The best flushable cat litter

Michael Pollick

An estimated 1-3% of cat owners currently use some form of biodegradable or flushable cat litter.

Setting up a cat’s litter box is a fairly straightforward process for owners, but safe disposal of the soiled contents is a different matter altogether. Clay-based litters need to be bagged up, carried to a trash receptacle and eventually deposited in a landfill, where it may or may not break down over time. One eco-friendly alternative growing in popularity is biodegradable or flushable cat litter, often made from natural plant materials such as sustainable wood, nutshells, grains and grasses. 

Flushable cat litter is not only biodegradable, it is also much less harmful to household plumbing and septic systems. Owners have the option of flushing soiled litter into a toilet, or adding it to a dedicated compost bin. This reduces the need for plastic storage bags that may not be biodegradable and provides owners with a more convenient method of disposal.

All flushable cat litters are biodegradable, but not all biodegradable litters are considered flushable. The practice of flushing cat litter down the toilet still has its limitations and environmental issues, but it is an option worth considering. One of the best flushable cat litters available on store shelves is World's Best Cat Litter , a corn-based brand that is exceptionally lightweight, safe for septic systems and completely biodegradable.

What to know before you buy flushable cat litter

What defines a flushable cat litter?

Standard cat litters found on store shelves are typically made from dried clay and silica (sand), which do an acceptable job of absorbing cat urine and drawing moisture from solid waste, but they also harden into a concrete-like consistency in water and are not biodegradable. A flushable cat litter uses ingredients that will break down over time and not harden in water. There are also cat waste disposal systems that use plastic pellets and a supply of water to break down solid waste before it can enter the household sewage system.

Litter material

The choice of materials in a flushable cat litter is an important consideration when deciding between brands. Some manufacturers use ground nut shells, which form a very fine powder that is lightweight and naturally deodorizing, but can trigger an allergic reaction in sensitive cats. Recycled paper pulp is another popular choice because of its wide availability and low cost, but performance can be variable and there are some concerns about its reaction to water.

Plant materials such as dried grasses and coconut husks form a very sustainable cat litter, but they can be difficult to find on store shelves and more expensive than other formulas. Grains such as corn and wheat are especially good at natural odor control, but may not clump as well as other materials.

Environmental impact

Standard clay-based cat litters must be contained in proper waste bags and disposed of in approved landfills to avoid contaminating water sources with hazardous animal feces. In some areas, this is still a concern with the disposal of biodegradable cat litter as well. Cat owners may want to consider alternatives such as bagging or composting if local conditions discourage flushing. Flushing animal waste into a septic system is also an environmental issue to consider.

Flushable cat litter features

Environmentally responsible packaging.

Many flushable cat litter manufacturers also incorporate environmental awareness into the packaging of the product. There is often a biodegradable plastic or paper lining between the litter and the container, and the container itself could be recycled or repurposed. 

Variety of textures

When switching from a clay-based cat litter to a flushable brand, there is still a period of transition to consider. Many cats develop a preference when it comes to the texture of the litter below their paws. Some flushable cat litters contain large pellets of compressed paper or wood, which may be a safe transition for adult cats, but not as appealing to kittens. A finer texture can appeal to cats with more sensitive paws, while other cats respond to natural wood chips or a coarse sand texture. 

Flushable cat litter cost 

Flushable cat litter tends to be more expensive than clay or silica-based litter because of additional processing and materials. Expect to pay $10 for a small bag of flushable cat litter, and $35-$45 for larger bags suitable for multiple cats.

Flushable cat litter FAQ

I rent an apartment in a complex. Can I use a flushable cat litter?

A. Yes and no. You can always use a biodegradable or flushable cat litter as an eco-friendly alternative to clay-based litter. However, it is the method of disposal that can be problematic for renters. Some “flushable” litters still create problems for communal sewage systems, and there may be local ordinances against flushing pet waste down the toilet. You should continue to bag or compost your pet’s waste and litter regardless of its biodegradability. 

Can flushable cat litter be harmful to my cat’s health?

A. Generally speaking, a flushable cat litter addresses more feline health concerns than it creates, but your cat can still be sensitive to certain ingredients. Some flushable cat litters are in fine powder form, which can generate inhalable dust. Others use crushed nut shells or grain husks that can trigger an allergic reaction in sensitive felines. When switching litters, observe your cat for any signs of a rash or excessive scratching.

Which flushable cat litter should I get?

Best of the best flushable cat litter

World's Best Cat Litter: available at Amazon

Our take: This cat litter’s silica-free base makes it ideal for cats with respiratory issues, and its flushability is a plus for owners who seek bagless waste elimination.

What we like: The processed corn is exceptionally good for odor control. Owners report tight clumping of urine and solid waste. The litter does not generate harmful silica dust. The soiled litter is considered safe for septic systems and household plumbing. The litter is lightweight, with minimal tracking reported. 

What we dislike: The corn-based litter can attract insects (grain mites). A longer transition period may be required.

Best bang for your buck flushable cat litter

okocat Original Low-Dust Natural Wood Clumping Cat Litter: available at Amazon

Our take: For those cat owners who seek an affordable alternative to clay-based litters, this wood fiber-based biodegradable option is worth considering.

What we like: The low-dust wood pellets minimize odors naturally without chemicals. The manufacturer uses reclaimed plant fiber from sustainable sources. The compressed pellets absorb a significant amount of urine instantly. Solid and tight clumping makes scooping much more efficient. 

What we dislike: Some cats may find the larger pieces of wood-based litter uncomfortable on their paws.

Honorable mention flushable cat litter

sWheat Scoop Wheat-Based Natural Cat Litter: available at Amazon

Our take: This wheat-based cat litter is an ideal choice for owners who plan to compost or flush soiled litter on a regular basis. 

What we like: The wheat grains provide good clumping and natural odor control. The texture is suitable for both kittens and aging cats. The litter contains no silica dust or artificial ingredients. The wheat odor is naturally pleasant, and the litter clumps well.

What we dislike: Excessive tracking can be an issue because of the lightness of the litter.

Michael Pollick is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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