Save Money And Learn How To DIY Cat Litter

Has DIY cat litter ever been on your radar? Why not make your own cat litter? Sometimes there comes a point when you realize that something you have been purchasing for years could actually be made at home. Often this will be a choice driven by economics but not always. Sometimes it is just the convenience and satisfaction of being able to do it yourself.

A disclaimer here: This post is not to suggest not using commercially made cat litter. It is to offer an alternative for those seeking information.

I have certainly gone the DIY route over the years, with all manner of things from weed spray and insect spray for the garden to shampoo and moisturizer.  Some things work and some don’t and some are too time consuming to make. DIY cat litter is fortunately on the economical list.

Will DIY cat litter pass the cat test?

Cat litter can be problematic for some cats and some cat owners for a multitude of reasons.  This may include allergies or respiratory problems so dusty cat litter needs to be avoided.  Often, it is the cat owner that has the allergy problem so pouring the litter can be difficult if you are going to be enveloped in a cloud of dust.

Whatever the reason it is always good to have a backup plan at the ready.  Look what happened to toilet paper at the beginning of Covid. No one was prepared for that. We are now.  I’m betting that most people have spare toilet paper now.

Five different ways to make DIY cat litter

There are several different ways to make cat litter.  Some may not be for you, that’s okay, move on to the next method.

  1. Sand Litter
  2. Shredded Paper Litter
  3. Wood Shavings Litter
  4. Chicken Feed Litter
  5. Hemp Litter

1. Sand Litter

Like a lot of families we had a sandbox outside for the kids to play in the sand.  The sand we used was beach sand which we purchased from a local hardware store.  It is actually illegal where I live, to go to the beach and shovel sand to take away. It seems somewhat silly at face value to say that but actually I do get it.

We did have a problem with cats loving the sandpit a little too much and making it their own private toilet spot.  The sandpit had to be covered at night.

This tells us that cats do like sand for toileting and in the wild, sand or soil is exactly what they would be using.

Don’t use sand or soil in the litterbox that you collect as it may contain harmful bacteria and pathogens.  It is far safer to buy some play sand.

The litter box will need to be scooped regularly. This will have to be trial and error for your home until you strike a happy balance with scooping and adding more sand. If the litter box is large it will lessen the likelihood of the sand spreading too far.

To assist with odor control sprinkle some baking soda on to the top of the sand and roughly mix through the sand.  Use a small garden trowel. This will have to be repeated as necessary.

If trowelling the baking soda seems like too much effort, look at this nifty little idea. Arm& Hammer have a baking soda cartridge that can just be popped into the litter. I haven’t used this but do love the idea. It is a lavender scented and can be used anywhere were odors need to be controlled.

The sand may track.  Definitely use a litter mat.

The sand may also be heavy, another consideration. Home delivery will assist here. Even purchasing the sand in a box rather than a bag where the box can be left near the litter box will help overcome that problem and lessen the amount of carrying that needs to be done.

2. Newspaper Litter

A commercially produced cat litter made with paper pellets is often recommended by veterinarians post surgery because there is no dust in the paper pellet litter. This minimizes the likelihood of the wound getting infected. With any wound, dusty cat litter should be avoided.

You can make your own paper litter.

You will need a paper shredder.  We have had a paper shredder for years and surprisingly in this day of little paper we do actually still use it at home a fair amount. The shredder I have linked to is next level compared to ours. This one chews through staples and credit cards. As well as using it to shred paper for making cat litter, the shredded paper is also ideal to add to a compost bin.

How To Make Cat Litter From Newspaper

How To make Cat Litter From Newspaper?

  • Begin by shredding the newspaper and put it into an empty litter box.  If you don’t have a shredder, get the kids to work tearing the paper.  Make sure they wash their hands afterwards to get rid of the black smudgy ink. Junk mail can be used also.

