All of us who own indoor cats are familiar with the status quo when it comes to litter: Buy clay litter and scoop daily to keep your house from smelling. Well after working on our system over the last month we are finally ready to discuss our solution to the problem of kitty litter – wood pellets. We researched methods of kitty litter replacement that were compostable until we stumbled upon a forum post (we forget which forum) where the user stated that they used wood pellets and then went on to discuss their ideas and suggestions. This was a huge help for us and formed the foundation of our system.
Getting Cats to Accept the Change
The first step you will have to do is get your cats on board with this. For some cats you can just replace the kitty litter with wood pellets and they are good to go, with others you have to coax them into it over time. We will of course focus on the latter group. The best way we found was to use a two litter box system.
1) Take the second litter box (the less often used one if you are already using two litter boxes) and replace the litter with wood pellets. Then return the litter box to it’s original position or if you were only using one litter box put it in a location you will not mind having the cats use for their second potty area. Spray the wood pellets with a mist of water to get them to loosen up a bit.
2) Wait a week (continuing to scoop the clay litter in the first box) and switch the two boxes. This should leave you with the wood pellet litter box in the location they were using the most and the clay litter box in the less often used location.
3) Continue scooping the clay litter box in it’s new location, but after scooping toss in a handful or two of wood pellets to get the cats use to their presence in the litter box. By the end of the second week, you should have the original litter box roughly half wood pellets and half clay litter.
4) Repeat as needed until you observe all of the cats using the wood pellet litter box, at which point you can either return to using only one litter box or switch both boxes to wood pellets.
Differences Between Clay and Wood Pellets
There are a few differences between wood pellets and clay litter.
1) The first difference we have noticed is price. You can purchase a 40lb bag of wood pellets for a little over five dollars. This lasts us about a week or two but we have four cats and were previously spending around eight dollars for enough kitty litter to last the same duration. Your mileage may vary on this depending on how many cats you have.
2) The labor difference is very noticeable. Instead of having to scoop our litter boxes every day (and still having them smell when we get home) We completely dump the wood pellets as needed into a bucket destined for the compost pile. As of the writing of this it has been four days since we have had to do this and this morning there was no noticeable odor in the rooms that had the wood pellet litter boxes. The oak pellets seem to do a great job of naturally deodorizing the cat urine.
3) The difficulty is a place where we do still have to give the prize to kitty litter, since that is pretty much pour into a box and it is universally accepted by all cats. As stated earlier, we have four cats and one of them is real particular about the litter box. She uses the wood pellets when she wants to, but sometimes she does not. To be fair to the wood pellets though, this particular cat had a similar attitude towards the kitty litter as well so it could be that we are just over scrutinizing the wood pellets. In the interest of honesty we did want to say that even with our system of getting cats to accept the wood pellets, you may have some cats that just will not accept them and you will have to return to kitty litter. Fortunately if you scroll up to the price comparison, it is not an expensive experiment to try.
4) Our trash is now much lighter and smells much better without the little grocery bags filled with litter clumps in it. For some people this may not be a problem, but for us (since we do not have trash pick up) it can make for a very unpleasant trip to work (and to the dumpsters at work) in the morning. If you have to carry your trash a long distance or have to store it for any significant amount of time, you will be thankful not to have any more kitty litter in it.
5) You can compost the wood pellets. It always seemed like such a waste for us to spend as much as we did on kitty litter just to throw it out, this way we increase our amount of compost while reducing our cost and labor.
In closing, it may be something worth trying out if you are looking to save time, money, or even just to reduce the amount of waste your household sends to the landfill.