No, unfortunately, you can’t use wood or pine pellets in a self-cleaning litter box. The scooping mechanisms are typically designed for granular clumping litters, like clay or silica crystals, and will be jammed by or fail to scoop waste when used with larger pellets.
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Automatic Litter Boxes Require Clumping Litter
While the exact mechanism may vary, all self-cleaning litter boxes work by having an automatic scoop collect and deposit solid waste — including both poop and clumps.
Sometimes the removed waste is flushed, other times collected in a sealed bin for eventual disposal.
Unfortunately, most wood pellets don’t clump. They dissolve into sawdust when wet.
Which means no clumps to remove.
Ultimately, this means that your automatic litter box will be unable to manage urine, which will instead be allowed to sit in the litter box until manually cleaned.
And while there are a few clumping pellet litters available, they don’t tend to clump as solidly as clay litter. Which makes automatic cleanup less consistent and less thorough.
Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes Aren’t Designed for the Large Size of Pellets
Even if you’re okay manually cleaning urine, or using a clumping pellet litter, it likely won’t work so well anyway.
Because self-cleaning litter boxes are designed for use with smaller, granular litters (like clay or silica crystals), the automated scoop is likely to have some difficulty with the larger size of pellets.
Pellets pulled into the scoop are much more likely to block or jam the mechanism.
In some cases, the scoop itself won’t have wide enough slats to allow pellets to pass through comfortably. You’ll likely end up scooping and discarding unused pellets.
What Litter Should I Use in my Self-Cleaning Litter Box?
Depending on which self-cleaning litter box you have, a clumping clay or silica crystal litter are the most common recommendations.
If you’re interested in using a healthy, eco-friendly litter in your self-cleaning litter box, some people have had success using granular, clumping, plant-based litter in certain models.
The Litter Robot, for example, says a clay clumping will work best, but any “high-quality clumping litter” will do.
Look for a clumping plant-based litter with smaller granules. And as always, opt for an unscented litter with as few additives as possible. Like World’s Best Unscented Clumping Corn Litter or sWheat Scoop Unscented Clumping Wheat Litter.
To ensure the safest and most optimal function, it’s probably best to stick to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Litter Recommendations for Common Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes
- Litter Robot – “[Litter Robot] works best with a clumping litter. Although any clumping litter works, a high-quality clay-clumping litter… leads to less mess in the litter box.”
- CatGenie – “[CatGenie] suppl[ies] the litter-like Washable Granules that provide cats the material they need to dig and cover. The Washable Granules are made specially for the CatGenie. Anything else will damage the unit, [and] clog your pipes.”
- chillx AutoEgg – “AutoEgg only requires the most common fast-and-hard clumping clay cat litter with small particles. DO NOT use silica gel crystals, recycled paper, tofu, pine, corn, or wheat litter.”
- PetSafe ScoopFree – “[ScoopFree] uses crystal litter that provides 5 times better odor control than traditional clumping litter by absorbing urine and dehydrating solid waste.”
- LitterMaid Self-Cleaning Litter Box – “Use only hard clumping litter.”
- Nature’s Miracle Self-Cleaning Litter Box – “Designed to work with Nature’s Miracle clumping cat litter or other hard-clumping litters. Do not use non-clumping litter, crystal or pearl-like litters.”
Self-cleaning litter boxes aren’t designed to be used with wood, pine, or paper pellets. A granular clumping litter or a silica crystal litter are the most common. Just be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendation.