Cats are creatures of habit. Sudden changes can cause stress and lead to unwanted behaviors.
When switching to a new litter, it’s best to take a slow, gradual approach. This is particularly true when going from clay litter to a paper or wood pellet litter, because the texture and smell are so different from what they’re used to.
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How do you transition your cat to paper or wood pellets?
Transitioning a cat to pellets involves slowly increasing a bottom layer of pellets while reducing a top layer of your old litter.
Give your cat a week or two to adjust to each change.
It’s important to avoid mixing the litter. Leave the layers separate and allow your cat to discover the pellets on their own.
How to transition from litter to pellets
- Start with a one-inch layer of pellets. Without mixing, top with two inches of your old litter.
- After a week or two, switch to a two-inch layer of pellets with one inch of your old litter on top.
- After another week or two, use all pellets.
- See how your cat adjusts. If your cat uses the litter box as normal, you’ve done it! If they seem hesitant or display any odd behaviors, go back a step and repeat as necessary.
Having a mixture of pellets and clay litter will make cleaning the litter box a bit of a challenge. During the transition, you’ll likely need to fully change the litter more often than normal. After finishing the transition, pellets won’t need to be changed nearly as often.
You should always have at least one litter box per cat, plus one. When switching to a new litter, leave at least one litter box as is. Don’t try to transition all the litter boxes in the house at the same time.
Slow down or reverse course if your cat avoids using the litter box. Try adding more of your old litter on top or go back a step and try again. Steps may need to be repeated multiple times.
After several failed attempts, assume that pellets may just not be a good fit for your cat.
The two litter box method
If the approach above isn’t working, there’s an alternate method that some cats may respond more positively to.
Start by emptying and cleaning your cat’s most-used litter box. Fill that litter box with pellets and leave it in its current location. Introduce a second litter box, filled with your old litter, immediately next to the first.
Allow your cat plenty of time to discover and experiment with the pellet litter box.
If your cat starts using the pellets without issue, the other litter box can be removed. Continue to monitor for several weeks.
For laid-back cats
Some cats are pretty chill and don’t stress much over change.
If your cat’s more of the laid-back type, you can consider this quick and easy method. But if at any point your cat seems hesitant, it’s best to stick to the slow transition outlined above.
Start by fully replacing the litter in one of the litter boxes with pellets. Keep all other litter boxes in the home filled with their old litter (one litter box per cat, plus one). Observe for a week or two.
Some cats won’t think anything of it and will use the pellet litter box as normal. If so, gradually switch to pellets in one remaining litter box at a time, until all are converted. Continue to monitor for several weeks.
If your cat continues to use all litter boxes normally, you’re all set. If you notice hesitance or any new or odd behaviors, try one of the more gradual transition methods outlined above.
What if my cat doesn’t like pellet litter?
Aside from making the transition as slow as possible, there are a few other steps you can try if your cat won’t use pellet litter.
Just remember, while many cats like pellet litter, some will not.
Heavier cats (both overweight cats and heavier breeds), senior cats, and cats who have been declawed may have a particularly tough time adjusting. The coarse texture of the pellets may be uncomfortable on their paws.
Older cats may be resistant, especially if they’ve used clay litter for their entire lives. Some cats may prefer a granular texture, closer to that of the dirt or sand they’d use in the wild. Other cats may just not like pellet litter, for no apparent reason.
And that’s okay!
Don’t force it.
If your cat doesn’t like pellets, consider trying an alternate plant-based litter with a more familiar texture. Granular paper litter, wood shavings, and walnut shell litter are just a few of the many plant-based alternatives to pellet litter. They share many of the same health and environmental benefits, while offering a softer, fine-grained texture.
How to transition to the Breeze Pellet Litter System
Because the Breeze Litter System involves switching to a new litter and a new litter box at the same time, the transition requires a few extra steps.
When making the switch, it’s important to limit the amount of changes you make at once. The goal is to transition your cat to Breeze pellets first, then to the new litter box.
- In your cat’s current litter box, mix a bag of Breeze pellets with your old litter. Allow enough time for them to get comfortable with the Breeze pellets.
- Once your cat seems comfortable with the pellets, place the Breeze litter box next to your current litter box. Setup the Breeze litter box with a Breeze cat pad and a full bag of pellets.
- At this point, Purina recommends to stop cleaning the old litter box. This will encourage your cat to start using their new Breeze litter box.
- Once your cat has started using the new litter box routinely, remove the old litter box entirely.
- Continue to monitor for new or odd behaviors for at least several weeks.
We still recommend keeping at least one litter box with your old litter somewhere in the home throughout the entire transition. After repeated failures, consider that the Breeze Pellet Litter System may not be a good fit for your cat.
Because pellet litter is so drastically different from clay litter, it can be difficult for your cat to adjust to the switch. To make the process as comfortable as possible, a gradual transition is best for most cats.
No matter which method you choose, pay close attention to your cat’s behavior throughout the entire process. Behaviors like litter box avoidance may mean that you’re transitioning too quickly or that your cat just doesn’t like pellet litter.
- Stella, J. L., Lord, L. K., & Buffington, T. (2011). Sickness behaviors in response to unusual external events in healthy cats and cats with feline interstitial cystitis. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 238(1), 67–73. https://doi.org/10.2460/javma.238.1.67
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.