Pine Cat Litter - Cat Info Detective

Pine Cat Litter

Skye Blake-updated, white background

Welcome crazy cats to the world of pine cat litter! Skye Blake here, investigating that “other” litter.

Yes, there’s clay and silica litter… and they’re popular, but pine litter has its fans.

Let’s discover more…

paw prints coming in from a distance

The information here is for general knowledge… always see your vet with questions about your cat’s individual needs. 

Who Is Skye Blake?

Skye Blake-updated, white background

Skye Blake, Cat Info Detective, is a curious cat researcher (not a veterinarian) who sniffs out expert, reliable sources about cats, studies their information, then passes it on to you! 

Sometimes there’s not enough evidence for easy answers, so Skye gives you all sides, explains the situation as thoroughly and clearly as possible, and links you to experts on each page.

Sources are at the bottom of each page so you can do more snooping.

What Is Pine?

pine tree for cat litter

“Pine” is “any of a genus (Pinus of the family Pinaceae, the pine family) of coniferous evergreen trees that have slender elongated needles and include some valuable timber trees and ornamentals”.1 Pine Definition & Meaning – Merriam-Webster

The wood makes great flooring, paneling and furniture, and the cones are popular for craftwork.

The scent of pine is appealing to people, especially at Christmastime, with some types making great Christmas trees.

What Is Pine Cat Litter?

pine pellet cat litter

Pine cat litter, either in crumble (granular) or pellet form, is scrap wood and sawdust left over from processing lumber.

The manufacturer heats it “to 1200°F (649°C) in a kiln-type vat.”2 How cat litter is made – material, production process, manufacture, used, product, industry, machine (madehow.com)

This makes the tree sap act like glue and bonds everything together as it goes through a screen and becomes pellets, then cooled in a tank and packaged.

Crumble is softer than pellets but basically the same.

How Does It Work?

pine trees - litter

Pine cat litter absorbs liquid and urine odors, then falls apart into dust when it becomes saturated.

This works well in sifting boxes, where the wood dust falls through to the bottom while the unused pellets stay in the top, making it easy to clean.

closeup of pine twig - litter

It also is fine for regular boxes, but you have to scoop out the unused pellets if you want to save them rather than throw the whole thing out when you clean the box.

Some people don’t like that it doesn’t cover poop odors, but nothing does. It’s just like your own… scoop and flush it away!

Clumping vs. Non-Clumping

clump in litter scoop

Pine cat litter pellets aren’t clumping, since they disintegrate into powdery sawdust.

The softer granule crumble litter comes in both clumping and non-clumping forms.

Manufacturers add clumping agents, such as guar bean gum, so it clumps like other litters.

powder in a spoon, guar gum, flour, clumping litter

Some people might prefer the clumping even if it doesn’t make hard clumps like clay.

They’re used to scooping everything and might not want to sift the litter.

Their cat may also prefer the softer feel, especially if they have arthritis, are declawed or have other sensitivity issues.

scooping clumping clay litter

Pellets can’t be mixed with clumping litter because each work against the other.

The pellets won’t absorb properly, and the clumps won’t form well.

Is Pine Litter Safe for Cats?

closeup of pine sap

Some people claim that pine contains substances (pinene and terpineol) that are toxic to cats.

They’re usually found in oils, like pine sap, essential oils, and cleaning products.

So far, there’s no evidence that either pinene or terpineol directly harm cats, however, as with all oils and scents, they should be used only according to instructions, especially if concentrated.

pine cones, sap on pine bough

Discuss any concerns with your vet, especially if your cat has medical problems.

Unless your cat has a rare allergy, eats pine litter, or has a medical condition your vet believes requires a different type of litter, pine litter should be fine as long as your cat accepts it.

Don’t forget, we felines have a say in what litter we use too! Some of us don’t like the pine smell or the feel of pellets on our paws.

woman measuring CBD oil in dropper

If you’re worried about it, stick with products specifically made as cat litter.

Discover more at “What Are Essential Oils?

Woodstove Pellets & Horse Bedding

gardening- mulch; cat litter

Any products or brands mentioned on this page are for your convenience and information only… I make no money from them.

People who use pine pellet litter have discovered the neat idea of substituting horse bedding or woodstove pellets, which are much more economical than pine cat litter…

They’re usually available in 20 or 40 lb. bags at less than half the cost of pine litters like Feline Pine®.

This can be either a benefit or a problem, depending on how much space you have and your ability to handle 40 lb. bags.

Horse Bedding

Horse barn-pellets used as bedding, litter

Horse (equine) bedding is made entirely of pine, processed at high heat like cat litter, and is safe for horses, so people assume it’s also safe for cats.

It disintegrates into sawdust when saturated with pee the same way pine litter does.

Some people are concerned that these pellets are different from pine litter and may be harmful to cats.

open horse stall, bedding

I’ve not found any complaints among cat owners or evidence of it causing any problems.

Horse bedding can be more difficult to find than cat litter but is available online if you don’t live near a feed store or places like Tractor Supply Co®.

Here’s a helpful review…

“Equine Bedding Cat Litter Review (We Tried It)”, All About Cats Clips, November 26, 2021

Woodstove Pellets

wood stove, fireplace

Woodstove pellets are a mix of various types of hardwoods, not pine.

