What Alternatives Are There to Cat Litter

alternative materials to use as a cat litter

If you own a cat, then one of the biggest expenses, aside from food and vet bills is the cost of cat litter. This is not cheap and if you happen to have multiple cats, then the cost of that can quickly add up.

I have done a full article on the cost of cat litter which you can read by clicking here. if you don’t have the time to read all of that I have briefly summarised the costs below.

The True Costs of Using Cat Litter

I have done a full article on the true costs of buying cat litter, which you can read by clicking here. If you don’t have time to do that, then I have summarised those basic costs below.

  • Clumping clay litter $0.76 per lb
  • Non clumping clay litter $0.70 per lb
  • Natural, Pellet or Biodegradable litter $1.32 per lb
  • Silica Gel and Crystals litter $1.98 per lb.

With an average sized bag of cat litter lasting around 7-10 days, then you can see that the costs can quickly add up. Therefore I thought I could offer you some suggestions on alternatives to actually buying cat litter.

Cat Litter Alternative 1 – Chicken Feed known as Chicken Crumble

This is one alternative to buying cat litter. This chicken feed has a similar texture to cat litter and it is much cheaper. It works out at around 20 cents a pound, so around a quarter of the price you will pay for cat litter. It appears to do a good enough job at controlling odors.

It is not as good for odors, but at the price point some cat owners say that it does a good enough job.

According to buyers this is also a more environmentally friendly method of cat litter.

Have a look at the video below where someone uses this. I have not tried this myself so I am not in a position to say how good or how effective this really is.

Most cat owners said that if they used this method, that they would not recommend this for smaller cats and not for kittens either.

Cat Litter Alternative 2 – Just Use Soil

Long before the invention of cat litter back in the 1940’s cats did their business outside. More often than not they went in the soil. A few cat owners, and it is a very small number will build an outside litter pen.

This is an area of the garden that they make so as their cat or cats can use the natural soil that is in that space. They would fence off an area, where they have dug up the soil, and then they train their cats to use this specific area.

The are does not have to be that big, perhaps something like 2 feet by 2 feet. It is bigger than many litter boxes though, and of course you can make this space as big as you need to.

Cats will use an area like this. If you have ever found cat poop in your garden bedding, you will know that this is certainly true.

It will however still require some cleaning up from time to time. There is also the risk of other cats being attracted to this space. The clear advantage of this method is that it is free. It would however not be suitable if there are other pets or children in the garden.

Cat Litter Alternative 3 – Wood Pellets

Another useful alternative is to simply use wood pellets. These are also a popular choice, and a minority of people will use these instead of normal cat litters. Many natural cat litters will also use some form of wood pellet.

Natural or biodegradable cat litters to buy though are about twice the price of any of the clumping cay litters.

The specific wood pellet style of cat litters are not the same as these natural or biodegradable ones. They are essentially a larger bag of biodegradable wood. They are normally scented with something like pine.

You can buy a large 30 litre bag for under $10, and those cat owners with multiple cats will use this to help keep the costs down. I have used this myself and I don’t honestly like it that much.

It does a decent job at odor control and also absorbs pretty well. However, I didn’t like the fact that it was too messy for me, tracked all over the place, and the majority of my cats struggled to use it.

A number of buyers of these wood pellet litters recommended introducing your cat to them slowly. What they said was to slowly add some wood pellets to their normal litter, and then increase the amount over time, until you end up with a 100% wood pellet litter.

That is an interesting approach and I may go back to giving that a try. If I do, then I will come back here and update my results.

Cat Litter Alternative 4 – Shredded Paper

This is one of the most popular choices for cat owners, who don’t want to use or buy cat litter. This type of paper is used to make litters for some smaller pets. Many cat owners even take the effort to make their own at home.

All you really need is a paper shredder and newspaper. Any cat owner who used this did caution that only newspapers should be used as the other papers can be too hard, or contain wax and glues.

The problem with hard paper is that the paws of your cats could easily get paper cuts.

The general feedback about paper though, is that it soaks very easily and there is no real way of controlling the odors. So although it works and it is certainly cheap. it still takes time to make it, and it will not have any odor controlling properties.

Some cat owners tore some strips of newspaper, and then simply lined the bottom of the litter box with those.

I did try this paper shredding method and honestly I found it to be completely useless. You have the bother of shredding, and the mess when used is quite frankly disgusting, as is the smell. It isn’t something that I would recommend to anyone.

Cat Litter Alternative 5 – Sand

Cats will naturally use sand as a cat litter. If you have ever left a kid’s sand box uncovered you will already know that cats will use it as their litter very quickly.  The beauty of sand is that it does clump really well and that always helps.

Many cat owners who use sand will also mix in a little baking soda, as this helps absorbs the smell of cat urine and poop. Sand on its own will do nothing to absorb odors.

The huge disadvantage of using sand is the tracking issue. Sand and especially wet sand will stick to the paws of your cat, and they will walk it over your home.


Steve is a content creator with an unhealthy cat obsession. He enjoys reading non-fiction books, entreprenuership and cuddles with his cat Fij.

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