood pellet litter?
Those are few and far between. The main reason is that the litter doesn’t clump so the sifting is just different. Instead of sifting the good litter to the bottom tray, as you would in a traditional sifting box, in the case of pellets you actually want to push the broken-up pellets to the bottom.
Again, if that’s making sense check out the video above which gives you a quick and clear illustration of this.
Besides the DIY option, one of the more pellet-friendly litter boxes on the market is the Tidy Cats system which you can check out here on Amazon. Even though the litterbox is made for pellets that are made of zeolite which is a firm, non-toxic mineral they can still work wood pellets.
Will It Work In An Automatic Litter Box?
In most cases, wood pellet litter isn’t a good fit for automatic litterboxes. That’s because most automatic litterboxes use a sifting mechanism that just won’t work with wood pellet litter and most of them are built around the use of clumping litter.
As the folks at LitterRobot explain, “No, Feline Pine pellets are too large to pass through the sifting screen, which prevents the litter sifting system from working properly. Feline Pine clumping is also too fluffy to effectively pass through the sifting screen.”
Is It Dusty?
While wood pellet litter has a bit of a reputation for being dusty, any quality brand will be almost entirely dust-free. This is especially true for wood pellets that are made specifically for cats as opposed to brands that are made for fuel or heating.
It’s also going to depend on how you’re using it. When I worked at one of the largest shelters in the United States, we would regularly fill up 50-gallon trash cans with wood pellet litter. So when you dump several bags of wood pellet litter into a giant trash can then you will have some dust!
But for most folks that aren’t dumping several bags of this around you won’t notice much dust. Brands like Feline Pine, which you can see here on Amazon, do a great job of reducing dust to a minimum.
Is Wood Pellet Litter Messy In Other Ways?
Nope, not at all!
The cleanliness of this litter is actually one of the biggest reasons why I switched to pellet litters in the first place! I was tired of having little pieces of litter show up just about everywhere in the house! Even with rugs and special pads my little cat was still able to somehow track the litter everywhere.
Wood pellet litter was also used at the shelter I worked at and I saw firsthand that thousands (and thousands) of cats seemed to like it.
If you don’t keep up with the box, the broken-up pellets can sometimes get tracked out of the box. But that’s typically only if you’re not keeping up with cleaning so that shouldn’t really be counted as a con against wood pellets.
How Does It Handle Odor?
Wood pellets do a great managing most litterbox odors!
First, they have a natural wood scent that can help cover up stinky bathroom breaks. Most wood pellets are made from pine and so they have a mild pine smell that does a good job keeping the box fresh-smelling.
I’ve heard from some folks that worry about the smell of pine acting as a deterrent for some cats. We know cats are sensitive to many smells but pine is typically not one of them! Remember, your cat’s wild instincts are still alive and your feline friend isn’t going to be afraid of a little pine!
Instead, they’re more likely to be uncomfortable around unnatural scents and artificial fragrances that can sometimes be found in clay or clumping litter. Not only do these scents just do an okay job of covering up the smell but they can also cause some kitties to avoid their litter box.
Second, wood pellets do a great job absorbing the urine from your cat. Because they’re made by compressing wood scraps under very high pressure the pellets are compact and dense which makes them act like little sponges.
Not only does this help keep the box clean for your cat’s next visit but according to the folks at Energy Pellets of America the pellets also bind with ammonia and urine which helps neutralize odor.
When it comes to stool, there isn’t much that any litter can do besides cover up the smell. Wood pellets do a solid job of that but if you want the litterbox area to smell as fresh as possible then regular scooping will still be required. You may also want to consider changing up your cat’s food to help manage stinky stools.
Is Wood Pellet Litter Safe For My Cat?
Yes! Wood pellet litter is actually one of the safest options out there because it is so darn simple.
Let’s break down the safety benefits along with some of the potential risks you’ve probably heard about.
Decreased Dangers Around Ingestion
Ingestion of clay cat litter can happen a lot more frequently than you might think. While it’s typically not a problem in small amounts, it’s still easy for the fine particles from clay litter to get stuck in your cat’s paws and eventually end up in their stomach.
