The good and the bad about pine pellet cat litter

Although pine pellet litter is relatively new in the commercial cat litter market, sawdust has long been used as a bedding in horse stables. Pine absorbs moisture very well and may be easily scooped out and replaced with fresh bedding/litter.

Photo by: MSVG.

We have tried several litter types (you can read more about clumping cat litter and silica litter here) and, of everything we tried, we liked the pine litter the most. Unfortunately, our cat did not agree.

Not all cats like pine litter

The biggest disadvantage of the pellet cat litter is simple. If the cat  refuses to use the litter, all the great advantages of that litter are of no use.

Your cat may not like pine litter for a variety of reasons:

  • Odor: Pine litter has a very strong and specific natural odor. Although it may be pleasant for your nose, cats are usually not so ecstatic.
  • Texture: The edges of the pellets are sharp, and stepping on them may not be comfortable for your cat.
  • Hard to dig: Most cats love to cover their stools, but it is not easy to do so with pellet litter.

However, if your cat refuses to use a pine cat litter after switching, don’t give up. Try to mix a small amount of the pellets in with the previous litter type. See how he or she reacts. If you add a little at a time, your cat might not even notice.

If everything goes well, increase the amount of pellets over time until one day you end up with only pine litter in the litter box.

Also, if you are using a covered litter box, try to remove the hood. Hooded litter boxes have many disadvantages, and the most significant one is that they trap odors inside. Many cats do not like the pine odor, and inside the covered box it’s much stronger; thus, chances are greater that your cat will dislike the odor in the covered box as well.

Pine litter is not easy to clean

Another drawback of pine cat litter is that it is difficult to scoop. It does not create solid clumps like the clumping litters do. Also, unlike silica litter, pine litter does not absorb moisture while remaining in solid granules.

Instead, pine litter becomes a wet sawdust/urine porridge, which is hard to scoop. Besides that, pellets that are not yet moisturized are relatively large and won’t go through the holes of a scoop. Yes, it’s messy and much harder to use than other popular litter types.

However, there are some things you can do to improve the usability of this litter type:

  1. Don’t worry about scooping out “unused” pellets. Just take a scoop and roughly dig out everything that is messy.
  2. Get a scoop with large holes.
  3. Change the whole litter box contents daily.

But pine litter is still oh so good (for humans)

Aside from the major drawbacks listed above, pellet litter has some good attributes. On a sad note, these attributes appeal to us humans, but they are not as significant to those for whom the litter is intended in the first place.

Odor control of pellet litter is better than other litter types we have tested. Pine has a strong natural odor that overwhelms the smell of urine and feces. The bad thing is that, as mentioned above, many cats dislike this odor. The good thing is that you don’t need to choose a cat litter based on its ability to stop odor. See here for other ways of fighting cat litter box scent.

Pine Cat Litter Fights Odor the Best!
Photo by pedrosimoes7.

Pellet cat litter is one of the most ecological litter types available. You can compost it after using it, if you have a garden, or you can flush it down the toilet or even throw it out in the trash. It won’t harm the environment. It is made from natural pine sawdust, which decomposes quickly.

It also stays inside the litter box much better than clumping litter does. It is not dusty, it does not stick to your cat’s paws, and it is not strewn all over the place as most other cat litter types are. Even if something does drop out, it’s still only pine, not cement.

And why would you choose a pine pellet cat litter?

In short, we liked the pine litter the most. It does not have huge disadvantages other than the fact that many cats do not like it, and the litter box area looks much cleaner. There is no dust when you pour or scoop the pine litter, and it fights odor very well.

When we ask cat owners who have managed to switch from other litter types to a pellet litter, the most common response is that they are happy with their choice and have never looked back. That is, of course, provided that the cat does not object to the pine litter.

This article is a part of a series about cat litter.