Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Home > Dogs > Can You Compost Cat Litter? Vet-Verified Facts & FAQ

Can You Compost Cat Litter? Vet-Verified Facts & FAQ

Cat tray with crystal litter and scoop on floor near light blue wall

Vet approved

Dr. Karyn Kanowski Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Karyn Kanowski

Veterinarian, BVSc MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

If you’re interested in eco-friendly practices like composting, you may be going through that where you look at anything remotely natural around your home and ask, “Can I compost that?” Even if you’re just wondering about how to more effectively clean your litter box, the question still comes down to whether you can compost cat litter in the first place.

Yes, you can potentially compost cat litter, but only certain types, and with some safety considerations. Your regular old clay litter is not biodegradable and can’t be composted at all—we’re talking about the sandy stuff you’re likely familiar with. On the flip side, any litter made from natural materials like paper or wood is compostable and makes a fine addition to any compost bin. A few of the more unusual choices, such as shredded corn husks, moss, even shredded grass, are all compostable too.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to more efficiently deal with your cat’s litter, and maybe come out ahead with some nutrient-rich compost, you’re in the right place. Scroll down with us as we wade into a bit about the types of litter you can compost, the risks of composting cat litter, and more.


What Types of Cat Litter Can Be Composted?

Just about anything made from natural materials can be composted, but the most important thing is that the material is biodegradable. For example, paper rots very quickly and makes ideal composting material, but rock is ostensibly natural but doesn’t breakdown in your compost heap. Confused? Don’t be. There are a handful of common litter materials you can use without getting into the nitty gritty fine print.

Types of Compostable Cat Litter Materials:
  • Paper: Shredded paper is a popular dust-free alternative to clay litter and decomposes in new or existing compost piles, but it needs to be changed frequently to remain effective.
  • Wood pellets: Typically made from compressed wood shavings, wood pellets boast high absorbency and scoopability but may be hard to clean up.
  • Corn: Shredded corn husk litter costs more than other litters but absorbs moisture very well while controlling odor.
  • Wheat: Shredded wheat is soft, absorbent, and controls odors, but it is hard to source and typically expensive.
person cleaning up clumps in cat litter box
Image Credit: Anciens Huang, Shutterstock

What Is Regular Cat Litter Made Of?

We mentioned that your standard cat litter is made of clay, but there are other options available too. Litters have been formulated and tweaked for decades as pet companies search for the best ways to absorb and dispose of cat waste, and they’ve mostly stabilized for now. Let’s take a brief look at some ingredients you can expect to see in your average bag of cat litter. Bear in mind these are common ingredients, and they may not all be used in the same litter products together.

Ingredients of Regular Cat Litter:
  • Sodium bentonite: The most common type of clay used in cat litter, sodium bentonite is remarkably absorbent and clumps well when wet.
  • Silica: Silica gel litter is extremely absorbent and effectively controls offensive litter odors.
  • Clay: Natural clay is non-clumping, but is often added to cheaper litter to bulk it up and add absorbency.

No matter what kind of litter you use, bad smells often linger. That's where an effective litter additive like Hepper's Advanced Bio-Enzyme Cat Litter Deodorizer can make a big difference.

Hepper Advanced Bio-Enzyme Cat Litter Deodorizer Powder
  • Bio Enzymatic Cat Litter Freshener - Smart formulation uses natural ingredients eliminating cat...
  • Save Money - Stuff for cats isn’t the cheapest. With this litter box odor eliminator, you’ll...
  • Every Litter, Every Surface - Are you afraid this additive won’t work on your litter? Fear not!...

This biodegradable deodorizer is fragrance-free and safe for all ages of cats and types of litter. It uses bio-enzymes to naturally get rid of odors and help your litter last longer. 

At Pet Keen, we've admired Hepper for many years, and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool company!

Risks of Composting Cat Litter

Cat litter can carry a bevy of harmful bacteria that typically decompose, but the most concerning for humans is toxoplasmosis, which can still infect humans after natural litter has been composted. That means that composted cat litter should never be used on plants that will be fed to humans. In fact, compost containing soiled cat litter should not be used on any fruit or vegetable plants that will be fed to any animal species.

Instead, start a second compost bin you’ll use to feed your lawn, trees, and other ornamental plants around your home. Cat litter compost may not be great for the things we eat, but it’s fantastic for decorative plants. Be sure to keep your compost bins separated and to handle compost containing cat litter with great care because toxoplasmosis can still infect you after you think it decomposed.

Alternatively, cat litter compost can be heated to 150°F to kill all harmful pathogens that might linger in the mix. This technique is known as hot composting, where you add ingredients like meat or fruit rinds. These produce heat as they decay and can help your compost pile reach that temperature, but we recommend burying your cat litter in the existing pile to ensure it reaches the right temperature.

crystal cat litter in owners hands
Image Credit: kholywood, Shutterstock

Why Is It Different To Normal Manure For Plants?

The standard type of manure used on gardens or included in compost comes from cattle or horses. These animals are herbivores, and as such, do not harbor potentially harmful pathogens such as Campylobacter or Salmonella. This means that the manure from these species can be used on plants that will be eaten by animals and humans, although sometimes it’s easier not to think about that when we’re next enjoying a salad!

divider-dog paw


Cat litter may not be the most fun subject to consider, but if you are owned by a cat, it is an important one. Rather than just throwing out soiled litter, it may be worth trying an organic, biodegradable litter that you can use to fertilize your trees, flowers, and lawn. Organic litter does tend to cost a bit more, but it’s worth it if you’re an avid gardener who could use some extra oomph in the springtime.

Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets