When a friendly neighborhood cat adopted us after being abandoned by a family who moved away, making our house kitty friendly became priority #1. The problem? Neither of us had ever owned a cat. She loves being outside, so we figured it couldn’t be that hard to navigate potty time. Who needs a litter box when you have the great outdoors?
That was until she went into heat a few weeks later. After thorough research, we decided that spaying her wasn’t something we felt comfortable with. So that meant some inside time during heat waves. It was time to set up a litter box (which she actually prefers to going outside when she has an option… diva!).
Searching For All-Natural Cat Litter
Conventional litter options seemed nasty off the bat. Filled with chemicals for odor control or clumping, the toxin exposure with these options was heavy duty. I’m very conscious of anything our kitties (yes, we took in a second stray since!) are exposed to because their grooming habits mean they consume anything that gets on their fur. Litter dust on their paw — what I call “litter feet” — means that they will inevitably consume bits of litter and track it all over the house.
In my search for the perfect all-natural cat litter, we tried a few brands. I was actually surprised at how many options there were. Initially I had wondered if we were going to have to dig up dirt out of the yard and keep it in a box in the bathroom.
Our kitties aren’t too picky about what we put out for them, so trying different litters in rapid succession fortunately wasn’t an issue. From what I’ve read on the internet, some people tell you to put down multiple litters at once and let them pick, but my girls are already spoiled enough. Mama knows best, so they’ll get the best litter and be happy with it.
Before landing on the perfect find, we gave the following natural options a go: Only Natural Pet’s Non-GMO Fast Clumping Grass Seed Litter and Feline Pine Original Clumping Litter.
Both claimed to reduce odors which is important because cat pee stinks. And both claimed to be low-dust options. Also important because little dust all over your cat and house is unpleasant. Neither litter succeeded at either claim.
Fail #1: Grass Seed Litter
The grass seed litter somehow seemed to make the smells worse and because of the fine texture, got everywhere. Both of our kitties love to dig around in their litter, especially our first one. And she easily succeeds at kicking loose litter all over the bathroom floor. It made an absolute mess in the bathroom and then she would track it all over the house. We had to restrict her access to certain rooms in the house to reduce the contamination which made for a lot of trouble, too. The only benefit was that the only ingredient was non-gmo grass seed, so it actually was all-natural.
Fail #2: Pine Litter
The pine litter came in larger pieces which made me hopeful that it wouldn’t stick to the cat and get tracked everywhere. It was also 100% pine, so again it checked the all-natural box. But we also needed it to do its job, too. Unfortunately, the bits of compressed pine broke down into dust easily so a little bit of digging would leave litter bits all over, including all over the cat. While I felt comfortable with the quality of the litter, it made an absolute mess. Not to mention, it still stunk.
Finally, we found success with a brand of all-natural cat litter that came with all the same claims — odor free, dust-free, long-lasting — but I was convinced it could actually live up to the standard. This litter made by a brand called Skoon is made of highly absorbent diatom pebbles.
Diatoms are groups of single-celled algae which are found all over the world in soils, oceans, and waterways. They generate about 20% of the oxygen for the planet! It’s basically a hard sponge, so it doesn’t disintegrate or turn to dust when used and it actually absorbs the waste material. The only difference between the diatoms found in nature and Skoon is that Skoon heat-treats the natural diatomaceous earth to increase the porosity which increases absorbency. You don’t have to worry about the environment when you throw it away because no matter where the trash ends up, it won’t hurt the environment. Remember, it’s native to both soil and water!
Skoon also does a good job of clumping to solid was for easy clean up and odor control. Because it’s a highly porous material, it absorbs liquid easily and has a longer use life. The bits aren’t too big to stick to solid waste and are surprisingly lightweight for their larger size. My kitties have no problem digging around to find the perfect spot to do their business and bury it when they’re done. Plus, because it’s non-toxic and completely natural, if they were to consume any, it would pass through like any other solid waste and be excreted without harming or poisoning the cat.
Because Skoon is essentially made of rocks that are much bigger and heavier than regular litter, it doesn’t stick to the cat. There’s also no dust to spread around the house or inhale. Well, almost. Truthfully, at the bottom of the bag, there is a big of rock powder that over time builds up on the floor from where the litter gets kicked around. But it doesn’t get tracked all over the house, so I’m a much happier cat mama!