Horse bedding pellets have become a popular cat litter alternative among thrifty cat parents, and it’s easy to see why. Cat parents are always on the lookout for the perfect balance of affordability, effectiveness, and environmental friendliness, and horse bedding checks those boxes. But are they all they’re cracked up to be? In this article, we'll explore whether horse bedding pellets truly work as a viable cat litter option.
Tip: Tractor Supply Co Pellets are the most popular brand of horse bedding used for cat litter.
What Are Horse Bedding Pellets?
Horse bedding pellets are used as an absorbent bedding material for horses. These pellets are designed to soak up moisture efficiently, maintaining a clean and comfortable environment for horses. They’re often made from softwoods like pine, fir, or cypress, and are extremely similar, if not identical, to wood pellets marketed as cat litter.
Are Horse Bedding Pellets Safe for Cat Litter?
The answer is: yes! Safety is often the first question that arises when considering horse bedding pellets for cat litter. Fortunately, purpose-made horse bedding pellets, when used correctly, are generally safe for feline use. Most reputable brands ensure that their pellets are free from additives or contaminants that could harm your cat. As long as the pellets are kiln-dried (virtually all wood pellets are), you’re good to go!
Pros of Horse Bedding Pellets as Cat Litter
For budget-conscious cat parents, horse bedding pellets are a cost-effective litter choice. They cost less than most natural litters and can even compete with clay in terms of affordability.
Compared to clay litters, horse bedding pellets are significantly less dusty. Most undergo a de-dusting process that separates larger wood fibers from smaller dust particles. However, regular cleaning remains essential to keep dust levels low.
Wood pellets are among the lowest tracking litter types available. Their larger size prevents them from clinging to cat fur or paws, reducing the mess outside the litter box.
Eco-Friendly & Biodegradable
Horse bedding pellets are typically made from wood fiber scraps left over from other industries. Additionally, wood is a renewable resource, reducing the environmental impact associated with mining clay or producing silica-based litters. Wood, being a natural and plant-based material, is also biodegradable. You won't have to worry about used wood litter lingering in landfills for decades.
Natural Odor Control
Wood pellets excel at controlling litter box odors without the need for added deodorizers. The absorbent nature of wood fibers, combined with their natural woody scent, creates a naturally fresh-smelling litter box (at least for humans).
Wood litter is lightweight due to its low moisture content, making it easy to transport and handle. While it may not be as feather-light as some other litters, it's far more manageable than traditional clay options.
Resistant to Spoilage
Certain wood species used in wood pellets, such as pine and cypress, possess antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. These litters also don't attract insects or pests, which can be a concern with food-based litter materials.
Cons of Horse Bedding Pellets as Cat Litter
Horse bedding pellets disintegrate into sawdust when they absorb moisture. This can lead to a buildup of sawdust in the litter box, resulting in increased dust and tracking. This issue is especially prevalent when using a regular litter box instead of a sifting litter box.
Hard to Clean
Without a sifting litter box, cleaning wood pellet litters can be a bit of a challenge. The large pellets often don't fit through the slots of standard litter scoops, making it tricky to scoop out solid waste without removing clean pellets in the process.
While effective, horse bedding pellets may not provide the same level of comfort for cats compared to softer litters. The rough texture of large pellets can be unpleasant for cats with sensitive paws or those that have been declawed.
Wood has a fresh scent that many humans enjoy but may not align with a cat's preference. Cats tend to avoid strongly scented litters, and some may reject wood pellet litters due to the smell.
Incompatible with Automatic Litter Boxes
Wood pellet litters are generally not compatible with automatic litter boxes. Their large pellet size and lack of clumping make them less suitable for these automated systems.
In conclusion, while horse bedding pellets can indeed serve as cat litter, they come with their own set of pros and cons. While they can be hard to clean and uncomfortable for sensitive cats, they offset those drawbacks with their affordability, low dust, and low tracking. Ultimately, the choice depends on your cat's preferences, your cleaning routine, and your personal considerations.
Lastly, if you like natural, low tracking cat litter but also like the convenience of clumping litter, check out our Really Great Cat Litter. It's thoughtfully made from soybean byproduct, and it's even flushable!