Does Pine Cat Litter Clump? What About Wood Pellets?

Not all varieties of pine cat litter are clumping. Pine pellet litter, the most common type of pine litter, does not clump. However, granular pine litter is available in both clumping and non-clumping varieties. Clumping pine litter can be cleaned with a regular litter scoop, like a traditional clumping litter.

Does pine cat litter clump?

Pine pellet cat litter, the most common type of pine litter, doesn’t clump. However, granular pine litter is available in both clumping and non-clumping varieties.

Clumping pine litter is made up of small, granular pine shavings or chips. The addition of a natural clumping agent allows granules to form solid clumps when wet. Much like a traditional clay clumping litter, pine clumps can be scooped with a regular litter scoop and discarded for easy cleanup. 

Clumping pine litter shares many of the same advantages of pine pellets while also having a softer, fine-grained texture that many cats prefer.

Does pine pellet litter clump?

No. Pine pellet cat litter does not clump. Instead, wet pellets dissolve into sawdust that traps moisture and locks in odor. To clean a wood pellet litter box, scoop solids and separate soiled sawdust from unused pellets using a sifting litter tray or sifting scoop.

Having a specialized sifting litter tray or sifting litter scoop will make cleanup much quicker and much more convenient. 

Why would you use a non-clumping cat litter?

While clumping cat litter is more convenient to clean, there are a couple advantages specific to non-clumping pine pellets. They make less mess because the larger pellets are much less likely to track. And they tend to last much longer than granular litter, as it’s very clear which pellets have been soiled.

Side view of a pile of cut pine logs

Is clumping or non-clumping pine litter better?

Both clumping and non-clumping pine litter share many of the same benefits.

They’re both excellent at controlling odor due to their mild, natural scent and pine’s natural ability to suppress odor-causing bacteria. They’re both better for your cat’s health, being made from all-natural ingredients with no potentially harmful additives or artificial fragrances. And they’re both better for the environment, as neither use newly cut trees for production and are both biodegradable and compostable.

But each type has its own unique set of advantages.

Clumping pine litter’s main advantage is, fairly obviously, that it clumps. Cat parents who are used to a clay clumping litter, but considering a switch to pine, will likely prefer a clumping pine litter. The cleaning process is much more similar, and honestly quite a bit more convenient.

You simply scoop solids, both poop and clumps, and are done. No sifting. No specialized equipment needed.

Some cats may also prefer a granular pine litter. The texture is more similar to the clay they may be used to, and much more similar to the dirt or sand they’d use in the wild.

Cats who are large breeds, overweight, senior, or declawed may also prefer the softer, fine-grained texture of a clumping pine litter. The coarse texture of pellets may be uncomfortable, or even painful, on their sensitive paws.

Large cat sitting next to scale

Pine pellets, on the other hand, make considerably less mess than clumping pine litter. The large size of the pellets makes them lower tracking, much less likely to become stuck in your cat’s paws or in fur. Keep in mind, however, dissolved pellets may still track to some extent.

For particularly cautious cat parents, pine pellets also contain fewer ingredients. Nothing but pure, natural pine. Whereas clumping pine litter has an added clumping agent (albeit a natural one) and mineral oil to reduce dust.

Ultimately, there is no clear best option. It comes down to personal preference (for both you and your cat).

What is the best clumping pine cat litter?

Feline Pine’s natural pine clumping litter is our choice for best clumping pine litter.

Feline Pine’s clumping formula is a healthy alternative to clay litter. Made from nothing but 100% natural ingredients — pine shavings, a natural clumping agent, and mineral oil to reduce dust. Feline Pine is free of any harsh chemicals, synthetic additives, and artificial fragrances.

Gray cat laying on branch of pine tree

It’s also better for the environment than traditional litter. Being both biodegradable and compostable, Feline Pine’s clumping formula can help reduce our cat’s carbon pawprint. And because the litter is made from scrap wood, no new trees are cut down for production  

What is the clumping agent in Feline Pine clumping litter?

The natural clumping agent in Feline Pine’s clumping pine cat litter is guar bean gum — a plant-derived fiber that helps bind pine granules into tight, scoopable clumps when soiled. As a result of this clumping agent, Feline Pine’s clumping formula behaves similarly to a traditional clumping cat litter.

How do you use Feline Pine clumping litter?

Clumping pine litter is very similar in use to any other clumping cat litter.

Simply fill a clean litter box with about three inches of litter. Scoop solids, both clumps and feces, and discard. Clean at least daily, but ideally as soon as possible following use.

A standard litter box and standard litter scoop will work just fine.

Removed waste should be discarded in the trash. Even though it’s biodegradable, soiled pine litter should never be dumped outdoors. It can spread harmful pathogens to local wildlife and dumping cat litter outdoors is illegal in most areas.

Never flush clumping pine litter. It can cause clogs and damage pipes. Not to mention that flushed cat waste can potentially harm wildlife and marine life.

Top up the litter as needed to maintain around three inches of litter. 

About once per month, fully change the litter and clean the litter box with water and a mild detergent. 

How to transition to clumping pine litter

Two cats investigating new litter box

Some cats won’t adjust easily to a new type of litter. Especially when that litter is so different from what they’re used to. 

According to Feline Pine, to successfully transition your cat to a clumping pine litter:

  1. Fill a clean litter box with one inch of clumping pine litter. Add two to three inches of your old litter on top. Don’t mix. The litter will be mixed by your cat during use. 
  2. The next time you clean your litter box, add an increasing amount of clumping pine litter and a decreasing amount of your old litter on top. Again, don’t mix. 
  3. Repeat the same process for several changes, until your cat is comfortable with the new litter. 

Allow your cat plenty of time to get comfortable with the change. You can repeat step two as needed to allow your cat more time to adjust. 

Keep in mind, not all cats will embrace every litter. If your cat continues to seem hesitant, don’t force things. After all, cats have preferences just like people do. Consider trying a different type of litter. 

Can you mix pine pellet litter with clumping litter?

No. You shouldn’t mix pine pellet litter with a clumping litter. When mixed, the pine pellets won’t be able to absorb moisture as intended and the clumping litter won’t clump as effectively. The benefits of each type of litter will be substantially reduced.

Close up of clay litter and pine pellet cat litter

While mixing two different brands of the same type of litter is okay, it’s rarely a good idea to mix different types of cat litter. The exception is when you are transitioning to a new type of litter. In this case, mixing the familiar litter with the new type of litter makes the transition less stressful for your cat.

Mixing two different brands of clumping clay litter is fine. Mixing two different brands of pine pellet litter is also okay. However, mixing different types of litter (pine pellets and clumping litter, in this case) generally just makes both work less effectively.

Pine pellet litter works by absorbing urine and dissolving into a moisture-trapping sawdust. As a result, pine, which has natural antimicrobial properties, is particularly efficient at managing the odors of urine and ammonia.

But to be effective, it’s important that all urine and ammonia only contact undissolved pellets.

When mixed with a clumping litter, any urine that first contacts the clumping litter won’t be absorbed. Making the odor management of the pellets much less effective.

Conversely, clumping cat litter works by binding when wet and forming solid clumps that can be easily discarded. The presence of pine pellets will hamper the clay’s ability to form solid clumps, instead making loose clumps that are likely to crumble when scooped or when disrupted during litter box use.

Summary

Pine cat litter is available in non-clumping pellets and both clumping and non-clumping granules. Clumping pine litter shares many of the same advantages of non-clumping pine pellet litter, with the added benefits of easy cleanup and a softer, fine-grained texture that some cats may prefer.

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.