The short answer: Yes, pine pellets are generally considered safe for cats. Pine pellets are made from pine saw dust that are processed and compressed into small, uniform pellets. They are less likely to cause problems such as splinters or respiratory irritation that can be associated with other types of wood-based material like wood chip or saw dust.
Things to look out for when purchasing pine pellets for cat litter
Natural pine pellets are typically non-toxic, and have a natural pinewood scent. The scent is quite pleasant and are well tolerated by most cats. But you do need to look out for any additives added to it. Look for labels that indicate it’s made from 100% pine. Some manufacturers mix pine saw dust with other plant material like other types of wood saw dust, hay or even corn. You’ll need to assess if the additional material is safe for cats.
There are also pine pellets made with baking soda added to the mix. Baking soda is to help with odor control and are generally regarded as a safe ingredient for cats.
Pine pellets are non-clumping litter. But there are brands making clumping versions. These clumping versions usually come in smaller granules to help it clump easier.
And make sure that you’re using pine pellets with the right type of litter box. Sifting litter boxes are very popular among pine pellet users, and here are our guide on the best sifting litter box for pine pellets.
Things to look out for when setting up the litter box
When pine pellets are disturbed, say when it’s being poured into a storage container or the litter box, it creates a good amount of dust. To help reduce the amount of dust, you can run the pine pellet through a sieve to help remove the dust. Do this outdoors, and wear a face mask if necessary. You can then toss the dust collected straight into your compost bin.
When using pine pellets in a cat’s litter box, make sure to monitor your cat’s behavior and look out for signs of respiratory irritation. If you notice any signs of discomfort, talk to your veterinarian right away. Pine pellets do have dust, but it is less dusty than the conventional clay litter. If your cat or your family cannot tolerate the amount of dust from pine pellets, then you might want to try paper pellets. Paper pellets have significantly less dust than pine pellets.
Pay attention to how much pine pellets for cat litter you should be using, and how often to change pine pellet litter.
Are pine pellets safe for kittens?
It’s important to note that pine pellets are not ideal for cats that are prone to ingesting litter as the pellets may cause digestive distress if ingested. That’s why pine pellets, as well as any clumping litter, are not recommended to kittens going through their potty training phase. Young kittens tend to play and nibble on items as they explore their surroundings, and they have not yet identified the pine pellets as toileting material, and not really a toy. At this stage, you can try paper pellet instead.
Once your kitten is confident around the litter box, and doesn’t display any behavior of nibbling on cat litter, you can slowly transition them into pine pellets. Take your time with the transition to not disrupt any progress made on their toilet training.