Are you wondering, “Can you use wood shavings for cat litter?”

The best brands can be quite expensive with US cat litter market worth an incredible $10.89 billion, it’s no wonder you’re looking for a cheap alternative to cat litter. (4)

I’ve used shavings from the bales used for horse bedding myself when I was on a small budget, and one bale lasted me ages!

Before deciding to try shavings, I did some research to see if they were a good idea; this guide has everything cat owners need to know about them, so read on!

Wood Shaving For Cat Litter: Is It Safe? 

wood shavings in a barn: can you use wood shavings for cat litter?

Yes, shavings make an excellent homemade cat litter, as long as the type of wood isn’t toxic to cats. That answers the main question of ‘can you use wood shavings for cat litter?’ 

But there are a few things you need to keep in mind before using them.

Wood shavings are a waste product obtained when you shape or plane wood using carpentry tools or machinery. 

Some of the best wood pellet litters are made from wood fibers and other recycled material. So, it’s natural to ask if wood shaving cat litter is safe. 

According to ASPCA’s list of toxic plants, some types of cedar and pine are toxic to cats, while natural Aspen shavings, ash, and bamboo are safe. (1)

So, before choosing shavings, make sure they are made from wood that is safe for cats.

What Wood Shavings Are Safe For Cat Litter?

Wood shavings that have been treated to remove phenols, such as pine, are safe. However, if the wood is not treated, pine is toxic to cats.

Since not all wood shavings are a suitable cat litter substitute, let’s talk about which woods are safe and how to pick them.

Are Pine Shavings Safe For Cats?

pine shavings

Pine shavings are safe for cats if they are treated correctly, otherwise, they are toxic.

As vets from Hills say, “Pine trees are toxic for cats.” That’s because pine contains certain phenols that can cause liver damage. That’s why pet owners should keep cats away from Christmas trees. (2)

Commercial wood pellet cat litters from pine are generally safe. The manufacturers always treat the wood to remove phenols and other chemicals that can be toxic to cats.

So, are pine shavings safe for cat litter? Pine shavings/pine pellets can be an alternative to clay cat litters if they’re kiln-dried and the wood hasn’t been treated with other chemicals.

CHECL: BEST Sifting Litter Box for Pine Pellets

Are Cedar Shavings Safe For Cats?

Not all cedar shavings are safe for cats. Cedar wood shavings can contain phenols and terpenes, both of which are toxic to cats. The shavings should be heat-treated to avoid putting the cat at risk of liver damage. 

Moreover, not all cats like the strong smell of cedar, which can make them avoid the litter box or cause breathing issues.

Are Horse Bedding Pellets Safe for Cats?

kitten pooping on his litter box

Yes, most horse bedding pellets are made from natural materials and are kiln-dried to remove harmful chemicals and toxins. 

As such, equine bedding pellets for cat litter is an excellent eco-friendly option, especially for pet owners on a tight budget. 

Is Sawdust Safe for Cats?

Yes, sawdust is more or less safe for cats as long as it doesn’t come from poisonous wood. Sawdust is powdery wood particles, so it’s not the same as shavings. 

However, sawdust is dusty, which is bad for a cat’s respiratory system and animals/owners with asthma. And it takes time to sift it, as you can see from this video.

Are Wood Shavings Better Than Cat Litter?

Shavings and regular litter have their pros and cons. So, which is better depends on what type of litter you’re looking for. 

5 Pros of Using Wood Shavings for Cat Litter

Shavings have several pros that make them a perfect replacement for your traditional litter brand. 

#1 It Is Eco-Friendly

Shavings are better for the environment than traditional cat litter because they’re biodegradable, and their production doesn’t destroy new trees.

#2 Shavings Are An Absorbent Bedding

People often use shavings and sawdust to clean up spills because they quickly soak the moisture. That’s what makes shavings an excellent option for cat litter.

And as you can see from this video, wood pellets are better at absorbing liquid than paper litter. 

#3 Excellent for Odor Control

Pine or cedar wood-based litters are an excellent choice for containing unpleasant odors and reducing the ammonia smell around the house because of their natural scent.

#4 Safer for the Digestive Tract (good)

Regular cat litter is made from clay, which can cause an intestinal obstruction if your cat eats it. Shavings don’t clump, so they have fewer health risks.

#5 They Are Affordable

Shavings and wood pellets are less expensive than traditional brands or plant-based litter, such as corn/wheat cat litter. 

Cons of Using Wood Shavings for Cat Litter?

Unfortunately, wood shavings have a couple of drawbacks, which you should consider before making the switch.

