Perhaps you have made a decision to transition to more sustainable and environmentally friendly living and now you are in the quest for alternatives to all kinds of different products you use in your everyday life. If you are a cat owner or parent (whichever you prefer to be called), you might want to add cat litter to your list. Never crossed your mind, right?
Well, if you would like to find out why you should consider opting for greener kinds of kitty litter, and which ones are the best, keep on reading.
Conventional Cat Litter Ingredients
The main ingredients in most cat litters are different kinds of clay, such as sodium bentonite or calcium bentonite. Clay is used because it is an effective liquid absorbent and it can expand up to 15 times its original volume. When it is soaked, it forms clumps which can be scooped easily. It also eliminates urine odour since it separates it effectively.
Another common ingredient in cat litter is silica dust. Similar to clay, it is also used due to its absorbing capacity and odour control.
Why is Conventional Cat Litter Harmful?
1. It Is Bad for the Environment
Sodium bentonite clay and silica, the most common ingredients in conventional cat litter, are mostly obtained by strip mining (or surface mining). In order to excavate them, the vegetation and topsoil in the mining area are completely removed. This process is unsustainable and severely affects the environment. It damages the landscape, wildlife habitats, it leads to deforestation, land erosion, and water and air pollution.
Once clay-based and silica-based cat litters are used and then thrown away (as they are not flushable), they end up sitting in landfills for thousands of years since they degrade very slowly, thus adding to the problem of waste accumulation.
2. It Is Bad for Our Health
Strip mining does not solely harm the environment. Studies show that people who live in heavily mined areas are at a greater risk of respiratory diseases and lung cancer. You and your pet are not completely safe at home either. Sodium bentonite, which your cat might accidentally ingest while cleaning itself (or eating the litter), may cause intestinal blockage, and other gastrointestinal issues.
Silica dust, commonly found in conventional cat litter, can cause a serious respiratory condition when inhaled and accumulated in the lungs of both humans and cats and is a known cancer-causing agent.
Also, some fragrances and odour neutralising additives in cat litter may be toxic and cause allergies or respiratory issues.
Eco-friendly Cat Litter Alternatives
Now that the ’eco paw-lice’ has detected who the bad guys are, let’s look at the good guys. In order to qualify as a ’good guy’, an alternative to conventional cat litter should be sustainably sourced and free of toxic chemicals, fragrances, bentonite clay and silica dust. Of course, it needs to be a good absorbent and capable of preventing odours as well.
Eco-friendly cat litters can be made of wood, pine, paper, corn, walnut shells, wheat or grass. Also, depending on your cat’s preference and yours, there are clumping and non-clumping types to choose from.
We have done some research for you and made a list of 10 best eco-friendly cat litters.
This brand’s granules are made from compressed whole-kernel corn. It is free of harmful chemicals, additives and perfumes and contains wood fiber for better odour control. It neutralises the ammonia scent very efficiently and it is easy to scoop as it clumps quickly.
It is 99% dust-free, so it will not pollute the air in your home. One nice fact about the company itself is that it donates litter to cat shelters.
- Controls odour efficiently
- Easily cleaned up
- No dust
- Although it is healthier for both you and your cat, it is difficult to farm corn in a sustainable way, so it might not be healthier for the environment
The great news about Fresh News is that it is made with 100% post-consumer recycled paper. This company has also started a recycling program called PaperGator where schools, churches and other non-profit organisations can collect paper products and get paid for it.
This paper litter is three times more absorbent than clay litter, which means it lasts much longer. It is non-allergenic and dust-free. It also contains baking soda which eliminates any foul litter box odours. The pellets do not change their shape when soaked, but they do not clump either. This means this litter needs to be changed more often than clumping litter.
