The top biodegradable cat litters of 2024

The Top Biodegradable Cat Litters of 2024

Discover the best planet-friendly cat litters of 2024, reviewed by our vet.

In a modern era where concern with looking after the planet for future generations is understandably higher than ever, many definitions for the term “biodegradable” are available…and all of them seem to be slightly different!

It’s probably best to think of biodegradable as meaning that something can be broken down under naturally occurring conditions, by naturally present microbes (such as ‘saprophytic’ or decay-causing bacteria and fungi), with minimal resultant harm to the environment.

Biodegradable cat litter is typically plant based, with the most common components including paper, corn, wood, walnut and other nut shells, and seeds such as grass seed. It’s important to note that “natural” and “biodegradable” are not the same thing: for example, a sand-based cat litter is natural, but not biodegradable.

It’s estimated that a single cat can contribute 400lb of litter to landfill every year, so if you’re looking to incorporate a more environmentally-friendly cat litter choice into you and your feline friend’s weekly routine, you’re in the right place: we’ll discuss the best biodegradable cat litters of 2024, selected by me: a seasoned cat owner; a veterinarian; and a planet and plant-power enthusiast.

Best Flushable: Rufus & Co Wee Kitty Eco Plant Clumping Litter

Rufus & Coco Wee Kitty Eco Plant Tofu Cat Litter | Natural Flushable Clumping Cat Litter | Low Tracking Biodegradable Soy Pellets | Super Absorbent Soy Bean Fibres 8.8 lbs

Rufus & Co’s Wee Kitty Eco Plant Clumping Litter is created from sustainable tofu and wheat, and by their own advertisement is 100% vegan (although we don’t recommend eating it). In all seriousness though, this litter is genuinely a plant lover (and a planet lover)’s dream.

It performs like any other high quality litter, quickly absorbing odors and forming scoopable clumps, but with the added bonus of being compostable, flushable and septic tank safe. Since an equivalent month’s supply of a clay litter is also substantially heavier than a month’s supply of Wee Kitty, it also offers a lower carbon footprint (alongside a rather pleasant, subtle cucumber fragrance).

Best for Multiple Cats: Naturally Fresh Walnut Shell Cat Litter

Naturally Fresh Cat Litter - Walnut-Based Quick-Clumping Kitty Litter, Unscented, Multi Cat, 26 lb

The more cats you are catering for the more complex it becomes to weigh up and apply the relative pros and cons of different types of biodegradable cat litter, as well as balancing the preferences of each individual cat. The most important things to consider when litter shopping for a multi-cat household are:

  1. Dust level – the more cats you have, the more dust is being kicked about each time a tray is used, and the greater the likelihood that at least one of your cats has a respiratory issue. So, for multi-cat households, the less dust the better. Select a pelleted litter, or a litter made from walnut shells.
  2. Disease control and ease of cleaning – the more cats you have in your household, the greater the risk of disease outbreaks, and the more important it becomes that you keep things ultra-hygienic. Generally, non-biodegradable cat litters seem to be better at reducing bacterial burden in the litter box, so if you’re choosing a biodegradable option you’ll need to focus on selecting a litter that you find easy to keep clean. For many, this will mean a clumping litter that isn’t too pricey, so that waste can easily and quickly be removed, and so that the entire contents of the box can be emptied and the box deep-cleaned every few days.

Above in mind, my best biodegradable cat litter for multiple cats is Naturally Fresh Walnut Shell Cat Litter- Multi Cat Formula. It forms clumps fast and well, and is virtually dust free due to the fibrous nature of walnut shell (which – added bonus – also doesn’t tend to stick well to cat’s paws, meaning tracking through the house is minimal). It’s more absorbent than most clay-based litters, meaning a bag will go further, so Naturally Fresh is also a cost effective option for pet parents with multiple litter boxes to oversee.

Best Odor Control: World’s Best Cat Litter

WORLD'S BEST CAT LITTER Low Tracking & Dust Control Multiple Cat Unscented 32-Pounds - Natural Ingredients, Quick Clumping, Flushable & Made in USA - Long-Lasting Odor Control & Easy Scooping

The more perceptive amongst you will have noticed that World’s Best Cat Litter also featured recently in my article on Best Cat Litters for Odor Control; a pretty impressive feat for a litter that’s also biodegradable, flushable and septic tank safe. World’s Best cat litter is corn based, and free from artificial fragrances, which your cat will certainly appreciate. Meanwhile, you’ll surely appreciate the fact that odors stay in the tray.

If I had to find criticism with this litter, I’d be hard pressed; but I could (at a push) point to the size of the litter granules as being potentially problematic, since they are slightly too large to slip readily through the cracks in a number of cat litter scoops. For me personally as a planet-conscious pet parent, this is a sacrifice I’ll readily make in the name of progress.