#1 Not All Cats Like Wood Shavings

As specialists from PreventiveVet explain, “Cats tend to prefer fine particle litters, as opposed to pellet and crystal-type ones.” So, not all cats will use shavings or wood pellet cat litter. (3)

#2 It Can Cause Allergic Reactions

While rare, some cats can be allergic to pine/cedar shavings. You may notice coughing, wheezing, skin irritation, and other respiratory symptoms. 

#3 Messy & Difficult To Clean

Cleaning the litter box is a bit messier when using wood shavings. And you may need to do it more often to prevent the build-up of cat urine smells.

Moreover, shavings track more than commercial brands or wood pellet cat litter. 

Wood Shavings for Cat Litter: Things to Consider

While wood shavings cat litter has benefits, you should consider some things before making the switch which I’ve listed here:

wood shavings
  • Will your cat like the texture?
  • Do you have time to clean the litter box more often?
  • If you get a large bale, which is the most economical, do you have a place to store it?

How to Get Your Cat to Use A Wood Shaving Litter? 

If your cat is reluctant to use shaving litter, try adding some litter attractant to the cat toilet box. You can also mix some of your cat’s used litter with the shavings. 

Where to get Wood Shavings for Cat Litter?

You can get wood shavings for small pets from most pet stores or online retailers, such as Amazon or Chewy. Etsy also has an excellent selection of shavings for DIY projects or cat litter.

If you want bigger bags, look for horse shavings. You can usually get these a farm and horse supply stores that also sell horse feed. 

How to Switch to Wood Shaving Cat Litter?

Mixing the old litter with the shavings is the best way to make the switch:

  • Fill the litter box with 1/3 of shavings and 2/3 of your usual cat litter.
  • Wait one week and observe your cat’s bathroom habits.
  • Continue increasing the shavings until you’re no longer using your old brand. 

How to Dispose of Wood Shavings?

Scoop the soggy shavings and dispose of them by bagging them and throwing them in the trash. You can also compost them. But don’t flush them down the drain. 

FAQs 

IS WOOD-BASED CAT LITTER GOOD?

Yes, wood is a highly absorbent material, so it quickly soaks cat urine and prevents it from pooling at the bottom of the box. 

CAN COFFEE GROUNDS BE USED AS CAT LITTER?

coffee grounds

No, you can’t use coffee grounds in the toilet box. Cats hate the smell of coffee and will find another place to do their business. 

CAN I USE DIRT FOR CAT LITTER?

Yes, you can use dirt for cat litter, but it’s messy to clean and tracks. Consider a dust free clumping cat litter if you’re worried about allergens.

Conclusion

Can you use wood shavings for cat litter? Yes, shavings or wood pellets can be an excellent eco-friendly alternative to expensive clumping and non-clumping brands.

However, you should ensure the shavings come from non-toxic wood and don’t contain any chemicals. Otherwise, your kitty can get sick if it eats some of the shavings. 

pieces of wood shavings

What do you think about wood shavings for cat litter? Have you ever tried them? Share your experience in the comment section. 

Resources:

  • 1. Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant List – Cats [Internet]. ASPCA. 2015. Available from: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/cats-plant-list
  • 2. Poisonous Holiday Plants to Your Cat | Hill’s Pet [Internet]. Hill’s Pet Nutrition. [cited 2022 Jul 14]. Available from: https://www.hillspet.com/cat-care/healthcare/holiday-plants-dangerous-for-cats
  • 3. Litter Box 101: What Type of Litter is Best for Your Cat | Preventive Vet [Internet]. www.preventivevet.com. Available from: https://www.preventivevet.com/cats/what-type-of-litter-is-best-for-your-cat
  • 4. Cat Litter Products Market Size, Share Report, 2019-2025 [Internet]. www.grandviewresearch.com. Available from: https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/cat-litter-products-market
Grigorina S
Grigorina S

I’ve grown up surrounded by animals – dogs, cats, cows, goats, sheep, and horses and that has shaped me into what I am today – a crazy cat lady who always has a place for one more cat (or a dog). I’ve got two female cats – Kitty and Roni, and two tomcats – Blacky and Shaggy, but I also feed my neighbors’ cats when they come for a visit. I just can’t say no to them.

I discovered that writing is my vocation early in my school years. Since then I’ve taken part in several literature contests – writing horror and fantasy short stories and novellas.
For the past three years, I’ve been an ELS teacher, pouring my heart into showing children and teenagers how important English is for their future and trying to educate them how to treat their pets with care.

Find her on Instagram. Read her latest articles..

Learn more about Grigorina here