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Alternatives to Kitty Litter
June 3, 2009 10:28 AM   Subscribe

Alternatives to regular kitty litter?

Standard bentonite kitty litter seems sort of dumb. You buy a heavy, relatively expensive bucket of clay for your cats to crap in and then throw it away. Lather, rinse, repeat. Has anyone tried the alternatives? What were they like? The ideal would be renewable, light and cheap, but I'm willing to settle for 2 of 3 (preferably 1 and 3).

I'm aware of the Charles Mingus toilet training method, but our cats are fat and dumb, so this seems unlikely.

We considered trying pine shavings, since we have those already for the chickens, but I'd prefer to have some independent confirmation prior to engaging in any poopsperimentation.
posted by electroboy to Pets & Animals (37 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
I use the World's Best Cat Litter and couldn't be happier.
posted by purephase at 10:32 AM on June 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


I use Swheat Scoop for my cat, which is made from wheat. It clumps well, but has no clay, and the enzymes in the wheat are pretty good at killing any smell.

For a totally non-kitty litter option, a friend of mine has something called 'The Cat Genie' which hooks up to your plumbing and acts as kind of a flushing cat toilet. It has a reusable pellet litter, which is automatically washed, and all waste is flushed down the sewage. It works fairly well for her, though I think there have been one or two technical snags.
posted by Caravantea at 10:42 AM on June 3, 2009


I use Feline Pine (or generic versions of pine pellet litter). In theory you can spread the used litter (minus scooped poop) in the garden or whatever. It doesn't do the best job of covering the spell of poops, especially if you have a really stinky kitten like I do, but it does great with urine.

Whatever you do, don't get Yesterday's News. That newspaper based stuff didn't work at all for us.
posted by misskaz at 10:43 AM on June 3, 2009


Seconding Sweat Scoop. World's Best is, in fact, better, but it was also substantially more expensive, last time I looked, and I decided it wasn't worth it.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:45 AM on June 3, 2009


A friend of mine uses chicken feed. Smells nice. Comes in 50# bags for cheap.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:46 AM on June 3, 2009


Feline Pine. No more urine smell. No more chemical smell on your cat and around your house due to chemical clumping litter. Turns into sawdust after use. You and your cat will be much happier.
posted by jsonic at 10:48 AM on June 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


We love World's Best.
posted by zsazsa at 10:58 AM on June 3, 2009


n'thing World's Best. The upfront cost is higher per bag, but they last forever, and smell so much better even at their worst, plus no worries about cat eating a bunch of clay when he cleans himself.
posted by nomisxid at 11:01 AM on June 3, 2009


I like Feline Pine a lot. As long as you scoop out poops it works really well. The sawdust does get tracked around (but then so does pretty much any litter) but it's somehow less gross seeming to me because it doesn't smell and seems just like sawdust. Also, if you don't have a garden but have a "green waste" (compost) bin as part of your trash service (like we do here in San Francisco), you can put the used litter (after a week or more!) with poops removed into a compostable bag and put it in the green waste bin.
posted by R343L at 11:04 AM on June 3, 2009


We also use World's Best. We used to use Swheat and switched over to World's Best.

(Please, please, please do not flush cat waste down the toilet, especially if you live in coastal areas. It contributes to toxoplasmosis deaths in sea otters.)
posted by gingerbeer at 11:06 AM on June 3, 2009


Read about World's Best on MeFi. AMAZED. Love it so much. Only downside? The dog wants to eat it.
posted by k8t at 11:07 AM on June 3, 2009


I've recently switched my 3 adult cats from Tidy Cat clumping to the World's Best Cat Litter and we like it a lot: WBCL doesn't smell perfumey yet contains cat odors extremely well, it clumps tightly enough to use in my Litter Robot and there's noticeably less tracking outside the box. However, my youngest cat—a ~3 month-old kitten—consistently confuses it for food (it's corn-based) and refuses to use it.

This later problem has led into a side-by-side comparison experiment of several types of litter that I'm currently running in my hallway (yes, I know this is over the top but I take the duties of being a crazy cat lady seriously).

I'm testing:
• WBCL: outstanding product but for the bitty-kitty confusion. It is $$$ of the bunch, best pricing I can find is $1/#. I noticed my local pet food store now carries a generic version which I'm going to test out next month.

• Trader Joe's version of Feline Pine: everyone is scared of it, no one has stepped foot in there. I'm going to have to try layering it with another type and reintroducing it

• Johnny Cat non-clumping clay: gross, primitive stuff. Stinks wet or dry. Tracks everywhere. Of course, it's the baby cat's favorite.

• Swheat Scoop: a former favorite of mine; non-offensive base scent, excellent cat odor control, non-clay but the gluten content makes cat urine turns into sticky dough slabs that cement to the bottom of the pan and it tracks ferociously.

