Wood Cat Litter - Cat Info Detective

Wood Cat Litter

Skye Blake-updated, white background

Greetings litter connoisseurs! Skye Blake here with a head scratcher… ever heard of cat litter made from wood?

I love a good stretch and claw marking on trees, but this is something else!

How does it work as cat litter? 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 Wood?

cedar trees-chips used for flea control & wood cat litter

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “wood” is…

“…the hard fibrous substance consisting basically of xylem that makes up the greater part of the stems, branches, and roots of trees or shrubs beneath the bark and is found to a limited extent in herbaceous plants.”1 Wood Definition & Meaning – Merriam-Webster

Wood is in everything from houses to golf clubs and is a common fuel for heating and cooking.

What Is Wood Cat Litter?

wood pellets, litter

Wood cat litter is sawdust and scraps of various types of wood left over from the lumber industry.

The type of wood is whatever’s available, which is almost always hardwoods (pine is an exception).

Cedar, cypress, pine, Douglas fir, and aspen are examples of wood you can find in litter, either in granular (crumble) or pellet form.

lime kiln - wood cat litter pellets

Manufacturers heat 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?

cat litter pellets, wood

Wood cat litter absorbs liquid and odors, then falls apart into dust.

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.

Clumping vs. Non-Clumping

clump in litter scoop

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

Manufacturers add clumping agents, such as guar bean gum, to the softer granular crumble litter.

It clumps but they tend to be softer than clumps of clay and other litters, which makes them fall apart easily.

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

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

They already use clumping litter, prefer to scoop everything, and might not want to sift the litter.

Cats may also prefer the softer feel, especially if they’re declawed, arthritic, or have other sensitivity issues.

scooping clumping clay litter

Don’t mix pellets with clumping litter because each works against the other.

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

Pros & Cons of Wood Cat Litter

Tabby kitten in tree

What are the pros and cons of using wood 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
  • Wood litter is more economical than clay because it lasts longer, and you don’t throw as much away when cleaning.
trees in autumn with sun shining through
  • Pine has natural properties that help control odors
  • Some companies include ingredients that help create clumps in crumble (granular) litter

Cons

tree trunks in woods, forest

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 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.
black cat in tree looking down

The pellets are economical because you don’t have to throw away unused ones while trying to get rid of the soiled ones.

People who use wood cat litter like that it’s lighter weight than clay and lasts longer.

Some wood like cedar and pine has natural properties that help control odors… helpful for controlling pee smells in cat litter.

white longhaired cat climbing a tree

Note that nothing controls the odor of poop. Scoop-and-flush is the only way to get rid of it!

If your cat’s poop is abnormally stinky, it’s time for a vet visit. This could be a sign of a medical condition.

Is Wood Litter Biodegradable?

gray & white kitten sniffing daisy

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

It’s best, though, to put it only on flower beds, not vegetable gardens, because of the urine.

Discover more at “Biodegradable Cat Litter“.

Wood Litter Brands

Ginger, orange tabby kitten in tree

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

Wood cat litter brands tend to come and go and can be expensive.

Pine is the most popular (discover more at “Pine Cat Litter“).

douglas fir cones, branches

Wood litter has no added scents, relying instead on the natural scents of the wood itself.

Some have other natural ingredients added such as green tea for extra odor control.

A few brands are Catit®, Catalyst™, Cedarific®, EcoPet, NextGen™, Weruva, and okocat®.

looking up a tree- cedar - litter

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

“How It’s Made: Wood Pellets”, Science Channel, March 31, 2022
“Wood Pellet Kitty Litter – Less Mess, No Tracking, Save Money and More – Pine wood Cat, Hardwood”, Not Handsome but Handy, December 9, 2019
tabby cat standing 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

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

“How Cat Litter is Made”, greenlivingideas.com

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

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

Updated April 13, 2024

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