Green Little Cat

Cat Litter and Accessories

The Inside Scoop on Soy Cat Litter

Here’s the scoop on a new eco-friendly cat litter called, Close to Naturenow from The Organic Farm Store.  Made from soybean meal and potato starch, this 100{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8} natural and organic cat litter may be the  product you’re looking for if you’ve been on the search for an eco-friendly cat litter that also has clumping properties.

We caught up with Scott DeWaide, President of The Organic Farm Store to get the inside scoop on Close to Naturenow. The Organic Farm Store is a family-run business based out of Washington and it specializes in earth-friendly products such as organic fertilizers.  Close to Naturenow was actually developed rather serendipitously.  Mr. DeWaide tells us, “The litter’s origin was stumbled upon. We have used the soybean meal for quite a few years in the production of our Organic Soil Amendments/Fertilizers.  So it was a spin-off from that that it was created, we merely added the potato starch product to eliminate odor and assist in the clumping.”

Because it’s made from a food grade soybean meal, Close to Naturenow has a soft texture like a light flaky grain.  If you’re switching from a clay litter, your cat may prefer this type of texture over some of the other eco-friendly options that are pellet-shaped.  The potato starch in the litter causes it to clump as soon as your cat does his business.  Mr. DeWaide likens Close to Naturenow to the World’s Best litter in terms of its clumping ability.

Having cooked with potato starch before, I can certainly attest that it glues together as soon as any moisture is added.  It’s even stickier than corn starch.  I think that would be the main reason I would consider this litter inappropriate for Furball.  He had a blocked bladder a few years back and to help manage it, we give him lots of water, so he pees a lot.  I tried a clumping eco-friendly litter made from wheat and found with the large quantity of urine, the litter turned into heavy bricks.

If Close to Naturenow cat litter is locally available to you, you may still want to give it a try as I don’t think this litter would glue together as severely as the wheat and urine did.  Also, let’s be honest here — clumping makes life much easier when it comes to cleaning out the cat box.

Close to Naturenow cat litter is available directly from The Organic Farm Store at  Since we’re trying to be more eco-friendly, please factor in the packaging and shipping distance when evaluating if this is a the best green choice for your kitty.  The litter is also available from about a dozen distributors nationwide and also 250+ independent retailers.  Use the Where to Buy Map on The Organic Farm Store website to find a store near you.

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Tree Hugging Cats

Just came across this microsite for Yesterday’s News cat litter.  Having worked in the Internet industry for over a decade, I’ve built my share of promotional sites for products.  I suppose Tree Hugging Cats is Purina’s attempt at creating a “viral” site to gain some street credence for Yesterday’s News recycled newspaper cat litter, as well as utilize “web 2.0 social networking” to promote their product.

I guess it must be working since I’m blogging about the site.  I have to admit it’s a darned good name for a site and the illustration of cats hugging trees is cute and did make me smile.  The site was offering a free coupon, but it seems that they’ve exceeded the limit of how many they wanted to distribute.  Oops.  Never mind, you can still buy an organic cotton Zazzle T-shirt with a silhouette of a cat on a tree antibiotics emblazoned on it…for only $25.95.

OK, time to set the cynicism aside.  My bias is to support local businesses.  However, many of these ma/pop shops have limited distribution.  So, if you live in an area with fewer options, Yesterday’s News recycled newspaper litter is one of your better choices.  Furball used this litter before it was bought out by Purina, but I continued using it because it was readily available and did a pretty good job of controlling odours.  After our move to the west coast, we switched to Cat Country organic wheat grass litter just because it was similar in texture and it was locally made from organic wheat grass.

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Day 24: Recycled Plastic Litter BoxesThe 30-Day Green Cat Challenge

PetmateLitterBoxGiven the low-tech purpose that litter boxes serve, it’s surprising that they aren’t all made from 100{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8} recycled plastic. In fact, I could only find one litter box that used recycled materials. This just seems wrong to me. I also found a lot of companies greenwashing their litter boxes to claim that they offer eco-friendly litter boxes.

So, here’s where to look for eco-friendly litter boxes.