- Made with post-consumer recycled materials
- Highly absorbent
- Allergen- and dust-free
- Pellets are soft and retain their shape
- Difficult to scoop
- Needs to be changed more often
We like the fact that this litter is made of upcycled softwood, giving a second life to old products no longer in use. It is dust-free, with minimum tracking and it is easy to clean as it clumps really well. It has a nice pine fragrance and it also contains zeolite, a mineral that captures and eliminates odours efficiently.
- Made from upcycled softwood
- Easily cleaned up
- Scoops well
- The scent- while some find it very pleasant, others might find it too intense
- It can clump in your cat’s paws
This litter is made from 100% crushed walnut shells, which are a byproduct and would otherwise be thrown away. It is made from organically-grown, GMO-free and renewable walnut shells, with no chemicals or toxins added. What makes the process of making this product even more eco-friendly is the fact that the Naturally Fresh is produced in a solar-powered factory.
The manufacturer claims that their product is highly absorbent and it will last three times longer than clay-based litter. It clumps well and it is scooped easily. The walnut shells neutralise odours and are claimed to be dust-free.
- Made from a byproduct
- Lasts for a long time
- Clumps tightly
- May not be suitable for people with nut allergies
- Not completely dust-free as claimed
This litter is made from responsibly sourced, reclaimed wood fiber. No chemicals and artificial fragrances are added. The wood fiber naturally keeps the nasty ammonia scent at bay. It absorbs liquid fast and the clumps are easy to scoop. It is 99% dust-free, making it friendly for both your cat’s and your respiratory system.
- Neutralises odour efficiently
- Clumps well
- Scoops well
- Since it is lightweight, it tends to spread out of the litter box
As the name suggests, this litter is designed for multi-cat households. It is made of 100% sustainably farmed wheat and all the ingredients come from renewable resources. It is free from any dyes, perfumes and other chemicals. Although it doesn’t contain any fragrances, it neutralises litter box odours naturally and on the spot.
This product clumps quickly and firmly, and it is actually flushable. Since it is lightweight, it might track around your home a bit. Also, if not scooped frequently, some people find the smell of wheat and urine combined slightly unpleasant.
- Made from renewable resources
- Good odour control
- Clumps fast
- It can track
- Needs to be scooped frequently in order to avoid unpleasant smell
This is another brand formulated for multi-cat households. It is a bland of corn, mineral oil and baking soda. Baking soda is added to eliminate odours, while mineral oil is used for dust control. It is very absorbent, it clumps well and is easily scooped.
- Good odour control
- Very absorbent
- Contains artificial fragrance
This product is made from a renewable resource - grass. It contains non-GMO, organic sorghum grass seed and it is free of chemicals and fragrances. Due to its high starch content, it forms clumps that are easily scooped. It is designed to absorb odours immediately and it has excellent odour control.
This litter is 99% dust-free, and is suitable for multi-cat households. It is lightweight and super soft for your cat’s paws.
- Made from a renewable resource
- Great odour control
- Easily scooped
- No dust
- It can track a little
- A bit pricy
This is another product on the list made from upcycled food waste- walnut shells. The brand claims to provide powerful clumping and excellent odour control. It is also soft and easy on your cat’s paws and generates minimal dust.
- Made from upcycled waste
- Clumps tightly
- Good odour absorbent
- It can track easily
- Absorbs liquids slowly
- Might not be suitable for people with nut allergies
This litter is 100% made from pine shavings. It is sustainably resourced as it uses shavings from lumber production, meaning that no new trees are cut down. It contains no chemicals or artificial fragrances as it provides natural fresh pine scent. The pine fibers are highly absorbent which helps eliminate the urine odour quickly.
This litter is non-clumping, so you will need to change it more often than clumping litter, which, on the other hand, is usually more expensive. It is lightweight and it won’t track around your home.
- Sustainably sourced
- Pleasant natural scent
- Doesn’t track
- Not easily scooped
We hope that we have provided enough information for you to make a decision whether to opt for an alternative to conventional cat litter, and which one to choose. We believe that both you and our mother Earth would benefit from it because they are healthier for you and your furry friend and much less harmful to the environment.