Caring for your feline friend involves more than just cuddles and treats. As a responsible pet owner, it’s crucial to consider the environmental impact of your choices, including the type of litter you use for your cat. 

Fortunately, a wide array of eco-friendly and biodegradable cat litter options are available, ensuring your cat’s comfort and the planet’s well-being.

To help you make an informed choice, we’ve curated a list of nine ‘purrfectly’ green cat litter, exploring their features, benefits, and why they’re a superior choice for your furry companion and the environment. 

Additionally, we’ll take a trip down memory lane to uncover the origins of cat litter and discuss why biodegradable varieties are a smarter, greener choice over traditional ones. Understanding these eco-friendly options’ environmental impacts and benefits can guide your selection process.

There are several factors to consider when picking biodegradable cat litter. We’ll review what you need to know before purchasing, from material composition to your pet’s preferences. Plus, we’ll provide valuable tips to ensure your safety and your feline companion’s well-being while using cat litter.  

Key Takeaways

  • Cats have a deeply ingrained habit of hiding their waste, but it’s not just about cleanliness for them. It is also a way to claim territory, communicate, and protect themselves and their young. 
  • Edward Lowe transformed the cat litter industry in 1947 when he stumbled upon a novel use for absorbent clays.
  • Biochemist Thomas Nelson introduced clumping clay litter in the 1980s.
  • Despite its convenience and effectiveness, clumping clay litter raised concerns regarding its environmental impact and health risks
  • Those concerns have spurred the development of eco-friendly alternatives, including those made from natural and organic materials. 
  • Choosing eco-friendly cat litter contributes to sustainable pet care.
  • Biodegradable cat litters offer an environmentally conscious alternative.
  • Consider factors like clumping, odor control, and material sourcing when selecting cat litter.
cat walking down from litter pot

Digging Through History: Unearthing the Origins of Cat Litter

Cats have a deeply ingrained habit of hiding their waste, but it’s not just about cleanliness for them. Live Science explains that this behavior is rooted in their long history and the strategic use of urine and feces to claim territory. For cats, each poop is unique, carrying chemical scent markers known as pheromones. These allow them to distinguish their waste from another cat’s, which is critical in their communication.

In the wild, the hierarchy among cats plays out through their waste disposal habits. The big cats of the Panthera genus – lions, tigers, leopards, and jaguars – often don’t bury their excrement. This acts as a bold declaration of claiming territory. On the other hand, smaller or more timid wild cats conceal their feces as a gesture of not challenging more dominant ones. Besides territorial matters, hiding waste helps wild cats steer clear of predators, protecting themselves and their young.

Historically, cats were drawn to soft surfaces like dirt or sand for burying their waste due to its easy-to-dig texture. This preference has carried over to modern indoor cats and the litter their owners provide. The evolution of cat litter began in the late 1940s when bringing cats indoors became more common due to outdoor safety concerns. Initially, cat owners used ashes, sawdust, soil, newspaper, or sand as make-do litter solutions. Understandably, these materials were far from perfect – they left dirty paw prints everywhere and did little to contain odors.

In 1947, Edward Lowe transformed the cat litter industry. According to Disposable America, while working with his father selling sand, sawdust, and clay to industrial companies in South Bend, Indiana, he stumbled upon a novel use for absorbent clays. When Kaye Draper, either a friend or neighbor, sought a suitable cat pan filler, Lowe suggested using Fuller’s earth clay from his inventory. This type of clay stood out because it was better at soaking up moisture and odors and didn’t spread around the house as easily as other fillers.

Since then, cat litter has evolved significantly from its humble beginnings of sand, ashes, or even dirt. The introduction of clay pan filler is so significant that some believe it directly contributed to increased cat ownership. It marked a turning point, offering a more convenient and effective way for cats to do their business indoors.

Then came a breakthrough in the 1980s when biochemist Thomas Nelson introduced clumping clay litter. This type of litter was revolutionary because it was made from calcium bentonite clay, which could clump together when wet. This meant urine could be easily scooped out without replacing the entire pan’s contents, preventing the breakdown of urine and, thus, significantly reducing the unpleasant smell of ammonia.

Despite its convenience and effectiveness, clumping clay litter raised concerns regarding its environmental impact and health risks. The primary worry revolves around the sustainability of mining the clay, the litter’s non-biodegradable nature, and the dust it generates, which could be harmful when inhaled.

These concerns have spurred the development of eco-friendly alternatives. These options aim to offer the best of both worlds: they are gentle on the environment while still providing excellent odor control and easy maintenance. Today, eco-conscious cat owners have many options that prioritize sustainability without compromising performance.

