We have been using wood pellets as cat litter for at least 6 months now. Compared to everything else, the wood pellets are our litter of choice. But its not without its problems. There are advantages and disadvantages.
Advantage – Cost
You can buy spruce, pine, and other wood pellets from places like Canadian Tire, Home Hardware, and Rona. They are cheaper than pellets sold specifically as cat litter, as little as $6 to $7 for 30 to 40 pounds.
The cat litter versions are more predictable in size and type. Each time we pick up a bag of generic wood stove pellets, they are a different size or tree type. Your call.
Advantage – Odor Prevention
You don’t need to change wood pellet litter every day. You can just scoop out the lumps daily and leave the litter for several days, even a week, depending on your cat(s) before changing it out.
When your cat urinates, the pellets absorb the urine and break down to sawdust. The sawdust holds the urine within itself, keeping the urine (ammonia) from evaporating into the air. Only as many pellets break down as are needed. The sawdust is so absorbent, it appears dry.
All you have to do is remove the sawdust from time to time. Top up with fresh pellets and your cat is good to go again and again.
Disadvantage – Cat Pickiness
Not all cats like the feel of wood pellets under their paws. If you are switching from clay or another fine particle system, your cat might not accept the large pellets. There are other better-than-clay litter types that are corn and grain based.
Your cat is in charge of this decision. If it does not use the pellets, it will use something else. Give it the choice with litter boxes of old and new, or slowly add more pellets and less clay until your cat adapts.
Disadvantage – Hard to Manage
You scoop out the lumps and they come with a lot of loose pellets. This is quite wasteful as those pellets are untouched by cat urine or anything else. It also leaves the sawdust behind.
So now you have a second process – scooping out the pellets and not the sawdust. This is time consuming but easy as almost all scoops have a grate that’s too small for wood pellets to fall through (the sawdust falls through easily). When done, dump the sawdust and transfer the untouched pellets back into the litter box.
You could just dump it all every so often as it can be an inexpensive litter. But being frugal, I like to preserve the 50 to 90 percent of unpolluted pellets.
But there is an easy workaround that makes sawdust and pellet separation very easy and not at all wasteful.
The Perfect Wood Pellet System
We use a Petmate “Simple Sifting Litter System” which is three trays, one with a built in grate. A few shakes and all the sawdust is dumped into another tray. The pellets don’t fall through. Awesome! But that is just half the challenge solved.
When you scoop out the lumps, you also scoop out a lot of perfectly good wood pellets. You need a scoop with a really large grate. These are hard to find because no one is telling you things like the grate spacing or wood pellet diameter. Just a picture and maybe a handle length. But we found one, a big one, the Petmate Ultimate litter scoop.
Now you lift up lumps and pellets, and with a bit of a shake, the clean pellets fall back into the litter box.
Petmate sifter in action
Ultimate scoop & pellets
When you look at the PetMate ™ page https://www.petmate.com/petmate-simple-sifting-litter-pan/product/42095 you will see they designed it with clay in mind. And it will work for that. They have a video showing the mechanics. You just turn around the result – dumping the sifted sawdust (clean clay in their video) and keeping whats left in the grate tray.
Add the PetMate Ultimate Litter Scoop and you have a very easy to manage (and frugal) cat litter handling system.