Natural Cat Litter Comparison

Sun, Apr 27, 2008

Litter & Hygiene

NOTE: This is a follow-up to the original post, What’s In Your Litter Box? which outlined the dangers of clay and silica cat litters. If you haven’t already, please read the original post to learn more about this important topic.

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My natural litter comparison real-world tests have not been going so well — changing so many variables all at once has caused some protesting and a lot of spot-botting. So, in order to really compare apples to apples, I conducted some controlled tests using clean samples and water. Here are my findings:

Arm & Hammer High Performance
The package says that this litter uses “natural clumping ingredients instead of clay,” but it does not specify what it is made from. I did find a mention of the litter in a news release that says it is corn-based. This litter contains Arm & Hammer baking soda to help control odor.

Swheat Scoop
Swheat Scoop is made from naturally processed wheat, which has both natural enzymes for odor control and natural starches for clumping.

World’s Best Cat Litter
World’s Best Cat Litter, or WBCL, is another corn-based litter made from whole kernel corn.

Nature’s Miracle
Nature’s Miracle is also corn-based, however it is made from corn cob granules instead of kernels.


As I poured clean samples into the bowls, I checked each litter for it’s natural scent. The Arm & Hammer litter has a very strong, perfume-y scent that I can’t quite identify. It might be cedar. I find the scent to be a bit overpowering. Swheat Scoop has a very light scent of wheat or wheat flour, as you would expect. WBCL smells like a farm to me. The package says that “the extra strength formula contains a plant derived, natural scent that helps keep litter fresh for multiple cat use,” but I can’t stand the smell and it gets even stronger when wet. Nature’s Miracle has a light pine scent that is not too offensive.

Texture & Dust

Two other important characteristics are the texture of the litter and the amount of dust that it creates. The texture affects whether or not the cats will like it and how much it will track out of the box and onto the floor. The dust factor affects how much airborne dust is created when pouring fresh litter into the box and when cats dig around in it. Arm & Hammer and Nature’s Miracle have almost exactly the same texture. Both can be described as light and fluffy, meaning that they are more likely to stick to paws and be tracked around. This does also mean that the bag is much lighter to carry, which is a benefit, however if your cats are used to a heavy clay litter, they may need some transition time to get used to this lighter texture. Both of these litters produce very little dust. WBCL is very coarse with large granules, similar in size to many clay litters. It produces a fair amount of dust. Swheat Scoop has a variable mixture of coarse granules with some lighter pieces. Unfortunately, Swheat Scoop produces a ton of dust. I found this to be the worst by far, which worries me since I am gluten intolerant, although I have not been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, but I have read that some people with this problem can get sick if they inhale airborne flour particles, and I imagine that Swheat Scoop dust is similar. I have no concrete information about this, so if you know anything about it, please leave a comment.


Clumping is one of the most important factors in a good litter. You want solid clumps to make scooping easier. If the clumps break apart, you wind-up changing the entire contents of the box more often and scooping is just a pain. Arm & Hammer and Nature’s Miracle performed similarly, with only semi-hard clumping. You can see in the images above that both fell apart when scooped. WBCL had the best clumping ability, with solid, easily scoopable clumps. Swheat Scoop had the worst performance with clumps that fell apart into small pieces, making it very difficult to scoop. Note: I performed these tests with the regular Swheat Scoop. There is a multi-cat strength formula that claims to clump faster and firmer. It may have better results.

Environmental Concerns & Flushing

All of these litters are made of renewable, natural materials that do not require strip mining like clay litters. Also, all of them are completely biodegradable, meaning if they go into the landfill in a paper bag (not plastic), they will eventually breakdown, unlike clay litters that will stay in the landfills forever. Swheat Scoop and WBCL both say that they are flushable, but please be aware, flushing cat waste is strongly discouraged in order to maintain water quality and protect wildlife.


After looking closely at these four litters, it is clear that there is no perfect litter. In terms of clumping, it appears that Swheat Scoop has the worst performance and WBCL has the best. However, I dislike the farm smell of WBCL. The light and fluffy litters are very low dust, but their clumping is poor. I’m not exactly sure what to do. Perhaps try WBCL with some baking soda or other natural odor control product? Maybe try mixing some of these litters? In addition to these natural litters, there are also several pellet-type litters like Feline Pine and Yesterday’s News, but I have tried these before and they were immediately rejected by my crew. Many people swear by them, though, so I encourage you to try them for yourself. Also, you may feel quite differently about some of the litters tested here, so please feel free to share your comments. There are already quite a few comments on the original post, so be sure to check them out as you decide which litter is best for you.

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For more information, please see our Natural Litter Comparison – Part 2.

Please read the following posts to learn more about flushing cat litter:

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57 Responses to “Natural Cat Litter Comparison”

  1. 51
    Al amodeo

    Safety for my kitties is always my number 1 factor. I gave up on the plant based products like Arm & Hammer Essential and Greatest Cat litter because most corn is GMO (genetically modified organism) and don’t want it in me or my kitties. Wheat, which I have never tried, is also GMO. Clay is out for us for many reasons. I use the Feline Pine. It has many downfalls. It tracks like crazy, is dusty, clumps good at first but not so as it wears down, etc. I mix some new in with the old during the duration and when I do change out the litter and clean the boxes about every 10 days or so. I can get it on sale sometimes at my local supermarket for $2.74 for a 4 lb box. That is amazingly cheap. I stock up big time and wait for the next sale. I get rain checks too to extend the sale for me =o_o=
    Like I said, choices are few and tough but if safety for kittie is your primary worry, I haven’t been able to find another and better choice. Let me know if you have. I have 5 kitties that are great with decisions I make for them like switching them all to a homemade raw food diet. Less poop but more pee. Much healthier too beyond my imagination.

  2. 52
    Barbara Lorell

    Hi, I just came across this site. I’ve been using pine pellets for a few years now. Most cats won’t like it if you do a sudden switch. I mixed it in VERY gradually with their clumping clay litter. It was kind of a mess and difficult to scoop for awhile, but eventually the box was just pellets, and, at that point, they were used to it. It seems the author didn’t have much luck with her experiment because she tossed out the clay all at once and put out new litter. Just thought people might want to know that it can be done!

    Also, I use wood stove pellets. I buy the Firemaster brand because they only use pine. Some of the other brands use different wood, and they may not be as safe (chemicals?). I stock up once a year since it is a seasonal item where I live. I pay around $6 for a 40 lb. bag.

    I also use the Feline Pine litter box with the grate. But I only use it as a sifter. When the pellets are turning to mostly sawdust, I sift them, saving the whole pellets, tossing them back in the box and adding more pellets. I put the sawdust into my yard waste pile. This way I don’t waste any pellets, but it is very labor intensive — I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone! Now that I have 4 cats, it takes even more time.

    I LOVE that we now have so many healthy alternatives!

  3. 53

    I use something I get from a feed supply store. To me it seems identical to WBCL but a fraction of the price. It is called chicken crumble or chicken lay crumble and is chicken feed. It does clump when put deep into the litter box, but because I have a large cat population, I just put in about 1/2″ and change it daily or more than once a day and always scoop solid waste when I see it. It doesn’t track much and is very reasonable, even in my metropolitan area — a 50# costs about $12.

    I have also used wood stove pellet fuel which is exactly like Feline Pine. I get it at OSH — a 40# bag costs under $10.

    Save money. Spay and neuter your cats. Adopt from rescues and shelters.


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