Making your own homemade cat litter can be a great idea, especially if you are trying to save money or if you have a finicky cat who objects to the texture or smell of commercial cat litter. Several options for DIY kitty litter include farm store materials such as chicken scratch, shredded newspapers and natural wood fibers. While a little experimenting is OK, keep in mind that many cats resent changes in their litter material and might avoid using the litter box as a result.
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Homemade kitty litter materials
You can replace commercial cat litter with various everyday items. Sand, soil, or dirt and natural wood fiber or wood chips for horse bedding — which are all available through garden or farm supply stores — are simple options that you can just pour into the litter box as you would regular cat litter. You can also use chicken scratch, also available at farm supply stores.
One advantage of using a more natural kitty litter is dust — many commercial litters contain silica dust that has been associated with upper respiratory issues in cats. Also, some fragrances in scented litter can be toxic to cats or cause allergic reactions.
Scoopable DIY kitty litter
While clumping DIY kitty litter is not easy to make with common materials, you can create a scoopable litter using shredded newspapers — either tear newspaper into small strips or run it through a shredder. Soak the shredded newspaper in water to allow some of the ink to wash off, then rinse.
Grab a handful of the wet shreddings and squish with your hands under running water. Put the rinsed and squeeze-dried newspaper in a dry tub, separate clumps, and knead baking soda into the paper until you end up with a crumbly mixture. Let it air-dry before you add it to the litter box.
Cons of homemade cat litter
While making your own litter might sound like a good idea, homemade litter has some disadvantages. Materials like sand and soil might cause a mess around the house. Some options, like the shredded newspaper mixture, might simply be too time-consuming to prepare. Also note that commercial cat litter often contain deodorizers or odor absorbers such as baking soda. Without those additives, your homemade litter might not be strong enough to prevent odors from taking over the house, especially if you have a multi-cat household.
Sprinkling baking soda over the newspaper homemade cat litter might be effective enough. Adding powdered carpet deodorizer or litter-specific odor-relieving powder can help — although check your veterinarian concerning chemicals commercial deodorizers might contain. You can also try cedar wood chips. Commercial cedar-chip cat litter is available at retail, but it's expensive. Instead, try adding a handful of wood chips into your homemade litter to absorb odor.
DIY kitty litter concerns
A bit of warning: Cats are finicky by nature. That means that finding the right formulation for your homemade litter requires patience. You might need to try several options before you find one that works for your feline friend. To speed up the process, provide multiple litter boxes with different formulations. Your cat will show you which one he prefers.