Most clay or clumping litter also contains sodium bentonite which is what helps the litter efficiently absorb liquid. But case studies have found that sodium bentonite, if ingested in large enough amounts, can be toxic.
However, the bigger risk for sodium bentonite litter comes from intestinal blockage. Because sodium bentonite can expand several times its original size when exposed to liquid while also hardening, it can expand in the stomach resulting in a deadly blockage.
Still, the risk is low for most cats. But it’s also non-existent when using wood pellet litter that is not only free from sodium bentonite but is also much more difficult for your cat to ingest. Not only are the pellets larger, but also don’t stick to paws in the same way.
Finally, we’ve also seen that even though wood pellet litter absorbs liquid, it also breaks apart when it does which decreases the risk of intestinal blockage.
Traditional clumping litters can be quite dusty. While that dust is annoying for humans in the house, it’s not great for your cat either. If that dust bothers you, how hard do your feline friend’s tiny lungs have to work to get rid of the dust?
The Oakland Press explains this very clearly: “Dust in traditional clumping litters can irritate a cat’s respiratory tract, causing it to sneeze, wheeze and cough after using the litter box.”
Most wood pellet litters are around 99% dust-free and typically put that label right on the bag. Not only is that easier on your lungs, but also your cat’s!
Similar to the problems around dust inhalation, some cats may have an allergic reaction to litter. According to Wag, ” Cat litter that is especially dusty or has a lot of fragrance will cause cats with litter allergies more problems than fragrance-free and minimal dust litters.”
While it can vary by brand, the majority of wood pellet litters are completely free of fragrance and artificial compounds.
However, it’s not perfect and there’s a chance that some cats could be allergic to wood but that’s relatively rare.
What About Carbon Monoxide and Wood Pellets?
Wood pellets can emit carbon monoxide and this has been documented in several studies.
However, these studies are looking at the industrial use of wood pellets where they’ve often been used as a fuel source in industrial applications. They aren’t looking at the 40-pound bag that you can pick up for your cat from Amazon. Instead, we’re talking about thousands and thousands of pounds of wood pellets all stored in one location.
Again, I’ve worked in shelters where we had hundreds of pounds of wood pellets but because the space was large and ventilated we never had an issue. Even that is nothing compared to the literal tons of wood pellets that are used for industrial applications.
That’s not to say the risk doesn’t exist. But the risk for the average cat parent is extremely low unless you’re storing a large number of wood pellets in a very small space.
What About The Dangers Of Pine Oils and Phenols?
The majority of wood pellet litter is made of pine and if you’ve done any research on pine pellets you’ve probably read about pine oils and phenols.
It’s a confusing subject in large part because there are so many brands of wood pellets litters out there. When many people talk about these concerns, they’re referring to the pine pellets or wood fuel pellets that you can pick up at tractor supply stores. These are usually a mix of woods, but pine is typically the most significant component.
It’s important to note that these products are not made specifically made for cats and as a result, you’re not going to hear anything from the manufacturer about the appropriateness for cats. It’s just not something they’re going to comment on.
Trust me, I’ve tried.
While researching this article I emailed a few companies and the reply looks something like this:
We can only recommend this product for it’s intended and labeled use. We can’t recommend any other use to our customers nor can we take any responsibitly if the purchasers use our product for something other than what’s intended. I hope that helps and thank you!
Not exactly the most helpful, but I understand.
So let’s take a closer look at these two concerns why you should be aware of them.
The Risks of Pine Oil in Pine Pellet Litter
Essential oils are toxic to cats and according to the Pet Poison Helpline, “Cats lack an essential enzyme in their liver and as such have difficulty metabolizing and eliminating certain toxins like essential oils.”
While the first thing we probably think of when it comes to essential oils are things like potpourri, essential oils are really just any natural oil.
Some folks will argue that pine pellet litter contains pine oil but the reality is the majority do not. Which is great news!
Because pine pellets are processed under high heat, usually in a kiln, the pine oil is removed. When buying pine pellets from a Tractor Supply Store, or similar type of shop, confirm with the shop that the pellets have been processed via a kiln.
