Paper cat litter — biodegradable and free

Apartment cats need a non-stinky litter box. Here’s a ridiculously simple alternative to purchasing expensive, heavy, environmentally dubious cat litter: newspaper.

Cats do their business: fact of life. So do you, but most humans use a purpose-built toilet. I have heard of cats that use a human toilet but I’m glad mine has never learned.

Cat litter was a heavy, expensive bag on my shopping list for at least ten years. I never questioned the necessity until I saw how a cat breeder dealt with this daily chore. It’s so obvious, so simple, so clean that I could hardly believe I’d spent ten years buying an unnecessary product. I figured everyone else but me knew the secret… but then again, cat litter keeps on selling.

The secret of non-litter-buying-cat-owners: paper

Cube plastic box with layers of newspaper topped with strips of newsprint. Two feet show the scale.
D-I-Y litter box with newspaper for litter
  1. A plastic cube box: even a kitten can hop into this and everything else stays inside.
  2. Layers of newspaper at the base (for absorption and containment).
  3. Strips of torn up newspaper (for after-poo scratching).

One of your friends puts seven newspapers in the recycling bin every week. Use those, or find a young person who is distributing supermarket papers: they always have extras left over.

A more sophisticated choice for #3: rip up your old manuscripts for the cat to scratch in. If you have a shredder, perfect: your confidential documents perform one more useful function.

Plastic cube box with newspaper at the bottom and shredded documents on top: cat litter box.
Let your cat cover its poo with your shredded confidential documents

Disposing of paper cat litter: roll it up

Here’s the blissful stage of dealing with cat litter in an apartment. Just roll it up! You will barely get your hands (or gloves) damp because your cat usually favours one corner. It’s the perfect gift.

A hand holding rolled-up supermarket papers and shredded newspaper
The perfect gift: cat poos and wees securely rolled in supermarket papers

Optional: a paper bag for the fastidious

Rolled up newspapers in a paper bag
Slide your rolled up cat litter into a paper bag

I do buy paper bags, so this process is not entirely free. But that’s optional. Final step is to slide this tidy, mostly dry parcel into a paper bag and drop it in the garbage. It will biodegrade in landfill.

I particularly enjoy the fact that it’s the supermarket that is now giving me litter for free.

Smell? Open the windows. With Covid-19 in the world we should be doing a lot of that. I sometimes feel the need for a puff of air freshener. And I’m relying on my family to tell me if the apartment smells of cat.

Happy cat times, if that’s your world. If this tip is new to you, I hope it will help to simplify your life and help your budget.

P.S. Wash your hands. But you knew that.

14 thoughts on “Paper cat litter — biodegradable and free

  1. Some of the old ways are still the best!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      So you have known about this forever

      1. We used to use newspapers in many ways when I was younger. Bedding for piglets, puppies, and hens, as a liner under lino or rugs, as firelighters, toilet paper, garden mulch.
        I would, however, caution that modern inks can be highly toxic, especially when wet, so keep an eye out for sore paws, mouths, and noses.

      2. Rachel McAlpine says:

        That post of yours summons parallel memories for me. The newspaper squares were mainly holiday memories, though. And don’t worry, no cat has been hurt by newspaper print in my home in ten years so far of this regime. Lucky for us!

  2. Prue says:

    Fortunately I’ve always had a garden for my gorgeous ones. But this is the best for otherwise!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      A garden is best. Tuck it away for others, or for later.

  3. Sadje says:

    Great idea Rachel

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      So why didn’t I know this hack sooner? I guess y it was good for my character

      1. Sadje says:

        I think we follow what other are doing mindlessly.

  4. What a marvelous solution! We don’t plan to have cats again, but this is great to know.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      it shows the power of marketing an unnecessary product.

  5. cedar51 says:

    sure does, the marketing machine is now busy with a large sticker for shop to show that “all staff are vaccinated” – and a local stationery company is selling them – both a physical delivered one and a digital DIY one.

  6. alison41 says:

    I’ve used newspapers for years, and am a dedicated fan. Glad you discovered this handy hint. Greetings to Ursula.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Wise womam! I have used it for about 10 years–but before that, 20-odd years of buying manufactured litter. Over a lifetime I have been trained to think that solving any real or imagined problem means buying something.

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