Biodegradable cat litters are becoming increasingly popular as they have their own unique advantages. For one, they are an ideal flushable cat litter; even clumping biodegradable cat litters don't contain the clumping agents used in clay litter, and hence will not clog your plumbing system the way that clay products can. They can also be recycled or composted because they're biodegradable and won't sit in a landfill for decades. Biodegradable cat litter can be made from a variety of un-litter-like substances, including wheat, corn, dried wood, grass or even recycled newspapers. One caveat is that some cats may not take to the larger-sized pellets found in many of these natural litters, as reviewers say they tend to prefer the fine, sand-like texture of clay litter. Also, if you're planning to switch from a clay litter to a biodegradable solution, it may be best to start off with a small bag first; cats are creatures of habit and may not appreciate you switching litters.
If you're looking for an organic cat litter that clumps, World's Best Cat Litter (Est. $25 for 28 lbs.) is a top choice. This highly reviewed and highly recommended corn-based cat litter earns much praise from both experts and users. It clumps on contact with urine, so the litter box is easier to clean. It does a great job of neutralizing odors, though some say its large-sized pellets -- made of ground corn -- can be a bit dusty. The biggest downside is the premium price tag: It costs more than twice as much as your regular brand of cat litter. Many owners say you get what you pay for, while some aren't so sure.
Experts are largely impressed. At Catster.com, Caroline Golon says World's Best Cat Litter clumps "extremely well." She also calls it a "power player" when it comes to controlling odors. Jackson Galaxy of Animal Planet's "My Cat from Hell" fame gives it an enthusiastic thumbs-up, especially compared to clay litters. "Natural options like World's Best Cat Litter are available in the same locations as conventional litter, we don't have to worry about the physical or environmental side effects of clay, and, the cats like it," he writes, adding "Now that's a trifecta we can all be happy about."
World's Best Cat Litter Multiple Cat formula (Est. $45 for 28 lbs.) is also available if you need stronger odor control for multiple cats. It, too, earns favorable reviews on Amazon.com.
SmartCat All Natural Clumping Litter (Est. $30 for a 20 lbs.) is also starting to draw some favorable feedback. At CatInfo.org, Lisa A. Pierson notes that she's switched to SmartCat, which is grass-based, in place of the clay-based Dr. Elsey's Precious Cat Ultra (Est. $17 for 40 lbs.), which is covered in our section on clay-based clumping litter. The litter is light weight, which is a plus … and a minus because it's less-dense composition lets cats sink in deeper, something that not all felines are all that fond of in a litter. She also reports that, as with any lighter litter, best results are achieved with higher fill levels (to keep waste from reaching the bottom of the litter pan where it can lead to messier clean ups and a less sanitary box), which adds to cat acceptance issues, and product cost. At The Happy Litter Box, Caroline Golon includes SmartCat among the products listed in 4 Cat Litters To Try, but notes that its light weight contributes to an issue with dust tracking. Were it not for that, Golon says "I would have switched to this litter for life (and still might)." At Amazon.com, SmartCat gets good feedback from cat owners -- a rating of 4.4 stars based on nearly 120 reviews.
Although cat owners and experts recommend World's Best Cat Litter and SmartCat most often as the best biodegradable cat litters, they are far from the only choice. SWheat Scoop (Est. $25 for 25 lbs.) does decently in the eyes of some reviewers. This clumping litter is made out of wheat kernels, so it's a flushable cat litter that can also be recycled in yard mulch. It rates a grade of B at Taildom.com, where Daniela Caride echoes comments made by other experts and owners that satisfactory results require a lot of diligence on the part of the cat owner. The litter can harden to a near-cement-like consistency if not scooped out immediately, and the entire litter box should be changed out weekly to keep odor under control.
Experts typically point to clumping litters as a better choice as it makes it easier to provide a sanitary litter pan, but lots of cat owners point to Feline Pine (Est. $10 for 20 lbs.) as a pretty good non-clumping litter. It's made from kiln-dried pine, which is environmentally friendly. However, experts note that the pine scent might be more of a plus to pet owners rather than the pets themselves, and point out that unscented products are what testing shows is preferred by cats. Still, Amy Worden at Philly.com calls pine pellets such as Feline Pride "hands down the best form of cat litter." At Taildom.com, Caride gives the pellet form of Feline Pine an A rating, though recommends pairing it with a type of litter box that will let the sawdust that forms when the litter comes in contact with urine to sift into a lower tray to aid in clean up, such as the All Pine Self-Cleaning Litter Box (Est. $24). User reviews for Feline Pine cat litter are decent, 4.1-stars after nearly 750 reviews. The total is dragged down a bit by complaints from some who say the product isn't as good as it used to be after a reformulation by its manufacturer, Arm & Hammer, but while these negative reviews hit a peak a couple of years back, such comments have grown scarcer of late.
If you want a clumping pine litter, Arm & Hammer also makes Feline Pine Original Cat Scoop Litter (Est. $20 for 14 lbs.). Expert reviewers, such as Caride, give it middling -- or worse -- evaluations, but much of that feedback originates from before a change in manufacturer, and some formula changes. User feedback on the current product is better, but is also not very extensive -- just over 15 reviews at Amazon.com, for example. Some note similar issues as with the previous version -- primarily that, for a clumping litter, clumping performance can be hit or miss, leaving litter box cleaners with a mess to deal with.
Elsewhere in this report: