Skip to main content

PawTracks may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Is DIY cat litter worth it?

If you are interested in saving money, protecting the environment, and promoting both human and feline health, DIY cat litter just might be right for you. There are many sustainable alternatives to commercial cat litter products. We will go over the advantages and disadvantages here so you can make an informed decision.

Main advantages of DIY cat litter

Making your own cat litter can offer some key benefits:

  • Lower costs
  • Greater sustainability
  • Increased safety for you and your fur baby

Cat litter is the type of product that lends itself to repeat purchasing. As a result, your costs are pretty fixed. There are many different price points for cat litter, but outside of it being on sale, you’re probably spending a large chunk of change on a commercial product over your own DIY kitty litter.

DIY cat litter
Africa Studio/Shutterstock

We believe investing in the right products and services means everything when providing for our families. That said, when you can lower your monthly expenses and protect the environment, that’s a win for everyone. The truth is, many cat litter products contain contaminants that we don’t need in our water supply. Flushing litter down the toilet may seem quick and easy, but it pollutes the environment. Even throwing away dirty cat litter can have a negative impact on the environment through runoff and drainage.

Some clay-containing cat litters have been found somewhat toxic for both animals and humans. Carcinogens are not something you want in your home. Nonetheless, many commercial products – including cat litter — contain them. By choosing to create your own cat litter, you can actually protect those in your home from experiencing increased allergies and asthmatic symptoms.

Finally, many people love making their own products so they are in greater control of their home environment. This spirit of self-reliance can help you save money, be healthier, and make smarter choices for yourself, your partner, your pets, and your children.

New Africa/Shuttetstock

Disadvantages of DIY kitty litter

So, as amazing as DIY home products can be, they are often not as quick or simple as their commercial competitors. Cat litter is no different. Producing your own kitty litter requires more effort, thought, and possibly expense than simply going to the store and purchasing a trusted brand.

  • Some materials used to make DIY cat litter, such as newspaper, require you to have access to large quantities of it. If you are reading the New York Times, LA Weekly, and Washington Post on a weekly basis, having enough paper might work; if not, it could be hard to find as much as you will need.
  • You might be used to commercial kitty litter that reduces odors and create clumps that are easier to pick up. These benefits aren’t usually reproducible in homemade litter. So, while you might enjoy some aspects of DIY litter, you might miss some of the best things about the commercial products you already know and trust.
  • Making your own cat litter requires some experimentation. There are various materials and formulas that you can try. If this is something you enjoy, great; if not, you might want to reconsider. You’ve likely found certain consumer products have their pluses and minuses. The same can be said about DIY cat litter solutions.

How to make homemade cat litter out of paper

This DIY cat litter can save you from having to muscle heavy bags of litter in from your car. It can also be a cheaper alternative to traditional litter since you can make it with materials you already have around the house. In fact, all you need is some paper, like old newspapers. If you don’t have enough from your newspaper subscriptions, chances are your neighbors and friends will be happy to give you theirs. In addition to newspaper, you’ll need some dish soap and baking soda.

Here’s how to make it:

  • To get started, shred the newspapers — a paper shredder can help. Use only traditional newsprint paper, not the colored, glossy flyers and advertisements.
  • Once your paper is shredded, place it into a bucket (shred enough to just about fill the bucket). Add enough warm water to cover the paper, and then add in 2 tablespoons of dish soap. Let the paper soak until the print has faded completely.
  • Drain away as much water as possible. Squeezing the paper can help, and you might find it easier to press it against the sides of a colander. Once the paper is drained, you’ll need to put it into another bucket of warm water but without any dish soap.
  • After the paper has soaked for a few hours, you’ll need to drain it again. Once it’s drained, sprinkle baking soda all over the paper and knead it. It will gradually turn into small pieces of pulp. Spread the paper over a surface, like a screen, so it can thoroughly dry. This process takes one or two days. Once it’s thoroughly dry, it’s ready for the litter box.

Cat litter substitutes

If you don’t have time to make your own cat litter, there are still plenty of substitutes you can use instead of traditional clay litter.


Play sand can double as cat litter. It’s affordable, you can buy it in bulk, and it simulates the ground that your cat would dig in if he were outside. You can mix in some baking soda to help reduce odors.

