Can You Burn Cat Litter? (and how to do it safely)

If you’re looking for an easier way to dispose of your cat’s litter or have unneeded litter and are wondering what to do with it, you may have considered burning it.

But can you burn cat litter? 

Clay cat litter isn’t combustible and will not burn. Plant-based litters, like those made from wood or paper, are flammable and will burn just fine — unused wood pellet litter makes an excellent fuel for wood pellet stoves. Just keep in mind, you should never burn used cat litter because it can spread harmful pathogens.

Keep reading to learn what types of cat litter you can burn and the best alternatives to burning litter when you can’t.

Can you burn wood cat litter?

Wood cat litter is flammable and is safe to burn as long as it’s unused. You shouldn’t burn soiled wood pellet cat litter because the bacteria and fungi found in cat waste can be carried in the smoke emissions and be inhaled or deposited on nearby surfaces.

Wood pellet cat litter on fire

Unused wood cat litter is safe to burn — chips, pellets, pine, cedar, and all other varieties.

Wood pellet cat litter is often exactly the same as the fuel used in wood pellet stoves. This is why it’s generally safe to use wood stove pellets as cat litter.

Wood litter and other plant-based cat litters are flammable, so they burn very well. Repurposing unused cat litter as wood stove fuel is an efficient use of unneeded litter. Burning in a bonfire or firepit just to dispose of it, however, isn’t great for the environment — composting or donating to your local shelter are much more eco-friendly choices.

Soiled wood litter should never be burned. The bacteria and fungi found in your pet’s waste may be transported in the smoke emissions, where they can be inhaled or deposited and pose a health risk to humans and animals alike.

Can you burn clay cat litter?

Clay cat litter won’t burn because it’s not combustible. Clay litter remains after the fire is extinguished and would still need to be disposed of by a different method.

Bengal cat laying next to litter box filled with clay litter

While there’s no harm in burning unused clay cat litter, there’s really no point in doing so. Because clay isn’t flammable or combustible, it will simply collect in the ashes of the fire and remain once the fire is extinguished.

In fact, bentonite clay, the clay most cat litter is made of, is so far from flammable that it’s been used in experimental flame protectants (USDA).

To avoid spreading pathogens, you should never burn soiled clay litter. As a result, recycling clay litter by burning off waste and reusing it isn’t safe — though it’s a great idea in theory.

Can you burn used cat litter?

You shouldn’t burn used cat litter. The pathogens found in cat waste may be carried in the smoke and inhaled or deposited on nearby surfaces. In some jurisdictions, the improper disposal of pet waste is illegal and may carry fines.

Kitten watching man clean litter box

Burning used cat litter poses a health risk to nearby people and animals.

Bacteria, fungi, and other pathogens found in your cat’s waste can be carried by smoke emissions and may be inhaled by those near the fire. Pathogens deposited on nearby surfaces pose a contact risk for some time after. Toxoplasma gondii, for example, has been found to live for a surprisingly long time in the environment.

Outside of the health impacts of burning cat litter, there are legal implications to consider.

In many jurisdictions, burning trash is against the law.

In rural areas, where burning trash is allowed, disposing of litter outside is often still illegal and may carry fines and penalties — pet waste is considered biohazardous waste.

Can you burn cat poop?

Though dried cat poop is flammable and a potentially excellent source of fuel, it shouldn’t be burned. Burning cat poop can spread harmful pathogens through its smoke emissions. Properly dispose of cat waste by composting, burying, or bagging and throwing in the trash.

Gray cat sleeping in from of fire

MythBusters made an episode demonstrating how effective pet waste is as a fuel source by powering a rocket with dog poop — yeah, you read that right. Unfortunately, taking advantage of this abundant biofuel isn’t realistic for everyday folks because of the health risks involved.

Cat poop contains bacteria, fungi, and parasites that can spread when burned. Sadly, we have to leave the poop burning to the professionals.

Final thoughts

If you’re wondering whether or not you can burn cat litter, it depends on the type of litter and whether or not it’s soiled.

  • Wood, paper, and other plant-based litters are flammable and will burn well.
  • Clay cat litter isn’t combustible and will not burn.
  • You should never burn soiled cat litter. It can spread harmful pathogens and may be illegal where you live.
  • Unused cat litter is okay to burn.

Is cat poop flammable?

Cat poop is flammable, especially after it’s dried out. Unfortunately, because burning cat waste can spread harmful pathogens, it isn’t recommended as a method of disposal.

How should you dispose of used cat litter if it can’t be burned?

Used cat litter should generally be disposed of by bagging and throwing in the trash. If you have the knowledge to do so safely, additive-free biodegradable litter can be composted or buried. Soiled cat litter should never be dumped outside, flushed down the toilet, or burned.

About Matthew Alexander

Matthew lives in Maryland with his two cats, Puff and Pancho. He’s been caring for and fostering cats with various special needs for more than fifteen years. He hopes to pass some of the insight and knowledge that he’s gained on to the readers of Pawmore.