Best Dust Free: VETRESKA Tofu Cat Litter

VETRESKA Tofu Cat Litter,Natural Pretty Kitty Litter Strong Clumping Flushable Cat Litter Pellets Ultra Absorbent Deodorant Tofu Litter,Tidy Dust-Free,Low Tracking,Eco-Friendly,Green Tea(5.5lb×1bag)

Guys, this litter might actually be the coolest thing I’ve ever seen: please just look at the little sprinkle-covered balls it will form in your cat’s commode and tell you aren’t completely enchanted (as I was)! It’s. So. Pretty!

It’s like cat poop cake pops.

Initial gimmicky delight aside, VETRESKA Tofu Cat Litter is actually also a genuinely very solid biodegradable cat litter pick for a number of reasons. It’s flushable, offers excellent odor control thanks to the presence of deodorizing beads (the proverbial cake pop sprinkles), and can be flushed safely away down your toilet with a zero clog promise, since it readily dissolves in water. Plus, the natural green tea scent is decidedly pleasant without being overpowering for your cat.

But the reason VETRESKA takes the cakepop (fine, I’ll stop) in this particular cat-egory is that these neat little tofu pellets are pretty much entirely dust free: and not just “dust free” in the way that most cat litters claim to be, whilst simultaneously clogging my throat with sticky dust when I open the bag. I mean like, genuinely pretty much dust free, in practice and not just in theory.

A final really cool point: this litter is super lightweight, and arrives vacuum-packed like a brick (loosening up quickly once opened). This means it’s easily transported with a relatively very low carbon footprint. 

Best Natural: SmartCat All Natural Litter

All Natural Clumping Cat Litter, 20 Pound (320oz 1 pack) - Alternative to Clay and Pellet Litter - Chemical and 99% Dust Free - Unscented and Lightweight

SmartCat All Natural litter from Pioneer Pet is made from 100% grass seed, making it about as natural and biodegradable as it gets! And – of all the litters on this list – if I was a cat, it would be my top pick.

Having spent an (unhealthily large?) amount of time considering which of the contending substrates I’d want to relieve myself on were I small and furry with four legs, I’ve ultimately settled on SmartCat for a number of reasons, which are as follows:

  1. It’s unscented, meaning I (still in my theoretical form as a cat) can still detect all my lovely natural odors, on a level that my human housemates can’t detect. This will help me feel safer in the knowledge that an intruder hasn’t snuck inside in the night and heinously violated my beloved toilet.
  2. It’s low dust, so I can kick it about and make a mess to my little feline heart’s content without choking my little feline self.
  3. It feels nice against my cute little cat pawsies.

Human me doesn’t have a whole lot more to add: SmartCat is a really solid pick. However, vet me can’t help but notice that as well as apparently being a rather good litter option, grass seeds can also sometimes cause problems when they get stuck in the feet of unlucky dogs and cats, working their way under the skin and potentially proving painful and occasionally very tricky to remove.

Whilst it seems unlikely to me that a grass seed from this litter would work it’s way into your cat’s foot (since these seeds don’t appear to be whole and ‘unshelled’), I guess in theory it’s a risk, if any whole seeds slip through the net with their sharp little seed jackets still attached.

How to Choose the Right Biodegradable Litter for Your Cat

biodegradable litter options

Much like choosing an electric car, a no-water shampoo bar or perhaps a wedding dress made of hemp (yup, they absolutely exist), each of us will have slightly different priorities when it comes to choosing the right biodegradable litter for our cat(s), our budget and our lifestyle. You’ll most likely want to take the following factors into account in selecting your preferred litter box liner: 

Clumping vs. Non-Clumping

I’m mostly talking about your cat’s preference here, but also yours.

Many cats prefer litters that don’t clump, as “clumpy” litters are more prone to getting stuck between your feline family member’s delicate little toe beans causing them a potentially sulk-inducing degree of annoyance. Most cats will also prefer a litter that they can easily kick around to bury their uh, deposits (and generally make as much mess as possible).

On the flip side, many humans will prefer a litter that does clump well, because this makes removing liquids from the litter box relatively easier (the clumps can simply be scooped and removed).

Relationships are all about compromise, after all.

Dust Control

As a general rule, the less dusty a cat litter is, the better. This is because inhaling dust (even from non-toxic products) is not really great for your respiratory system, and worse still for your cat, since they are the one kicking around in the litter with their face super close to it!

Selecting a low dust litter is especially important if your cat suffers from airway conditions such as bronchitis, asthma or cat flu. Unfortunately, biodegradable cat litters generally are noticeably dustier than non-biodegradable litters, so if you or your cat seem to sneeze a lot, it could be safer for you to select a non-biodegradable option. VETRSKA cat litter is also an excellent choice. 

Odor Control

…Also a factor I had to take into account when selecting an eco-friendly deodorant.