  • I really have to give kudos to Petmate for taking a proactive approach to incorporating a minimum of 25{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8} recycled materials in many of their products. It’s a great start and as I learn more about the pet industry, I can appreciate how forward-thinking this is in an industry that seems to be lagging in following the green trend. Petmate offers a dozen different litter boxes in various shapes and sizes to suit your cat — and all of them are made with 25{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8} recycled content.

Here’s where NOT to look for eco-friendly litter boxes:

The Litter-Robot

  • You have got to be kidding me that they’re trying to promote this self-cleaning litter box as eco-friendly. Well, the grey one is made from recycled plastic and they also tout that it’s made in the U.S.A. However, first, it’s gigantic so it uses a lot more plastic then most boxes. Second, it has electronics and mechanics that use even more resources than a basic box. Third, you have to plug this one in. Just because someone is too lazy to scoop their cat litter, does not justify this as an eco-friendly litter box. Use a scoop. That’s eco-friendly.

Kitty’s WonderBox

  • This is another jump on the green bandwagon product. This litter box is made from recycled paper fibres, but the major problem with it is that it’s disposable. Promoting it as “biodegradable” is simply greenwashing. The company even admits that the inspiration for their disposable boxes was convenience. “You see, having a very full schedule and not always being present when Spice decided to deposit her gifts in the box, it was not humanly possible at all!

Exquisicat Litter Boxes

  • I called the 1-800 number on their box to ask whether they had a recycled plastic version of their litter boxes. I was surprised to find that PetSmart customer service answered the call. It turns out that Exquisicat is PetSmart’s house brand. The service rep was unable to answer whether there were any plans to make a litter box from recycled plastic and also had no information on what PetSmart was doing to help the environment. She said she would talk to some people in the company and get back to me. That was over three weeks ago and I haven’t heard a thing. I guess there is no green policy.

Van Ness Litter Boxes

  • Van Ness appears to be one of the other major brands making cat litter boxes. However, I could not find one made from recycled plastic and can’t seem to find any info on the company online.


  • PetSmart operates over 1000 stores in North America. That’s a lot of stores that don’t have an eco-friendly policy or green initiative. Imagine if they did. Send an email to PetSmart asking about their Exquisicat litter boxes as well as their position on green business practices. Please copy and edit the email below and send it to PetSmart via their contact form: Or, alternately, you can call them 24 hours a day at 1-888-839-9638.


I have been a PetSmart customer for many years. However, like many consumers, I am increasingly concerned about the environment and was wondering what PetSmart is doing to offer more eco-friendly products and introduce more sustainable business practices. Quite frankly, I don’t see any changes at my local store and this concerns me greatly. Given the growing demand by consumers for environmentally-friendly products and services, I would expect that PetSmart, as the leading pet retailer in the U.S., would be actively developing sustainable business practices.

I would like to know if a green product policy is currently in the works and what other initiatives and products your company is undertaking to support the environment. Specifically, I would also like to know if Exquisicat will be making its litter boxes from recycled plastic. Exquisicat’s competitor, Petmate, is already taking a lead by offering eco-friendly litter boxes made from 25{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8} recycled content. Until Exquisicat follows suit, I see no reason to purchase this brand.

So I started taking 0.5 mg daily. And for the first attack, it worked really good, guys!

With many eco-friendly alternatives entering the marketplace, it is becoming increasingly easy for me to change my shopping habits. Because I prefer to support green businesses, I hope to hear about significant and meaningful changes in PetSmart’s business practices. However, if your company lacks a cohesive sustainable business strategy, I will continue to shift my spending to companies that actively support green business practices.



Day 5: How to Switch to Eco-Friendly Cat Litter — The 30-Day Green Cat Challenge

I will be the first to admit that switching to an enviro-friendly cat litter is not the easiest thing to do. However, it is the one thing that would probably have the most significant impact on reducing your cat’s carbon paw print. Think about it. Let’s conservatively estimate that your cat uses one pound of litter per week. That’s 52 pounds a year. Multiplied by at least 60 million cats in American households, and you get . . . ready for this?

