How Does Pellet Cat Litter Work With Poop?

Pellet cat litter works the same way with poop as any other type of litter — feces remain in the litter box until removed. To reduce unpleasant odors and make your litter box welcoming for your cat, it’s recommended to scoop and discard solids as soon as possible. 

How does wood pellet litter work with poop?

Wood pellet litters are known for their ability to effectively control the odors of urine and ammonia. 

When wood pellets become wet, they dissolve into sawdust, which traps moisture and helps to neutralize odor. The natural antibacterial properties of pine, and some other woods, slow and suppress the reproduction of odor-causing bacteria, further preventing smell. 

Cat covering face with paws

Unfortunately, this benefit doesn’t extend to feces. 

When your cat poops in a wood pellet litter box, there isn’t enough moisture to cause pellets to dissolve or to be absorbed like urine.

Poop will need to be scooped from a pellet litter box, as with any other type of litter. 

Making matters worse, many cats who would normally bury their waste in a granular litter, like clay or crystals, won’t do so in pellets. Sometimes because the coarse texture is tough on their paws (especially true for heavy cats, senior cats, and cats who have been declawed) and other times because the texture is just so different from the dirt or sand they’d use in the wild. 

Even when buried, pellets do a worse job of managing the smell of feces when compared to a granular litter. 

Smell travels by a process called diffusion, in which airborne odor particles spread randomly from areas of high concentration to areas of lower concentration.

Because of the larger size of pellets, there are more large airways through which odor can diffuse.

What about paper pellets?

Paper pellets, unlike wood pellets, don’t dissolve when wet. Instead, they absorb moisture, swelling until soaked through. Also unlike wood litter, paper pellets do nothing to naturally manage the odors of urine and ammonia.

But when it comes to poop, paper pellets are very similar to wood pellets. Feces will remain in the litter box until removed. Some cats will bury their waste, others won’t. And even when buried, smells will diffuse more than they would with a granular litter.

While paper pellets have many advantages, managing odor certainly isn’t one of them. 

Scoop solids as soon as possible

Hand using blue scoop to scoop pellets in cat litter box

Unfortunately, there’s no real trick to managing poop with pellet litter. 

The best solution is to just scoop solids as soon as possible. 

To make this more convenient and to reduce plastic waste, we keep a cat litter disposal system nearby (an airtight receptacle meant to seal away feces and soiled litter until disposed of). This helps to both reduce the number of trips to an outdoor trash receptacle, and to limit our consumption of single-use plastic bags. 

A litter disposal system is particularly helpful when managing cat waste in an apartment, reducing the amount of trips needed to the dumpster.

If you’re searching for an easy answer to managing your cat’s poop, there really isn’t one.

Getting into the habit of regularly cleaning your litter box will go a long way to helping reduce ‘litter box smell’. By cleaning up your cat’s poop as soon as possible and not allowing waste to pile up, the job will be quicker and easier. And, most importantly, your cat will be grateful. 

Related questions

Do pine pellets cover the smell of cat poop?

While pine pellets have a pleasant, natural scent and do a great job of controlling urine and ammonia odors, they’re not great at covering the smell of poop. Many cats won’t bury their waste in pellets altogether, and, even when buried, the larger pellets allow more odor particles to freely diffuse. 

Do you scoop pellet litter?

Because wood pellet litter dissolves when wet, soiled pine or cedar litter is cleaned by sifting rather than scooping. Paper pellets absorb moisture and swell when wet, and are cleaned by scooping. Feces need to be scooped from pellet litter, as with any other type of litter.


Unfortunately, there’s no real trick to managing cat poop, regardless of the type of litter. When using a pellet litter, scoop and discard feces as soon as possible to limit household odor and to make the litter box more pleasant for your cat.


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.