While it’s rare to find wood pellets or pine pellet that will endorse use with cats or other small mammals, the store brand from Tractor Supply Co. lists it as safe for cats, rabbits, and horses. It’s also around five bucks for a 40-pound bag so it’s pretty darn tough to beat. Check it out here.
On the other hand, softwood pellets made strictly for fuel aren’t going to be so transparent when it comes to pet safety.
The Risks of Phenol in Pine Pellet Litter
Phenol is closely related to pine oil and also toxic to cats. It’s present in pine products and even some pine-scented products like Pine-Sol and Lysol.
But in the same way that the kiln process burns off pine oil, it will also burn off the vast majority of phenol.
However, I wasn’t able to find a specific study to support this and there is some debate so it’s always a good idea to contact the specific brand you’re interested in or just stick with one of the options in this article.
Talk To The Manufacturer To Be Sure
As I’ve already mentioned, most manufacturers aren’t going to tell you that their product is safe for something other than the intended use but you can ask about their process for producing the pellets. More specifically, ask if a kiln is used at a high enough heat to burn off pine oil and phenol.
The Risk Is Low With The Right Brands
As I’ve already pointed out, products like the Tractor Supply Co’s brand of pine pellets are specifically labeled as safe for rabbits, cats, and horses. There are also thousand of happy cat owners using that product every day.
With trusted brands, the risk of phenol and pine is extremely low and it’s generally safe to say that the high heat kiln processing removes these compounds.
Is Wood Pellet Litter Better For The Environment?
You might be surprised to learn just how bad clay litter can be for the environment. Let’s look at a few of the issues behind traditional litter.
Mining Clay Cat Litter
Just as the name implies, some of the most popular cat litters are made of clay.
That clay has to come from somewhere and the mining process isn’t always the most eco-friendly. The fact is, most mining processes aren’t environmentally friendly. They can cause erosion and depletion of natural resources among other issues.
But are wood pellets that much better?
Yes, but not by a huge margin. After all, that wood has to come from somewhere and the problems with harvesting wood are similar to those related to mining clay. The big difference comes from the fact that wood pellets are typically made from scrap. That means trees aren’t being chomped for the sole purpose of your cat’s litter.
Mining Crystal or Silica Cat Litter
The materials required for crystal or silica cat litter also require mining and the process isn’t much better. However, the big problem with this litter is the manufacturing process.
According to the folks at Rufus & Coco, “Crystal litter has more than ten times the CO2 pressure of other litters, taking approximately five tonnes of coal to produce one tonne of silica gel, making it one of the worst litter products for our environment.”
Wood Pellets Are Biodegradable
Wood pellet litter really stands apart from traditional options when it comes to the environmental impact after it’s been used.
Traditional litter takes a long time to decompose or in some cases isn’t biodegradable at all. That means it’s going to the landfill and it’s going to stay there for a very long time.
Wood pellets, on the other hand, are biodegradable which is a massive difference. Heck, you can even see the pellets breaking apart after your cat urinates on them and over time they’ll completely break apart. While I wouldn’t recommend you go this route, would pellets are even compostable (more on that in the next section).
Is There Something More Environmentally Friendly Than Wood Pellets?
While wood pellets make a great option for eco-friendly cat parents, there are other options that take it a step further by using recycled materials. My absolute favorite is a product called Yesterday’s News which uses recycled newspaper to create pellets. The pellets look very similar to the wood pellets and if you’re not looking closely you probably won’t even notice the difference.
You can learn more about this option and check the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.
How Can I Dispose Of Wood Pellet Litter?
Because wood pellet litter has a much more mild impact on the environment, you’ve got several options for disposal but the best option is still going to be disposing of them in the trash. Because the wood pellets are biodegradable, they’ll break apart over time.
Can I Flush Wood Pellet Litter?
Yes, you can but it’s typically not the best practice. While the wood pellets will break up enough to make it through most pipes, it’s not exactly easy on your plumbing and large amounts may cause problems. But the bigger issue comes from the risk of toxoplasmosis which is a disease that can be spread through the feces of cats.