  • Add water and a squirt of washing up liquid to the shredded paper.  It will go mushy and the water will change to a dull gluggy grey from the ink. Don’t add so much water that the litter box can’t be lifted. An alternative would to make the litter in a bucket that has a handle and transfer it to the litter box when finished.

  • Drain the paper using a colander or some other type of strainer.

  • Return the paper to the litter box or bucket and add clean water.

  • Strain again.

  • At this point baking soda can be added as this will help with odor control. Just sprinkle it over the wet paper and massage lightly to incorporate.

  • Give the paper a good squeeze to remove as much moisture as possible.

  • Then spread out the paper and leave to dry.  If you have a screen or some fly wire this is ideal for drying as the air can circulate underneath the screen.

  • and Finally the Litter Is ready

    When the mixture is totally dry and crumbly, it is ready to use. Use it as you would any other litter, scoop daily and top up with more paper litter as needed.
    Once it becomes routine to make the litter you will always have some on hand, ready to go.

Tip: Most neighborhoods have a free newspaper.  We have about five in our area, two of which are delivered to our home weekly.  Contact the newspaper administration and ask if you can pick up past editions.  This saves the old papers from possibly going to landfill and repurposing is the buzzword at the moment.

3. Wood Shavings Litter

This is perfect if you have access to wood shavings and sawdust.   The wood of course would need to be untreated and free from chemicals. To be on the safe side check on the safety of the wood you will be using with the experts.

This litter, wood shavings mixed with sawdust and baking soda (optional) may be dusty because of the sawdust so it may take some experimenting to get the ratio just right.

Okocat make a very popular wood litter. If you decide wood litter is a go but don’t want to make it yourself, this is a good alternative. Okocat’s wood litter is made from sustainably sourced, natural wood fibre.

To make the wood shavings extend further, Okocat’s wood litter would be a perfect pairing. Adding some commercially produced product is a good way to budget and use materials to which you have access. This would also be a good way to save money.

wood shavings for cat litter
Wood shavings mixed with sawdust is a cat litter alternative.

4. Chicken Feed Litter

Chicken feed has been used successfully by many people as cat litter.  If you have quite a few cats the cost of commercially produced cat litter can really be prohibitive.

Chicken feed or pellets are food based so there is a possibility that the chicken feed could attract rodents.

Mostly however this does not seem to be the case unless there are already rodents in the area. Add baking soda for odor control.  A positive aspect of chicken pellets is that they are absorbent. This is a popular option.

Chicken Feed as cat litter. Add some baking soda.

5. Hemp Litter

Hemp is another alternative for cat litter.   

It is long lasting, easy to sweep and it is absorbent. It can be scooped in the same manner as ordinary kitty litter.

On the downside, it may be dusty.  On the positive side, if you have other animals like rabbits, hamsters, chickens, rats, horses it can be used for all of the animals which is a plus.

This hemp is free of pesticides and insecticides.


If you have another DIY method for making cat litter and are willing to share, we would love to hear it.

Often time is our enemy when thinking about DIY however this isn’t a kitchen reno, it is making cat litter so it is really more a case of having the right materials to mix together. All of the materials mentioned in this article are easy to collect, some you may have already and others are easy to purchase.

Half DIY Litter & Half Commercial Litter

Using half and half, half your own DIY litter mix and half a commercial mix is another very good way to save money and to also experiment with what works and what doesn’t before fully committing.

Changing The Cat’s Litter

Some cats cope well with litter changes and others don’t. To be on the safe side have two litter boxes side by side to begin with, one with the old litter and one with the new. Start adding new litter to the old litter box until essentially they are both the same. You can then remove one box.

Using a litter box attractant is also a handy solution for those cats that won’t use a litter box. It is a recommended method of enticing the cat back to the box and has a good track record.

Related Reading

There’s so much to read…

How do you stop cat litter from going everywhere? It can take over that’s for sure. Use the practical tips from this article to help stop the litter spread.

Is the litter annoyingly getting stuck to the bottom of the litter pan? Not a great thing to deal with. Try these DIY ideas to make the litter box non stick.

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