3,120,000,000 pounds of litter annually


Now, that could be 3 billion eco-friendlier pounds or 3 billion pounds of a non-renewable resource that is strip-mined. What is strip-mining? That’s when the surface of the land is removed and mined. In the case of kitty litter, the land is mined for sodium bentonite, the “natural clay” that makes up most commercial clumping litters. We’re talking tracts and tracts of land where the surface is stripped off. Even though the land is supposed to be “restored”, it will never be the same again.

Furball uses organic wheat grass litter, and before that, he was using recycled newspaper litter. I’ve never actually used clay with him, but our old family cat used the clumping litter. I will admit that the enviro-friendly litters are not as good at controlling odors, but that can be managed by cleaning the box at least every other day. For regular maintenance cleaning, just scoop out the big chunks and occasionally refresh with a few cups of new litter. Proceed with your deep clean as required, but I find with daily maintenance, I can usually get by with doing a major clean only once every 2 to 3 weeks.

Now, this is certainly not as convenient as letting the box collect for a few days, but consider this: there’s a reason why the box smells and why it should smell. That’s nature’s way of telling you the box is disgusting and should be cleaned. Think about it. Your cat is walking around in a box of bacteria-infested feces. Then, he’s walking around your house, on your table, on your counters, on your furniture, etc. So, regular maintenance cleaning is actually good for your cat and good for your household.


Because this is a task that requires a bit of effort on your part, I’m going to simplify the process as best as I can.

  1. If you’re not convinced, read my post on why you should switch from a clay litter to an enviro-friendly cat litter by clicking this link.
  2. Next, pick a greener litter. Here’s a list of eco-friendly cat litter options to get you started. Ask friends what they use. If you find out they’re using still using clay, point them to this post by clicking the “Share This” link at the end of this blog posting. Go buy the smallest bag of the litter available. Be sure to combine this with your regular purchases and not make a special trip to the store just for the litter.
  3. To make the switch and minimize the potential for confusion (i.e., bodily function accident outside of the box), go slowly. The new litter should be introduced very gradually. When I switched Furball’s litter, I started by adding only a single cup of the new litter and mixing it in with his old litter. Over time, you gradually increase the proportion of new litter to old. I’ve seen various recommendations on the Internet of the process taking about 4 to 7 days. I’d give it two weeks if your cat is really sensitive. I also found this blogpost that recommended using non-clumping clay litter as an interim transition litter if your cat is finding the switch directly to a green litter to be too jarring.
  4. What to do with leftover clumping litter? Should you use it up and then switch? What if you have to try a different brand and have a bag of litter you can’t use? Here’s a simple solution. Join a local freecycle in your neighbourhood at Just post that you are offering cat litter, and like magic, someone will want to take it off your hands.

Why Switch from Clay Litter to Eco-friendly Litter?

I’ve always heard that clay litter wasn’t good for the environment, but never really knew why, so today, I decided to investigate and learn more. The more I learned, the more I’m glad that Furball has never used clay litter. If you’ve been sitting on the fence about switching to an environmentally friendly cat litter, here are some good reasons to switch litters.

Health Concerns
Have you ever wondered what makes the cat litter clump together after your cat has urinated in it? I’ll be quite honest that this question had never crossed my mind before either. Well, today I learned that sodium bentonite is the key ingredient. It’s described benignly as a “natural clay” by many litter manufacturers.

A quick search on wikipedia reveals that sodium bentonite is a type of bentonite or clay that expands to several times its size when wet. It’s commonly used when drilling mud for oil and gas wells and for sealing things such as buried nuclear waste.

The health issues concern the ingestion and inhalation of sodium bentonite by your cat. When cats dig around in the litter, very fine particles may be inhaled. When they lick their paws, they may also ingest the clay.

There are claims that the litter causes asthma and lung issues and can block intestinal tracts. However, a visit to the Scoop Away® litter site reveals this: “Scoop Away® litter is not known to cause harm to animals, including kittens, when ingested in small quantities. However, if a pet eats a large amount of any litter (i.e. a bowlful), we recommend that you contact your vet.” I’m sure this statement is 100{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8} true in that there is no known study that proves that this particular litter causes harm to animals when ingested in small quantities.