Toxoplasmosis is one of the world’s most common diseases and can cause a wide range of symptoms in humans depending on your age and overall health status. When cat poop is flushed down the toilet, along with wood pellets, it can push toxoplasmosis into nearby bodies of water or even the human water supply in some cases.
When you consider that one study found a prevalence as high as 74% in adult cats, it becomes clear that flushing wood pellets with poop on them is a bad idea. Not only for the risk it presents to humans but also other animals.
Researchers believe that flushing kitty litter could have contributed to the death of hundreds of California otters. Autopsy results showed the presence of the toxoplasmosis parasite in the brain of the sea otters, which is unusual for sea creatures. While it could be related to runoff from cats and other animals, there’s a strong case to be made that kitty litter was the culprit.
So even though wood pellets on their own are safe enough to be flushed down the toilet, it’s still not a good practice if they’re being used for kitty litter.
What About Composting?
You can compost wood pellets even after they’ve been used for cat litter but there’s a risk of toxoplasmosis contaminating your compost which means that the trash is still probably the best option for pooped-on wood pellet litter.
The fact that you can compost wood pellets is a great testament to its environmental-friendliness. But if you go this route, you need to make sure you’re able to get the temperatures in your compost hot enough to kill off any toxoplasmosis that’s present. The CDC recommends 145 degrees Fahrenheit (63 degrees celsius) to pull this off.
It’s absolutely possible to get compost to that temperature but I wouldn’t want to bet my health on it. Of course, you could create a compost pile just for cat litter.
Does That Make The Trash Can The Best Option?
Yes, the trash can is almost always going the best option for disposing of used wood pellet litter. The risk of toxoplasmosis to people and other animals is too high to justify any of the options.
While you could make an argument for composting or flushing litter that’s only been exposed to urine, it’s not a very compelling one.
That’s because toxoplasmosis is transmitted via anything that has come in contact with cat feces, including transmission via your cat’s paws. Just because you don’t Ia cat poop sitting on a pile of pine pellets it doesn’t mean that they haven’t been exposed throughout your cat’s normal litterbox routine.
Instead, it makes more sense to consider the entire litterbox compromised and just stick with the trashcan. But you can rest easier knowing that the wood pellets aren’t going to be sitting in the landfill for the next 100 years!
Is Wood Pellet Litter More Expensive?
Far from it! In some cases, it’s much less expensive.
As with anything else, you’ve got several brands to choose from with varying costs. The cheapest option, by far, is to go to your local feed store and pick up a 40 lb bag of pine pellet bedding or woodstove fuel for around 5 dollars. You really can’t beat that.
However, just keep in mind that not all these products are endorsed for cats and so you won’t get the same kind of guarantees and brand support that you’ll get from products like Feline Pine which are intended to be used for cats.
How Often Should I Change Wood Pellet Litter?
Wood pellet litter shouldn’t need to be changed any more frequently than other litter. The biggest problem most folks have is a buildup of the sawdust bits on the bottom after they’ve been urinated on. A sifting litterbox can help manage this but so can regular scooping.
For the most part, I suggest changing the cat litter of any kind, including wood pellets, every 1 to 2 weeks. Again, this will depend on how many cats use the box and your overall set up but that’s generally a good rule of thumb.
So Are Wood Pellets Better Than Traditional Litter?
Wood pellet litter beats traditional options when it comes to cleanliness, environmental impact, and cost so I’d argue that it’s better than traditional litter in the majority of cases. The biggest downside for most folks is the fact that the scooping process is a little different and may take some getting used to.
While I feel that wood pellets are the better option, it’s really up to you to decide what makes the most sense for you and your feline friend. That’s why I’ve put together a full list of the pros and cons for wood pellet litter vs traditional options.
Pros and Cons of Wood Pellet Cat Litter
Let’s start with everything that’s great about wood or pine pellet cat litter.
✅ No artificial fragrances or chemicals required. While it can vary by brand, the majority of wood pellet litters are 100% natural!
✅ Doesn’t track out of the litterbox or get stuck to your cat’s paws as traditional litters can. That means less mess!
