Even our pets are being affected by inflation! I had been getting Fresh Step Clean Paws Calming cat litter in a 22.5 Lb box from Target. In March 2022 the price was $13.79. By July, the price had risen to $16.49. With two cats I was buying a box every 6 weeks. If I buy 8 boxes per year, that comes to $132 for cat litter. It was time to come up with a cheaper alternative. I searched on YouTube for cat litter options and found several videos claiming that the best option is wood pellets. Not the kind of pellets that you put in a wood pellet smoker. These pellets are made for animals. The brand I found at Target is called “Feline Pine Fragrance Free 100% Natural Pine, Odor Control, Non-Clumping Cat Litter”. It comes in a 20 Lb bag for $11.49.
Pine pellets are non-clumping. They breakdown into sawdust when they get wet. So, I also needed a litter box with a perforated bottom to let the sawdust out. The cheapest one I could find was 18″ x 15″ x 5″ for $4.99. I drilled two groups of 1/4″ diameter holes in a 5 x 15 pattern. That’s 150 holes spaced 1/2″ apart. The plastic was very thin, so it didn’t take long. I could have drilled more holes, but I didn’t want to weaken the bottom of the bin too much. I used a hot glue gun to add 4 feet made of plastic bottle caps. The feet act as a spacer adding 3/4″ under the bin. Next, I took an old (larger) litter box and lined it with an extra-large dog training pad. The pads are 28″ x 30″ and come in a package of 25 for $10.99. They have 50 and 100 count packs too, but I figured 25 pads would last a while, since the wood pellets absorb most of the moisture.
I placed the bin with the perforated bottom into the bin with the liner and set it next to the old litter box. I left it there for a few weeks so that the cats would get used to the pine smell. They checked it out but continued to use the old litter box. Eventually, I removed the old litter box and put the new one in its place. Our younger cat began using the new box right away. But our older cat was starting to go into heat and was reluctant to use the new bin. She has had that problem with the old bin too. After she came out of her heat cycle, she started using the new bin too. I check it every day and remove any treasures I find and sift the sawdust out. It works pretty well. The pellets smell good and last a long time. And the pellets don’t get out of the bin as much as the old litter. After 3 or 4 weeks I remove the liner with the sawdust and put a new liner in. The bins appear a lot cleaner than with the old dusty clay litter. I will only need to buy pellets 4 times a year and liners every other year. Total annual cost is about $52 vs. $132. You can also find 40 Lb bags of pellets at farm stores for less. Hopefully this will help someone who is looking for a less expensive, environmentally friendly alternative to traditional cat litter.