Pine cat litter can attract certain bugs, like earwigs, house centipedes, and roaches. But the litter itself is rarely the cause of the infestation. Rather, it just draws insects to a more visible location, instead of behind walls, under sinks, or in basements where they would normally stay.
Bugs Are Attracted to Wood
While pine and other wood cat litters have many advantages, one often overlooked disadvantage is that they can sometimes attract insects.
Certain bugs, like earwigs, pill bugs, roaches, boxelder bugs, and house centipedes, are attracted to damp, cool areas with organic matter to feed on (like wood and feces).
A pine litter box provides all of the above.
But your pine litter probably isn’t the actual cause of the infestation. Insects aren’t suddenly entering your home because you swapped to a wood cat litter.
More than likely, the bugs have already been in the home, somewhere out of sight — under furniture and carpet, behind walls, or under the sink, for example. And are just more noticeable now that they’re in a more visible location.
Though it sounds terrible, it’s not a very common problem. The majority of people who use pine cat litter will never have any insect issues.
A Dirty Litter Box Can Also Attract Bugs
Other types of bugs will be attracted to a dirty litter box.
Flies, for example, are attracted to moist, organic matter (like poop) for feeding, and, in some cases, to lay eggs.
Letting your litter box stay dirty may cause bugs to congregate. And if the eggs are allowed time to hatch, your bug problem will likely get worse before it gets better.
But this isn’t an issue exclusive to pine or wood litter. Any dirty litter box can attract bugs, regardless of the type of litter used.
Following the recommended litter box cleaning routine will go a long way to preventing the issue.
Scoop feces as soon as possible. Scoop clumps or sift at least once daily. Change your litter completely according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Clean the litter box itself with water and a mild detergent at least once a month. Change plastic litter boxes a couple times per year, as plastic will hold odor even through cleanings.
Don’t Bring Bugs Home With You
Sometimes with plant-based litter, like wood and pine, you may be bringing bugs home with you.
Because insects are attracted to wood, especially when kept in cool, dark places like stock rooms, bugs can sometimes stow away and reproduce inside unopened bags of litter.
A well-sealed bag of litter should work to keep pests out. But if the bag is ripped, torn, or punctured, which is not uncommon, bugs may find their way in.
If you’re concerned, check for holes or tears in your plant-based litter bag before purchasing.
How to Get Rid of Bugs in the Litter Box
Aside from keeping your litter box squeaky clean and checking for holes before buying litter, there isn’t anything magic about getting rid of bugs in your litter box.
Generally, you’ll need to address the problem like any other infestation of bugs. Start by throwing out the litter and starting fresh. Then, call an exterminator or use one of the many home solutions for insect problems.
If you decide to do it yourself, make sure you’re doing so in a pet-safe way.
Avoid using insecticides or harsh chemicals anywhere near your cat, or anywhere your cat may access.
If using a home remedy, keep in mind that many seemingly harmless ingredients can be dangerous to our pets. Be sure to do your research beforehand.
Options like insect tape, ultrasonic bug repellers, and pheromone traps are pet-safe, and better for the environment as an added bonus.
Though bugs may be attracted to pine, finding bugs inside of your litter box is usually just a symptom of an existing problem.
If you already have a bug problem, they may be attracted to your litter. But they were probably already in your home in other locations.
If you don’t clean your litter box frequently or thoroughly enough, bugs will be more attracted to your litter box. But the same is true with any type of litter.
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.