9 Purrfectly Biodegradable Cat Litter

The evolution of cat litter has shifted its focus beyond providing cleanliness and tackling odors for pet owners. Today, there’s a growing emphasis on environmental stewardship, steering us towards more sustainable options — notably, biodegradable cat litter. As we aim for a more sustainable future, let’s explore nine outstanding biodegradable cat litter that promise to keep your home fresh and lessen your environmental footprint.

1. Naturally Fresh Harmony Walnut-Based Litter

Naturally Fresh Harmony Walnut-Based Litter

Naturally Fresh is a brand of cat litter products developed by Eco-Shell. Founded in 2010, Naturally Fresh has carved a niche in the field of kitty litter by leveraging a proprietary mix of fibrous materials derived from walnut shells in producing its all-natural, environmentally-friendly products.

The introduction of Naturally Fresh Harmony Walnut-Based Litter to its esteemed cat litter lineup marks another milestone for the brand. Offering a unique blend of sustainability and effectiveness, this natural clumping litter is made from crushed walnut shells, forming tight clumps and providing superior odor control, ensuring a fresh environment for your cat. Enhanced with the soothing fragrances of lavender and bamboo essential oils through advanced Givaudan MoodScentz™+ technology, this walnut-based litter is the only scented cat litter that’s proven to boost pets’ mood, reducing restlessness and improving well-being.

Being biodegradable and sustainably sourced, it aligns with eco-conscious values, while its low dust formula keeps your home and your furry friend clean. Natural, effective, and eco-friendly, Naturally Fresh Harmony Walnut-Based Litter is the ideal choice for conscientious pet owners.

2. Tuft + Paw Really Great Cat Litter

Tuft + Paw Really Great Cat Litter

Tuft + Paw makes thoughtfully designed cat products, including food, litter, and furniture. Following the ethos of ‘less is more,’ the brand sticks to quality materials and ingredients without cutting corners and unnecessary gimmicks. Hence, it’s able to bring products that combine sustainability and performance.

Tuft + Paw’s Great Cat Litter is made from soybean byproducts, a leftover from the tofu manufacturing process that would otherwise be discarded into landfills. To enhance its environmental friendliness and effectiveness, Tuft + Paw combines it with four additional chemical-free ingredients: corn starch, corn flour, guar gum, and charcoal, making it one of the most environmentally friendly cat litter in the market. 

This lightweight clumping litter comes in pellets that are larger than most cat litter, providing excellent odor control and making it incredibly low-tracking for a cleaner home. It also boasts high absorbency and has virtually no dust, making it gentle on your cat’s paws while keeping your floors dust-free. Additionally, this cat litter is environmentally friendly and flushable, offering safe and convenient disposal without dealing with the mess and smell of trash bags.

For a litter that’s as gentle on the planet as it is on your pet, Tuft + Paw Really Great Cat Litter makes for an excellent choice. This product is available through a convenient subscription service to simplify matters and ensure you never run out. You can choose to have it delivered to your doorstep either monthly or quarterly, ensuring a continuous supply of this eco-friendly litter solution.

3. World’s Best Multiple Cat Unscented Corn-Based Clumping Litter

World's Best Multiple Cat Unscented Corn-Based Clumping Litter

World’s Best Cat Litter is a brand by the Kent Pet Group that distinguishes itself through its innovative approach to cat care. It specializes in plant-based, clumping, and flushable litter options crafted with a patented production process. 

If you have more than one cat, the World’s Best Multiple Cat Unscented Corn-Based Clumping Litter is for you. This multi-cat litter combines natural ingredients with exceptional performance, providing an unbeatable solution to keep your home fresh. 

Featuring a formula derived from renewable corn farmed, harvested, and processed in the US, this natural litter forms tight clumps and offers quick clumping action, simplifying litter box maintenance. Flushable and biodegradable, it excels in odor control while remaining lightweight and long-lasting. 

Natural ingredients, lightweight, and long-lasting, World’s Best Multiple Cat Unscented Corn-Based Clumping Litter is the ultimate choice for eco-conscious cat owners.

4. Feline Pine Original Wood Pellet Litter

Feline Pine is a brand under Church and Dwright Co., Inc. It has been providing a healthy solution for cats and cat litter since 1992. 

Feline Pine Original Wood Pellet Litter offers a natural solution for cat owners seeking sustainable wood litter for their pets. Made from sustainably sourced pine wood pellets, this product naturally absorbs moisture and traps the smell of ammonia, ensuring a fresh-smelling environment. It is completely biodegradable as it eventually breaks down into sawdust and contains no artificial chemicals or additives, making it safe for your cat and the planet. For a renewable resource that’s low tracking and easy to clean, choose Feline Pine Original Wood Pellet Litter.

