ChewyPet Parenting / Pet Supplies

7 Alternative Options to Clay Cat Litter

Whether you just got a new kitten or your cat doesn’t like your current litter choice, picking a new cat litter is an important decision. It can be a challenge to choose, especially if you are unfamiliar with the options.

A common choice for many pet parents is clay cat litter. This widely available litter features a relatively low cost and comes in clumping and non-clumping varieties.

“If a cat is using clay litter and [exhibits] no behavior problems, like urinating outside the box, then the cheapest is fine,” says Robert Henrickson, DVM, owner of Manhasset Animal Hospital in Manhasset, New York. “We use clay at the office.”

Even if your cat is pleased with your litter choice, there may be other reasons for switching from clay litter. For example, you might be interested in more eco-friendly litters that use recycled materials, or a low-dust variety. Dr. Henrickson recommends dust-free litter for cats with allergies or asthma.

So, what are the alternatives? From corn litter to walnut litter, there are a number of litter options on the market beyond clay.

1. Corn Cat Litter

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Corn cat litter typically is made from finely ground whole corn kernels or ground corn cobs. The latter is a more environmentally friendly method, as it utilizes a waste product, says Christina Chambreau, DVM, a homeopathic veterinarian in Sparks, Maryland, and owner of the pet health coaching website, MyHealthyAnimals.com. Either kind is biodegradable, flushable and can help control unpleasant smells.

Among the many options of corn cat litter is World’s Best scoopable multiple cat litter, which reduces waste by transforming into tight, small clumps thanks to its compressed-corn formula.

2. Paper Cat Litter

Paper cat litter

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When newsprint and other paper is recycled, there are long fibers that can be reused as paper, and short fibers that normally are wasted. But paper cat litter, like the Yesterday’s News original cat litter, can make good use of those normally wasted particles, which Dr. Chabreau says can be made into little balls of paper or pellets.

“The various paper litters are better for the environment and usually [are] very soft, dust-free and sometimes even clumping,” Dr. Chambreau says.

3. Pine Cat Litter

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“Pine litter can be made of just pine or have added ingredients, such as guar gum,” Dr. Chambreau says, adding that the pine is heated to a very high temperature to create the pellets from the wood and sap.

One example of this type of litter is Feline Pine original cat litter, which is a non-clumping cat litter that uses pine fibers to lock away odors and suck up moisture.

Many people like the natural scent of pine, Dr. Chambreau says. But, she warns that some cats don’t like the smell themselves.

4. Wheat Cat Litter

Wheat cat litter

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Yet another alternative to clay litter is litter made from ground wheat. An example of this type of litter is sWheat Scoop’s multi-cat natural wheat cat litter, which is flushable, biodegradable and contains no silica dust.

5. Wood Cat Litter

Wood cat litter

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Similar to pine litter, wood litter consists of cedar, spruce or fir in chip or pellet form, says Bruce Silverman, VMD, head veterinarian at the Village West Animal Hospital and Rescue in Chicago, Illinois. Wood litter, like the Okocat Natural Wood clumping cat litter, also tends to be lightweight.

If your cat is recovering from an injury or surgery, you may want to consider switching to a wood litter.

“Sometimes it’s necessary to use wood pellets to keep wounds or incisions clean after an injury or surgery,” Silverman explains. “Many of our cats have readily taken to these; some cats actually prefer them.”

6. Walnut Cat Litter

Alternatives to clay litter

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Walnut litter, like Naturally Fresh’s walnut multi-cat clumping cat litter, is made of finely crushed walnut shells and certain walnut fibers.

“The crushed walnut [litter] provides a really nice experience for us humans as we pour them into the box,” Silverman says. “The natural odor is very pleasant initially, and then dissipates after a little while, so it’s not really invasive.”

Dr. Silverman adds that he has used walnut litter at the rescue he works at with success.

7. Grass Cat Litter

Cat litter grass litter

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Grass litter, one of the newest options to enter the cat litter marketplace, is a fine, soft-textured, plant-based litter.

Grass litter, like the Frisco All Natural grass clumping cat litter, is biodegradable, lightweight and virtually dust-free. This litter also is ideal for multi-cat households because it has minimal dust and doesn’t track, which is a common issue when you have several cats at home.

With so many litters to choose from, it can seem a bit daunting to pick one. A little trial and error can help you find the best option for your cat.

“Every cat is an individual,” says Jeffrey Krasnoff, DVM, owner of Brookville Animal Hospital in Old Brookville, New York. “Therefore, what may be a good litter to use for one cat may not be the right litter for another.”


Christina Vercelletto is a pet, travel and lifestyle content specialist and a former editor of Parenting, Scholastic Parent & Child, and Woman’s Day. She lives on Long Island with her Chiweenie, Pickles, and 20-pound Calico, Chub-Chub. 

Featured Image: By Chewy Studios

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