✅ Most brands are 99% dust-free which is great for cats or people with sensitive respiratory systems.
✅ Wood pellets are much better for the environment when compared to clay or crystal cat litter which both require mining. Not only that, but wood pellet litter is biodegradable, unlike traditional litters which will take up space in a landfill for the next couple of decades (or longer).
✅ While it’s not a pro for everyone, many folks love the natural smell of pine or other woods.
✅ Wood pellets are generally safer for cats since there’s no sodium bentonite present.
✅ If you shop at tractor supply-type stores, you can pick up a 40-pound bag for around $5.
✅ Wood pellets are high-absorbant and do a great job soaking up cat urine and neutralizing stinky ammonia smells.
❌ The biggest con for most folks is going to be the fact that wood pellet litter doesn’t clump. In fact, the scooping process is actually the opposite of what you’d normally do! However, there are hybrid options like ÖKOCAT that offer pellet-style plant-based litter that also clumps.
❌ Some cats may prefer traditional options and you’ve got to make sure your feline friend approves of pine pellets! However, after working in shelter medicine for more than a decade I saw thousands and thousands of cats happily use wood pellet litter so most cats won’t have a problem.
❌ For some folks, the smell of natural wood or pine is actually a downside.
❌ Won’t work with most automatic litterboxes like the Litter-Robot and only some sifting litterboxes will work.
❌ While the pellets do a great job of soaking up urine, the natural pine scent isn’t always enough to overpower the smell of cat poops.
What Will My Cat Think of Wood Pellet Litter?
Maybe we should have started here! After all, wood or pine pellet litter could be the best in the world but if your cat won’t use it then what good is it!?
You’ll be pleased to know that the vast majority of cats are quite happy to use wood pellet litter!
I worked at a shelter for more than a decade and we eventually switched to using wood pellet litter for all the cats in the shelter. 99% of the cats were happy to use the wood pellets and with roughly 10,000 cats coming through the doors a year, that’s a pretty big sample size.
That being said, the shelter environment is very different from your home and cats will of course have a preference just like any other creature. But I’ve also fostered several hundred cats over the years and always use a pellet litter of some kind without any problems.
Still, because cats have a history as desert dwellers, it’s typically assumed that they prefer finer particles like sand or clay litter and some cats will make you well aware of this preference. But in most cases, cats will be happy to use wood pellet litter.
How to Introduce Wood Pellet Litter to Your Cat
There are several ways to transition your cat to pine or wood pellet litter, and we’ll review each one of them, but they all start with one simple step…
Make Sure You Have Enough Litterboxes
As a general rule of thumb, make sure you have a litterbox for each cat plus one. So if you’ve got 2 cats, you’ll want three litterboxes.
Not only is the best practice but it will also be important as we look at options for transitioning your cat to pine or wood pellet litter.
Still, there are cases where your entire apartment may be the size of one large room, and the idea of adding multiple litterboxes seems a bit excessive. I definitely acknowledge that there are some rare exceptions to the plus one litterbox rule but for transitioning to pellets you need to have an extra box.
You can pick up a very budget-friendly option of Amazon and just put it away when the transition is complete.
Option 1: Modify the Mix
Over time, you can slowly change the composition of your cat’s litterbox by adding a little bit of wood pellets to their existing litter box. Eventually, you’ll end up with more wood pellets than traditional litter.
Take your time with this transition and give your cat plenty of time to get used to the new litter. It’s also a good idea to keep one litterbox full of the old litter at the start. Once you see your cat start using the mix of wood pellets and traditional litter, you can begin adding the wood pellets to all the boxes.
You can stretch the transition process out as long as you’d like and you should cater it to your individual cat. More stubborn cats are going to need more time to transition to their new pine pellets.
Option 2: Wood Pellet Potty Technique
Your other option is to turn one of the litterboxes into a wood pellet potty right out of the gate. You’ll immediately be able to tell if your cat is going to have an issue with the wood pellets and if they seem hesitant or avoid it then you may want to turn your wood pellet potty into a mix of the two litters.
Again, you know your cat and how adaptable they. For my cat, this is the technique I used. But she’s such a curious little cat that she was eager to explore the new changes and within a day I found a little poop that let me know wood pellets would be more than acceptable.