Sand can get messy, though. Because it’s much finer than clay litters, it’s easier for your cat to track it all over your home. You’ll want to invest in a litter mat to put around your litter box to trap as much sand as possible.

Pine shavings

Some cat owners use pine shavings in their litter boxes. Pine shavings are one of the most affordable options, especially when you buy them in large bags that are used as horse bedding.

Shavings have a pleasant smell, but they’ll get dirty quickly, especially since there’s no clumping action. It can be difficult to scoop your cat’s box daily without removing lots of shavings. Shavings also tend to be dusty, so they may not be the right choice for homes of people with allergies.

Chicken scratch

Alternatively, you might want to try using chicken scratch as cat litter. Chicken scratch’s texture is similar to clay litters, and its larger pieces are less likely to scatter all over your home.

Scratch has some downsides, however. Because it’s made of foods like corn, it can attract bugs or mice. It’s also one of the more expensive options, but you may be able to economize by buying it in bulk.

Successfully introducing new cat litter

Homemade cat litter will have a texture that’s new to your cat, and it may take some time before he accepts the new litter. To successfully transition your cat to your homemade litter, start mixing in small amounts of the new litter with his old litter. Gradually increase the amount of new litter while reducing the old litter. If your cat shows reluctance to use the litter box, stop the process and reintroduce some more of his older litter. You can gradually restart the transition process.

Choosing the right litter for your cat may be as personal as choosing the kindergarten for your child. We get it. That said, we think you might enjoy experimenting with DIY cat litter because there are so many great options out there. Experiment with some of the above options and see what works best for your feline friend.

Editors' Recommendations

How to cat-proof your balcony before the unthinkable happens
Tips to keep your kitty safe while on the balcony
Cat sitting on a sunny balcony railing

It's tempting to spend some time outside with your cat whenever the weather is nice, and taking your cat outside can give him a nice break from indoor-only life. If you love to spend time on your balcony, it's natural to consider letting your cat join you, but balconies can be dangerous for cats. In addition to the potential for a fall, balconies have several other risks that you might not be aware of. Understanding how to cat-proof a balcony can help you to make the space safer, so you and your cat can spend a little time outside together.

Will a cat jump off a balcony?
Balconies can be very dangerous for cats because of the possibility of "high-rise syndrome." Always Compassionate Veterinary Care explains that high-rise syndrome refers to the occurrence of cats falling out of high-rise buildings and needing veterinary treatment. The term originates when the Animal Medical Center in New York City treated more than 100 cats who fell out of high-rise windows. That occurred during just five months in the 1980s and highlights the fact that cats can and do fall out of high structures.

Read more
How to tell if your cat is a Maine Coon mix (and why you should care)
Should you consider a Maine Coon mix? Here's what you need to know
Closeup of a Maine Coon's face

There are plenty of big and fluffy cats out there, but one of the best-known breeds fitting this description is the Maine Coon. These cats are not only impressive in size, but they also tend to have fantastic personalities that make them beloved family pets. While purebred Maine Coons are a little more uncommon in rescues and shelters, it's possible to adopt a Maine Coon mix that still has some of the breed's distinctive characteristics.

While telling exactly which breeds your cat is can be a little tricky, it's worth doing some investigative work to better understand your feline's background and what that might mean for the care he needs during his life.
Where do Maine Coon cats come from?
You may have heard that the Maine Coon Cate originated from a fantastical cross between a feline and a raccoon. Of course, this didn't really happen, but it could be where they get the name. (Another option, from a ship's captain who brought the first of these kitties ashore.)

Read more
There’s a totally normal reason cats throw up after eating grass – here’s why
Learn about this cat behavior and if there's cause for concern
Calico cat lying on its back in a grassy yard

If your cat throws up after eating grass, there's probably no reason to be concerned. Eating grass is a natural behavior for most cats, and throwing up after eating that grass also is pretty common. There are physical reasons for why your cat throws up grass, and aside from dealing with the inconvenience of having to clean up cat vomit in the house, this behavior usually isn't a problem.

But excessive vomiting and unusual grass consumption can be a cause for concern. If your cat likes to munch grass, then it's best to familiarize yourself with what's normal and what might be a reason to worry.

Read more