5. Ökocat Natural Wood Clumping Litter

Ökocat Natural Wood Clumping Litter

Ökocat perfectly embodies the essence of eco-friendliness, with its name derived from the German word for “ecological,” signifying all things green and organic. It operates under the umbrella of Healthy Pet, a company offering a range of sustainable bedding and litter solutions designed with the environment in mind. 

Ökocat Natural Wood Clumping Litter is a superior natural cat litter free from clay and chemicals. Featuring a sustainably sourced wood fiber blend, this biodegradable litter forms solid clumps for easy scooping. It also provides 7-day odor control for a clean litter box environment, thanks to the natural wood fiber’s ability to quickly absorb liquid on contact. 

This plant-based, lightweight litter is gentle on sensitive paws and produces minimal dust. Moreover, this product takes sustainability further by being packaged in a 100% recyclable paper bag. This choice underscores a commitment to reducing plastic waste and promoting a more environmentally responsible approach to pet care.

6. sWheat Scoop Natural Wheat Litter

sWheat Scoop Natural Wheat Litter

Developed more than 25 years ago on a family farm in Minnesota, sWheat Scoop is the brand that brings the world’s original plant-based cat litter. This innovative brand has revolutionized how pet owners think about their cats’ litter needs by offering natural, sustainable options. 

sWheat Scoop Natural Wheat Litter is formulated from wheat sourced from regional farms in the USA. This natural, plant-based litter harnesses the power of wheat’s odor-neutralizing enzymes, effectively eliminating unpleasant odors and leaving your home smelling fresh and clean. Engineered for extra strength, it clumps fast and scoops effortlessly, catering perfectly to multi-cat households.

Moreover, sWheat Scoop Natural Wheat Litter contains no added dyes, perfumes, or chemicals, providing a safe and wholesome environment for your beloved feline friends. Its lightweight and virtually dust-free composition reduces litter tracking, making cleanup hassle-free and maintaining a tidy living space.

For a renewable resource with a soft texture and easy scooping, choose sWheat Scoop Natural Wheat Litter.

7. SmartCat All Natural Grass Litter

SmartCat All Natural Grass Litter

SmartCat, founded in the 1990s by renowned cat behaviorist and enthusiast Betsy Lipscomb, took its first steps into the pet care market with an innovative scratching post in 1999. This initial product set the stage for what would become a hallmark of quality within the industry. A decade later, in 2009, the brand evolved into Pioneer Pet Products. Under this new identity, it broadened its horizons, extending its commitment to superior design and construction across a more diverse assortment of products.

SmartCat All Natural Grass Litter brings ultimate convenience and sustainability in one package. Proudly made from 100% USA farmed grasses, SmartCat All Natural Grass Litter contains no chemicals or fragrances, ensuring a safe and wholesome environment for your beloved feline companions. Biodegradable and sourced from renewable resources, this cat litter is an eco-friendly choice that supports a healthier planet.

SmartCat’s unique combination of grasses delivers superior clumping performance, effortlessly outperforming traditional clay litters day after day. Plus, with excellent odor control, it ensures your home stays fresh and inviting without the need for added fragrances or perfumes.

Not only does SmartCat All Natural Grass Litter excel in performance, but it also prioritizes the health and comfort of your cats. With a 99% dust-free formula, this grass cat litter provides a cleaner and healthier litter box environment. Its creamy sand-like texture is visually pleasing and minimizes tracking, while its lightweight composition makes it easy to handle and move around. Additionally, it is designed to make every aspect of litter maintenance easier. From carrying to scooping and cleaning, this litter streamlines the process for cat owners.

8. CatSpot Coconut Clumping Cat Litter

CatSpot Coconut Clumping Cat Litter

CatSpot emerged onto the pet care scene in 2016, under the pioneering vision of Midwest Organics. It introduced a refreshing take on cat litter solutions by championing an organic, all-natural approach. Distinctively crafted from a single ingredient—coconut—CatSpot sets itself apart in an industry often dominated by synthetic and heavily processed products.

CatSpot Coconut Clumping Cat Litter is a coconut-based litter that offers the same absorbency as over 20 pounds of traditional clay litter, ensuring maximum efficiency and value. It is developed with a patented process that transforms coconut into a high-absorbency, zero-dust litter perfect for discerning cat owners.

This organic coconut clumping litter contains zero chemicals and no added fragrance, providing your feline friend with a safe and natural environment. It is also the lightest litter on the market, making transportation and handling a breeze.

