Cheap Cat Litter Alternatives: How To Make Homemade Kitty Litter

By Davis Wilkins •  Updated: 03/28/22 •  9 min read
wood shavings

Everything I Learned About What to Do If You Run Out of Cat Litter

Have you ever run out of cat litter in the middle of the night, and you have no option but to survive with the smelly mess from your cat’s litter box?

This has the ability to turn your world into a living hell.

Running out of cat litter unexpectedly, coupled with the high cost of frequently buying litter can frustrate you. It may surprise you how costly it can get just having a cat for a pet.

The average pet owner spends a hefty amount on cat litter each year. Whether it’s the kitty litter itself, or the litter box and its accessories, it adds up quickly!

In 2021, the annual cost of caring for a cat in Canada amounted to over 2,500 Canadian dollars. Canadian cat owners’ highest expenses included dental cleaning, pet insurance, and food, respectively. (

Have you ever wondered if there was a better alternative to cat litter? You’re not alone, and I’m here to tell you yes, there is!

Let me introduce you to the best substitutes for cat litter that are readily available to you.

There are a variety of alternatives to traditional cat litter that many pet owners don’t know about.

This is a comprehensive guide to homemade cat litter for your cat, that won’t break your bank.

How is their odor control, do they track, and are they dustless? You may ask.

This blog will hopefully answer all your questions and many more that I became aware of as I went along.

What is the best type of cat litter?

The rule of thumb when determining the best type of cat litter is to always select a litter that your cat loves. After which, you stick with her choice and avoid changing the litter type to avoid bathroom accidents.

Cats want a litter that feels natural on their paws, like sand or soil.

Studies have shown that a lot of cats want a fine-grained, sandy type of litter.

As the litter gets more coarsely grained, your cat will detest it even more.

Stick to fundamentals when choosing a cheap cat litter alternative by following these requirements:

What Can I Use Instead of Cat Litter?

Your replacement for commercial cat litter should be compatible with your cat’s choices and preferences.

Similarly, you must ensure that the option you choose is easy to use and readily available when needed to take care of an emergency.

1.    Potting Soil:

Potting soil could be the best option for your litter that runs out of stock by any chance. It’s no secret that most outdoor felines consider Mother Nature as an essential bathroom facility.

So, you’ll not struggle a lot with kitty if she’s taken some time dropping her stinky bombs outside before training her to use the kitty tray.

Nonetheless, using potting soil as an alternative to the commercial litter kitty is used to could be another issue.

Ideally, the soil is one of the messiest options you may opt for whenever you run out of litter.

You must be cautious since potting soil may not clump well and will immediately depict the smell of kitty’s excrement.

It’s recommended that you place a piece of the mat just below the litter tray if you haven’t had one.

The rag will come in handy in the processes of trapping the soil.



2.    Sand:

sand in a desert

If you have access to a sandpit, you can use cheap cat sand as a replacement for commercial litter.

Sand is one of the excellent litter replacements for kittens.

Apart from holding the odors, sand will clump well particularly when it’s wet.

Nonetheless, you’ll have to be extra careful whenever you choose sand as a replacement for commercial litter.

Ideally, sand will track out of the pan with great ease whenever the kitty moves in and out. You may try inserting a mat below the kitty tray to minimize the mess resulting from the tracking effects.

You may use beach sand as cat litter. However, you’ve got to be extra careful.

This is because beach sand harbors enormous amounts of pathogens and parasites that may affect your cat’s health.

Similarly, beach sand is less absorbent and more difficult to clean compared to commercial litter.

Pros of cat litter sand:


3.    Wheat:

Wheat will come in handy when your cat’s litter runs out.

Whether it is finely ground wheat or wheat berries, you’re just good to go.

Smoothly blended rice grains tend to present better results as they’ll clump when wet.

Your cat will be averse-free if the constituents have a finer texture.



4.    Shredded paper as cat litter:

This is one of the most effective DIY replacement litter for your kitties.

The old documents in your office drawer can make excellent paper cat litter.

You’ll only need to shred them and have them soaked in water containing a little dishwashing powder to extract the ink.

You must be patient to let the shredded papers break up slowly as they soak.

Once soaked and broken, engage a thorough rinse and let them dry under the sun.

Though they’ll dry slowly, the pieces of paper will disintegrate into smaller pieces that are just fit for your tray.

You may choose to add a few crystals of baking soda just to minimize the stinking effect.

Pros of paper cat litter:


5.    Wood shavings:


These are leftover from any woodwork that has been conducted. You might have some wood shavings lying around or you know a neighbor that has been doing some woodwork for a while.

If you still can’t get access to wood shavings, walk into a lumberjack company and they will even give you for free.

Once you obtain them, add about three inches into the litter box for your cat to use.

Pros of wood shavings as litter:


Can I use rice as cat litter?

Yes, you can use rice as cat litter.

However, it is a really poor alternative due to its poor clumping and absorbent abilities.

Your cat will even loath stepping on the rice. Put down a layer of newspaper in the box first, before adding the rice.

How to introduce the cat litter alternatives

To transition your cat to these cat litter alternatives, ensure that the change is gradual.

Mix a small amount of it with the existing litter on day 1. Allow your cat to use the box while this mixture is in place.

Continue to add more amounts of the alternative cat litter as days go by while reducing the amount of the old litter.

This will condition your cat to get used to the new homemade litter. This process can take a week or several weeks depending on how fast your cat adapts.

How much litter alternatives do you need?

Start it off by adding about two to three inches of the litter into the litter box.

A kitten will require slightly less amount.

Observe your cat’s litter box behavior to determine whether to add more litter.

Can Oatmeal be used as cat litter?

Oatmeal could be a great replacement for commercial litter. It’s a good alternative if you have allergies to commercial litter.

It’s a good choice if want to go organic.

You’ll only require these ingredients to make oatmeal cat litter:

Follow these steps:


There are so many options out there to choose from, and that can make choosing an alternative to litter tricky if you’re not sure what you’re looking for.

Hopefully, this guide has given you an idea of what to look for in cat litter alternatives.

It’s pretty clear from my research that the best cat litter alternative may be a product you make yourself.

The litter substitutes we have identified are great options. They all have their pros and cons.

These are our top picks, and I believe they are the best options available right now, although I want to stress that there is no “best” option for everyone. It all depends on your situation, so don’t be afraid to try out different ones to see which one works the best for you.

I trust that you will find something that fits your needs and make the switch from traditional cat litter to something more natural and affordable for a healthier lifestyle for your cats. 🙂

And just remember, no matter what litter you choose to use, cats don’t need fancy things to be happy!

We understand that it can sometimes be difficult to make a change in your routine, but adopting one of these alternatives could save you money and help keep our planet healthy.

Davis Wilkins

Davis Wilkins is a dedicated cat lover, with three cats under his care. He grew up in a cat-loving family, nurturing these feline friends. As a result, he purposed to share his cat knowledge with the universe. Wilkins has been writing professionally for over four years, specializing in feline care with a keen interest in litter box care and handling. He hopes to help other feline lovers achieve their pet care goals.

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