The Scoop on Feline Pine Clumping Litter

"MEOW..." As you can see, our kitty Shadow is quite comfortable in boxes of all kinds - not just litter boxes..
"MEOW..." As you can see, our kitty Shadow is quite comfortable in boxes of all kinds - not just litter boxes.. | Source

The Straight Poop on Environmentally Friendly Cat Litter...

I'm still not entirely sure how cleaning the cat's litter box became my responsibility. When my then-fiancee (now my wife) and I moved into our first apartment in the late 1990s her big, furry, lovable cat "Lester" naturally joined us in our new adventure, and as we slowly figured out the division of labor around the apartment during those first few weeks of co-habitation, somehow it was decided that the odious chore of litter box maintenance fell under my jurisdiction. "How did I wind up with this gig? He's YOUR cat!" I protested, to which my significant other would reply, "Yeah, but the cat poo goes in the garbage, and taking out the garbage is YOUR job." I couldn't argue with that logic, but on the other hand, I still think I got hosed. (Is there an appeal process for this sort of thing?)

Either way, fifteen years (and one additional cat) later, the cat box chore still remains part of my regular "to-do" list. Over the course of those fifteen years, we've tried just about every type and brand of cat litter under the sun: clumping, non-clumping, name brand, store brand, litter in a bag, litter in a box, litter from a jug, you name it. Some of these litters, of course, performed better than others in terms of cleanliness, ease of use, and funkiness control. We had been using a supermarket brand's "clumping" litter over the past several years because it was fairly cheap and seemed to work well enough, unless the box wasn't scooped out at least once per day (and let's be honest, cat lovers: we've all "forgotten" to "scoop the poop" once in a while, haven't we?). If even one "scoop" session was missed, the cat box odor would quickly become overpowering, to the point where you could smell the litter box in the upstairs bathroom even if you were downstairs!! *GACK* Obviously, a change was needed.

Enter the Pine!

Most litter box fillers are made of granulated clay mixed with some baking soda and other fragrances to cover up odors, but over the past several years pet store shelves have become clogged with so called "green" or "natural" cat litter products. These litters are usually made from shredded wood, recycled newspapers, or other organic material and have cutesy names like "Purr and Simple," "S'Wheat Scoop," "Cedar-ific," etc. Till recently I had only been familiar with such products from their TV commercials, and I was always skeptical that they would truly be up to the task of controlling those sometimes-demonic Litter Box odors. Besides, it seemed kind of silly to spend good money on something that looked like nothing more than a simple bag of sawdust. (I figured someone at a lumberyard or saw mill was getting rich simply by sweeping their floors at the end of the day and bagging up the results.)

That changed about a month ago when my wife returned from the supermarket toting a box of "Feline Pine" clumping litter, which we'd never tried before. "Since when do we use this stuff?" I asked, and her response was "Since it was on sale, and I had a coupon." (There's that unassailable wife logic again.) Thus began our Feline Pine Experience.

So What's the Scoop?

Feline Pine is composed of -- well, shredded pine, obviously, plus "natural guar bean gum," which, according to the back of the box, is an "all natural fiber" that helps the pine particles clump tightly together around cat waste. The pine itself, we're told, naturally neutralizes ammonia (which is a major ingredient in kitty wee-wee and a main culprit in litter box odor), as well as the odors caused by - ahem - The Old Number Two. The Feline Pine package promises that if you "simply scoop and discard waste daily, you'll enjoy a fresher, healthier home." Of course, my inner cynic responded "Yeah, well, we'll just see about that. You may think you're tough, but you've never met MY kitty" (whom we affectionately call "Doctor Funken-Cat" behind her back).

Lo and behold, however -- within a day or so of our litter box being filled with Feline Pine's woody goodness, I noticed that our upstairs no longer seemed to have that slight air of kitty funkiness about it that I'd grown used to over the years and had chalked up to the price of cat ownership. Wow, this stuff is good . Scooping the box does take a bit more time than it used to with the old clay-based litters - the sawdust's larger "grain" takes longer to sift through the narrow spaces in a standard sized cat-box scoop (Feline Pine does offer its own scoop which features larger gaps) and I've noticed that rather than forming a "clump," cat wee-wee tends to collect at the bottom of the box, combining with the pine in what can only be described as an extremely sticky "pancake" formation which takes a few extra minutes to scoop out and remove. You'll also have to put up with the occasional pile of sawdust on the floor around the box, but those are easily taken care of with your DustBuster (assuming you have one). On the other hand, unlike clay litters, Feline Pine doesn't make clouds of dust when you pour more of it into the cat box, which is a definite plus if you've ever experienced a coughing fit caused by cheap, dusty bargain-brand cat litter.

Another major "pro" for Feline Pine is how lightweight it is - no more back breaking trips up the stairs with a big, heavy container of the "other" litters, which at my age is perhaps the best thing about this product.

The Kitty Conclusion...

As you can see from the experience of this former cynic, Feline Pine has many "pro's" and no "cons" that I have come across yet. Cat lovers who are trying to "go green" are probably already well aware of the benefits of the product, as it's made from all natural ingredients and without any harmful chemicals. Whether or not your kitty takes to it, of course, is a whole 'nother matter. Fortunately my cat doesn't really seem to care one way or the other what's in her litter box (as long as there is a litter box) and nowadays when she sits in our laps while we watch TV in the evenings, it's nice not to smell that "funky litter box" aura about her anymore. It's certainly better for your home, better for your kitty, and better for anyone else who might be within smelling distance of the dreaded Litter Box. Feline Pine doesn't make scooping the cat box more fun, but at least it makes the experience just a little bit more pleasant, and that's all you can really ask for with such a chore, isn't it??