For a cat litter that’s hypoallergenic, minimizes tracking, biodegradable, and compostable, CatSpot Coconut Cat Litter is a great pick. With it, you can rest assured that you’re providing your cat with a safe, clean, and comfortable litter box experience. 

9. Purina Tidy Cats Naturally Strong Clumping Litter

Purina is a titan in the global pet care industry, with its roots stretching back to 1894. Renowned for its comprehensive range of pet nutrition and care products, Purina has built a reputation on quality, innovation, and an enduring commitment to animal health and wellness. Its portfolio includes various brands catering to the dietary needs and preferences of cats, dogs, and other pets, making Purina a household name among pet owners worldwide.

Purina Tidy Cats Naturally Strong Clumping Litter is a powerhouse of natural odor control designed to keep your home smelling fresh and clean. Crafted from 100% natural ingredients and fortified with activated charcoal, this premium multi-cat clay clumping litter effectively neutralizes ammonia, urine, and cat feces odors for up to 12 days when used as directed. It also boasts a moisture-locking technology, ensuring your cat’s litter box remains dry and comfortable, while the naturally tight clumping action makes scooping a breeze.

Enjoy a clean and easy pour with a litter that’s 99.9% dust-free. It also comes in packaging made from 50% post-consumer recycled plastic, further reducing its environmental footprint without compromising performance.

The Scoop on Biodegradable Cat Litter: Why It’s a Better Choice

Biodegradable cat litter offers numerous advantages over traditional clay litter. One of the primary advantages is its capacity to minimize environmental impact. This is accomplished as the litter breaks down naturally over time, significantly reducing the accumulation of waste in landfills. 

Moreover, most biodegradable litter options are manufactured using renewable materials, which serves to decrease their overall carbon footprint even further. This contrasts sharply with the current U.S. market, where approximately 60% of cat litter sold is clumping type, predominantly made from bentonite clay. The sourcing process for bentonite clay is far from sustainable, involving strip mining—a method that strips away vegetation, trees, rocks, and topsoil to access the clay below.

Similarly, silica-gel-based or crystal cat litters also present sustainability concerns. As reported by Earth.Org, this variety of cat litter is derived from quartz sand, a non-renewable resource that necessitates mining for its extraction. The production of silica litter is notably detrimental in terms of carbon emissions; manufacturing a single ton of silica gel requires about five tons of coal, resulting in a carbon dioxide output approximately ten times greater than that of other cat litter types.

In addition to their eco-friendly attributes, biodegradable litter products often exhibit superior odor control and clumping capabilities. These ensure that your cat’s living area remains clean and pleasantly fragrant. Therefore, the utilization of biodegradable litter represents a responsible choice for the planet and promises a superior hygiene solution for pet owners seeking to maintain a fresh and inviting home environment for their feline companions. 

Considerations When Purchasing Biodegradable Cat Litter

When it comes to purchasing biodegradable cat litter, there are several important considerations to keep in mind to ensure you’re making the best choice for your cat and the environment. Here are some considerations to help you navigate the process:

  • Material Composition: Consider the material composition of the litter. Opt for natural ingredients like corn, wheat, wood, or coconut, as these are renewable resources and are more likely to be biodegradable. Avoid litters that contain synthetic additives or fragrances, as these can be harmful to your cat and the environment.
  • Clumping Ability: Look for a litter that has excellent clumping ability. Clumping litter makes it easier to scoop and remove waste, leading to a cleaner litter box and a fresher-smelling home. Ensure that the litter forms tight clumps that are easy to scoop out without breaking apart.
  • Odor Control: Odor control is another crucial factor to consider when purchasing cat litter. Choose a litter that effectively neutralizes odors to keep your home smelling fresh. Look for litters that contain natural odor-absorbing materials like activated charcoal or baking soda for maximum effectiveness.
  • Dust Levels: Pay attention to the dust levels of the litter, as excessive dust can harm both you and your cat’s respiratory health. Opt for low-dust or virtually dust-free litter to minimize airborne particles and mess.
  • Environmental Impact: Consider the overall environmental impact of the litter. Look for certifications or labels indicating that the litter is biodegradable, compostable, or sustainable. Avoid litters that contain non-biodegradable materials or are produced using environmentally harmful practices.
  • Flushability: If you prefer a litter that can be flushed down the toilet, ensure that it is labeled as flushable. However, be mindful of your plumbing system’s capabilities and any local regulations regarding flushing cat litter.
  • Compostability: Another eco-friendly option is compostable litter. These litters are designed to break down naturally over time, making them suitable for composting and other organic materials.
  • Tracking: Choose a litter that minimizes tracking to keep your home clean and free of scattered litter. Look for litters with larger granules or special formulations designed to reduce tracking, preventing litter from being carried throughout your home by your cat’s paws.
  • Cat Preferences: Lastly, consider your cat’s preferences and needs. Some cats may have sensitivities to certain litter materials or textures, so choosing a litter that your cat finds comfortable and inviting is essential. Experiment with different types of litter to find the one that works best for your furry friend.

