Over the last several years, alternative versions of cat litter have surged in popularity. There could be a number of reasons for that including things like budgetary restrictions and efforts to be more environmentally friendly.
Indeed, in the modern era, more and more people are trying to save money and save the planet in any way they possibly can and things as basic as cat litter can make a huge difference.
The thing is, for as many great points for using wood pellet cat litter that there are, there are also as many negative points which cat owners will need to know.
In this guide, we take a look at these pros and cons of wood pellet cat litter and assess if it is worth using or not.
So cat owners, take a seat with your furry friend and read on to answer your most burning litter box questions.
What Is A Wood Pellet Cat Litter?
As opposed to traditional clay litter, wood pellet litter is almost as the name suggests. It’s a pellet made from wood instead of clay that starts off as a solid pellet but crumbles into its original form of sawdust when liquid gets on it.
This makes it much more environmentally friendly and less of a health risk for your cat, but we’ll dive into that in much more detail later in this guide.
Both types of kitty litter are usually sold in large bags which are meant to be placed into a regular litter box for your cat to do their business – but they do have their own differences.
The Pros Of Using Pine Pellet Litter
We’ll begin with the pros of using wood or pine pellet litter for all cat owners out there.
As we mentioned in the previous section, pine pellets are much less of a health risk to your furry friends. Unlike traditional clay litter, wood pellet litter does not have any chemicals or additional harmful ingredients that your cat might react badly to.
This is because wood pellets are entirely natural and do not have anything synthetic or anti-clumping ingredients in them.
They’re also less likely to produce dust, but even if they do – the resulting dust will not be harmful, just unpleasant – as opposed to clay litter dust which can contain harmful things like crystalline silica which can cause breathing and other respiratory issues to your cat.
Friendly To The Environment
Wood and pine pellets are entirely natural which means they’re from a renewable resource. The pellets are normally created through a recycling process.
This could be old furniture or lumber that has been reclaimed – whatever the source, the wood would normally have gone to waste, and this makes it very eco-friendly because no additional trees need to be chopped down for their creation – all recycled materials!
Clay litter is made through a process of strip mining which requires plenty of stone, rock and soil to be moved to allow for the extraction of the correct material – which is very harmful to the environment because it destroys the landscape and natural design of the lands.
Additionally, in doing so – chemicals and other debris which get released during the mining process can become transported into the rivers and lakes via rain, which can harm animals that rely on these waters for their habitat.
This includes fish, animals that rely on fish as a staple of their diet and even horses that use the waters for hydration and cooling.
You might have noticed pine is a common ingredient in some health care products. This is because pine contains many antimicrobial properties and the acid which is found in pine, known as shikimic acid, is known for its antibacterial uses.
This makes it ideal for cat litter because it can eliminate harmful bacteria which can grow in areas like a cat bathroom!
Suppresses The Smell Of Cat Pee
If you want one of the biggest pros for wood pellet litter, look no further than this. The difference between clay litter and wood litter is that traditional kinds simply try to mask or hide the smells of cat pee until you clean it out.
Wood on the other hand can absorb the liquid which can eliminate the smell altogether. This, with the previous pro of the antibacterial properties, means that you’ve got a clean and smell-less area!
Additionally, pine has its own natural smells, as do most other woods. This is a pro itself, but it also means the reduction of chemically offensive smells being left behind in the room you leave the kitty litter box.
Less Dust = Less Mess
Because wood does not produce as much dust, if any, that clay does – the risk of having litter dust all over the house (maybe in cat paw shapes!) is significantly reduced. This means less clean up time and less chance of unwanted things being spread around your house.
Wood litters are the cheapest type of litter, particularly plant-based litter on the market today. This is perfect when you’re trying to save yourself a couple of bucks a month, right?
Wood Is Lighter
Wood fresh pellets are very lightweight when compared with the usual clay litter. This means it is easier for you to carry from the store, easier to lift and pour the litter and reduces the risk of hurting yourself if you drop it or lift it incorrectly.
Wood Pellets Are Longer Lasting
Due to their nature, you only really need to change your litter about once a month! Of course, this will depend on your cat and the number of cats that you have.
Cons Of Pine Cat Litter
As we mentioned, with every pro to this type of kitty litter, there is a con. Here are some of the negative aspects to using pine cat litter.
Covers Pee Smell But Not Poop Smell
Although pellets will turn into sawdust when liquid is added to them, and they absorb the liquids, poop as a solid does not work with these pellets.