Don’t Force The Transition
Whatever method you use, never try to force the transition by completely taking away your cat’s existing litter. While this can work some of the time, when it doesn’t work you’ll end up with cat pee on the bathroom rug, loose plastic bags, or just about anything else that’s soft and pliable around the house.
Even worse, if that habit continues for any length of time cats may decide that they prefer that new material over the litter which will really complicate things.
Keep The Wood Pellet Box Super Clean
Cats like a clean place to do their business. so to make the new wood pellet litter more appealing make sure you’re scooping or even replacing the litter as quickly as possible. Not to be gross but you’ll also want to leave the non-wood pellet boxes just a little bit dirtier.
But that doesn’t mean you stop scooping altogether! It just means that you keep the wood pellet box a little bit cleaner to encourage your cat to use the new pellets. They might be a little hesitant about trying something new, but if one option is cleaner than the other then they’re likely to give it a try.
Consider Cat Attract By Dr. Elsey
Cat Attract is an herbal additive that is designed to attract cats to a litterbox. It’s often used for kittens that are just learning to use the litterbox but it’s also a great option to help manage house-soiling cats. You can check the latest price and read more reviews on Amazon by clicking here.
Don’t expect it to work any miracles but it can be a useful part of your toolkit for transitioning your cat to wood pellets!
How to Pick The Best Wood Pellet Litter
I’ve mentioned several times that you have dozens of options when it comes to wood pellet litter. You can choose from wood composites, wood fuel pellets, pine equine pellets, cat-specific products like Feline Pine, and more.
So how do you choose which wood pellet makes sense for you?
Let’s break down some of the key criteria to look for that will help you make a decision.
When it comes to wood pellet litter and other pellet-type litter, there’s a huge range in pricing. On the low end, you’ve got options like pine pellet bedding which costs around $5 for 40 pounds. Then you’ve got a huge range of mid to premium pellet litters too.
When you pay more, you typically get two things: peace of mind and clumping. Brands like ÖKOCAT combine wood pellet-style litter with clumping but you can also rest easy knowing that’s it’s specifically made for cats unlike some of the wood fuel pellets out there.
That’s not to say that pine pellets bedding isn’t safe, and we’ve covered that in detail above, but some folks will prefer to pay more to know that the product their using is specifically made for cat litter.
One of the major benefits of wood pellet litter is the fact that it’s more environmentally friendly when compared to traditional litters.
But harvesting wood isn’t without an environmental impact and different products will have varying levels of sustainability. Again, premium brands like ÖKOCAT will be much more transparent than many bargain options.
It’s also worth considering wood pellet alternatives that are even more environmentally friendly. My favorite on that list is Yesterday’s News which looks very similar to wood pellets but is made from recycled newspapers instead of wood shavings. We’ll talk more about this product later in this article.
Not everyone is ready to learn the “reverse scoop” technique and clumping is just too important for some folks to give up.
Even with wood pellet litter, you still have options! Again, you’ll be looking at some of the more premium options on the market but more and more companies are figuring out ways to make wood pellets clump.
Safety & Peace of Mind
I’m not going to list any litter that I don’t think is safe so really this is more about peace of mind than anything else. Not everyone is comfortable repurposing products for litter and even with the science supporting the safety some may still want to only use products that are specifically made for cats.
This is completely understandable and something to consider as you review your options.
Best Wood Pellet Litters
At this point, you’re a bonafide wood pellet litter expert. You know the pros and cons along with what you want to see in your preferred option.
So let’s break down some of our favorites!
Best Overall: Feline Pine Original
Feline Pine is simple, cat-specific wood pellet litter that’s made from 100% pine. There are no additives or extra chemicals here- just plain ol’ pine pellets which is exactly why it’s our best overall pick!
The original formula doesn’t clump but Feline Pine has introduced a version that does which you can see on Amazon by clicking here. Just keep in mind that while that version will clump, it’s not going to be the same as your traditional litters.