By considering these factors when purchasing biodegradable cat litter, you can make an informed decision that benefits your cat and the environment. Choose a litter that meets your specific needs while prioritizing sustainability and eco-friendliness.

Ensuring Safety When Using Biodegradable Cat Litter

While biodegradable cat litter is generally safe for cats and the environment, it’s essential to follow best practices to ensure your and your pet’s well-being. 

  • Monitor Adjustments: Pay close attention to your cat’s litter box habits after switching to biodegradable litter. Ensure they are comfortable and adjusting well to the change.
  • Maintain Cleanliness: Keep the litter box in optimal condition by scooping waste daily. Regularly replace the litter to maintain cleanliness and control odors effectively.
  • Watch for Allergic Reactions: Be alert to any signs of allergic reactions or sensitivities your cat might display toward certain biodegradable materials, such as corn, wheat, or pine.
  • Pregnancy Precautions: For pregnant individuals, extra care should be taken when handling cat litter due to the risk of toxoplasmosis. It’s advisable to: (a) wear gloves when cleaning the litter box to minimize direct contact; (b) consider delegating this chore to another household member; and (c) wash hands thoroughly after handling cat litter, even if gloves were used.

Conclusion 

Opting for eco-friendly and biodegradable cat litter is not only beneficial for the planet but also for your beloved feline companion. By choosing sustainable options offered by eco-friendly cat litter brands, you’re reducing your ecological footprint while providing your cat with a safe, clean, and comfortable environment. With many options available, there’s no excuse not to switch to a ‘purrfectly’ green cat litter.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is eco-friendly cat litter?

Eco-friendly cat litter refers to cat litter made from sustainable and biodegradable materials that are environmentally friendly and safe for your paw friend. These litters are often dust free and aim to minimize the ecological footprint associated with traditional clay litter.

How do I choose the best eco-friendly cat litter?

When selecting the best eco-friendly cat litter for your kitty, consider factors such as material composition, performance in odor control, clumping ability, and sustainability. Look for recycled paper, grass cat litter, or biodegradable options for a more eco-friendly choice.

Is natural cat litter better than traditional clay litter?

Natural cat litter is often preferred over traditional clay litter as it is typically made from materials like wood, walnut shell, or corn, offering a sustainably sourced and biodegradable alternative. Natural litters also provide excellent odor control and clumping capabilities.

What makes the best sustainable cat litter stand out?

The best sustainable cat litter stands out by using environmentally friendly materials, offering excellent clumping and odor control, and supporting eco-friendly practices.

Can I flush eco-friendly cat litter down the toilet?

While some eco-friendly litters claim to be flushable, checking the product instructions and ensuring that your plumbing system can handle such waste is essential. Not all biodegradable litters are safe for flushing, so it’s advisable to consult with the manufacturer.

What is the best natural clumping cat litter?

The best natural clumping cat litter options usually consist of plant-based materials that form tight clumps for easy scooping. Look for unscented litter if you prefer a neutral scent or have a sensitive nose. Unscented natural clumping litters offer all the benefits of their scented counterparts without the added fragrances that may overpower or irritate sensitive noses, both for you and your feline companions.

Is litter made from grass safe for cats?

Yes, litter made from grass is safe for cats. It is a natural and renewable material that provides excellent odor control and clumping performance.

Is paper litter a good option for cats?

Paper litter can be a suitable option for cats, especially those with sensitivities to other types of litter. It is typically dust-free and offers good absorbency.

What are natural starches in cat litter?

Natural starches are plant-based ingredients often used in natural cat litter. They help to absorb moisture and form tight clumps for easy scooping.

Is corn cat litter suitable for controlling cat pee odor?

Yes, corn cat litter effectively controls cat pee odor due to its natural absorbency and odor-neutralizing properties.

Can used litter be composted?

Used litter can be composted if it is made from biodegradable materials like paper or plant fibers. However, it should not be composted if it contains synthetic additives or cat waste.

How well do litter clumps hold together?

Litter clumps made from natural materials like corn or plant fibers tend to hold together well, making them easy to scoop and dispose of.

How should cat waste be disposed of?

Cat waste should be disposed of properly to prevent contamination and environmental harm. It can be bagged and placed in the trash or composted if using biodegradable litter.

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