Pine Pellet Cat Liter: No iron lung required.

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No matter how much you may love your cat, cleaning a litter box is a special kind of torment. The smell of cat litter and all the dust it creates (so-called low dust or not) is enough to cause a gag reflex, even if your litter box isn’t already filled with a month’s worth of poop and a gallon of ammonia. There are several brands of pine pellet cat litter that take most of the suckage out of cleaning a litter. They are truly low dust, and they don’t have that weird clay-ish smell. It’s basically just compressed sawdust, so it seems like it would be better for the environment than digging up all that clay and mixing it with byproducts or whatever it is that traditional litter is made of. Pine pellet bags usually say “100% natural” or something to that effect. I have to believe that it’s all created from sawdust waste in milling operations and no trees are being cut down just absorb your cat’s bodily waste. At least I hope it is. The pellets come apart when they get wet, and turn into cat pee smelling sawdust, but it still smells better that a cat pee clay mixture. It doesn’t clump however, but most cats seem to sort of push it all to one spot, so you can still scrape off most of the pellets and remove the shavings. You’ll need a scoop without holes for this, or sometimes you can use the tip of the cat litter scoop to push it up against the side of the box scrape it out. For the solid waste, you’ll need a scoop with somewhat bigger holes. Our regular scoop was not letting the pellets through. I first tried cutting out some of the latice work in the scoop I had, which was gross and ineffective. One of the litter brands actually sells a scoop specifically made for the litter, but it’s inordinately expensive. I was able to eyeball a generic one from Target for way less.

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There are several brands, some all pine, some with other kind of wood, which is unimportant. I like the lighter color ones better, but I’m not sure why. They’re all pretty much the same. Someone also makes a version that isn’t compressed into cylidrical pellets, instead it looks kind of like a bowl of Grape Nuts. This kind isn’t as nice as the pellets because it’s harder to tell where the liquid waste went. With pellets, if it’s not a pellet, it’s either poop or disolved shavings of pee. Cleaning cat litter still sucks, but it’s way more manageable now. The smell of wood shavings and the absence of a lung crushing cloud of dust still won’t make it fun, but it definitely makes it easier to get in the habit of cleaning the box more regularly without that impending sense of dread every time you get near the room in the house that has the litter box. Caveat: Although I totally recommend it, I’ve heard that some cats hate it and won’t use it. They recommend mixing it in little by little instead of making an abrupt change.

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