But I’ve selected Feline Pine Original as the best overall because, at least for me, wood pellet litter is all about keeping it simple. I prefer a product with nothing extra thrown in, even if it means I’ve got to live without clumping.
Feline Pine is also budget-friendly but you also get the extra peace of mind knowing that it’s kiln-dried (which they explain right on their homepage) which means pine oils and phenols should be burned off.
You can read more reviews and check out the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.
What I Love About It: Feline Pine keeps it simple! It’s just 100% pine but you still get the peace of mind knowing you’re buying a product that’s specifically made for cats.
What I Wish It Had: While all wood pellet litter has a strong natural scent to it, Feline Pine is especially fragrant. While I don’t mind, some folks with more than 2 litterboxes may find the smell a little overpowering. But it is way better than the smell of cat poop!
Premium Pick: ÖKOCAT Premium Clumping Cat Litter
ÖKOCAT is a premium litter that’s available in several styles. As you’d expect, it’s available in the traditional wood pellets but they also offer smaller wood chunks that fall somewhere between the consistency of wood pellets and traditional litter.
They even offer a very fine option that’s got more of a sawdust consistency. While both non-pellet options are going to have more problems with tracking out of the box, for cats that don’t like wood pellet texture they could be a perfect option. The small wood chunks or finer sawdust options will let you get the benefits of wood pellet litter without having to change up your cat’s preferred texture. They can also make the transition easier for some cats.
All three ÖKOCAT varieties are clumping which some folks will absolutely love.
As with all other wood pellet-type litters, you also get the satisfaction of knowing that the litter is more environmentally friendly than clay options but ÖKOCAT takes this a bit further and explains that their product is, “Made entirely from sustainably sourced, responsibly rescued natural wood fiber for a better performing litter.”
As a premium pick, you should expect to pay a premium price but it certainly helps that there are more than 5,500 five-star reviews backing up the ÖKOCAT brand. You can read more reviews and check out the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.
What I Love About It: I love that they offer three different texture types or styles as they call it. This means more happy owners as they get the benefits of wood pellet litter and more happy cats that don’t have to adjust quite as much if they don’t want to.
What I Wish It Had: I’d love to see a non-clumping version not only to make it a little more budget-friendly but also for folks that want a super simple option.
Best on a Budget: Tractor Supply Co Pelletized Bedding
When it comes to staying budget-friendly, it’s almost impossible to beat the options at tractor supply stores. While you can go for wood stove pellets, I’d generally suggest going for the pelletized bedding products which are made for use in animal enclosures.
As you can see in the product image above, there’s a cat and a rabbit on this product, and this product is specifically made to be safely used for all kinds of critters including our feline friends. Even though it’s marketed as an option for barn animals, you’ll find hundreds of cat owners in the reviews.
So just how cheap is it?
You can usually pick it up for around $0.14 per pound. You’re not going to find another option that comes in quite that low!
The biggest downside is the difficulty of picking up. Depending on where you live, your nearest tractor supply or feed store could be quite out of the way. Delivery options are also pretty varied you’re not going to get the crazy Prime shipping that you get with Amazon.
Still, if you’ve got easy access this makes a great option on a budget.
What I Love About It: While you can’t beat the price, I love seeing that this is specifically marketed towards cats and other small mammals. That’s much better than some of the wood fuel options which will require a little research on your part.
What I Wish It Had: I’d love to see easier options for shipping!
Our Favorite Pellet Litter Alternatives
Maybe you’re sold on the idea of pellet litters but not entirely over the moon when it comes to wood.
Well, you’re in luck. Wood is far from the only option when it comes to pellet litter! I’ve already mentioned a few of the options including newspaper and zeolite but let’s take a closer look at some of these options.
Best Overall: Tidy Cat’s Breeze Litterbox System
The Tidy Cat Breeze litterbox is marketed as a “system” for a reason. It’s a full set of components that all work together. This kit includes zeolite pellet litter, a hooded litterbox, and absorbant pads that all work together to create a low-tracking and low-odor setup.
We’ve briefly mentioned zeolite pellets already but instead of focusing on soaking up the urine these pellets actually allow moisture to flow through them onto a high absorbency pad located in a tray under the litterbox. The zeolite pellets are also designed to dehydrate any poops which makes the stools less smelly and easier to clean.
