It sounds pretty great, right?
Shredding newspapers and all that junk mail at home to make cat litter.
No more paying for litter. No more carrying heavy bags home from the store. No more mounds of paper waiting to be recycled.
But does shredded paper actually make a good cat litter?
Let’s find out.
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Will cats use shredded paper as litter?
Some cats will use shredded paper or newspaper as litter with no issue, though they may not particularly care for it. Many cats, however, will be completely put off by the texture and refuse to use it entirely.
In the wild, cats bury their waste to hide their scent from predators. This instinct remains in many domesticated cats today.
The texture of shredded paper is so drastically different from the dirt or sand they’d use in the wild, that many cats will be skeptical.
Even if your cat doesn’t have a strong instinctual desire to bury their waste, the texture and scent of shredded paper is so different from the litter that they’ve used their entire lives, they may still avoid it.
Even cats who are open to trying shredded paper litter may decide otherwise after trying it. Shredded paper does a very poor job of absorbing and managing moisture and scent. Walking on wet paper that reeks of urine likely won’t appeal to them.
Does shredded paper make good cat litter?
While shredded paper is generally safe to use as litter, your cat probably won’t like it very much. It doesn’t manage moisture or odor well, leading to wet paws and a stinky litter box that breeds bacteria. Though it’s okay to use in a pinch, shredded paper does not make a good litter for long term use.
Shredded paper litter requires much more upkeep on your part to work.
Paper is not very absorptive. Urine will seep to the bottom layer and accumulate quickly without frequent changes. Feces will generally be left to sit on top.
At minimum, a shredded paper litter box will need to be changed at least twice daily and the litter box cleaned with water and a mild detergent each time. Otherwise, you risk an unhygienic litter box and an unhappy cat who may begin to avoid the litter box entirely.
Is it safe to use shredded newspaper as cat litter?
Using shredded paper or newspaper as cat litter is perfectly safe for cats in most cases. However, if your cat has pica, it’s best avoided.
Paper contains numerous inks, dyes, and other chemicals used for production — some of which may be toxic to cats when eaten.
Though it’s unlikely that your cat will ingest enough paper for these toxins to cause serious problems, it may still cause diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
The big concern though is the potential for gastrointestinal blockages.
If enough paper is consumed, it can begin to accumulate in a cat’s GI tract, where it may clump, blocking the intestines or bowels.
A blockage is a serious issue. One that requires immediate medical attention. If left untreated, it may prove to be fatal.
If your cat shows signs of lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, or diarrhea after eating paper (or any non edible material), take your cat to the veterinarian or the pet ER immediately.
How do you make and use shredded paper litter?
Making a basic shredded paper litter is pretty simple. Just shred paper and/or newspaper into long, thin strips. It’s much less time consuming with a paper shredder, but can be done manually.
Place around three inches of shredded paper into the litter box.
Scoop solids as soon as possible. Change the litter and clean the litter box itself with water and a mild detergent at least twice daily, more often if you have multiple cats or a heavy wetter.
Alternatively, shredded paper can be made into something much more similar to a store bought paper cat litter following one of several recipes floating around the web. This process, however, is pretty time and labor intensive.
Shredded paper cat litter sounds like a great idea, but while it works okay in a pinch, it’s not a good long term solution.
It does a bad job of controlling moisture, odor, and bacteria. And many cats will be put off by the texture.
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.