5 Cat Litter Alternatives That Might Save You Money

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by Steven Thomas

5 Cat Litter Alternatives

I get it…

Cat litter can be expensive!

If only there was something else you could use?

Well, in this post, I’m going to share 5 cat litter alternatives that could save you some money or at the very least, a mess in your house if you’ve ran out of cat litter.

Let’s take a look now.

What Does it Cost to Use Cat Litter

I have done a full article on the cost of cat litter. Here’s a quick summary:

  • Clumping clay litter $0.79 per pound
  • Non-clumping clay litter $0.41 per pound
  • Natural, wood or biodegradable litter $1.18 per pound
  • Silica crystal litter $2.89 per pound

With an average sized bag of cat litter lasting around 7-10 days, then you can see that the costs can quickly add up.

Here’s what you can use instead of cat litter.

Cat Litter Alternative 1 – Chicken Feed Known as Chicken Crumble

Nutritionally Complete Layer Hen Feed Crumbles – 25 Pound

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, but it’s not as good as cat litter.

The price point might be enough for you to consider it though. It is also a more environmentally friendly method of cat litter.

Have a look at the video below where someone uses this.

Most cat owners say that if they used this method, that they would not recommend it for smaller cats or kittens.

Cat Litter Alternative 2 – Potting 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.

Some people will even fence off an area in their garden where they have dug up the soil, and then they train their cats to use this specific area.

soil cat litter alternatives
Potting Soil for cat litter

It doesn’t 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.

Or if your cat is allowed outside, then you likely won’t need a designated area for them to do their business. They will just go wherever they feel comfortable.

You could use soil in their litter, but I’m sure you’ll know that this will make a lot of mess.

Cat Litter Alternative 3 – Wood Pellets

All-Natural Hardwood Apple Wood Pellets - 20 lb. Bag

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.

wood pellets cat litter alternatives
Wood pellets for cat litter

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.

It does a decent job at odor control and also absorbs pretty well.

However, you may find it messy and get tracked all over the place. Some cats might also struggled to use it.

I would recommended introducing your cat to them slowly. Add some wood pellets to their normal litter, and then increase the amount over time, until you end up with a 100% wood pellets.

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.

shredded paper cat litter alternatives
Shredded paper for cat litter

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.

Cat Litter Alternative 5 – Sand

Sandtastik Sparkling White Play Sand, 25 Pounds

Cats will naturally use sand as a cat litter.

If you have ever left a kids 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.


So there you have it.

Five cat litter alternatives that you can try and potentially save yourself some money.

Maybe you already use one of these things for something else and you always have enough left over, so you may as well give it a go.

Let me know how you get on in the comments below.

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Steven Thomas
Steven has been studying cat behavior ever since adopting two stray kittens in 1996. After rescuing many homeless cats over the years, he developed the skill of finding new homes for cat lovers seeking to adopt. About Steven

1 thought on “5 Cat Litter Alternatives That Might Save You Money”

  1. Very thorough and fantastic research on this subject. I’m grateful to you. I have three indoor cats and occasionally several more in an garaged pen area when rescues occur. I’m wondering about the efficacy of sand (ie purchased in 40 lb bags at HomeDepot, etc). The clumping liter currently purchased in bulk by the pound is advertised as 99% dust free, and is certainly anything but that.
    Thanks in advance for any shared experience.

    California, USA


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