Homemade cat litter can be an intimidating DIY project. After all, cat litter performs a critical function in a pet owner’s life!
One of our readers reached out to us and asked if we knew of any quality homemade cat litter solutions. As all pet owners know, cat litter is expensive and adds up quickly… so of course, we delved into the homemade cat litter recipes we found online to see what we could find.
What is cat litter, anyway?
Cat litter is basically an indoor feces and urine collector for indoor cats. In order to be effective, cat litter must be absorbent. Cats naturally want to bury their excrement, so it’s important to use something that they can sweep around with their paws.
Our modern kitty litter was actually an accidental discovery. Although humans have had feline companions for nearly 10,000 years, it wasn’t until the 1940s that clay-based kitty litter was commercially available. The granulated absorbent mixture we know as ‘kitty litter’ today came into existence when Edward Lowe suggested his neighbor use an industrial absorbent in his litter box. Shortly thereafter, he began packaging and selling the stuff to pet owners.
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What is the best homemade cat litter?
Basically, any absorbent material that the cats can dig in can be used as kitty litter. However, their human counterparts generally prefer material that is also odor-neutralizing and easy to clean up.
We’ve found a few ways to create homemade cat litter. Choose the one that is the most convenient for you and the most comfortable for your pet.
You can make homemade cat litter from newspapers.
Newspapers are generally cheap and easy to get, especially if you’re just using them for litter.
In order to do this, you will need to collect newspapers, advertisements, and other papers.
You can use the material that comes to your home but you can also ask your neighbors, friends and coworkers to save extra for you. After all, the news and coupons are time-sensitive… but old papers still make good homemade cat litter! You can even buy newsprint paper on Amazon!
There are additional ways to get newspapers, too. You can contact your local newspaper office to ask for free misprints or endrolls. Recycling centers may be able to help you acquire large amounts of newspaper for a small fee.
When you’re ready to create homemade cat litter from newspapers, follow these steps:
First, prepare the newspapers. Remove the glossy advertisements and the staples from the papers. This will cause major problems in the litter if you leave them.
Second, completely shred the newspapers. Use a shredder if you have one, or tear the newspapers into thin strips by hand.
Third, soak the newspaper in a solution of warm water and two tablespoons dish soap. You will need to let it sit until the ink fades and the water turns gray.
Fourth, drain the paper by pressing it against a screen or colander. Remove as much water as you possibly can.
Next, place the paper in a container with warm water. Do not add dish soap this time. Leave it for several hours.
Finally, you will need to drain the paper the best you can. Add some baking soda and knead it into the paper until you have a mushy pulp. Break it into small pieces and crumble over a fine screen. Allow it to dry. The mixture should fully dry if left in the sun for 24 hours.
Once it is completely dry, you can simply add the homemade cat litter crumbles into the litter box like ordinary, commercially-produced cat litter.
You can make homemade cat litter from wheat.
Apparently, expensive wheat-based cat litter is just coarse ground wheat. I found a great homemade cat litter solution by Mellow DeTray at A Life Unprocessed. She wanted a sustainable, healthy cat litter option for her new kitten and tested an expensive wheat-based litter. In her words, “Imagine my surprise when I dumped it into his freshly washed litter pan to discover that this expensive wheat kitty litter is literally just a bag of coarsely ground wheat. No magic ingredients. It wasn’t even organic.”
She uses a grain grinder and wheat berries. That’s it! Just set the grinder to a coarse setting, grind up some berries and drop it in the pan. As she observed, “I have found that the finer I grind the wheat, the better it clumps, but you don’t want it to be as fine as flour because that would be a bit dusty to have around. I try for a coarse meal, but the exact grind doesn’t matter too much.”
You can find whole wheat berries at bulk foods stores and even online retailers like Amazon! An electric wheat grinder will set you back quite a bit, but the hand-turned wheat grinders are actually very affordable. Amazon has many varieties of wheat grinders, but it may be more affordable to check your local Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, OfferUp or other local seller marketplaces for a used one.
You can make homemade cat litter from wood chips or pine animal bedding.
Wood chips and pine animal bedding can be used for cat litter. You can mix it with baking soda for a deodorizing effect. The animal bedding is usually quite absorbent, but wood chips may be cheaper if you can make them yourself!
You can make homemade cat litter from sand.
Sand is also a cheap homemade cat litter alternative. Just mix it with one cup of some baking soda for a clumpable, deodorizing solution for your litter box.
The only downside? It can get very messy. As one of our readers advised us, “I read somewhere about play sand from the home improvement store plus half a cup of baking soda. I tried it. I hated it. They hated it. It’s messy and stinky. It’s also very heavy and hard to deal with when it’s clumpy and poopy. I’m still finding that stupid sand in the most awkward of places around the house. (Yes, it was in my bed but why was it [in] my purse?) I have developed a deep hatred for sand.”
If you decide to try this solution, be sure you’re prepared to find sand in some unexpected places!
You can make homemade cat litter from chicken scratch.
Chicken scratch is very affordable and can make an effective cat litter. Unfortunately, it also poses additional hazards. Some users report that it can create pest problems by attracting mice and other unwanted visitors. If you choose to use chicken scratch for cat litter, be careful and clean your litter box often!
You can add baking soda to the chicken scratch to help deodorize the box. Add about 1/4 cup baking soda to each tray and you should be fine. Some users like to add wood chips to this mix as well.
Got a cat? We’ve found even more ways to save money!
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