Updated April 2022
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Buying guide for Best flushable cat litters

On the ladder of cat owner responsibilities, changing the litter box occupies one of the lower rungs. It’s a messy and smelly task at best, and standard clay-based litters aren’t formulated for quick disposal in a household toilet or sewage system. The waste must be collected in disposable bags and ultimately sent to a landfill for final burial. Anything less would be hazardous to the environment.

Fortunately, there are some eco-friendly, biodegradable cat litters available that give cat owners the option of flushing the litter box contents into the sewage system without major harm to the plumbing or environment. Flushable cat litter is usually created from materials such as paper, wood, grains, or plant matter.

However, the term “flushable” is not necessarily an endorsement of flushing solid cat litter down the toilet. Cat owners should still consider other forms of waste disposal, including composting and biodegradable bagging. Flushable cat litter is much safer to flush than clay- or silica-based brands, but it can still cause plumbing and environmental issues if not done properly.

If you’re considering a switch from traditional clay-based cat litter to a more eco-friendly flushable brand, it’s helpful to have the necessary information, advice, and cost comparisons.

flushable cat litters
Flushable cat litters are often promoted as eco-friendly or biodegradable on product packaging.

How to buy the best flushable cat litter

Biodegradable vs. flushable cat litter

Many brands of eco-friendly cat litter are promoted as either biodegradable or flushable, but there are some distinctions to make. All flushable cat litter is biodegradable, but not all biodegradable litter is considered flushable. The ingredients in eco-friendly cat litters are designed to break down over time (biodegradable), but some brands can still cause problems for toilets and sewage systems because they harden as they dry.

One of the main reasons clay- or silica-based litter isn’t flushable is because it turns into a form of pipe-clogging concrete, and the same holds true for certain biodegradable brands not promoted as flushable. Flushing biodegradable cat litter down a household toilet should be done in small batches to avoid a buildup.

Flushable cat litter materials

Alternative cat litter materials can still meet many of the same performance standards as clay or silica-based brands, including odor control, clumping, and urine absorption. The main difference is the organic nature of eco-friendly ingredients. Here are some common flushable cat litter materials:

Wood by-products: Sawdust generated during the manufacturing process can be compressed into pellets and used as a natural cat litter. The main advantages are absorbency and odor control, but clumping is minimal and urine leakage is a common problem.

Ground shells: Nuts such as walnuts and coconuts produce fibrous shells that can be ground into a low-dust powder and formed into fairly absorbent pellets. Clumping power can be noticeably variable.

Dried plant material: Grass, soybeans, and green tea leaves can all be converted to flushable cat litter, but flushability can be an issue. The texture of some plant-based cat litters can be soft when exposed to the moisture of a sewage system.

Grains: Biodegradable grains such as corn and wheat, especially the husk, make good flushable and eco-friendly cat litters, especially for cats with sensitive paws. The texture of wheat or corn cat litter is more like fine sand than hard pellets.

Ease of use

One of the main selling points for flushable cat litter is its ease of use compared to clay- or silica-based brands. Instead of bagging up soiled litter for disposal, the litter can simply be flushed away and replenished quickly.

However, this process is easier with some flushable brands than others. Dust generation can be a consideration, and some brands don’t absorb urine effectively. Some cats still kick out or track the softest and finest flushable cat litter, so owners should read customer reviews on those issues before making a final decision.

Some states prohibit the flushing of pet waste into the sewer system because of potential water contamination.

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Features of flushable cat litter

Eco-friendly packaging

The emphasis on environmental friendliness doesn’t begin and end with the flushable litter itself. Many times the manufacturer incorporates eco-friendly materials into the container as well. The bagging material could be biodegradable, or at least recyclable. A cardboard box could also be used as a container for soiled litter or an impromptu vacation - for the cat.

Litter texture

One common concern with non-flushable clay litter is the texture and its effect on box users. Many traditional litters are in the form of hard pebbles or pellets and can irritate a cat’s paws. Flushable cat litters can also be found in hard pellet form, but they can also be processed into very fine powder or small grains. The texture of litter can make a difference in terms of tracking, and some cats may develop an aversion to litter that’s too abrasive. This is why many veterinarians recommend a slow transition from one type of litter to another.

flushable cat litters
DID YOU KNOW?
Clay-based “clumping” cat litters should never be flushed down a toilet because the clay can expand and block drains.
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Accessories

Biodegradable litter box

Kitty's Wonderbox Disposable Litter Box: Even if the eco-friendly cat litter isn’t going to be flushed, combining a disposable litter box with flushable cat litter makes good environmental sense.

Cat litter mat

iPrimio Large Cat Litter Trapper Mat: Flushable litter can still be tracked or kicked out of the litter box, so adding a litter mat that traps litter and clumps is a good idea.

Eco-friendly waste bags

Boxiecat Scoop & Tie Litter Bags: If a flushable cat litter isn’t destined for a sewage system or a composting bin, it should be contained in an eco-friendly bag for disposal.

How much does flushable cat litter cost?

Inexpensive

The least expensive flushable cat litters may not actually promote their flushability, but the ingredients are generally considered more eco-friendly and biodegradable than clay or silica-based brands. A natural cat litter can cost $10 to $20 per bag.

Mid-range

Premium cat litter brands promoted specifically as “flushable” are noticeably more expensive than clay-based litters, so consumers should expect to pay at least $20 for enough litter for one or two change-outs, and as much as $40 to $45 for a large bag for multiple cats.

Expensive

The highest-end flushable cat litters often incorporate premium additives for odor control, improved clumping, and eco-friendliness. They may also be sold in bulk or multi-packs for at least $80, with some ultra-premium brands topping $100 per container.

An estimated 1% to 3% of cat owners currently use eco-friendly flushable cat litter.

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Tips

  • Eco-friendly biodegradable waste bags help flushable cat litter break down faster in landfills.
  • Flushable cat litter should still be scooped out periodically to remove solid waste clumps and urine.
  • Litter tracking can still be an issue with flushable cat litter, so owners should still use litter mats whenever possible.
  • This litter should never be poured into municipal sewage drains or used as uncomposted fertilizer in home gardens.
  • If a cat litter brand contains any form of clay or silica, it should be considered unflushable.
flushable cat litters
Many flushable cat litters can also be composted for more eco-friendly disposal.

FAQ

Q. Are flushable cat litters safe for my septic system?

A. Flushable cat litters are more biodegradable than clay- or silica-based litters, but they can still pose a hazard when flushed into a septic system. The dry cat feces itself can still clog pipes and can also carry dangerous contaminants. Manufacturers recommend flushing “flushable” cat litter in small batches to avoid blocking the pipes leading to the septic tank, and the litter may not break down completely in the septic tank like paper-based products.

Q. Do I need to transition my cat from traditional to flushable litter slowly?

A. Cats are creatures of habit, and they prefer minimal disruptions to their routines. If you’re considering a switch from clay-based to biodegradable litter, you’ll want to do it in stages. Replace a small portion of the original litter with the new flushable brand and slowly increase the proportions until the changeover is complete.

Q. If “flushable” cat litter is not as eco-friendly as claimed, why should I still consider the switch?

A. Even if actual flushing of “flushable” cat litter is not universally recommended, it still offers some benefits over clay- and silica-based brands. Composting soiled cat litter is possible with most flushable litters. Flushable cat litters are also better for landfills since their components will degrade over time. Some cats may prefer the texture of flushable litter over the firmness of some clay-based brands.

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