They’re useful as fuel for stoves and can have accelerants added, which can be a problem if you try to use them as cat litter.

Since they’re not made specifically for use with animals, read the labels to be sure nothing toxic has been added.

wood pellets, litter

Woodstove pellets are available at home improvement stores like Home Depot® or Lowes®, some superstores like Walmart®, and various suppliers online.

Here’s an explanation of how wood pellets are made… the same basic process is used for cat litter and horse bedding pellets.

“How It’s Made: Wood Pellets”, Science Channel, March 31, 2022

Pros & Cons of Pine Cat Litter

pine needles and cone

What are the pros and cons of using pine cat litter?

Pros

  • Pellets don’t track as much as finer grain litters
  • They’re less dusty, which is better for people (and cats) with asthma or dust allergies
  • Pine litter is more economical than clay because it lasts longer, and you don’t throw as much away when cleaning.
tabby cat squatting in litter box
  • Pine has natural properties that help control odors
  • Some companies include ingredients that help create clumps in crumble (granular) litter

Cons

tabby cat standing in litter box

As with all litter, your cat has to love it too.

  • One problem with pine litter is that cats don’t like strong odors… and pine is strong-smelling!
  • It may not be possible to convince your cat to accept it
  • Your cat may not like the hard pellets, but might be ok with softer granules (crumbles) which can cost more
open litter box with organic pellets
  • Pellets are hard and even though they don’t track as much, they still escape the box, especially if you have a wild litter flinger. You know what I mean if you’ve ever stepped on them in bare feet!
  • If you’re using a regular litter box, it can take longer to clean if you’re trying to save pellets. It’s easier to use pine pellets in either a manual or automatic sifting litter box.
  • Wood, including pine, can attract bugs, but if you see bugs near or in pine litter it means the bugs were already in the house and you should call an exterminator.

Is Pine Litter Biodegradable?

flower bed-litter mulch

Yes, pine cat litter is biodegradable… you can use it as mulch, especially on areas where soil needs to be more acidic.

Put it only on flower beds, not vegetable gardens, since you don’t want bacteria in the cat waste to be near any food.

There are ways to process the litter to make it safe for mulching food items, but it’s best to not risk it if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Toilet flushing

Biodegradable litters are flushable, but you have to be careful about this. It might not be worth the risk.

Discover more at “Biodegradable Cat Litter“.

Pine Cat Litter Brands

grey, silver cat by tree-harness, leash, wood cat litter

Any brands and products mentioned on this page are for your information and convenience only… I make no money from them.

Pine is the most popular of the wood cat litters (discover more at “Wood Cat Litter“), with Arm & Hammer’s Feline Pine® being the most well-known.

Grey tabby cat hanging out in a litter box

A few other brands are Feline Fresh Clumping, Small Pet Select, Omlet, Frisco, Dr. Elsey’s, and Nature’s Logic®.

You can find them at pet stores and online at Amazon, Chewy, and other suppliers.

Read the descriptions and reviews carefully to be sure it’s what you want.

Videos

Here are some helpful reviews about pine cat litter…

“Feline Pine Cat Litter Review (We Tried It)”, All About Cats Clips, November 20, 2021
“Pine Pellet Cat Litter Pros And Cons”, Terry’s Apartment, July 18, 2022, NOTE: He mentions it doesn’t cover poop odor, but nothing does…
“How to switch from cat clay litter to pine pellets.”, Sabella Curtis, December 21, 2020, Note: she shows how to make your own sifting litter box, but you can buy manual and automatic ones if you don’t want to do all that work.
cat watching other cat in litter box

Curious about other types of cat litter and boxes? Discover more at “Supplies for Cats“.

Having trouble with your cat peeing or pooping outside the litter box?

Find some answers to fix the problem and clean up the mess at “Behavior“.


Sources

Sources used on this website are either primary or secondary.

Primary sources are always preferable and have the most reliable information because they’re original and directly referenced.

Scientific abstracts and data are good examples of primary sources.

Secondary sources are weaker because they usually consist of opinions or articles that give no sources of their own.

However, sometimes they refer to primary sources.

When I use secondary sources, most are those with some authority, such as veterinarian or cat behaviorist books and articles.

List of Sources

6 Best Pine Cat Litters With Our 2023 Budget-Friendly Picks” by Amanda Yantos, (pet.reviews), updated January 30, 2023

“Cat Litter – Raw Materials”, How Products Are Made

Does Pine Cat Litter Clump? How About Wood Pellets?” by Matthew Alexander, Pawmore, November 2, 2021

“How Cat Litter is Made”, greenlivingideas.com

How Wood Pellet Cat Litter Works – And How To Use It“, Eco Cat Litter

Pine Cat Litter: Pros, Cons, & Things to Know” by Christian Adams, Excited Cats, June 25, 2023

Pine Pellet Cat Litter Pros and Cons: Is it Really Worth Using?” by Wendy, Happy Cat Corner, February 20, 2020

Pine wood pellets production and application“(pellet-making.com)

What Is In Cat Litter? Understanding Clay, Silica and Biodegradable Cat Litters“, by Lorie Huston, DVM, petmd.com

Updated July 31, 2023

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