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The Quest for Eco-Friendly Cat Litter

I’ve recently realized that my cats’ environmental footprint might be bigger than mine 🙈.

The greatest impact comes from their diet, with their litter confidently holding second place. So far, I've failed to make their diet more sustainable – mainly because I can't (and won't) convince my cats to go vegan. Plus, most of the cat food options on the market seem pretty hazardous. However, I can at least choose a more sustainable cat litter.

The Quest for Eco-Friendly Cat Litter

Picking a cat litter that satisfies everyone – the cat, the owner, and the planet – turned out to be harder than I thought:

  • To make a cat happy: pleasant smell, texture, no allergens, no dust that can be inhaled or settle on their fur, no toxic components.

  • To make an owner happy: no smell, no mess around the toilet, lasts long, easy to clean, cheap, pipes are safe (in case of a flushable litter).

  • To make the planet happy: renewable sustainable materials, no plastic, no destructive mining involved, no toxins and pathogens leaking into the environment, no pressure on landfills. 

Let's focus on choosing a non-toxic, plant-based, eco-friendly cat litter first and discuss convenience such as clumping and flushability a bit later.

Eco-Friendly Cat Litters

Boxiecat Eco Farm to Box Ultra Sustainable Cat Litter

✅ Natural plant-based ingredients: wheat, rye.

⚠️ The packaging is made of plastic, which is undesirable, but it's HDPE #2 so it can be recycled, which is good, just make sure you do recycle it. 

✅ Family owned.

✅ Support cat adoption and shelters.

✅ Sustainably farmed.

I particularly appreciate the information on the back about how sustainably it's farmed ❤️ As someone passionate about regenerative agriculture, I find this a great way to raise awareness and educate people.

One person in the comments on Amazon discourages people from using it with a robotic litter box. I don't have one, so I can't comment on this, but please be aware of possible inconveniences.

WORLD'S BEST CAT LITTER Multiple Cat Unscented

✅ Natural plant-based ingredients: corn

❌ Plastic packaging is only "kinda" recyclable. It has a recycling symbol #7 (miscellaneous) which means that generally speaking it’s not recycled, which is a shame.️

⚠️ It says "flushable", but please be careful. Learn more about concerns below.

✅ Support cat adoption and shelters.

✅ Available in multiple varieties.

Is Flushable Litter Good for the Environment?

Yes and no.

Be careful with flushable cat litter. While the litter itself is usually quite fine as it’s more eco-friendly and sustainable, it can:

  • Get stuck in your pipes if you don’t use enough water to flush it. To avoid this, you’ll need to flush several times, which is costly and wasteful, especially considering the rising temperatures and droughts worldwide.

  • Add pathogens to wastewater, hence causing harm to the ecosystem.

And by the way, it is illegal to flush any kind of litter in California.

So, in my view, the best way to use flushable cat litter is not to flush it at all. :) Instead, you can compost it at home or at a composting facility, if they accept it (not all do). Be mindful of pathogens and use biodegradable poop bags. If composting is not an option, dispose of cat litter in ordinary trash.

ökocat Less Mess Natural Wood Clumping Cat Litter

✅ Natural ingredients: "sustainably sourced, responsibly rescued natural wood fiber". A blend of spruce, fir, and pine. I wonder when producers start using bamboo for cat litter.

✅ Paper box which is great

⚠️ A plastic bag inside and a plastic handle which is still not good.

✅ Available in three varieties: small, large, and medium grain.

The producer recommends using a manual litter machine instead of an automatic one, as the formed clumps should be allowed to sit for 1-2 hours before sifting to achieve the best results.

Sustainably Yours Cat Litter

✅ Natural ingredients: corn and cassava

✅ A recyclable plastic packaging polyethylene (2/4 HDPE/LDPE)

✅ Available in three varieties: small grain, large grain, and mixed. Check price on Amazon

I love the way they use a combination of cat and plant photos and illustrations on their website. Of course, this says nothing about the litter's quality, but it's still a nice touch.

sWheat Scoop Natural Wheat Multi-Cat Litter

✅ Natural ingredients: wheat

❌ Kinda recyclable plastic packaging – #7 (miscellaneous).

✅ Available in multiple varieties

✅ Contribute to nature protection

How to Switch to a New Cat Litter?

Be careful when switching to a new cat litter. It’s always recommended to switch slowly and gradually—add a bit of the new litter to the old one and observe your cat's reaction. First, a cat may simply not like it (you know how these furry beasts feel about changes), and second, ingredients like corn, wheat, and wood can trigger allergies in cats. So, if your cat starts to itch, sneeze, or cough, it's best to revert to the old litter, stabilize a situation, and then iterate.

What’s Wrong With Litter Clumping?

Litter clumping is humanity's best invention after the Internet. It simplifies life and allows the same litter to be used much longer, saving money and reducing landfill impact (as you dispose of less). However, not all types of clumping are the same.

To enable cat litter to agglomerate, manufacturers usually add clay, silica, or bentonite. Even though these substances are natural, their extraction requires mining, which disrupts ecosystems and harms wildlife. The mining process also pollutes air and water and burns fossil fuels to produce energy for extraction, processing, and transportation.

You might have noticed that all litters mentioned above clump, but they claim to use plant-based ingredients for this purpose. It’s similar to when you bake and add water to flour; it clumps without the need for clay or bentonite. Thus, clumping litter can be eco-friendly if it uses plant-based agglomerating agents. We just need to read the packaging before purchasing to ensure it does not contain mined materials.


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