Skip to main content

4 great alternatives to cat litter that are actually sustainable

If you’re looking for a new cat litter, you don’t have to always stick to traditional clay-based litter.  You have many different types of cat litter to choose from, and many of the options are sustainable and even offer many benefits when compared with clay litters. Each alternative to cat litter has its own pros and cons, but it’s worth considering any of these options if you’re thinking of changing things up. With so many litters to choose from, though, it can be difficult to know which is right for you — and that’s why we’ve highlighted what you need to know about each type of litter.

Orange cat lying next to a litter box full of paper litter
Yulia Alekseeva / Shutterstock

Paper litter

Paper litter is made of recycled paper, so you can feel good about putting old paper to a new use. Many commercial products feature paper pellets that are highly absorbent. These pellets typically aren’t scented, which is an advantage for cats and their owners who are sensitive to smells. These litters tend to stay in the litter box well, rather than being tracked all over your house.

Paper litter is available commercially. Products like Yesterday’s News make it easy to buy and use a paper-based litter. Alternatively, you can also make your own paper litter out of old newspapers. This process is a bit labor-intensive, and you’ll need to do some planning to make sure you have plenty of litter ready when you need it. But it also can be nice to recycle your newspapers and not have to buy commercial litter.

Paper litter has many benefits, but some cats aren’t wild about its texture. This type of litter also doesn’t clump, which can make cleaning a litter box more difficult.

Corn and wheat litters

Corn and wheat litters are pelleted litters made of natural ingredients. Both corn and wheat litters are eco-friendly and are considered to be flushable litters, so they can save you cleanup time, and there’s less to carry out to the dumpster or trash can each day. These litters have a natural smell without strong fragrances, and when paired with their flushable design, this can cut down on stinky odors. Corn and wheat litters produce minimal dust, which can keep your home cleaner than clay litter can.

Corn and wheat litters do have some downsides, though. Cats with a sensitivity to either corn or wheat may have an allergic reaction to the litter. These litters are pellets, and they can be hard on sensitive paws. Corn and wheat litters are slightly more expensive than clay litters, so you’ll need to consider whether the benefits they offer are worth the extra cost.

Cat standing in a litter box in a living room
New Africa / Shutterstock

Coconut litter

Coconut litter, such as CatSpot Litter, is made entirely of coconut, making it a natural and safe addition to your cat’s litter box. Coconut litter is made of the fruit’s husk, making this litter renewable. This litter is highly absorbent, and it weighs much less than clay litter, so it’s easier to handle and use. Coconut litter is dust-free and hypoallergenic, helping to keep your home clean and your cat healthy. It’s even flushable for easy cleanup and minimal mess.

There are some downsides to coconut litter, though. It doesn’t clump, so cleaning the litter box can take some work, especially in a multi-cat home. Insects may be attracted to this litter, so using a covered litter box is advisable. While coconut litter has many benefits, it’s significantly more expensive than clumping litter. (It’s also more absorbent, which may mean you can use less to help offset some of the extra expense.)

If you decide to give one of these alternative cat litters a try, then be sure to incorporate the new litter gradually. Suddenly changing the litter can cause your cat to boycott the litter box. Instead, add in a little new litter while keeping most of your cat’s old litter. Slowly increase the amount of new litter while decreasing the old litter. This slow transition can help increase the chances that your cat will accept the new litter. Still, all cats are individuals, so don’t be surprised if you need to try a few different litter types before you find out just what your cat prefers.

Editors' Recommendations

Paige Cerulli
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Paige's work has appeared in American Veterinarian, Business Insider, Healthline, and more. When she's not writing, Paige…
8 essential tips for disciplining cats
8 Easy and effective tips for training your cat
Two kittens on wooden shelves

Cats may be one of the most popular pets worldwide, but even they have reputations (mostly with non-cat people). Felines are known for indifference, sass, and even attitude. Cartoons, comics, and movies portray them as impossible to reason with, but if you ask a cat owner, they'll assure you cat discipline exists. Here's the catch: you need to know how to discipline your cat -- safely and properly -- for that training to stick. With these seven simple tips and tricks, though, you'll be on your way to perfect feline behavior.

Rule out medical concerns as a cause for misbehavior
Surprising as it sounds, the source of a lot of cat misbehavior has roots in medical conditions. Cats may stop using the litter box, demonstrate new aggression, or start hiding in unexpected places -- all from changes inside their body. So, before you start wondering how to punish your cat, make an appointment with your veterinarian. You may find a medical cause for the behavior. If not, you'll get peace of mind and can move on to further tips on cat discipline.

Read more
Why do cats throw up? (Plus, the one thing you should always do)
Don't ignore your cat when they do this
an orange and white cat lounging on wood plank

When you signed on to cat parenthood, you likely knew you'd have to deal with waste management, like cleaning litter boxes (or scooping poop if your kitty is an outdoor one). Feeding and providing a cat with plenty of water are also expected basics of having a cat. However, cats are full of surprises, from wake-up calls for pets (aren't felines anti-social?) to a Bah-humbug relationship with holiday trees.

An unwelcome surprise of kitty parenting? Cleaning up vomit. To be frank, it's gross. However, seeing that your cat threw up is likely also concerning to you. When people throw up, they're often sick — can the same be said for cats? If you're wondering, "Why is my cat throwing up?" your first call should be to a vet. Here's why.

Read more
Cats sleep with their eyes open — it’s creepy, but here’s why they do it
Cats do all sorts of weird things, including sleeping with their eyes open. Here is why.
A one-eyed cat sleeps with the other open

Cats do weird things sometimes, and we love them for it! What would we watch on TikTok otherwise? But their strange behavior can also cause us cat owners some concern. If you’ve ever seen your cat sleeping with her eyes open, you know exactly what we mean. Not only does this look frightening, but it also might spur some crucial questions in your mind. Why do cats sleep with their eyes open? Is it a medical problem? Should I be worried? Keep reading to find out.

Can cats sleep with their eyes open?
They can. If you’re reading this article, you have probably already observed your cat sleeping through the day with her eyes open. Not all cats do it, and cats that can don’t usually do it all the time. The first time you notice your cat sleeping with her eyes open, it can be quite jarring. It looks a little spooky, and you may start to worry that something is wrong with her.

Read more