Comments 18 comments

Brian L. Marshall 4 years ago

I wish you could write professionally, Keef. You made an article about kitty litter interesting to a guy who HATES cats. :) Another success!

FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 4 years ago from The Garden State Author

Thanx for stoppin' by Brian, as always...glad you enjoyed it...

Holly Ennist Stewart 4 years ago

Terrific piece, Keith. I enjoyed your humorous interjections as well as your play-by-play breakdown of the Feline Pine. I tried it once years ago but my cat refused to use it. She's gone on to the Great Litterpan in the sky now, however, and I'm adopting two 6 month old kittens next week, so perhaps I will give the product another whirl.

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FatFreddysCat 4 years ago from The Garden State Author

Thanx Holly! Good luck with your two new additions... hope they like the Pine!!

Joe "Chewie" Baca 4 years ago

So this sticky pancake stuff doesn't stick to their paws for them to track around the house???

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FatFreddysCat 4 years ago from The Garden State Author

Not in my experience thus far, Joe. My guess is that the urine flows to the bottom of the box, where it settles and eventually forms the "pancake."

We also have a small throw rug/mat under our litter box so that when the cat climbs out, any particles that might be stuck to her feet fall off before they get tracked around the house. Thanks for your question.

Marie Flint profile image

Marie Flint 3 years ago from Jacksonville, FL

I just stopped by because of a recommendation on a HubPages Forum.

This hub works really well because it is a practical problem with which you had a long-time experience. You expressed your experience in a logical, chronological manner, and you have your own brand of humor.

I did't quite understand why "pancake" got linked, but that was probably something beyond your control. (I've only had one hub that came up with a linked word.)

And, although you have two videos, they are really short, compliment each other, and drive home your topic.

I think the Amazon ads were overdone, but you are probably making a little revenue from such practice, so more power to you.

We're worlds apart on topic interests, though, so I won't be requesting a follow. Thank you for the read. You did a good job on this hub.

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FatFreddysCat 3 years ago from The Garden State Author

I'm glad you enjoyed it, Marie, thanx for stopping by.

Georgie Lowery profile image

Georgie Lowery 2 years ago from Slaton, Texas USA

I think the best thing about this Hub is the creative way in which you avoid saying s&^%. I am about to get a kitty, so I will try the piney stuff. :)

FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 2 years ago from The Garden State Author

Hey Georgie... it was a bit of a challenge to write about $&#@ without actually saying $&#@, haha.

Cool that you're going to be joining the ranks of Cat People. Sadly, our kitty Shadow (her pic is in this Hub) passed away a few months ago, we miss her terribly but her legend lives on. Good luck with your new kitty!!

R Tracz 2 years ago

This was an EXCELLENT review. I was wondering how the clumping formulation worked. My kitty uses the original formula and she does quite well with it.

I agree with you about the odor control. It's amazing how well it stops that "funky litter box" smell. When I pour it out of the bag it reminds me of the scent of new pressed wood 'furniture' that I've put together. I don't have to hold my breath or make sure I only breathe through my mouth when cleaning the box either!

I also like that I can just dump the 'sawdust' into my flower garden. I do have their special litter box with the sifting bottom so it's very easy to dump just the sawdust when it gets full. (I wouldn't put it in a vegetable garden, though. There are pathogens that could be transferred to the veggies. As far as putting it in compost used for a vegetable garden, I wouldn't put it in there either unless your compost gets REALLY hot enough to kill any pathogens.)

I will continue to use the original for now, but I do have a coupon and rebate form to try the clumping for free, so I will give it a try.

Thanks again very a well written and informative review!

FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 2 years ago from The Garden State Author

Hi R Tracz - glad you enjoyed it. I never thought of putting the "sawdust" in my flower garden, that's a good idea. Thanks for the tip.

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FatFreddysCat 8 months ago from The Garden State Author


AB 4 months ago

So, how has it changed since A&H bought it?

I am seeing complaints from old users.

FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 4 months ago from The Garden State Author

Hi AB - I wish I could help with your question, but I wrote this article several years ago. Sadly, our dear Kitty (the one in the photo in this piece) has since gone to the Great Litter Box in the sky and I am currently catless. Therefore I am unaware of any changes to Feline Pine.

AB 4 months ago

Looks like she had caught the best of it.

Mizbejabbers 4 months ago

While it's true that anyone who can make an article on cat litter interesting is a very good writer, I read it because of content. I still think you are a good writer. You have made me want to try an alternative litter again. We tried the natural litters years ago, including the pines and even shredded corn cob, which didn't work at all. Notice shredded corn cob isn't on the market anymore?

Anyway, our cats didn't like the natural litters, but we've had a complete cat turnover in our house since the last time we tried a natural litter, so it might be worth it to try again. What disgusts me the most is when litter is flung from the box and if water is accidentally spilled on it, it turns into the caliche from whence it came. Anyone who has ever lived in a caliche area knows what I'm talking about, sticky muck that is difficult to clean up.

FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 4 months ago from The Garden State Author

Thanx for the kind words Mizbejabbers - good luck finding a suitable "alternative" litter for your feline friends.

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