Unfortunately, when poop is exposed to open air – the smell will travel around the room and cat poop usually has a strong smell. You’ll need to empty wood pellet cat litter as soon as your cat has pooped and replace them with fresh pellets.
Unlike using the outdoors, or even clay litter, cats will not bury their poop in wood pellets and the smell cannot be covered up or eliminated. With clay litter, the chemical ingredients can to a much larger extent, cover up cat poop smells.
Discount Clay Litter Is Always Cheaper
Although wood pellets are the cheapest version of environmentally friendly litters and some clay litters, discount clay litter is always going to be cheaper and easier to find.
This means that some feline owners will be forced to purchase this discount litter and will leave wood fresh pellets in the store.
Having said this though, you can save money overall with wood pellets because they last longer, and you can even add other things to them like stove pellets if you have them. This can save you money by avoiding named brands.
You May Need To Buy A New Litter Box
The cleaning process from wood pellets means you’ll need to sift out the bad stuff – and while you can do this with a normal litter box, a specific litter box for wood pellets makes the process much easier.
Automatic litter boxes cannot handle wood pellets as they’ll get clogged up with the sawdust and other pellets.
Additional to this, as wood pellets do not clump – they become sawdust – this can complicate the cleaning process further. Some owners might prefer this, but others will find it a huge hindrance.
There Is A Potential Of Harm To Your Cat
Although the risk of this is low, it is still something you need to take heed of. Unlike clay’s man-made and natural chemicals that are present in that version of cat litter, wood pellets are entirely natural – but natural does not mean 100% safe.
Pine is naturally toxic to cats because of a compound known as phenol. While phenol is all but evaporated during the pellet creation process of heating the wood in a kiln, some small traces may remain. Due to this potential risk, some owners might decide to opt for a different plant-based litter instead.
Moreover, the textures of the pellets may hurt your cat’s paws, especially if they have been declawed or are particularly sensitive. Heavier cats are at most risk here.
Critters Are A Risk
Natural products often attract their natural habitants. In this instance, wood pellets may attract their normal outdoor tenants such as woodlouse and ants.
Not only this, if you’re not cleaning the litter box as typically as you should – flies and other unwanted creatures will likely be attracted to the litter box and this is something you really don’t want.
You’ll be running the risk of health hazards such as food poisoning, and you may even need to call an exterminator if things get awful. This will incur even more costs!
Pellet Litter Isn’t As Easy To Source
This is linked to the cost of discount kitty litter. Pellet litter can be much more difficult to find, especially if you’re living outside the big cities. This might force you to either buy online, which you might not have the time to wait for, or you’re forced into getting the discount litter.
Some Cats Won’t Use Pellets
Cats are highly independent and have their own likes and dislikes. The fact of the matter is, if they do not want to use wood pellets to do their business on, they just won’t!
This means you’re running the risk of your little buddy pooping on the floor or in even more hard to find places – which is running the further risk of health issues and can be dangerous to others in the home, particularly younger children.
The Pros And Cons: Summed Up
It’s much easier to see these points in a summary, so here are the points we raised at a glance:
- Cheaper than other plant-based litters
- Friendly to the environment
- Eliminates the smell of cat pee
- Less dust
- Longer lasting/less frequent cleaning and replacements
- Lighter in weight
- More difficult to clean
- May need to buy a new litter box
- More expensive than discount clay litter
- Some cats won’t use it
- Can attract bugs
- Doesn’t cover cat poop smell
- Can hurt cat paws
- Small chance of toxicity
Are There Ways Around The Cons?
Yes, to an extent. In terms of the costs, you can try to save a few bucks by buying in bulk or by adding things like stove pellets as we mentioned. You could even ask your store if they offer coupons or loyalty discounts if this applies.
If your cat does not want to use wood pellets, you can try to transition them into it by placing a clay litter box and a wood pellet litter box next to each other and over time, try to remove the clay option.
For the bug situation, if you are cleaning the litter box often after your cat poops – you should be able to reduce the risks of bugs.
This is further reduced if you leave the litter box away from open windows and doors (although this is tempting with smells sometimes!).
There are many pros and cons for wood pellets over clay litter, and you should consider them before you buy.
Overall, wood pellets are worth using for their pros over clay litter – but if you want the best, you should probably opt for other plant-based options (or better yet, toilet train them for outside if possible!).