These Are the Best Green Alternatives to Clay Cat Litter

Grey kitten in a blue litter box

Wondering what’s wrong with the clay cat litter you’ve been purchasing and scooping for years? 

Well, long-story-short, mining. For the longer story, you can hop over here and learn about the environmental impact of clay cat litter.

For now, let’s talk alternatives.

Luckily there’s no shortage of eco-friendly options, but trying new litter is expensive, wasteful, and stressful for your feline, so you want to make sure the next one works.

This is what I’ve learned while deciding which cat litter is the most sustainable and affordable. After all, cost is a major consideration when the average cat owner spends more on litter than cat food.

Savings in this category can really add up over the course of your pet’s life. 

Alternatives to clay cat litter

Wood shavings or pellets

Cost: $24.99 for 19.8lb

green environment - clumping wood cat litter - healthy pet

There are several options for reclaimed wood litters, but it’s most typical to find cedar and pine pulp and pellet varieties praised for their fresh forest scent and ability to elimate odours

No trees are cut for this product since the materials are lumber industry byproducts. It’s pretty eco-friendly, all things considered, and the claim is that they can last much longer than other litters.

Okocat claims their product is 500 times more absorbent, but there’s also a warning that says, “This product can expose you to chemicals including wood dust, which is known to the State of California to cause cancer. For more information, go to .” 

I thought maybe wood pellets would be best, but they were even pricier in most cases, and the ExquisiCat® Naturals Pine Cat Litter brand had the same warning about cancer. Whomp whomp


Cost: $37.99 for 36lb bag 

green environment - swheat scoop - natural cat litter

Middle-range price-wise, this litter from Swheat Scoop is reviewed online as “literally the best” more than once. 

While it doesn’t have the same pleasant scent as a wood-based option, the wheat similarly releases natural enzymes that destroy odours without the use of snythetics.

Swheat Scoop also advertises that you can also flush it down the toilet, which is pretty cool considering how much clay that would keep out of landfills…but luckily California is educating people and added that:

“According to CA Law AB2485, encouraging your cat to use an indoor litter box, or properly disposing of outdoor cat feces, is beneficial to overall water quality. Please do not flush cat litter down toilets or dispose of it outdoors in gutters or storm drains.”

So that’s that, but what about the dust warning I saw with wood? I decided to check out the same brand, but in the wheat variety: ExquisiCat® Cat Litter in Wheat. There is no warning. This variety is $1.17/lb.

Recycled newspaper

Cost: $21.99 for 30lb bag

green environment - purina - unscented newspaper cat litter

This is the most frugal and widely-available option. Every pet store carries at least one kind, typically Yesterday’s News, which can be found at almost any PetSmart or Pet Valu in Canada. It comes in recycled paper packaging too.

Psst… If you can DIY and want to increase sustainability and savings, you can actually make your own recycled newspaper litter. Treehugger has a great guide and estimates it takes about 45 minutes for a three-week supply. 

Other options

Plant materials like whole husk corn, crushed tree nuts, and coconut husk shavings can also be used as or mixed into existing litter as lower impact solutions to commercial clay litters. 

The winner*

Well, if I know cats, it’s not really going to matter which one I choose. Ultimately, it’ll be up to him. But since he’s a kitty, I want to get it right from the get-go and never have to fuss with transitioning periods. 

Ultimately, the winner was clear. I really wanted to love the pine and have that wonderful woody smell in my house, but there were too many cons to consider it seriously. It’s too pricey and I don’t need to worry about wood dust dangers. 

The wheat option is…well…I feel weird using a food source as a bathroom bin for a cat. It doesn’t help that the companies don’t readily offer sourcing information. I have no idea where the wheat is coming from. 

I’ll be going the economic route and buying recycled newspaper pellets, which is ironic since I regularly recycle newspapers each week for free. I could keep them and make my own, but honestly, I’m not quite there yet. I’d still rather spend the $21.99 and save the time, plus, how do you lay out all that drying paper when you have a cat? #chaos

If you’ve ever made your own litter, let me know the pros and cons in the comments!


The kitty we ended up adopting (Charlie!) is 9 months old and was previously trained on clay litter. I thought it wouldn’t matter much, but it did.

After filling his box with the newspaper pellets, he hopped in, made a cozy little nest and started just hanging out there. This went on for a few hours until my partner pulled the plug on the newspaper idea in the name of our kitty’s comfort.

He ran out at about 10 p.m. to get clay litter as I sat looking at this cat nesting in his litter box. A few minutes after switching the litters, our kitty peed for the first time and exited the litter box (much to our collective relief). While I’m not happy about having clay litter, I have to make sure Charlie is comfortable in his new home before teaching him about eco-friendly alternatives. #catsbecats 

Cover image credit: Amazon


One comment

  1. Maybe something to consider: how Charlie grooms himself.
    Every time he licks himself, he will undoubtedly be licking the remnants of the litter off aka he will be ingesting the clay or whatever else!
    Watch for the newspaper pellets to go on sale and stock up 🙂
    Also, bonus, if you’re a member and earn points $$ towards future purchases.

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