Safe and Natural Cat Litter Alternatives

Pet owners are more frequently questioning the safety of using cat litter: “How does it affect the environment?”  “Is it even safe for my cat?” and “What are the natural alternatives?”


In clumping cat litter sodium bentonite, a natural clay ingredient that expands and hardens when it comes into contact with moisture, is the main villain. It’s purpose is to make cleaning kitty’s box a little easier but at what price? While digging in their litter, cats can inhale fine sodium bentonite particles which expands when it hits their lungs. This can cause asthma and other lung problems. There is also a risk of ingestion as cats are cleaning their paws. Lastly even the pads of their feet may develop sores from contact. 

Another danger lies in using silica-based litter. A porous granular form of sodium silicate, it absorbs odors and moisture. However, being easily inhaled by humans and felines, it has been linked to lung cancer, bronchitis and even tuberculosis. A fatal form of pulmonary tuberculosis called silico-tuberculosis has been found in some cats.

The effects on our pets is bad enough but they also negatively impact our environment as well. The process of producing these conventional litters involves strip milling which is destructive in itself. The secondary affect comes in to play after disposing of the litter which fills up land fills, unable to be decomposed any further resulting in about two million tons of cat litter being sent to the land fills each year. 


Luckily, some natural alternatives do exist. One to consider is Swheat Scoop. As you may have guessed by its name, it is made from a processed non-food grade wheat. Its admirable qualities include being biodegradable, free of chemicals and fragrance while still maintaining its clumping abilities. It comes in pellet form and clumps when wet so you do not have to sacrifice convenience for health. It has a velvety texture which will not irritate paws.

Another great alternative that many companies are turning to is recycled newspaper. Newspaper is naturally biodegradable and absorbent. Fashioning them in to soft, paper pellets makes them friendly to use and they wont cling to your pet when he is done doing his duty. Good Mews and Yesterday’s New are two popular brands sold in pet stores. 

The options are plentiful with Corning litter being another safe choice made of…you guessed it, corn! Corn has a unique ability to capture ammonia which is that nasty smell you may have noticed when cleaning Fluffy’s box. One Earth Cat Litter utilizes fast clumping corn cob granules while featuring yucca and pine for a natural fragrance. These two brands are compatible with self-cleaning automatic litter boxes.

Feline Pine uses remaining pine sawdust from lumberyards.The dust is cleaned, kiln-dried, and pressurized to remove oils which results in sterile, dust-free pellets that are super absorbent. Vets have been known to recommend using this litter for post-surgery since it has been sterilized.

Although these green litters are biodegradable and may be septic- and sewer-safe, it’s best not to flush them down the toilet into our waterways. Cat feces is known to contain a parasite known as Toxoplasmosis gondii (TG) which is extremely dangerous to pregnant women and marine life.You may however throw your used litter into the compost bin but it is only suitable for use on trees, shrubs, flower or r potted plants, not vegetables or fruits. Cats are known for being finicky, so you may have to try a few before you find the green litter that works best for your kitty.

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