Cat litter is a hotly debated topic, and there are all types of opinions out there. As a cat owner that’s pretty much tried every single litter type, pine pellet litter is definitely something I can recommend to all cat owners in all types of homes. If your cat isn’t too picky about litter types, give cat pine pellet litter a try. I haven’t looked back since.
Pine litter is not like other litter as it doesn’t clump, which can confuse some people. After this article, you’ll learn that pine litter is not only easy to use but has properties that make it much better than the traditional cat clumping litter.
Pine Pellet Litter: Main Pros & Cons
|Pros of Using Pine Litter
|Cons of Using Pine Litter
|Never have to dump out your box.
|One more step to do (scooping and sifting).
|One of the cheapest litter types.
|Cats may need to be transitioned to it.
|Minimal litter tracking.
|May track if not sifted for days.
|Good at controlling pee (ammonia) smells.
|Not great at controlling feces odor.
|Sustainable & biodegradable.
|It is confusing to use at first.
Other reasons to use pine pellet litter for your cats:
- Non-toxic & natural. Pine pellets are generally safe for cats as long the pellets are made from untreated wood in which all pine pellet brands made for cats are.
- Much healthier for everyone. Almost no dust is produced when scooping or adding into the litter box.
- Efficient. Cat owners never have to dump out and replace the litter in the box. Unsoiled/new pellets remain at the top and the sawdust settles to the bottom. It keeps a clear separation between soiled/unsoiled litter. Nothing is wasted and saves ‘good’ pellets from being thrown away.
- Flushable & disintegrates when wet. Because pine litter disintegrates into sawdust, the dust or pellets can easily be flushed down the toilet without worrying about clogs.
Properties Comparison: Traditional Clumping Cat Litter VS Pine Pellet Litter
Pine pellet is usually lauded for being much better than the traditional cat clumping litter. But why? This table might help cat owners understand:
|Traditional Clumping Cat Litter (Clay, Tofu, Crystal)
|Pine Pellet Litter
|Only scooping is required.
|Scooping and sifting are required.
|Traditional Cat Litter
|Medium Term Tasks
|Requires replacing full litter box every few days.
|No medium-term tasks.
|Pee Odor Control
|Good pee smell suppression.
|Good pee smell suppression.
|Feces/Poo Odor Control
|Good feces odor control.
|Does not control poo odor well.
|Traditional Cat Litter
|General Long-Term Odor Control
|Terrible odor control after a few days.
|Consistent odor control.
Out of all the 6 important categories, pine pellet litter has won 3 of them and tied one. Very clearly, the winner. The one thing that traditional cat litter has on pine pellets is the occupation of mind space of regular people thinking they need clumping litter for cats (this was many cat owners and me).
For most cat owners, the main type of litter that most people commonly use is clay litter (that gray sand clumping litter). Most people get it because it’s the most commonly available, and it’s what we see the most on store shelves, TV, youtube, on ads.
Not knowing or researching that other litter types are better for cats until they encounter the problems everyone uses clumping litter has: litter tracking and the amount of waste that has to be dumped out every few days.
Daily Cleaning Process Comparison: Clumping Cat Litter VS Pine Pellet Litter
As said mentioned above, pine pellet litter is not clumping litter. Therefore, there’s a slightly different process to go through when cat owners use pine pellet litter. Also, pine litter will require a different litter box as well (see below).
The traditional clumping cat litter box will basically be a single bottom container. Some might have a top cover, different entries, or features.
A pine pellet litter box will have 2 sections. The sifter top section contains the pellets at the top (with holes for the dissolved sawdust to pass) and a bottom section to catch the sawdust on the bottom.
Some pine pellet litter boxes may have hoods like this one or just an open box with the sifter and the bottom container.
|Regular Scooping Process
|Traditional Clumping Cat Litter
|Pine Pellet Litter
|Cat feces & urine creates clumps.
|Cat feces & urine dissolves the pellets into sawdust.
|Scoop out all clumps into a trash bag.
|Scoop out the feces & sift dissolved pellets into the holes.
|Add new litter.
|Dump into trash or flush.
|After a few days, dump out the whole box and replace it with entirely new litter.
|Add new litter.