This isn’t just all marketing and there are thousands of reviews across the internet that support these claims.
However, there are a few downsides. The first is the use of zeolite as a litter. While these pellets are low-tracking and dust-free, collecting zeolite requires open-pit mining which makes it a little less environmentally friendly than other options. There are several people who have found a way to make the system work with wood pellets though.
Second, there’s the fact that this is an entire system that requires all components to work. Some folks may actually enjoy that you get everything in one package but it does it make it a little more difficult to just try out.
Overall, this system will give you many of the benefits of wood pellet litter with a few extra perks. The absorbent pads are definitely an interesting feature that can save folks some scooping and it’s worth checking out the short video of how the system works on Amazon.
What I Love About It: I’m a big fan of the pads that soak up urine and limit odor. I also like having the options of just changing the pad instead of having to scoop.
What I Wish It Had: I’d love to see more functionality with other products. As it stands, the system only works with a specific litterbox, pellet type, etc.
Runner Up: Yesterday’s News
The very appropriately named Yesterday’s News is another great option and our runner-up! Made from recycled newspaper, this is one of my favorite options not only because it’s made from recycled materials which really takes the eco-friendliness up a level but also because it comes in pellet form.
It looks and acts almost exactly like a traditional wood pellet litter- which is what I love about it. Just like wood pellets, this litter will break apart into flakey dust when it’s urinated on so you’ll still need to work on your “reverse scoop” technique.
But if that’s a deal-breaker for you, they’ve also released a clumping version as well.
While it’s rare for cats to eat litter, although I’ve seen several kittens give it a try, since this product is made from paper there’s almost no risk of toxicity if cats do ingest it. If you’re chosen the non-clumping version, it’s likely to pass through your cat without a problem.
You can read more reviews and check out the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.
What I Love About It: It has everything I love about wood pellet litter but uses recycled newspaper instead to really amp up the eco-friendlyness.
What I Wish It Had: You’re missing the natural pine smell that you get with traditional wood pellet litters. While that’s a pro for some folks, it does mean that this litter box isn’t quite as effective at managing odors.
What About Other Non-Traditional Litter?
There are hundreds of choices when it comes to litter. The options go well beyond pellet vs traditional and you can find litter made of wheat, corn, and even grass.
However, the big difference is that many of these litters don’t come in a pellet form. Instead, they have a ground-up texture that’s more similar to traditional litter than pellets. That means that they will track a bit more in the house but you still get many of the eco-friendly benefits that you get with wood pellet litter.
Before we wrap up this article, let’s just take a quick look at a few of the options.
Corn-based cat litters make an interesting alternative to wood and have many of the same environmental benefits since they both avoid mining. Of course, corn isn’t without its problems and the fact that up to 92% of corn in the US is genetically engineered might be a downside for some folks.
The big difference here is that most corn-based litters are available in a consistency that’s closer to traditional litter instead of pellets. While this is a pro when it comes to ease of transitioning cats to it, the smaller flakes are also more likely to track outside the box.
The most popular and well-rated brand in the corn litter market is the not-so-subtly named World’s Best Cat Litter which you can see on Amazon by clicking here.
Similar to the corn options, wheat is most often found in a fine meal-type consistency that’s closer to traditional litter. That’s great for picky cats and you can also find plenty of wheat-based options that clump which is great for picky owners!
Swheat Scoop is one of the more popular options and has thousands of five-star reviews backing it up. You can check it out here.
Yep. you can pick up litter made from grass! Not only is this environmentally friendly, but it’s also very lightweight. My favorite out of the grass litters is SmartCat’s seed-based option which you can check out here.
Walnut is another interesting option. It’s lightweight, eco-friendly, and lightweight so it checks quite a few of the boxes that most folks look for. It’s also clumping!
I hope that I’ve covered everything you could possibly need to know about wood pellet litter!
While it’s not perfect and no litter is, it does make a great option for many cat parents and their feline friends.
What do you think? Are you going to go for wood pellet litter?