• Trader Joe's silica crystals litter: two of the adult cats have tried it, the third remains suspicious and the kitten tried to eat it. The instructions say to only remove solids, the liquids absorb into the crystals, which you eventually discard. I'm only on week 2 of the test so I can't speak to longevity claims yet but scents are being contained thus far. Zero base scent. Tracking is a issue and those crystal hurt like a mofo when you step on them barefoot in the middle of the night.
posted by jamaro at 11:11 AM on June 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


This Arm & Hammer stuff is more than I could ever hope for in a product designed to be shat upon.

It seems to be the same basic deal as this "World's Best;" I'm extremely brand-loyal, though, so I guess I'll never know if that's true.
posted by esmerelda_jenkins at 11:14 AM on June 3, 2009


Nthing Feline Pine.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:18 AM on June 3, 2009


I love feline pine. Not light but not as heavy as clay. No smell.
posted by miss tea at 11:35 AM on June 3, 2009


I use woodstove pellets in my rabbit's litterbox. Don't own a cat, so I don't know how it would be for kitty waste, but I love it -- and you can get it for about $5 for a 50-lb bag that will last about three months (with a once-a-week litterbox change). Might be worth a shot -- you'll only be out $5 if it turns out not to work for you. Only problem can be finding it this time of year -- I usually stock up in the winter when it's easy to come by at any Home Depot.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 11:42 AM on June 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


We use Arm & Hammer Essentials (corn fibers?). I can't speak to its environmental aspects but I find it much more agreeable and long-lasting than the clay litters. I have not moved on to step 2 in saving the environment with my kitty litter. Thinking of trying the feline pine since the cat seems to like the Essentials just fine and I have a feeling it's not much different.
posted by amanda at 11:54 AM on June 3, 2009


Jamaro, what is the generic brand you speak of? I'd like to keep an eye out for it, I currently use Tidy Cat from the local Sam's Club, and switching would be nice.
posted by GJSchaller at 12:15 PM on June 3, 2009


World's Best is nice, Swheat Scoop is nice, Feline Pine is a miracle. It starts out as hard pellets that turn to sawdust once they've been used, so no scooping pee clumps. There is virtually no urine smell at all and no perfume masking smell either. It doesn't cover up poo smells, but that just encourages me to scoop promptly. My cat tracked both Swheat Scoop and World's Best around the house like it was going out of style, and that's what led us to try Feline Pine. We couldn't be happier.
posted by mostlymartha at 12:22 PM on June 3, 2009


GJSchaller, the generic (which I'm now thinking is not so much a generic but a brand which has very limited distribution) is called Smart Litter Organic 'n' Safe and is carried by Pet Food Express, a local SF Bay Area chain. Website pricing is only marginally cheaper than WBCL, I thought it was cheaper in-store but will have to double-check. The store clerk told me it was a mixture of corn and wheat, which made me shy away from it due to my previous experiences w/ the stickiness of Swheat Scoop.
posted by jamaro at 12:25 PM on June 3, 2009


I use Pine pellets and I think it meets all three of your criteria. It is also made from waste from the lumber industry. (I've used swheat scoop- you have to scoop more and there is something vaguely troubling about using food for a litter box)

The pine pellets may not seem cheap or light but you only use about an inch in the bottom of the box and it lasts two weeks with only one cat.
posted by Gor-ella at 12:31 PM on June 3, 2009


Feline Pine is the least track-y and best smelling litter* I've encountered. It neutralizes the cat pee smell, and absorbs cat pee so that it doesn't pool in your litter bin. One problem, though, is that my cats initially avoided it like it was made out of cat repellent. I had to wean them onto it by first topping it with the old litter 50/50, then doing a 67/33 mix, then a 100%. It was worth it. The cats have no complaints about it now, and the litter has worked out very well since.

*I scoop out cat poops immediately.
posted by jabberjaw at 12:39 PM on June 3, 2009


I love World's Best. WBCL is more expensive, but in my experience it also lasts much longer. I can't compare it to Feline Pine b/c my darling wouldn't use it.
posted by Mavri at 1:21 PM on June 3, 2009


I use Natural Harmony and like it a lot. I also scoop out poops immediately (or my dog will) and flush as little of the litter as I can.
posted by Danf at 1:29 PM on June 3, 2009


I've used both World's Best and Feline Pine (and Trader Joe's version of the Feline Pine pellets) and I think Feline Pine is much better. It's cheaper, lighter and neutralizes cat pee odor MUCH better. World's Best is good but it's also like the World's Most Expensive cat litter, and the cats kick a lot out of the box. My cats also really dig Feline Pine and took to it immediately.
posted by hooray at 3:56 PM on June 3, 2009


I've used Feline Pine and the cat and I have both enjoyed it. You have to scoop the poops out pretty much immediately because it does nothing to cover poop smell, but there's no pee smell and no pee clumps to scoop.