Traditional cat clumping litter is honestly only good for a couple of days, and then it starts falling apart (literally) and begins to turn to dust and stays at the bottom of the litter box. Eventually, it begins so smelly that you need to dump the entire thing and replace it with fresh litter.
On a day-to-day basis, pine pellets have one extra step, and that is sifting the sawdust. However, it is super quick and easy to do. It’s a small sacrifice for not dumping out the entire heavy litter box and replace it with new litter. That whole process is just a mess, so I’m sure I’m not the only one getting clay litter everywhere when doing it.
Visual Guide For How to Use Pine Litter & Pine Litter Box
After scooping out the cat feces, use the scooper to push and sift the sawdust down to the bottom container.
The red circles are the dissolved sawdust from absorbing cat urine.
Pine litter sawdust sifts through the holes and goes down to a separate container. There’s a complete separation now between fresh (black box), clean litter, and soiled litter on the bottom (red box)!
The difference between this sawdust and the regular type of dust found in clumping litter is that there is no way to remove that soiled clumping litter dust. It’s mixed in with the fresh litter (which is a waste).
Easily dump out the lower container that’s filled with pine dust. The good pine pellets remain untouched at the top, ready to be used again.
As you can imagine, it prolongs the use of your litter and saves cat owners more money in the long run!
It’s also very environmentally friendly as the pine dust can be easily broken down in the environment. Some people even use it in their compost!
Pine litter boxes are almost self-cleaning in a way. As cats pee inside the box and cover their pee or poo, some of the dust naturally goes down into the separate dustpan due to the cat’s movement of the box. All it requires is a little bit of extra sifting and shaking to get the rest of the sawdust through!
How Much Does Pine Litter Track?
We all know that litter tracking is an everyday occurrence. Managing litter tracking is something that I have written about before here about how to control litter tracking, and this is probably one of the best properties of pine litter. It tracks so minimally that I don’t see the litter anywhere other than near the litter box area. As long as cat owners have some basic litter controlling measures, such as a litter mat, the pellets will not fly everywhere.
Rating cat litter that tracks the most to the least:
- Crystal/silica gel litter
- Sand/clay litter
- Tofu litter
- Normal pellet litter
- Pine pellet litter
Pine is the winner hands down for the litter that spreads around the least. Even if a couple of pine pellets come out of the box, they’re very easy to spot and clean up.
When I discovered pine pellet litter, I was pretty upset that I found this out quite late to my cat-owning life. The only time pine pellet litter might spread is if cat owners leave the litter box for too long without sifting because the sawdust can build up – but this is an issue for all litter if you don’t scoop regularly.
Cost of Pine Pellet Litter
Just looking on the most popular/best seller’s page on Amazon for regular litter, it seems that, on average, it is about $1.1/kg of regular clay-based clumping litter.
In comparison for pine litter, looking at the best sellers it would amount to $1.6-1.8/kg.
Keep in mind that Pine Litter easily lasts much longer than clay! So it ends up being cheaper!
Again, cat owners won’t be going through the litter as fast as you would clay since pine pellets are very efficient for cleaning and scooping. When compared to regular litter, you must refill it often and dump it completely when it becomes too soiled! Therefore, regular litter is actually quite wasteful.
Pine litter is the only way to go to prevent tracking all over the apartment. It's natural, cheap, and incredibly easy to clean and manage. Use with a sifting litter box like the Purina Hooded Litter Box!
Health Benefits of Pine Pellet Litter
Obviously, dust is not ideal in any situation. In a small space, such as my studio apartment, any dust you breathe might be so concentrated and smelly that it might cause issues if you have respiratory problems. Cat owners will be happy to know that pine litter has minimal dust clouding, and the sawdust that does form when the cats urinate is heavy/moist, so it doesn’t spread around in the air.