Odor control is (I suspect) important for every cat owner (as well as every armpit owner), with some of us preferring our pet’s litter box to smell of daisies, and others – our cats included – preferring that our litter box smells of nothing at all. In fact, when it comes down to it your cat would probably prefer that their litter box smelled of them, but this isn’t really acceptable in the majority of households – especially not if you ever want the option of having guests.

Key ingredients to keep an eye out for that can help enhance odor control whilst allowing a cat litter to remain biodegradable include activated charcoal, baking soda and food-grade diatomaceous earth. A number of natural plant essences and extracts that can add a pleasant (to humans) smell may also be found in odor control cat litters, for example, lavender essential oil.

I do not recommend that you take the initiative and add essential oils to your cat’s litter yourself, since it is absolutely possible for cats to experience irritation or even symptoms of toxicity as a result of excessive contact with essential oils (even when these are only contacting the surface of their skin).

Check out our guide if you’re cat seems to always smell of poop.

Cat’s Acceptance (Texture Preference)

I’m a cat owner as well as a veterinarian, and I can 100% vouch for the fact that cats are weird! They can have very extreme texture preferences when it comes to toileting, with some cats refusing altogether to use a litter tray that strays from their desired substrate!

The only way to work out which textures your cat is and isn’t comfortable squatting on, digging in and generally kicking around your house as much as he/she is humanly (felinely?) able, is trial and error. May the odds be ever in your favor.

Flushable vs. Other Disposal Options

Biodegradable and flushable are not synonymous terms when it comes to cat litter. Some biodegradable litters are totally fine to flush after use, whilst others will wreak untold havoc on your plumbing system and/or septic tank. As a general rule, wood-based cat litter should not be flushed. In most cases the manufacturer’s guidelines on your cat litter packaging will make it clear which disposal methods are and aren’t suitable, so be sure to adhere to these to avoid unnecessary stress and expense.

A key benefit of biodegradable cat litters is that many will be suitable for composting, which is often welcomed by owners as a more environmentally friendly method of disposal compared to landfill. Please keep in mind however that for hygiene reasons and to avoid the risk of food-bourne disease, you should not use compost that contains cat litter to grow edible plants (such as vegetables).

Price

The cost of biodegradable cat litter is decidedly variable, but there’s one to suit every budget, so don’t worry if you weren’t planning to  splurge on a super pricey option. Factors that will affect cat litter cost include the brand and packing; the materials used; and processing methods.

Generally, the least expensive biodegradable cat litters seem to be made from recycled paper and byproducts of the wood industry. Litters formulated with tofu or more specialized wood-based or composite formulations seem to be a little more expensive, and often come with added features such as enhanced odor control or clumping capabilities.

Types of Biodegradable Litter

types of biodegradable cat litter

A number of materials can be used to produce biodegradable cat litter, and each of these will have distinct characteristics as well as different strengths and weaknesses.

  • Paper

    Biodegradable cat litters made from paper are not usually flushable, but they are lightweight (great for a lower carbon footprint), usually compostable, and tend to be affordable even on a budget.

  • Corn

    Litters made from corn are often flushable and may be septic tank safe. They are relatively lightweight, and like paper based litters they won’t cost the world (either environmentally, or when it comes to cold hard cash). 

  • Wood

    Litter made from wood isn’t suitable for flushing, but may be compostable. These cat litters are heavier and can sometimes be a little dusty.

  • Walnut shell

    Similarly to wood, walnut litter can’t be flushed. It’s usually more lightweight than wood. The price point is usually similar.

  • Tofu

    Not just for scrambling. Tofu cat litter is often a more expensive option, and is very safe to flush since it typically dissolves in water. It’s fairly lightweight and usually low in dust.

  • Composite litters

    Those that are made of a combination of the above materials, possibly also including binding or bulking agents such as wheat. May offer the strengths of multiple ingredients, but possibly also a share of the downsides.

FAQ

Is natural cat litter good?

Natural cat litter – for example, litter formulated from wood, walnut shell, clay or sand – can provide excellent absorbancy, odor control, clumping ability and overall performance at a variety of price points. Note that some types of natural cat litter are biodegradable (for example, walnut shell cat litter) and others such as clay or sand based cat litter are not biodegradable.

Can I use grass seed for cat litter?

Biodegradable cat litters made from grass seed are commercially available to buy, for example, SmartCat All Natural Clumping Cat Litter. Commercially available cat litters made from grass seed have undergone processing to help ensure that they can’t hurt your cat’s feet, as untreated grass seeds may be sharp. For this reason, it’s not recommended to use grass seed that isn’t intended for use as cat litter in your cat’s litter box.

Can I flush biodegradable cat litter down the toilet?

Some biodegradable litters are suitable to flush, and may even be compatible with a septic tank, whilst others are not flushable and inappropriate disposal may result in blocked pipes or septic tank issues. For example, cat litters based on wood are not flushable, whereas those formulated from tofu can be safely flushed even if using a septic tank.

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