Personally, I can handle scooping out and flushing the poops, but I can't handle the pee clumps with regular litter. Cat pee has got to be one of the top five worst smells in the world, and kitty *litter* does it no favors.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:03 PM on June 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I love World's Best. Used it for years in automatic litter boxes. We're now using a generic version of Feline Pine. It's reasonably priced and comes in larger bags (we have seven cats, so we go through a lot of litter.) I personally intensely dislike the pine scent, nor do I care for the pine dust or the sharp pine bits under my feet, but mr. crankylex likes it.
posted by crankylex at 5:53 PM on June 3, 2009


It starts out as hard pellets that turn to sawdust once they've been used, so no scooping pee clumps.

So, how do you use feline pine now? Do you let all the pellets break down, then discard the entire contents (assuming you are scooping out the solid waste), or do you add to the box? How much catbox neglect until the sawdust becomes a stinky, soggy mess?

This thread is very timely because i was also thinking about changing up to a non-clay litter. I think I like the Feline Pine idea, since one of my cats will often dig and scratch and break up the urine clumps anyway if I don't keep up on maintaining the boxes twice a day.
posted by glycolized at 6:29 PM on June 3, 2009


Another vote for Swheat Scoop, but use the multi-cat variety for better clumping.
posted by arcticseal at 6:52 PM on June 3, 2009


My dad, a woodworker, gives the bags of sawdust he generates to the cat owners in the family.
posted by orange swan at 6:58 PM on June 3, 2009


I've tried Swheat Scoop, although the regular kind didn't have the firmest clumps in the world. It does stick to the bottom of the litter pan pretty badly. I found that spraying cooking spray before pouring in the litter seemed to help with that.

I like World's Best quite a bit, as it seemed to clump very well, except that my cats were not wild about it. And again, it's pretty pricey.

I read online that chicken feed (specifically layer crumbles) will be very similar to World's Best at a much better price. I guess the brand I tried wasn't quite the same, as it didn't clump very well and smelled kind of weird.

I haven't tried the Feline Pine regular, but tested out the clumping version. The cats loved digging in it, and kicked it all over, making quite a mess. Like others have said of the regular version, it didn't cover up poop smells very well. I think I may have to try the regular kind with the pellets and there would be less scatter, but I'm also concerned about how fast the pellets break down like glycolized brought up.

I'm back to clay (Dr. Esley's Precious Cat Ultra) for now, but may have to see if I can find one of the clay alternatives locally at a decent price and try again.
posted by weathergal at 7:12 PM on June 3, 2009


We use woodstove pellets, cheap, freely available, biodegradable [use it to mulch weeds in the garden], and it works great.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 7:36 PM on June 3, 2009


So, how do you use feline pine now? Do you let all the pellets break down, then discard the entire contents (assuming you are scooping out the solid waste), or do you add to the box? How much catbox neglect until the sawdust becomes a stinky, soggy mess?

You change it after most all of the pellets have dissolved. I've never seen it become a stinky, soggy mess; but you'd have to let it go for like a good week or so after the pellets have all dissolved for something like that to happen.

You don't even really need a bag for feline pine, because it absorbs the cat pee such that it doesn't pool in the cat bin.
posted by jabberjaw at 7:45 PM on June 3, 2009


So, how do you use feline pine now? Do you let all the pellets break down, then discard the entire contents (assuming you are scooping out the solid waste), or do you add to the box? How much catbox neglect until the sawdust becomes a stinky, soggy mess?

Feline pine actually sells a litter box that works like a sifter; the saw dust falls through and the pellets stay in the tray. When things get sawdusty we just sift the box, toss the sawdust, and add a handful of new pellets on top. They also offer a wide-slotted scooper, which is great for scooping up the solid waste without also scooping the pellets.
posted by sarahmelah at 8:52 PM on June 3, 2009


The Smart Litter Organic & Safe from Pet Food Express that jamaro mentioned is the new favorite in my household. It seems to hit a sweet spot on quality (much less dusty/sticky than Swheat Scoop) and price (a bit cheaper than World's Best).
posted by not me at 11:43 PM on June 3, 2009


Just switched to Nature's Miracle.

World's Best is really good, but the Nature's Miracle is physically lighter and clumps much faster - so that my Littermaid functions much better.

Both brands are good, NM is a little cheaper than WBCL.
posted by Thistledown at 5:24 AM on June 4, 2009


So, I tested Arm & Hammer Essentials, based upon esmerelda_jenkins' recommendation above...and it's awesome. None of the cats rejected it, it smells better than WBs, works as well and as long, doesn't require a trip to a speciality retailer to obtain and it's a third of the price. It's our new favorite.
posted by jamaro at 10:26 PM on July 20, 2009


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