Tales from the Litter Box -- Five Sustainable Kitty Litters

Sustainable, eco-friendly, green, natural . . .whatever term you prefer, they all point to the fact that we want our children and grandchildren to inherit a healthy environment. As a result, we’re taking a critical look at the things we buy – including conventional clay kitty litter. Whether you’re concerned about how it’s mined (strip mining), what’s in it (chemicals like silica, a known carcinogen, and fragrances) or just the dust and mess of it, there are alternatives that are safe for your pet, your children, and the environment.

The litters listed below are all clay-free, biodegradable, USA-sourced and USA-made (with the possible exception of Next Gen) and harmless to pets, people and planet. They also claim to have other properties we all like, e.g. odor control, clumping, less tracking, easy disposal, and fragrance-free.

But first, three quick words of caution.

First, some cats don’t handle change easily. If yours falls into that category (ours has survived four moves and a house fire, so new kitty litter was a piece of cake) transition to new litter gradually. Add a bit of new litter to your current litter, a cup or two at a time.

Second, always wash your hands well after scooping or litter box cleaning. Cat feces can transmit parasites that cause toxoplasmosis, of particular concern to pregnant women and people with suppressed immune systems.

Third, this same parasite is a critter you don't want to add to your vegetable garden! So if you choose to compost this natural litter -- sustainability at its best! -- be sure all solid waste has been removed, and keep it separate from compost you use on edibles.

Fresh News -- All the news that fit...for recycling!

If you're passionate about recycling, you’ll love BPV Environmental. They have their own recycling program paying non-profits to collect paper which they then turn it into a variety of garden, lawn and pet products. Fresh News Litter boasts “baking soda freshness,” superior absorption (3 times other types, they say) and is dust-free. The gray, cylindrical pellets maintain their shape even when wet, so they scoop easily and are less apt to stick to kitty’s feet and get tracked around your home.

Not sold on their website but available on Amazon where it rates 4 of 5 stars.

Swheat Scoop -- How “swheat” it is!

Wheat may be the dietary culprit behind “belly fat,” but apparently it’s great as kitty litter. Swheat Scoop is made from ground wheat which has an enzyme that kills those nasty litter box odors, and a natural starch that clumps for easy scooping, less tracking, less dust. “Lightly scented” Swheat Scoop has “a touch of natural aspen.”

Not sold on their website, but there’s an easy store locator (I found 9 stores within 5 miles of my home). It’s also sold on-line at PetSmart , Pet Food DirectPetco and, of course, Amazon, all with 4 to 5 stars (or paws).

Smart Cat – It’s the cat’s meow

Who would have guessed that grass seed would make great kitty litter! Smart Cat All Natural Clumping Litter is made from 100% USA farmed grass with no added chemicals or fragrances. We like the very fine litter which is 99% dust free, biodegradable, and renewable. Fast clumping means less odor, and this stuff definitely clumps! Check out their 60-second video to see just how solid a chunk you’ll end up with!

Buy on their website or on Amazon where it rates 4 to 5 stars.

Litter One -- Pining for convenience

Looking for all-in-one convenience? Place an order for a Litter One Kit, and you’ll get a 100% biodegradable litter box with sides, a false floor, pine pellet litter, a scoop and 30 waste bags. Their video shows how quickly and easily the box slides together. Wet litter magically turns into saw dust; a quick shake and it disappears through holes in the false floor to a compartment below. Solid waste is scooped into the recycled bags for disposal. After 4-6 weeks, you simply close up the box and drop the entire thing in recycling. Opt in for their subscription service, and you get a new kit every 4-6 weeks. I like the concept, but it received mixed reviews on Amazon.

Buy on their website or on Amazon.

Sustainable kitty litter with green tea leaves from Next Gen.
Sustainable kitty litter with green tea leaves from Next Gen.

Next Gen Pet – "The Best Exotic Kitty Litter"

Next Gen Pet Products produces four unique types of clumping litter, all made from recycled industrial scrap wood. Their Hinoki cypress (used in Japan for centuries to build temples and hot tubs) naturally resists mold, bacteria and viruses, and green tea leaves suppress odor-causing bacteria. A bag of this litter is lightweight (less than one third the weight of a similar-sized bag of clay litter!) and clumps are smaller (less litter lost to scooping). If you want to go exotic, this is the litter to try!

Buy on their website or on Amazon (type in the specific product name) where it rates 4 to 5 stars.