It’s up to you to decide whether this reassurance is good enough for you and your cat. Myself, I just think that sodium bentonite expands when wet. If the litter is dry outside of the cat, it will most certainly be wet once inside Kitty. has a very balanced article on the clumping clay controversy.

Environmental Concerns
Sodium bentonite is mined. The Wyoming Mining Association (not singling anyone out, they just came up first in the Yahoo search) mined 5.2 million tons and milled 4.6 million tons of bentonite in 2005. In their own words, “Currently, Bentonite deposits in Wyoming make up 70 percent of the world’s known supply. It is economical to mine Bentonite as deep as 50 feet.”

It would not be a stretch to say that mining 50 feet deep has an impact on the environment. The US Bureau of Mines estimated that in 1994, approximately 1.5 million metric tons of clay were mined to make absorbent cat litter.

As I browsed around mining sites (company websites, that is), there was a strange dearth of photos of what the mines look like. However, I did find this one on Flickr by David Arran Photography.

, a company that makes sustainable pet products writes that, “Each year over 2 million tons of cat litter, or approximately 100,000 truckloads, ends up in landfills in the U. S. alone.”

Drug addiction that Tramadol Online causes — what is it? The problem will appear one or two days after taking the “non-therapeutic” dose of the drug (7-8 capsules) when its negative effect.

So based on what I learned about the health concerns of clay litter and the environmental impact of mining cat litter, it seems like the better choice for the planet to switch to an environmentally friendly cat litter. Go green, little cat!

Here’s Furball’s review of several eco-friendly alternatives for cat litter.

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Eco-Friendly Cat Litter Reviews

Eco-friendly, enviro-friendly, earth friendly (or whatever you want to call it) cat litter appears to have hit the big time in the world of cat litter. These days, you can get litter made from pine, corn, newspaper, guar bean, wheat, etc. In my greenventory to reduce Furball’s carbon pawprint, litter is definitely an important item to consider.

However, changing cat litter is always a tricky process. Fortunately for me, Furball is already using an eco-friendly litter. If you’re considering making the switch, I can share with you our experience with three enviro-friendly cat litters.

When evaluating these cat litter reviews, you should take into consideration that Furball urinates about 4x as much as other cats due to his high water diet (for crystals, more on that later) and that his box is in a fairly well-ventilated bathroom.

1. Yesterday’s News

Seven years ago when I first brought home a teeny baby Furball, there was a dearth of earth friendly cat litter. At the time, there was only one product available at PetSmart — now it looks like almost 1/4 of their litters are eco-friendly. The litter was called Yesterday’s News Cat Litter and it was made from recycled newspapers.

From what I recall, it was manufactured by some company in the maritimes, although now, the bag is plastered with the Purina logo and comes in a gajillion varieties, so I’m guessing the smaller company got bought out. Furball was already litter trained when I got him and luckily he took to Yesterday’s News like tomorrow’s latest trend. It’s made up of tiny grey cylindrical pellets that fit through the slots of a standard litter scoop.


  • 7/10 for controlling odour; as good as any eco-friendly litter can get
  • Doesn’t track dust
  • Easy to scoop #2 from the cat litter
  • Made from recycled newspapers
  • Comes in a “softer” version that is more “clay-like” so this might be a good transitional litter if your cat is used to clay


  • Impossible to shake out all of the pellets through the scoop as they JUST FIT through
  • Pellets stick in between the cat’s toes and can be found occasionally throughout the house
  • “Softer” version tracked little crumbly bits all over the house
  • Scented version stinks like fake perfume

2. Cat Country

When I moved to California, the local PetSmart did not carry Yesterday’s News or any other enviro-friendly cat litter. Fortunately, I found Petfood Depot, which had several eco-friendly litters to choose from. It probably took me half an hour to read through the bags and ingredients.

I went with Cat Country Litter for a couple of reasons. One, it seemed so “California” to be using litter made from organic wheatgrass. Two, it was shaped exactly like Yesterday’s News, so I hoped the cat would transition without incident. Fortunately, Furball switched without really even noticing the difference.