Compared with traditional cat clumping litter (such as clay), each time I scoop or dump out the clay/sand, I can visibly see the cloud of dust, and it makes me wear a mask every time.
Pine litter separates its dust on the bottom container and scooping does not cause the dust at the bottom to fly around (no dust clouds!). The bottom container just needs to be dumped out in a bag and you’re done!
The surprising thing is that the pine dust doesn’t smell like urine, unlike the clay sand. Even when the dust container is filled with sawdust, I can hardly smell the pee at the end of the day. Compare this to sand/clay litter, where it literally punches your nose with ammonia if you wait long enough.
How Do You Transition From Normal Litter to Pine Litter?
Transitioning to Pine Pellet Litter in Single Cat Households
- First, completely change out the litter box and litter. After putting in the pine litter, add a thin layer of your cat’s previous litter on it. This lets them transition slowly to pine litter.
- Now, if they really don’t like it – put a larger layer of their previous clumping litter on top of the pine pellets until the cats are okay with it. If you see them going in the litter box, that’s a success.
- Each time you scoop from the litter box, slowly decrease the amount of their previous litter until eventually, you don’t have to add anymore clumping litter for the cats to go in the litter box! It’s okay if their previous litter clumps – just scoop it out.
Transitioning to Pine Pellet Litter in Multiple Cat Households
- If you have multiple cats like mine, I assume that you also have multiple litter boxes. I would have one litter box with the regular litter and one with the pine litter.
- I would actually put some of the pine litter with the regular litter box and then some litter from the regular to the pine litter box. This is so can associate the smell of the pine litter with going to the bathroom.
- Watch and keep a record of who uses the pine litter box. Once all your cats have used the pine litter box at least once, you can remove the traditional clumping cat litter and litter box.
The switch will be fairly quick because cats will likely realize that the pine litter is the one that smells a bit fresher (since it’s being sifted regularly) than the regular litter box, which still contains some soiled litter at the bottom.
How many litter boxes should you have with multiple cats using pine litter? I developed a great guide for people living in apartments: how many litter boxes do you need in an apartment?
Behavioral Benefits of Pine Litter
Since their litter box stays cleaner, behaviourally, cats will be more inclined to go into the litter box to do their business. It allows you to be out of the house for a couple of days and be comfortable that they have a relatively almost self-cleaning litter box for a couple of days before you come home and dump out the dust and scoop the poop.
Whereas before, when I was using the regular clumping litter, I would be worried if I were out of the house only for a day or two as the cats might have left me a surprise somewhere!
What’s The Best Litter Box For Pine Litter?
So we’ve almost reached the end of this article, and maybe you’d like to give pine a shot. The next step would be to choose a litter box for pine litter, and I’d like to recommend this one that I am currently using.
Purina Tidy Cats Hooded Litter Box
I really love this litter box because it is hooded, which means cat owners can flip the hood up if it’s time to scoop or flip the hood down to contain the odor and hide whatever is inside. The hooded design also helps cats enter the litter box more easily by simply flipping up the hood!
This litter box kit contains some pads and pellets (don't use them). I recommend just putting away the pellets that they give you and get pine litter. Pine litter works very well with this litter box and it's very easy to clean.
So is Pine Litter Right For Your Cats?
In conclusion, I have completely transitioned now to pine litter, and the cats are happy. If you haven’t made the switch yet, I hope you consider it! Nothing comes close to how sanitary, easy, clean, cheap, and environmentally friendly as pine pellet litter. It’s been years using pine litter now, and I haven’t been tempted to try anything else.
However, as much as we want the best for our cats. Sometimes they want other things. This is an unfortunate truth in owning cats. They decide, not us. Most of the time, though, if they avoid a certain type of litter, it can be for many reasons. Not the litter itself. Be sure that they don’t have any medical issues and are spayed and neutered.
If you have any questions, feel free to post here or on my youtube channel! For other apartment litter box solutions and tips, see The Complete Apartment Litter Solutions!