  • Made from organic ingredients
  • Family owned, sustainable business
  • 7/10 for controlling odour; as good as any eco-friendly litter can get
  • Doesn’t track dust
  • Easy to scoop #2 from the cat litter
  • Flushable (see important note below)


  • Smells like malted barley — I put out a fresh box before the pet-sitter arrived and she dumped out the whole box thinking it was full of cat urine because of the weird smell. On the plus side, you only smell it if you’re near it.
  • Impossible to shake out all of the pellets through the scoop as they JUST FIT through
  • Pellets stick in between the cat’s toes and can be found occasionally throughout the house

3. Swheat Scoop

I was enticed to try Swheat Scoop Natural Cat Litter after a fabulous sales pitch at the Sweat Scoop booth at the San Francisco Green Festival in 2007. The person RAVED about the superior odour control of their cat litter and how eco-friendly it was. He also gave me a bunch of coupons so I decided it was worth it to try a change. This time Furball did not take as quickly to the new litter.

I did the whole litter transition process, but he seemed very unsure and wouldn’t use his box for the whole day. I think what confused him most was that the litter was made from wheat. It seemed he wasn’t sure whether he should eat it or pee in it.

When I brought the bag home and opened it up, he meowed and rubbed up against me like I had just brought home the ultimate mega-sized bag of cat food. After I poured it in his box, he looked extremely puzzled, with a “why are you pouring my food in my cat box?” look on his face. He kept sniffing the box and looking at me.

I finally figured out that he was wondering whether he should eat it when he kept pawing at the bag and trying to get into it like he would with a bag of cat food.


  • 7/10 for controlling odour; as good as any eco-friendly litter can get
  • Flushable (see important note below)
  • Made from wheat, so it’s natural


  • It’s made from wheat so the cat wasn’t sure whether to eat it or pee in it
  • Flour + water = glue. So too, Swheat Scoop + urine = bricks of litter that are really hard to scoop
  • Odour control wasn’t any better than the other two eco-friendly litters I used
  • Made of tiny granules that did track. These were a pain to sweep up.
  • Priced slightly higher than Cat Country
  • It’s made from wheat, so I’m not sure if they’re diverting resources from the food chain

My neighbour used it for her cat and thought the odour control was pretty good. She said she didn’t have a problem with the litter bricks, but she did say that you had to use enough of it to avoid this problem and that “you have to stay on top of it”.


Based on my three eco-friendly cat litter reviews, I personally would give thumbs up to Yesterday’s News and Cat Country. For me, Cat Country Litter edges out Yesterday’s News because it’s organic and made by a family-run sustainable business.

When doing a green evaluation, you might conclude the opposite, that Yesterday’s News is better because it’s made by a large company (i.e., larger impact, economies of scale and efficiencies) and uses recycled newspaper. Just goes to show nothing is 100% cut and dry when doing an environmental evaluation, especially for cat litter.

However, I did find both of these eco-friendly cat litters be fairly equal in their use in the real world. I’d give thumbs down to Swheat Scoop for the extra labour involved in scooping, the tracking of wheat dust and that it’s using wheat.

Other “Earth Friendly” Cat Litters

These litters on the PetSmart website also look like they might be eco-friendly or “natural”. However, I haven’t had any experience with them. Please post a comment if you have used them and let us know your experience with these or any other enviro-friendly litters not listed here.

  • World’s Best Cat Littermade from corn. With all of the controversy surrounding biodiesel made from corn, this might not be so enviro-friendly. On the other hand, it is an extremely lightweight litter so there would be carbon savings in transporting and shipping it.
  • Nature’s Miracle Just for Cats Corn Cob Cat Litter
    – I’ve used their carpet cleaning solution and it really did neutralize the urine smell. The company says it uses “enzymes” as opposed to chemicals, so I suppose if odour control is really an issue, this might be a better product to use.
  • Feline Pine
    – Made from “kiln-dried shavings reclaimed from lumber production

IMPORTANT NOTE In the state of California, there are concerns about flushing your cat litter in the toilet. Every bag of cat litter must include a warning label. Why? Apparently sea otters are being killed by parasites found in cat feces, specifically Toxoplasma gondii.

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